Friday, October 2, 2015

York and English Toast

Part of the appeal of staying in Cambridge had been that it would make our trip to York the next day shorter. We originally intended to stay in York but as we were trying to arrange our trip there was no where available within 20 miles. We did a little sleuthing and found out there were some huge races in York that weekend and the town was going to have something like 100,000 more people than normal. We thought of skipping York altogether after Anne read stories of drunk and disorderly shenanigans on the Internet, but we really wanted to see York. I live in a town where there are races in the summer (only ours are car races, not horse races) and I had a feeling that if York was anything like Oswego, the town might be actually a little quieter than normal during the races because most of the visitors would be there. Anne made an inquiry and was told that yes, that would probably be the case until around 5:00 PM when things would start to get a little wild. We decided to go ahead and go and just be well on our way before the five o'clock hour. We figured it wouldn't be hard to see most of what we wanted to see before then anyway.

Exterior of York Minster
Our train to York was very crowded. Mom and Anne sat across the table from a sweet and down-to-earth kid named Jimmy who was in the Scots Guard and was on his way home to see his mum. I sat across the aisle from them at a table with two handsome young men, Oliver and Andrew. Oliver and Andrew had been best mates since childhood and were heading home to Sheffield for the weekend. Andrew played cricket and Oliver was tagging along to watch even though in his words cricket is "rubbish". They were fairly well-dressed, muscley and they smelled really good--basically the British version of frat boys.

No one said much at first. I got the feeling that I had crashed their party, but after a little while we started visiting. They thought I was from Canada (not the first time someone thought that about us on the trip) but I told them I was from New York and they asked me some questions about the states. We talked about their families and my family and the places Mom, Anne and I had visited so far. They said they were impressed. I told them about how stressful the driving had been for me, then  as it often does with me, the conversation turned to food. 

I told them we'd be in Edinburgh the next day and asked them about haggis. Oliver said it was like mince and was "really lovely." They both said they loved it and I ought to try it. I told them we had loved the breakfasts that our hostesses had been feeding us. I told them we loved the toast and that it is different than American toast. They both looked at me like I was a little strange. I don't know what possessed me, but I thought, "hey we've been wondering how the English make their toast, why not ask these nice young men?" so I asked. 
"So, how does one make toast in England?"
They glanced at each other, then Oliver looked at me like I was off my nut and said, "Well, you take the bread out of the bag and you put it in the toaster. . .then you press the lever."
I hurried and explained that I know how to use a toaster and that the only logical conclusion must be that the bread in England is just better. We talked about the butter being different too--I saved face by telling them that I am for real butter all the way. No margarine for this girl. That earned me back a little cred and I guess they decided that I wasn't totally certifiable.

Oliver and Andrew got off the train in Sheffield and wished me well and Anne and Mom moved over to my table so we could sit together and eat the salads we had purchased at the train station. As we got closer to York the train got more and more crowded. When we arrived in York the station was bursting with people--great smelling men in blue suits or dark jeans and dress shirts, ridiculous women in skimpy dresses and fancy hats. We lugged our luggage (yep--just figured out the etymology of that word) to the left luggage office and headed for downtown.

York is a walled city that was founded by the Romans. We knew we wanted to see York Minster and The Shambles, do a little shopping and walk the city wall. We were able to do 3 out of 4. Walking the wall was cut from the agenda but we still had a great time.

I am totally kicking myself now for not having this guy write me a poem.
York Minster

Intricate stained glass in York Minster.

Organ and choir screen.
Detail of the York Minster Choir Screen consisting of Kings from William the Conquerer to Henry VI. I love their curly hair.

Elevator to York Minster Undercroft. Did you know that in England 0 is the ground floor, not 1. -1 is one floor below ground. 

Despite lots of signs, I didn't think York was all that easy to navigate. We had to stop to ask directions to the Shambles at least twice--maybe three times--but we did find it. The Shambles used to be all butcher shops but they have been converted to tourist shops. We had fun poking around in a few of them--I loved the antique shop where Anne found a set of spoons for my niece. Mom was even able to find a deerstalker for my brother, Carter, at a woolen mill.

Crowds of shoppers in The Shambles.

Cutest little antique shop.
Wall around the city of York.
The River Ouse.

The day was wearing on and we wanted to be in Durham to rent our car before it got too late. We ended up asking for directions back to the train station a couple of times. One kind woman said she was heading that direction and showed us the way. Anne and I left Mom to rest and retrieved our luggage, bought our tickets and we all waited on the platform for our train to Durham.

To Be Continued. . .

No comments: