Beautiful English Countryside of the North York Moors from staying in a Country Hotel

This is a very short posting. I may change my posts to become weekly from now as to have more time to work on each story and improve the quality overall. Expect some more interesting stories coming soon!

I stayed in a beautiful country hotel near to Scarborough in the North York Moors. Sadly, I would not recommend this hotel no matter it’s lovely surrounds due to the extreme incompetence of it’s staff unless you are looking for a Faulty Towers type of experience. I did write a piece during my stay there but it seems to have completely disappeared.

20130618-195122.jpg
View of the country hotel from the car park.

20130618-195313.jpg
A lovely view from the grounds of the hotel.

20130618-195407.jpg
The lovely dining room where I had breakfast the first day. I didn’t bother to have the included breakfast on my second day though.

20130618-195458.jpg
WIFI was available in the well-appointed bar. This was a place where we were off the grid, no cellular signal here so WIFI was the only communication available with the outside world.

20130618-195617.jpg

20130618-200305.jpg
This was a lovely place to sit and work. Less so in memory if you later lose your work, as in my case.

20130618-200434.jpg
Despite being advertised, lunch was not available. The ducks asked me to share my veggie snacks that I had brought with me but then spit them out. Click on the next image to view a short video.

20130618-201236.jpg

20130618-201305.jpg
Hiking on little trails around the property.

20130618-201359.jpg
A hotel guest fishing for mackerel.

20130618-201437.jpg

20130618-201504.jpg
Another view of the hotel.

20130618-201607.jpg
The charming green lounge off the main hall near reception.

20130618-201725.jpg
Looking across the pond.

20130618-201916.jpg
So beautiful, but I do warn that the staff were very untrained as of my visit in June, 2013. It was as if none of them had ever been to an inn or hotel before. Or the people in charge had gone to get some eggs and never returned. Some years previous.

Thank you for reading my blog! I hope you will look around and click on “Follow” at the bottom right of your screen so you don’t miss an adventure! One easy click to unfollow so it’s no risk. Cheers! Darren

20130623-141952.jpg

“England’s Other City”, a Silly Look at a City that has a Silly Slogan.

href=”https://personaltravelstories.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/20130623-142022.jpg”>20130623-142022.jpg

If I tell you that this city’s motto at my time of writing is, “England’s Other City” I am certain that you would never guess the city that I am referring to, so disparate must be their self-image to actual. Good for them, it’s been proved that those who appraise themselves more favourably than actual do better than those tho appraise themselves harshly. A good self-image is important although one should also have at least a teensy bit of reality to avoid wearing one of those funny coats where the arms are tied around back. But just try to think of a few places it could possibly be before scrolling down to see. Perhaps even click on the comment button to tell everyone what your guess was. If you’re from there or have read it before than you may know, but that’s not the same as a motto actually suiting a place.

______________________________________
I am experimenting with my writing, this first bit is some added fiction and the main story starts after the next line.
______________________________________

Imagine you are in your mid-thirties. You’ve finally landed the job you’ve always wanted, the career you’ve been working towards since you entered university seventeen years ago. You love your city, you enjoy the life you’ve set-up for yourself, and financially you don’t have a care in the world. You have a lovely set of friends that you’ve built-up over the years, an eclectic mix of differing personalities that suit your various moods. I guess you’re a bit of a moody a-hole that you need to do that, but never-mind. The point is that life is good and you feel satisfied. You’re dreams have come true.

You are an art curator and have worked your way up to one the most prestigious art galleries in New York City, an accomplishment that you like to flaunt at every turn. You went back to your hometown high school reunion for the sole purpose of making others feel badly about themselves. “It must be lovely to serve the public at the hospital cafeteria, your family must be dead-proud that you climbed such dizzying heights from where you started at McDonalds and in only twenty years!” “You must feel good about your contributions to the world, I can only imagine how doing the book-keeping for ABC Pesticides must be an exciting and rewarding position for you. I’m sure one has to experience working in a basement office to really appreciate it.” You don’t try to hide your pretensions either, you are the leader-of-the-pack in your pretentious circles.

