Skip to main content

A birthday weekend in York

We were surprised to discover that York is only a 90 minute drive from our house. It's somewhere we'd been thinking of going for a few years, but I'd assumed it was much further away. So when we wanted to go away for the weekend to celebrate my birthday in January, York was the obvious choice. The city did not disappoint us.

I'd been to York years ago, and my only clear memory was of a tower on top of a grassy mound. That was Clifford's Tower, owned by English Heritage, and recently updated with a rather snazzy series of platforms and staircases inside. We saw a 13th century toilet which had been inaccessible for 400 years (I think I was more excited about this than the boys) and got a great view of York from the rooftop viewing platform.

View from the top of Clifford's Tower

Most people's memories of York probably involve the Shambles - an ancient street of shops - and York Minster. Apparently there isn't a clear difference between a minster and a cathedral, so don't even ask. Whatever you call it, it's impressively spectacular. 

We spent some time sitting in the niches in the Chapter House, pretending to be bishops and wondering what a prebendary is (it's a type of canon, but if you search for canon you just get cameras). Theo discovered a seat in the choir with his name on it, and we admired the new statue of HM Queen Elizabeth II on the West Front.

The Chapter House

Theologus, it says, but close enough

After all that, it was time to refuel. We walked past the famous Betty's Tea Rooms, which had mounds of macarons in the the window and a large queue at the door, and found a more modest place round the corner. Mannetti's was tiny but well stocked with interesting teas and cakes. We wedged ourselves into a corner table and enjoyed some of them.

Outside Betty's

Inside Mannetti's

York runs a very efficient Park and Ride system. The electric double-decker buses were a highlight of the trip, Toby and Theo agreed. And the car park was conveniently close to our hotel.

On the bus

Probably best not to mention the evening meal. We ordered a takeaway curry, and it was not a success. Still, the Holiday Inn breakfast the next morning made up for it. There was almost everything you could possibly imagine for breakfast - and you could eat as much as you wanted.

Suitably fortified, we got back on the electric bus for another day in York. It was much quieter on a Sunday morning, so we spent a little while looking around some shops. Toby bought a colour-changing potion lamp in The Shop Which Must Not Be Named.

The main activity for the day, however, was walking the medieval city walls. We started off at Bootham Bar, one of the old city gates - and promptly bumped into some friends from Derby! I rather wondered who we would see next, but we completed the loop without recognizing anyone else. 

It was a beautiful day for the walk; sunny and not too cold. Much of the walk took us along the top of the walls, with some sections at street level, and we saw everything from Roman ruins and manicured gardens, to dual carriageways and an old waste incinerator chimney. There was a short detour owing to the River Ouse being in flood - but as it isn't every day that you see benches and bins up to their necks in water, that rather added to the excitement.

Can't go this way...

By the time we were on the final section, going past the railway station and dropping down to cross Lendal Bridge, lunch was feeling decidedly overdue. However, each of us had a different idea of what to eat. So we found an outdoor table at the Shambles Market, and purchased crepes, Thai curry, sandwiches, burritos, and a nice hot cup of Hebden Tea Company tea. That kept everyone happy!

We drove home listing all the places in York that we hadn't been to that weekend, as well as discussing which bits we'd enjoyed the most. York will definitely need a return visit at some point. After all, it's only 90 minutes up the road!


Popular posts from this blog

Supercars and Selfies on the South Coast

We drove south on a wet, wet Saturday in August. The windscreen wipers swished endlessly back and forth, as we debated whether it was worth stopping anywhere except for the overcrowded motorway services. By the time we reached Winchester, the wipers had subsided to an occasional flick across the screen. We decided to stop. Of course, as soon as we left the car park there was a brief shower, but we ducked into the City Mill, now a National Trust property. There was a large room full of the usual kind of displays about flour milling; a recently renovated garden; and downstairs, the mill race running at full tilt. The mill is built right across the River Itchen. Winchester City Mill garden The mill race Water wheel (awaiting renovation) We stayed dry as we explored further into Winchester. There was even some blue sky for our selfie by the cathedral! But as we walked back to the car the rain hit us like a hose on full blast. An overhanging building provided some slight shelter, but the wa

Reading for Spiritual Formation 2023-24

I wasn't sure whether to read another set of theology books this year. Could the time I spend on it be better spent on something else? At what point does it become reading for the sake of it, without having much impact on my wider life? It's difficult to tell. However, as usual, I had a growing list of books I wanted to read. I do need to think about what I'm doing as well as what I'm reading, and I don't expect to continue this specific discipline indefinitely. But I decided there was space for at least one more year of Reading for Spiritual Formation. So, without further soul-searching: The Books. Three Mile an Hour God Kosuke Koyama Japanese theologians are few and far between; Christianity is still very much a niche religion in Japan. Kosuke Koyama was Japanese and appears to be both influential and accessible. Not every theologian is both! So I'm excited to read his recently republished book Three Mile an Hour God. It was originally written in 1979, and is

National Forest Way: Calke Abbey to Ashby de la Zouch

All the best walking blogs have maps on. I finally figured out how to add a route map to mine. If I get time, I'll add them to the previous posts as well, so you can see where I went. So, here are the two walks which made up the next stretch of the NFW. Walk 1  I started from the National Trust property and walked along by the lake, up the hill by the deer park, and down to Staunton Harold reservoir - all very familiar. Calke village postbox featured a highland cow on top. Lake at Calke Abbey Herd of deer   A short stretch on the road took me to Dimminsdale, which was new to me. There are records of mining at the site from the 13th century until the end of the 19th century. It's incredible to think that people worked there for so many hundreds of years. Now it is a secluded landscape of still pools and shaggy trees. Dimminsdale   I crossed a small section of the Staunton Harold estate, then went up a private lane with some rather nice houses. My turning point was where the Nati