November 4, 2013
Jolly Old England
Enjoying a visit to York on a Sunny, Breezy, Sunday
September Day, 2013
As I stood groggily in line at the early morning hotel breakfast buffet, the gentleman ahead of me smiled and motioned “Carry on, Love.” This small act of chivalry had made my day, complete with a smile firmly fixed upon my face. After all, it sure beats a plain “go on ahead of me in line”! Ya gotta love England!
While a fan of the UK mushrooms at breakfast, and I loved their tea,
I can not endorse their epicurean creation of (baked) beans on extremely buttered crisp toast.
Happily, I had been able to join my husband on this business trip to the northern part of England. While said-hubby was in daily meetings, I was determined to spend one day exploring in nearby Lincoln. A pretty city, Lincoln’s personality is defined by the imposing edifices of its cathedral and its castle, both of Norman origin and built around the 11th century. For me, an American, who when at home, considers pre-1900 buildings as “old”, seeing these immense, centuries old structures, was a mind-boggling experience!
Entering into the sanctum of the massive Church of England’s, Lincoln Cathedral, I felt dwarfed by the enormity of it all. The vaulted 82-foot ceiling of the nave/sanctuary, the colorful stained glass windows, and the hushed reverence that it all demands, create an awe-inspiring setting. Apparently, I am not the only one who thinks so. After my visit, I learned that the Lincoln Cathedral was used in the films “DaVinci Code” and “The Young Victoria”.
The impressive interior of Lincoln Cathedral
Across the cobblestone street, Lincoln’s Castle was next on my tourist’s list. I hoped to view one of the four remaining copies of the Magna Carta (The Magna Carta, 1297: Widely viewed as one of the most important legal documents in the history of democracy. *), and to walk along the castle wall and towers. My visit was short-lived however, and limited to a look-see in the gift shop and an enjoyable visit with the staff. I had arrived while major renovations were currently in the works for the 800th anniversary, to take place in April 2015, of the signing of Magna Carta. The Magna Cara, itself, was away on loan, while the locations to view at the castle were severely limited due to all of the repairs. Happily, though, in chatting with the well-informed gift shop lady, I found that I had actually already viewed their Magna Carta! When visiting the National Archives a few years ago in Washington D.C., it was the Lincoln Castle’s Magna Carta that had been on loan there, and I had seen it! :o)
My obligatory tourist stops done, I was now ready to explore the shopping of Lincoln. To do so, I first had to descend Steep Hill; the shopping district begins here. Just across from Lincoln Cathedral, my “repelling” down the hill began, and I was thankful for my trusty Keen walking shoes/sandals.
Steep Hill lives up to its name in Lincoln
My trusty Keen shoes
Although, not normally a marathon shopper, I found some fun places to spend my time in the Lincoln shopping district:
In fact, I have become a fan of the UK’s array of thrift shops for various charitable causes, and Lincoln had several to explore. These shops are always are neat, clean, orderly and items are of good quality at Goodwill Store prices, plus it feels good knowing that your purchase goes to a worthy cause.
I visited the House of Fraser, a department store that has the queen’s royal warrant, which means that the queen uses their goods and gives it her seal of approval.
I was introduced, via a brief makeover session, to Benefit cosmetics, which are from San Francisco. It took a trip to England to find this?!
A young college fellow/clerk kindly taught me about British currency at a bookstore, and I had my first Yorkshire pudding (…and it is NOT pudding.) at a little café called Churchill’s.
I enjoyed a very pleasant day in York.
So this is Yorkshire pudding!
Meant to be filled with veggies and pieces of meat from your plate.
Not content to allow me to have all the fun :o), a few days later, on his day off, Dale joined me on a day trip to the nearby city of York. A city of Roman origin, one of its most dominant landmarks is York Minster, of the Church of England. Constructed in the 1300’s, York Minster is known for its beautiful stained glass windows, which were actually taken out just before the first and the second world wars for safe keeping, having to be carefully put back into place, piece by piece, afterwards. Amazing to look at and comprehend, in both size and aesthetics, Dale and I were fortunate enough to be at the cathedral when their choir was singing. The choir voices were angelic, and the acoustics were phenomenal. I became almost giddy, however, as the afternoon church bells began chiming, which were just like those in Disney’s Robin Hood when Maid Marion weds Robin Hood.
Welcome Billboard at the York Train Station
One of the stained glass windows in York Minster
The bells of York Minster sounded like the wedding bells in
Disney’s Robin Hood
Another York landmark we visited that day was William the Conqueror’s castle, now called Clifford’s Tower. (There are various theories as to why it is presently called this; one refers to Roger de Clifford who was hanged at the tower in 1322 for his opposition to Edward II.) A self-guided tour of the tower was interesting, and the view of the city lovely, but with the low wall combined with the height, I was eager to make it back to lower ground!
The beautiful, but scary view of York, from the top of Clifford’s Tower
Dale and Me at the outside of Clifford’s Tower
(I was happy to be on lower ground)
Dale and I happily spent the rest of the day shopping, with me scoring two British products, a top from Cath Kidston, and a new Radley handbag, complete with Scottie dogs, from The Shambles, an old area in York filled with old shops. (I will not regale you with tales of the origin of the name, The Shambles, but if you are interested, and not weak of stomach, please read below.*) One of the best parts of our day was having the time to take an unusual, leisurely late lunch at the wonderful Betty’s Tea Room before heading back to meet our taxi at the York train station. One of six Betty Tea Rooms in the UK, we found a line out the door with patrons waiting for tables. We soon discovered that the wait was well worth it, Betty’s being a real treat, and a fitting ending as our relaxing day in York came to a close. Yep, the day just reconfirmed it,
Ya gotta love England!
Shopping in The Shambles of York
Dining at Betty’s Tea Room
My new Radley handbag with a handy dandy cell phone pocket
Thanks for reading! :o)
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An English/British bulldog in York