You have no appreciation for the fact that people are not dealt the same hand. True, you did work hard, but you were also given a free pass when your family easily afforded to send you to the University of your choice. Growing-up, your Uncle Malcolm would take you to fabulous places and show you works of art that most kids will never see during their lifetime, let alone with your uncle’s explanation of why he loves certain pieces so much. (You can remember clearly that there was a modern abstract piece he loved that he claimed was a uterus. Actually, now that you think about it, he could find the uterus in a lot of abstract pieces, almost like it was a fixation of his. You couldn’t quite see it yourself.)

By the time you exited high school you had already visited some of the worlds greatest art galleries in London, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin. You had private art-tuition on weekends and although you had no talent (You were terrible! Remember!) it aided in your appreciation and somehow it didn’t injure your ego one tiny bit, so strong was your sense of being better than others. You were Daddy’s little Princess and Mamma’s little Cabbage. (She wasn’t calling you retarded. It’s a term of endearment in French.) You won a scholarship by being the only applicant who fell within it’s parameters. (Awarded to a white female candidate who has travelled extensively by age fifteen to at least 5 of the worlds 10 greatest cities with their uncle and who might be considered differently-abled when it comes to the actual creation of art. The scholarship coincidentally coming from your Father’s company and creating a tax write-off for him. Interesting.)

No, apart from these tiny benefits you enjoyed, you are completely self-made and there’s no excuse why Sharon who group-up one of 5 children to a single mother who cleaned homes for a living should not have created a life just as fulfilling and successful as yours. The fact that she was excited to get her first job at age fifteen because it meant that her family could keep their 2-bedroom apartment despite the rate increase holds no water with you. That her family immediately became dependant on her income and she then never had a chance to advance herself career-wise because of her desperate situation will never occur to you as anything but an excuse for her to be lazy. Lazy in a working-two-jobs-seventy-exhausting-hours-per-week sort of way.

Or what about John who became a pet-groomer, loves his wife and two kids, and he would not have his life any other way. You look down on him too because you don’t understand that his success exceeds yours. He’s happier than you are, and he gives back to his community as a volunteer fire fighter. He does that with his Dad, it is something they can share together in the small town you also grew-up in. But because that town was not your destiny you judge others when it is theirs, as if liking one place is better than liking another. Well it’s not, it’s just personal preference. Imagine if we all had the same preference, what would the world look like then? Hmmm? You’re being pretty quiet now, aren’t you.

Well, you are just delightful. How have we not met and become fast friends.

One day you wake-up and you can’t see a thing. Not a spec of light. The darkness that is your view of others who differ from you is now all that you can see. Sad.

Can’t see the pretty pictures now, can you. I’m sure my readers feel so very sorry for you. But lets have some fun with it anyway. We deserve to have some fun, don’t we. Your social worker is one of those people who yells when talking to blind people. You thought this was funny before you went blind yourself, how people with all their senses seem to confuse which-ones-do-what when dealing with the differently-abled. Now that you are blind yourself you notice that your hearing is actually heightened, so dependent you are on it for information about your environment. Its startling when someone yells at you from close proximity, especially when you didn’t see they were there. In fact, you never see they are there. I sometimes find noisy situations disorienting myself and I have the aid of having full visual guidance. I can only imagine that a noisy place where you cannot differentiate specific queues of comings and goings and activities by their sounds must be very stressful.

You have a type A personality and your social worker has decided that it would be best for you to just jump in to your new life by going to a special boot-camp, an island full of people just like you where you should be able to master your change of ability within a matter of months. Three months actually. But once you go, there’s no leaving early under any circumstance apart from being air lifted due to having a medical emergency.

After packing a nearly-random assortment of clothing (Because you can’t see them. Were you intending to wear the top-half of your halloween crocodile costume with those jeans today? And you have some food stuck to your lips. Oh sorry, I must have forgotten to take my glue stick out of your cosmetic case. Easy mistake, I do tend to forget things.) you reluctantly leave your perfect life. You’d take-up massage, an ideal profession for the sight-impaired because they tend to develop a gifted sense of touch, if you didn’t dislike people so much. You’re not sure what you are going to do yet, but you know you can’t just sit at home and listen to tv all day. You need to learn how to walk with a cane, you need braille to read, you need strategies and you need to train your brain to experience the world differently than you have for the past 35 years. You oscillate between feeling depressed and anxious and then one of your self-help books kicks-in and you feel slightly invigorated by the challenge.

