A Flying Visit to York


This last weekend, my wife surprised me with a visit to my home city of York for my birthday. It’s a beautiful place, but when I lived there I never really appreciated its beauty as a tourist would. So we did the things that tourists do; wander around aimlessly, not looking where we are going and taking photographs of anything that moved (that’s just Chinese/Far Eastern tourists really). Thankfully, I have intimate knowledge of the city centre so the ‘not looking where we are going’ part wasn’t really relevant; I did have to warn my wife about cyclists zipping past York Minster though, as to be honest, I used to get really wound up by tourists on my daily commute past the very foot of the Minster. Back then there was a marked cycle track (which naturally, tourists and pedestrians stood/walked in) and I liked to frighten people by cycling past them very closely if they were in my lane; well, don’t walk in cycle lanes then – I’d do the same now! Not sure why the marked track has been removed; I saw a lot of commuters not sticking to it, so maybe that’s why.
York is a fantastic city for commuting by bicycle, and I rarely went to work by any other means. My commute was only 5.5 miles each way and was easily traveled on my single-speed, fixed gear road bike. It is comparable to Bristol or Cambridge for ‘cycling friendliness’ .

Anyway, for history of the York Minster please go here. And if you’d like to learn more about my beautiful home city and its history, go here.

All the images taken were with the Canon SX40 HS, but without the RAW conversion software (CHDK – Canon Hack Development Kit) I plugged into the memory card (because I formatted the card by mistake). All edited in Camera RAW, Photoshop CS6 and Lightroom 5.

So the first shot I took was a panorama of the south face of the Minster, comprising of six portrait shots stitched together:

Very pleased how this one came out. There will always be scaffolding on the building due to its ongoing repairs; even after the fire that seriously damaged it in 1984.
Very pleased how this one came out. There will always be scaffolding on the building due to its ongoing repairs; even after the fire that seriously damaged it in 1984, but it remains and always will be, a stunning piece of architecture, one of the largest in Europe.

I also snapped one with my wife in, to give it a little scale. Although, the images don’t really do the size of it justice. The central tower is 200 feet/61 metres high:

The sky didn't stay blue for very long unfortunately.
The sky didn’t stay blue for very long unfortunately.

I took a magnified shot of the beautiful circular window. You can just make out the anti-pigeon netting:

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I wanted to take a shot looking towards the eastern end of the Minster, to include the commanding statue of the Emperor Constantine. Shame about the scaffold:

4

A very brief background to Emperor Constantine. I was brought up on an avenue named after him.
A very brief background to Emperor Constantine. I was brought up on an avenue named after him.
Feeling small, kneeling before the greatest Emperor York had ever seen.
Feeling small, kneeling before the greatest Emperor York had ever seen.

From here I took my wife down to see Clifford’s Tower which was first built in 1068. It is also from this point that Stage 2 of the Tour de France will depart; I am so proud that my home city is hosting a stage of the Tour – it is an amazing opportunity for the city and for the county of Yorkshire:

 

It's a shame the daffodils were not in bloom.
It’s a shame the daffodils were not in bloom.
B & W version
B & W version

We were wanting a sit down and a hot drink, and I knew of a little place calls Dyl’s that is in the old motorhouse on Skeldergate Bridge. This area is regularly under water due to its proximity to the River Ouse. So we had a nice sat down next to the river until we were almost accosted by a local skallywag:

I told him to wind his neck in (this can mean 'to not be so cheeky' in the UK); obviously an apt thing to say!
I told him to wind his neck in (this can mean ‘to not be so cheeky’ in the UK); obviously an apt thing to say!

After this, we decided to have a walk on the city walls. So we walked on the section from the bottom of Skeldergate Street, up past Nunnery Lane and around past York Station, to exit at Lendal Bridge. I saw the following and got excited, naturally:

Can't wait to come back in July! My third Tour de France in a row!!
Can’t wait to come back in July! My third Tour de France in a row!!

Then we climbed the steps onto the walls, where we discovered our legs were aching from the short ride we did in Lancashire with friends the day before:

My wife couldn't resist sticking her head out through the crenelations!
My wife couldn’t resist sticking her head out through the crenelations!

