Letter from York: Churches, Cobblestones and Chums

York Minster

York Minster


Clive and I had talked for ages about visiting York, founded on the River Ouse in 71AD. Earlier this year, good friends relocated here and urged us to come see them. Finally we booked a few days in this city that seems to offer something for everyone.

For a first taste of York’s history, we walked through Mickelgate Bar, one of the ancient city entry gates, then climbed many steps up to the city walls, constructed c107. I can’t quite get my head around those dates – in the U.S. and Australia, 200 or 300 years ago is really old. In this city, one gets a real sense of the layers of history and the many different eras and events that can happen on the same physical bit(s) of the planet we call home.

On a hop-on, hop-off bus tour, we learned this: ‘A street’s a gate, a gate’s a bar, and a bar’s a pub.’

Bootham Bar, a ‘gate’ into York’s old city, with steps up to the ancient wall

Bootham Bar, a ‘gate’ into York’s old city, with steps up to the ancient wall


 
Entry to old city via Bootham Bar – foundations c. AD 300

Entry to old city via Bootham Bar – foundations c. AD 300


Just minutes outside the city walls are beautiful English villages, scenery and of course pubs. With our friends we explored their village and surrounding area, including a trip to their allotment.

Back in the city, we spent time in York Minster, the magnificent Gothic cathedral, did a lot of walking around cobblestone streets and markets, visited the York Castle Museum and returned again today to another part of the wall, with different views of the city and the Minster. The vast majority of the wall is still intact.

Clive on the York city wall between Bootham Bar & Monk Bar

Clive on the York city wall between Bootham Bar & Monk Bar


The York Art Gallery was also on my list but has been undergoing a major renovation and won’t reopen until August 1st. After meeting our friends again for a tour, pub lunch complete with Yorkshire pudding – of course – and a stroll for more ice cream (well, it’s been hot lately), we said our good-byes for this time.

Train travel is so easy around the UK and Europe that once again we’ve vowed, ‘we really should do this more often.’ We know we’ve just touched the surface of what York has to offer, and recommend it to anyone interested in history, art and culture, and lovely English ambiance.

The Shambles, a cobbled alleyway in central York

The Shambles, a cobbled alleyway in central York


We leave York tomorrow morning. On a different subject, one much in the news this week, our hearts have been saddened following last Friday’s shooting of 38 people in Tunisia, including 30 Britons, two from Felixstowe. We don’t know the family, but the couple was there to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary. The woman was shot five times and footage of her being carried on a beach ‘sun bed’ used as a stretcher was broadcast around the world. She survived, but her husband did not. His body along with others was repatriated to the UK today.

Tomorrow, the nation will observe a minute’s silence at midday. We’ll be on the train then, and will join the rest of the country in remembrance of those killed and wishing in time a measure of peace to their families and loved ones.

West window of York Minster, a place of worship and peace

West window of York Minster, a place of worship and peace


Cheers and thanks for reading. Next week’s letter will be from Felixstowe.

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