At the conclusion of a considerable world journey you arrive to the island and something seems wrong. You can’t see what it is because you still can’t see. Perhaps you didn’t read the fine print of the forms your social worker had you sign. Oh dear. Your social worker seems to have made a bit of a mix-up. He’s sent you to a boot camp for people who suddenly lost their hearing. It was all the same to him I guess. Oops.

The first days you spend your time stumbling around getting slapped in the face a lot. Sighted people practicing their new language. No one can hear you, even the staff are deaf. Must be hard not being heard. Kind of like how you refused to see the real lives of those you looked down on. Bit judgemental, weren’t you. Hmmm.

Apart from feeling alienated you feel painfully bored, unlike anything you have ever experienced. (Although perhaps you’ve come close while reading this blog today. I’m experimenting a bit.) You’ve alienated yourself before, so that’s not entirely new, but never have you been unable to read, unable to watch a movie, but especially unable to sit and admire the new artwork that you just acquired for your gallery at auction. Attaining things with other’s money actually turned out to be your greatest passion, you felt like it was yours. The powerful feeling of wielding an auction number with a two million dollar budget for the afternoon, you like that.

_______________________________________________

I am not saying that Norwich is boring like this island must have been for our dear friend who so sadly lost her sight, it isn’t quite. That it was England’s second largest city in the eleventh century did surprisingly little to alter my experience of it only ten centuries later. But I suppose a lot can change in a thousand years when you really think about it. In my five days of wandering it’s lovely streets (it really is pretty) somehow nothing happened. I didn’t find anything particularly interesting to do, I was not able to meet anyone, I found it difficult to find meals away from very noisy chain restaurants, and I found no stories to tell. I’m sure it has lots of these wonderful things and much more, I just didn’t find any of them myself. It is a handsome place though, with some great buildings and I loved the narrow streets of the old town. If you are out for sightseeing, this is a very pretty town. And perhaps there are events that go on there from time-to-time that would have considerably altered my experience.

There were some interesting bits from history, just nothing during my visit. It was the only English city to ever be “excommunicated” in the twelve hundreds, so that’s something. In the fourteenth city they completed city walls but then someone had the brilliant notion to make it illegal to build outside them which caused complete stagnation and meant the end of the city’s growth. Seems obvious enough today that a city that cannot grow will not be able to keep-up with rivals but then again our life expectancies today are longer than thirty-years so perhaps we do have more foreskin. I mean foresight. Perhaps both, I’m not a doctor or a geneticist or anything.

Speaking of foreskin, since you brought it up, Norwich had a very disgraceful event in it’s history when in 1190 the Jewish population was executed apart from a few who found a safe-place in the castle. I can only suppose this had some tie-in to an event in 1144 when a boy was found stabbed and the Jews of Norwich were accused of his murder. The executions took place an entire generation later, but there is no other explanation presented that I could find so I am guessing that the event triggered a feud. I have no evidence or knowledge of such, I am just drawing a possibly ludicrous conclusion. I am not a historian.

Norwich’s famous department store, Jerrolds, is only located in Norwich so one could probably say with some conviction that it’s not actually famous. (Yes, I do know that locals might argue that it was something larger a century ago and therefore famous but I am referring to those of us who are alive today. In 2013 it is probably known only to people of Norfolk.) The name does remind one of Harrods though, so that’s something.

Perhaps the most interesting fact I pulled from Norwich’s long and fascinating history was that in 1976 it installed speed bumps on one of it’s streets to encourage drivers to keep to the 30 mph speed limit, making it England’s third street ever to do so.

Incredible.

They really should promote that more to draw-in more tourists. Makes one pause and wonder where the first street was, doesn’t it. Can you hardly imagine, now that would really be something. But being number three is not too shabby either and the fact that I stumbled upon that amazing fact shows some civic pride for sure, that someone took the effort to make sure the world didn’t forget. And the world surely won’t forget, or at least several readers won’t – it now being encapsulated in my very informative book as it is.

Norwich seems to have sometime recently changed it’s motto from “Norwich – a fine city” which I would say was arguably true, to the very head-shaking, “Norwich, England’s other city.” This latter incarnation, so ridiculous in it’s implication that perhaps England has two cities, gives me the impression that they are perhaps reaching just a little. Like a thousand years. If you don’t like how you compare to other cities today than you shouldn’t have had your silly “no building outside the walls” rule for hundreds of years. Just sayin’. It was number two before it fell gracefully over the centuries to become what it is today. It does have a lot of medieval churches though, which are nice to look-at. Unless you’ve been touring around England continuously for some weeks and find that the churches are starting to blur your vision.