We approached Micklegate Bar, which has been the entrance into York for serving monarchs for over 1,000 years. Less pleasantly, it was also used to impale the heads of traitors on spikes. Which is nice. ‘Eeeee, them were’t days.

Approaching Micklegate Bar.
Approaching Micklegate Bar.
At least the daffodils were blooming on this side.
At least the daffodils were blooming on this side.

At one point as we passed through Micklegate Bar, I noticed that the old Sony shop had been changed into a rather nice looking cycling cafe. I was so envious of cyclists in York now; there is nothing I like better than chilling out with a coffee in a coffee-shop-cum-bike-shop; it’s part of cycling culture. This coffee shop you could even take your bike in by the looks of things, and hang it up, away and out of sight of thieving hands outside. I would love nothing more than my area (Bangor, North Wales) to have something like this as I think it would do so well in the right place and if I had the money, I would seriously think about starting my own business; it’s always been a dream of mine to own and run a coffee-shop-cum-bike-shop:

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After my sulking, we carried on around past York Station towards Lendal Bridge, where I took the classic distant shot of York Minster. Just a shame the low cloud had come over, giving me featureless, boring skies:

Looking east over Lendal Bridge to York Minster
Looking east over Lendal Bridge to York Minster. I’ve never seen this road so quiet (about time it had restrictions placed on it)

We mosied over the bridge where I took a quick shot north west over the River Ouse, looking towards Scarborough Railway Bridge:

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From here we walked to a very famous fudge shop, where my wife wanted to buy some of the expensive fudge. You can watch it being made, if that’s your kind of thing and you don’t mind the sickly sweet smell. These shops are not independent to York, they are a large chain. It was £5.00 for one lump of fudge, but it is the nicest, smoothest fudge you’ll ever taste. Mmm, scrumptious!
We had a little wander down Stonegate, where one of my favourite pubs and old haunts is, Ye Olde Starre Inne (or “Ye Oldy Starry Inny as we used to call it). It’s a great pub, with great ale. I remember having about four pints of Theakston’s Old Peculiar in here; wasn’t a good idea, it’s very strong ale!

The banner above Stonegate, just in case you're ever drunk enough to miss the entrance to the pub!
The banner above Stonegate, just in case you’re ever drunk enough to miss the entrance to the pub!

I took my wife down to The Shambles, where she bought me some Sour Apple sweets. I knew about these from when I lived here, and I wanted to get some. These are without doubt, the most incredibly sour hard sweets you will ever eat and your face will contort into caricatures you never thought possible, that is, if you can keep the sweet in your mouth long enough. I challenged my wife to keep one in her mouth, but she couldn’t, saying that it was ‘vile‘. I have a penchant for sour sweets, however. You may need a drink afterwards…

The Shambles
The Shambles

And because I’m biased as to where I come from (and bloody well proud of where I’m from!) I saw this in a window and took a picture of it:

So very true.
So very true.

My wonderful wife had another surprise up her sleeve. I knew we were going for lunch at the very famous Golden Fleece, which has been around since 1503 and is very haunted. It has featured on the TV series ‘Most Haunted‘ on two occasions. My wife is very good at keeping things secret from me (not always a good thing, surely) and she’d arranged for us to have lunch with my brother and sister in law and their two, wonderful kids. We had a great lunch whilst I supped on a nice pint of Theakston’s Best bitter. We said our good byes afterwards and made our way up the Minster again, as I wanted to get a shot inside before we left. Unfortunately, you now have to pay to wander around the building, which is a real shame. I know they have to source funds from somewhere to continue maintaining it, but it always used to be free entry, apart from up the central tower. Perhaps it should be free to residents (even ex-residents). Nevermind. So I got a few vertical shots for the panorama I wanted. It’s not the best, as it’s just not taken at the right angle as I wanted to be where the two people are stood on the left, to look straight down the nave:

York Minster's stunning interior. At least, what I could shoot :(
York Minster’s stunning interior. At least, what I could shoot 😦

After the disappointment of not getting the shots I wanted, I took a couple more pictures of the model that is outside the western end of the Minster.

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Looking west
Looking west

I took these shots and then it was time to leave unfortunately.

We had a wonderful time in York, even though it was very brief, but we will be back for the Tour de France in July and will have more time to do things and the bikes are coming next time!

 

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