Thursday, February 07, 2013


I journeyed to York to see one of my oldest and best friends. Although the main purpose of the visit was to spend some much needed time with him, I was also extremely excited at the prospect of visiting a new city which I had heard lots of good things about. I certainly wasn't disappointed.

By the time we had left the train station and walked through the city to Trembling Madness, a wonderful shop/pub with beamed ceilings and candles everywhere, I was already madly in love with the place. Incidentally Trembling Madness wins hands down at being the best pub (with the best name!) I have ever been to, and I plan to return and spend more time there so that I can write a proper review.

As I sat staring out of the window at the Minster, I was so incredibly happy. 

York is a truly stunning place. The wide, atmospheric moorlands at its edges contrast with the ornate and imposing architecture in the city centre.

I plan on visiting the Minster in future, but on this occasion I was content just to marvel at the impressive facade. So much work, so much craftmanship.

York is steeped in history. As well as being the birth place of Guy Fawkes-there is a pub named after him- it was founded by the Romans, was under Viking rule for almost a hundred years, was a major wool trading centre in the middle ages, still retains swathes of Tudor buildings, and was one of the major cities involved in the production of chocolate in the 19th century. 

I think one of the things I liked about York was the quirkiness. Although there are the usual high street shops, there are also strange little places like this. I was mildly terrified by the taxidermied bat pinned to the wall, but the proprietor was very friendly.

The streets are filled with interesting details like this pretty clock. It's all mishmashed together, architecture from different eras, churches next to shops...

the remains of castles and ancient city walls looming out of car parks and snaking alongside roads, yet it all comes together to make a lovely whole. There's a sense of life continuing amongst the history, people going about their business in the shadow of ancient monuments. I don't think the significance of the buildings or their associations is lost, there just isn't the...preciousness that some historic cities develop. It's a city to live in, as well as look at. 

Another thing I loved was the abundance of gorgeous 19th century and early 20th century buildings. Edwardian red brick with a hint of Gothic Revival? Yes please. I still don't know what it is about this era or this style, but it makes my heart sing.

Of course, the Tudor and Stuart buildings are gorgeous too, and something I hadn't seen much of before.

Just to perfect my visit, I saw a very striking swan which seemed to be posing for my pictures! Even the local wildlife was friendly. I have to say, the people of York came across very well, everyone I spoke to was friendly and polite and the level of service in shops, cafes and museums was well above average. One of the sweetest things was when I was struggling back to the station with a large suitcase and trying to get past a man unloading pallets from a lorry. Rather than telling me to go around him or walk a different way, he moved everything out of my way and apologised for causing me inconvenience! So kind and lovely.

I think it is safe to say that my love affair with York is not a short term fling. Few places have struck such a chord with me, and it has all the things I like in a city-good shops, museums by the bucketload, incredible churches, unusual buildings, wide expanses of water. 

It has a place in my heart now, and I can't wait to return and explore more of its ramshackle little streets. Soon, soon.


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