I can only imagine that this new motto was conjured by an illiterate cave-dweller who had only ventured into public the one time during-which he conveyed this, his greatest idea to a motto-starved public who embraced it with some controversy. He could hardly be blamed, he had only seen cave drawings from the time when that phrase would have been true, how could he have known how drastically the world had changed. According to Wikipedia, the city itself, standing at around 140,000 inhabitants, Norwich ranks number 139. Which is also quite far from being second. Actually in a different listing I found, they stood at number 156 but let’s give them the benefit of the doubt since this seems a touchy issue.

Perhaps those in favour of the new city slogan had never watched Bob Newhart. “This is my brother Darryl, and this is my other brother Darryl,” is a more accurate grammar usage by a not-overly erudite character on that programme. Note that the total number of brother’s named Darryl that he had was two.

I am a cat lady. I have thirteen cats. This is my cat Margaret. This is my other cat, Bob.

Something doesn’t add up. What happened to the other eleven cats. I don’t trust myself now. Am I even a real cat lady? I don’t think so. See what I mean – it’s like they’re trying to hide something. “England’s Other City,” as a motto applied to a city such as this is an embarrassment that just highlights that really it isn’t. I hope they change it back. Or why not correct it, “Norwich, One of England’s other cities”. They don’t need to necessarily mention that it’s one of England’s more insignificant other cities.

Here are some other possibilities, and perhaps readers might add to my list using the comments button below:
“Norwich, we have several hundred more people than Horsham does.”
“Norwich, we might be friendly but we don’t really talk to strangers so it may be hard for you to tell. Sorry about that.”
“Norwich, chain-restaurants are welcome here.”
“Norwich, proud of our heritage. Well, apart from some of the latter middle-ages. But no one is perfect. Shut-up.”
“Norwich, we may be insignificant today but you should have seen us a thousand years ago.”

Without further ado, here are some photos from my time in Norwich.

<a href="https://personaltravelstories.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/20130807-112346.jpg"&gt;20130807-112346.jpg
The very handsome train station.

20130807-112412.jpg
I found Norwich to be very pretty.

20130807-112500.jpg

20130807-112519.jpg
A local was displeased when I took this photo, but I’ve never seen this kind of very narrow gents street urinal before and I though it was interesting. Actually, I was starved for interesting at the time. There was no equivalent for the ladies, it appears that they are addressing the problem of gentlemen peeing in public. The guy who yelled a sarcastic remark to me was working at the bar nearly opposite with a black sign, something to do with mojo I think. I just though of another slogan, “Norwich, pretty but also pretty dull.”

20130807-112731.jpg


Here are some comparisons for the non-British person to be able to fully comprehend Norwich’s grammatically-flawed and false assertion.

These are other cities that also rank number 139 in their countries:

“Cowansville, Canada’s other city”

“Fort Lauderdale, America’s other city.” (Oh, I’ve heard of that one!)

“Matsusaka, Japan’s other city.” (Not the more familiar Matsuyama, which is in the top 40.)

“Cottbus, Germany’s other city.” (Actually, this is ranked number 80 in Germany, I could not find an inclusive list that would include towns below 100,000 which seems to be the defining number of what makes a city in Germany. I suppose the need for such comparisons has no real purpose. Honestly, I didn’t look very hard. Just a couple of minutes at the Second Cup as I was writing and now I throw my arms in the air in defeat and move-on, causing fellow patrons to edge away from me a tad as it looks odd to make such a dramatic gesture to an iPad. I’m about to leave anyway so it doesn’t matter. Anyway, please don’t write me with the answer, I don’t actually care, Cottbus sounds obscure enough to make the point. Feel free to share other cities that rank 139 in their countries by population in the comments below. That’s fun. And very informative. Useful.)

“Meudon, France’s other city.”

“Montesilvano, Italy’s other city.”

<a

20130807-112857.jpg
A wonderfully-unique Guild Hall. It was my friend’s birthday back in Toronto so I took a photo for her Facebook.

20130807-113038.jpg
Cute market in the centre.

