Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Transport, Tea and the Past in York

We had a great mini break in York at the weekend as it's such a long time since we've visited this amazing city and we made the most of our three days. We had a great view of the Minster from our hotel window so we head off to Evensong the first day. This was a good way to experience the awesomeness that is York Minster. It didn't matter which faith you had or none when the male voices blended and soared in the singing of the hymns, while their sung prayers immediately transported me back to medieval times.

View from our hotel window

Next day, it was off to the transport museum where husband could feast his eyes on all kinds of trains - a long-time interest of his. I love the steam trains but I was very taken with the Dandy Car that used to be pulled by a horse. We even tried the Mallard Experience, though not the full simulated version. It's such a huge, busy place that we were glad to have gone first thing in the morning and left after lunch.


York itself is so old that a few of the buildings around the narrow Shambles area look in danger of falling down but that's part of their charm. I loved the quirky names and features we suddenly came upon, like the figure of Minerva, Roman goddess of wisdom and the arts. No visit to York is complete without tea and cake at the famous Betty's Tearoom, but be prepared to wait for a table. It is such an icon that people queue to get in but it's worth it for the beautiful pot of real tea served with a little tea strainer and the cakes are an added attraction!


One of the other attractions I really wanted to visit was the Castle Museum as I had a vague recollection of it from many years ago, before I was so interested in writing about the past. Neither of us was disappointed as it has something for everyone, from recreated rooms, to childhood toys and a Victorian Street complete with various shops. There was a new section recreating elements of the First World War, where we had to walk through corridors lined with sandbags like in the trenches. Although fascinating, we didn't want to dwell on the awful facts again as it's too horrible to think of the numbers of young men sent out to die, but it would be ideal for anyone writing about that period.

Victorian Parlour
Victorian Street
Of course, the reason I'd gone to York in the first place was to attend the RNA Afternoon Tea at the centuries old Guildhall - the first event to be arranged so far north. It was a resounding success, both for the tea and cakes and the company. The surroundings made it even more special and the lovely caterers kept us supplied with copious pots of tea all afternoon, as well as sandwiches, quiche and pastries, several types of cake and scones with jam and cream. I was glad we had a gap between each 'course' and needless to say there was much chatter at every table. It was lovely to meet up with old friends and to meet some members for the first time.

York Guildhall
I shared a table with lovely ladies, Helena Fairfax, Marie Laval, Anne Stenhouse and Helen Pollard - the very gallant John Jackson should have been in the photo but he was too busy taking all the official photos. Northern author Milly Johnson highly entertained us with a talk about the northern bird and how she differs from her southern sister - very amusing and instantly recognisable!

Wonder where the next RNA regional event will be and if I can wangle a few days away again?



Julia Thorley said...

The last time we went to York, we joined a fantastic spooky tour of the city. Not costumes, no special effects, just a quietly spoken man (so we had to lean in to listen) whose deadpan delivery was just the ticket. Chilling!

Anonymous said...

So glad you had such a lovely weekend, Rosemary. There is so much to do in York! It sounds like you got to the main attractions. I just love the Castle museum.

Joanna said...

York is certainly a beautiful city and a favourite of mine. I'm so glad you had a lovely weekend there. The Castle Museum looks brilliant and I shall make sure I visit it next time. Fabulous pictures, Rosemary, as always. xxx

Nicola said...

What an exciting get away. So pleased you had a great time. I visited Betty's many years ago. Do they still where those period black and white uniforms? Lovely photographs, Rosemary.

Vikki said...

Brilliant photos. I love York and such a great setting for afternoon tea!

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Oh, I did that spooky tour many years ago, Julia - great fun!

It was a great few days, Helen - the afternoon tea was the icing on the cake (literally)!

Thanks, Joanna - the castle Museum is so fascinating that you could spend a whole day there if you have the stamina!

Thanks, Nicola - I think Betty's is a must for anyone visiting York (or Harrogate). I think they were just wearing normal black and white uniforms - else I would have noticed the period style!

It is indeed, Vikki - glad you got to visit the city another time!

Teresa Ashby said...

Lovely photos of a beautiful city, Rosemary. I'm glad you had such a lovely time xx

Carolb said...

Wish I'd been able to go, Rosemary. Looks like you had a good time.

The Castle Museum is a must visit place, though the last time I went- a couple of years ago now- they didn't have the Victorian Parlour.

Love the photos. :-)

joanne fox said...

I had a fabulous Welsh rarebit at Betty's Tearooms! Glad you had such a great trip and packed so much into your time.

Suzanne Ross Jones said...

I haven't been to York for years, but your lovely photos have reminded me how lovely it is. Must make plans to go again soon.

Glad you had a lovely break.


Maria said...

I've recently been to York on business, twice in the last month actually, and each time I was unable to do any sight seeing at all...I've had tea and cake in Betty's in Harrogate, so must do it in York too.
Thank you for sharing your pictures. I'm definitely going to go for a weekend next year.

I've had tea and cake in Betty's in Harrogate, so must do it in York too.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Thanks, Teresa - really enjoyed it!

Hope you get to the next RNA gathering, Carol!

Thanks, Joanne - you'll know what a treat Betty's is!

Thanks, Suzanne - we hadn't been for too long so I made the most of it!

Hope you get to Betty's in York, Maria - we managed to get to the one in Harrogate many years ago!