We rode the train up to York which was about 2 hours away from London, and then a short taxi ride to our B&B. The taxi driver was a cheerful bloke who knew all of LA’s sports teams, including the Dodgers, Galaxy and Rams (lol!). Hillcrest House B&B was nice and quiet, as we were the only guests at the time, but dragging my huuuuuge suitcase/duffel up 4 flights was a bit much for me. I guess my recent foray into doing weights and machines hasn’t paid off yet. Once we checked in, we set off towards the city, and stopped first at Clifford’s Tower. Much of the city has changed since we were here 21 years ago on our honeymoon, but I remember climbing up to the top of the grassy hill, not using the stairs which are now built into the side of the hill. It was a great view of the city from that perch.
Our next stop was The Shambles, a touristy shopping lane, that voted most scenic or charming or something like that. We later learned that the designers for the first Harry Potter movie took pictures of The Shambles and modeled Diagon Ally after it.
Most importantly, however, was Ramshambles, a yarn store sitting at the end of the road. It was a cute little shop with friendly staff. I am the proud owner of two skeins of yarn from sheep housed at a farm 10 miles away; all natural colors (dark brown and oatmeal), they are a coarse Shetland wool, perfect for cool weather wear. Sweetie Boy has been wearing his acrylic UCLA beanie, and when I commented that he didn’t pack any of his handknitted caps, he said he couldn’t find them. He agreed to let me knit one for him, and has since chosen the dark brown wool. I just have to finish up Brad’s socks, and then it’ll be time to cast on that beanie made from local wool. Very exciting!
I stumbled across another store, Poppy’s, and while the staff was nice enough, they were not knowledgeable about their yarn. When I asked for local yarn, they offered their King Cole line, saying it was made in England. I found, however, two skeins of Brigantia Luxury dk wool which says it is manufactured in Yorkshire in a nice plum-y color. Wool shopping – check!
Squid loves all things archaeological, especially digging around in the dirt, so we next headed to a place called, “Dig!” It’s a hands-on museum experience, where they explain the different time periods that have made up York, including Roman, Medieval, Viking and Victorian. They even let you know muck around in recreated digs, using a fake dirt. They showed us original artifacts and reproductions, including a fossilized viking poo. Yup. You read that right. Ick.
After the poo experience, we walked to the York Minster, one of the big draws of the city but they closed before we could enter.
Beautiful limestone carved church! After dinner, Squid and I went on the Ghost Trail talk, where you’re led about the city by a narrating actor who tells you about supernatural experiences and haunted houses about the town. York has the fine distinction of claiming to be the most haunted city in the world. Ooh aah… No spooky people jumping out of dark doorways at us; just some slightly creepy stories and great fun. Brad and Sweetie Boy were too scaredy-chicken butt to join us and stayed in the room, shivering under their blankets. Hee hee
Brad and Sweetie Boy walked a portion of the wall around York while Squid and I were ghost hunting, so unfortunately I missed out on it. I hope I get to tomorrow. Cheers!
Day 3: A Town Called Pickering
It was a cloudy, yet surprisingly warmish day for our trek out to the little town of Pickering. It’s said that if you’re a Pickering, then your ancestors have come from this place. After a hot, freshly cooked breakfast at our B&B, we hired a car which featured a manual transmission and lacked a GPS system. Gulp! Brad was feeling brave and adventurous as we piled into the car, and he quickly got acclimated to driving on the left side of the road, and shifting with his left hand. And there were the roundabouts to contend with, along with the confusing signs. It was thankfully an uneventful 40 minute drive out to the little city, and we got to enjoy the beautiful bucolic scenery.
After a quick walkabout the town and a visit to the Visitor’s Center, we hopped on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway which boasts one end of the line at Pickering. The other ends at Whitby which is a coastal town, but we had missed that train. We rode out to Goathland instead, which is 2 stops short of Whitby. Goathland is known as their celebrity stop, since the town was the setting for a BBC show called “Heartbeat” which no longer airs.
The Goathland train station was the setting for the Hogsmeade train station in the first Harry Potter movie, and that was the biggest draw for us. Goathland felt a bit tourist-trappy, but we happily walked along and indulged in some locally sourced and made ice cream. On the ride back, the kids were really excited to ride in their own “cabin” on the train, something we haven’t experienced before.
Upon our return to Pickering, we walked about the city a bit more and ventured up to Pickering Castle. We knew it would be closed, but decided this was the best day to visit anyway.
Since coming to visit 21 years ago, a nice footpath led the way around the castle, and made for a nice stroll. The kids loved running up the steep grassy knoll time and time again.
We met a gentleman walking his beautiful black labrador, and when he learned that we were visiting from Southern California, he recommended that we stop by Pickering Church which boasts beautiful 15th century murals. The gentleman was wearing a collar, so I think he was a bit biased, but that’s okay because the murals were indeed quite grand. The front of the church was surrounded by headstones, and all of this area made for a pleasant cemetery/surrounding yard.
We seem to have adjusted fairly well to the time change and are dealing okay with the jet lag. That’s not to say we don’t get tired, but the cornish pasties, cheese or cherry scones, and chocolate biscuits and tea are providing ample fortification. Tomorrow, we return the rental car, hop back on the train and make our way to Edinburgh, home of a beautiful castle or two and another yarn store. 🙂