20130807-113115.jpg
I do love Victorian Shopping Arcades.

20130807-113151.jpg
Other tourists told me not to bother going into Norwich Castle but I did anyway. Don’t bother. Unless you’re a complete history nut or an archaeologist.

20130807-113408.jpg

20130807-113440.jpg

20130807-113454.jpg

20130807-113514.jpg

20130807-113534.jpg

20130807-113551.jpg
The glass structure in the background is the Forum. I’ve read that it draws tourists.

20130807-113654.jpg

20130807-113709.jpg
I suppose that if I had not spent four days having no friendly encounters whatsoever I may have felt completely differently about Norwich. If on holiday, I’d suggest two nights max. That would probably lead to a better impression. It is a beautiful town.

20130807-113938.jpg

20130807-113957.jpg

20130807-114017.jpg

20130807-114045.jpg
Having coffee with my oldest niece. No, we weren’t Skyping, I was that desperate for company!

20130807-114202.jpg

20130807-114246.jpg

20130807-114308.jpg

20130807-114334.jpg

20130807-114403.jpg

The video isn’t fascinating, it’s just a live slideshow from the day that I took most of the photos.

<a

20130807-114704.jpg

Visiting Seaside Resorts in Yorkshire; Whitby (where Dracula was written) and nearly Scarborough

Whitby is a coastal town in the North York Moors National Park of Yorkshire. I happened through Whitby on my way from Newcastle-upon-Tyne to a country hotel near Scarborough. A very scenic town of less than 14 thousand residents, I had not known it’s reasons for having become famous, it’s reputation as being a pretty seaside resort had precluded them.

We’ve all heard of Captain Hook. His adventures of exploring the globe during a more adventurous and less predictable time are the stories that fascinate children all over the world I expect. Captain Cook first went to sea from Whitby as an apprentice. The home of the shipowner with whom James Cook started his sea career is now the Captain Cook Memorial Museum.

One would also likely familiar with Dracula. The original story was written by Bram Stoker while holidaying in Whitby in 1897. A large part of the original book was actually set in Whitby, although Hollywood spinoffs have featured Transylvania much more. I did not have time to visit Whitby Abbey, the setting for Dracula’s arrival on land.

Another asset Whitby is famous for is it’s deposits of jet, a coal-like substance mined from it’s seaside cliffs that was made famous by Queen Victoria when she wore jewellery made from jet during mourning. The term “Jet Black” comes from this jet, I had only learned that recently from one of my favourite podcasts in which two very clever linguists answer questions about word use, linguistics, and etymology. It’s a fantastic and entertaining show, the two hosts are playful and light heated. You can look them up on iTunes, I have them to automatically update on my Blackberry through whatever system that is. Podcasts are free.

I came into Whitby around lunchtime on a Sunday with the idea to have some lunch and to wander about for a few hours. However, the best I could find for parking was restricted to 40 minutes. If I could have found another spot to double my time I would have, but the town was completely over-run with daytrippers. In retrospect I should have perhaps ignored the time restriction and paid any possible fine that came my way, it would have been well worth it to explore the town further. As it was, my responsible citizenship won-out so I had a very brief run about the main waterside areas before accepting defeat that I could not find better parking. I’m happy to pay any premium for parking where there is little available but I could find none.
20130617-133418.jpg
The approach to Whitby on England’s East Coast.

20130617-173241.jpg
Whitby was really crowded on a Sunday afternoon.

20130617-173318.jpg
I think I found THE LAST parking space behind a small caravan. Sadly, it only gave me 40 minutes to see the sights but all the more reason to return for a proper visit. On weekdays.

20130617-173439.jpg
I’ve never been one to enjoy the excitement of crowds. What a popular spot!

20130617-173533.jpg
I’m growing my hair the longest it’s been since high school! I guess I’m a proper hippy now with the beard and long hair!

20130617-173720.jpg
I did not have time to cross the bridge to the other side where several very interesting historical places wait to be explored.

20130617-173823.jpg
Several people had the idea to visit Whitby on this lovely weekend.

20130617-173906.jpg
Looks like a remote scene from some far off fishing village. That side of the river does have fishing trade, but one could not consider this remote I don’t think.

20130617-174036.jpg

20130617-174212.jpg
Today is Father’s Day so I took a photo to post on his Facebook.

