One of my favourite places in the UK is York. Like Bath, it is a large city with a very interesting history and the architecture (much of it dating from the middle ages) begs for camera action at every turn.
The famous York Minster requires at least one visit, as the foundations go down to Roman times with so much to see and absorb from then on. The Vikings settled there during their raids in the Dark Ages, giving it the name of Yorvik, evidence of which is still to be found (when not closed due to flooding as it is for several years, but more of that later.)
We travelled there by train on the 30th May last year. From Banbury this is very easy as, provided you catch one of several direct journeys, it should only take about three hours with none of the awkward darting about with luggage to swap from one train to another. However, as we came into Derby, (which puzzled us as that wasn’t on the original route) we were informed that an incident on the track ahead of us had forced the closure of that section of the line. We were then advised to stay in our seats while a group of passengers from the affected train were loaded onto ours. Everyone closed gaps
(Sue and I had to sit together on one side of the middle table, where we had until then spread ourselves out,) and a jovial crowd filled the cabin with luggage, noise and chatter about everything and nothing. They were returning home after some popular football match the previous day and obviously had been drinking for much of the previous night and were still very merry.
Our train then did a complicated shunting back and forth in and out of Derby station and headed back the way we had just come for about twenty minutes, then, with another shuffle, headed off on a different line, to eventually take us to a small station where our celebrating crowd got off. An interesting detour, especially with the sort of parting messages and good wishes one would only expect from long standing friends. We later found out that ‘incident’ is Brit Rail speak for suicide on the track. I felt sorry for the drivers;apparently this happens several times a week and is even more common on the London underground.
As our plans included driving to the Lakes District later that week, I had reserved (from Australia, several months beforehand) a good car for us to collect from the depot near the train station in York. The rate booked was very reasonable, but as the whole area was devastated by the floods the previous winter, I had to adopt plan B and book another car from Hertz, whose depot is out of town and above the flooded area. Two weeks before our departure from Perth, I was told that the first company could probably find a car from another depot if the York branch was still out of action. Very helpful. They would email me the week before our intended arrival. Needless to say, I cancelled that one and accepted the Hertz option at almost twice the price. I had decided while in Banbury, that we wouldn’t really need a car until the day before our trip to Cumbria. Which was fortunate as our late arrival into York would have meant that we couldn’t collect the car that day anyway. And as we soon discovered, the street where I had been promised easy parking, was in fact full most of the time. I couldn’t resist this photo; only a Brit would think of touring in such a tiny caravan.
We were also very late arriving at the Sycamore Guest House in Botham, a suburb of York, within easy walking distance of the city. Our hosts did a bit of a grumble and insisted on payment for the full five nights up front, before helping us up a very steep, narrow staircase, to our rooms. At least they were, as promised, quiet, overlooking a playing field. Reviews had raved about the breakfasts, which really were pretty ordinary, and who can go wrong cooking bacon, eggs, sausages and tomatoes. I knew the approximate situation as I’d stayed in a place nearby on my previous visit. This one was passable and fairly clean, but I wouldn’t suggest you try it. The space for the toilet in Sue’s ensuite was so narrow, she could barely sit down, my shower produced a drizzle and the bed was far from luxuriously comfortable.
The next day was a great improvement.