20130617-174350.jpg

20130617-174503.jpg

20130617-174532.jpg
Whitby seems a lovely place and I look forward to visiting it in more depth in the future.

Even if I did only visit for 40 minutes, I am glad that I visited Whitby. It has now entered my list of places to visit for a few days, WEEKDAYS. At “The Greedy Pig” where I stopped to get a sandwich on my way back to the car I asked him if the crowds were so large because of Father’s Day. “No, it’s like this every weekend when the weather’s nice.” So may I also recommend to you, Whitby has enough visitors on the weekends throughout the summer so perhaps aim for weekdays like I will myself in the future.

Robin Hood Bay

Next I had set my GPS to visit Robin Hood Bay. This town has a reputation as another lovely place but the incredibly slow bumper-to-bumper traffic from 2 miles away had me change my mind midway. I had programmed the GPS coordinates of a car park, this town is somewhere that I researched to park at the top and then walk into the town. “Don’t even think about driving to the centre,” I had read in a guidebook. But with this endless stream of cars from 2 miles away, I could not imagine that on my arrival there would be any parking spots left nor anywhere to even pull-over to pause. So I gave Robin Hood Bay a miss.

There is a 6-mile cliff-top trek from Robin Hood Bay to Whitby, and a 20-mile cycling route to Scarborough. I’d like to stay a week in Whitby sometime and to be sure to have my bicycle with me again to enjoy these activities.

20130617-174754.jpg

Scarborough

From a private driveway near Robin Hood Bay I now programmed the Sat Nav to take me to a car park in the centre of Scarborough. With a population shy of 60 thousand, this is the original seaside holiday town of England. This happened due to it’s inclusion in a 1660s book promoting medical benefits of “taking the waters” in which a spring in Scarborough was included.

I have heard that today Scarborough has become a typical British seaside resort town of slot-machines, donkey rides, fish and chips, and tack souvenir shops. But I don’t know myself because I was unable to stop here. The two car parks I encountered were both full and the streets had many free spaces but the signs indicated “disc parking only”. I didn’t know what this meant, I just knew that I did not have a disc.

I pulled over on a high road above the ocean that was lined with independent hotels. I took some photos of the lovely views I could see from where I was, but I did not want to leave my car illegally parked to go exploring. So in Scarborough I only visited for about 2 minutes.

I may visit Scarborough in the future if spending considerable time nearby, but from what I saw I would not stay here. Certainly I would not venture over on a weekend, at least by car. If I had come specifically to Scarborough and then could not park I would have been very disappointed.
Really, I cannot offer much opinion as to this town as a destination having only driven through it. I know someone from York who really likes Scarborough but I also know a tour guide who pleaded with me not to stay there because there are such better places to spend one’s time.

20130617-174854.jpg
There was lots of parking available but not for visitors so I pulled-over for just a moment to take a few pics before giving-up and continuing on to my final destination of the day. I think it’s important for the locals to be able to park on their own streets, I don’t mean to suggest otherwise.

20130617-175118.jpg
A lovely view high above the North Sea.

20130617-175216.jpg
Many of these pretty buildings contain small independent hotels with lovely views.

20130617-175259.jpg

20130617-175321.jpg
I was unable to decide whether this is a place I should return to during my 2 minutes or so while I was illegally parked. There are other lovely towns I would definitely give preference to first though.

From Scarborough my journey continues to “near Scarborough” where I now stay in a country hotel. Ducks look up at me longingly as I sit under an umbrella, keying away at a patio table overlooking the gorgeous countryside. I’m not decided what I think of this hotel yet, it is very picturesque and the public areas are very well appointed visually. I say visually because in the one area of the hotel that has wifi, there are no chairs with tables. There are lovely red leather sofas and armchairs and low coffee tables, but two of us balance our electronics on our laps to awkwardly use the only signal. I had planned to spend a day working on my blog postings here, so I am not delighted with the set-up. I have a SIM card in my iPad so I had expected to be able to use my own internet throughout the grounds, but I have no cellular reception here. I am off the grid.

This travel story will continue in the next posting.

Thank you for reading and I hope you will check out some more of my many travel stories on this blog. If you enjoyed this posting, please share it with your friends by clicking on the “Facebook” button below or sharing http://www.PersonalTravelStories.com with them.

Don’t miss an adventure! You can follow me by email by clicking on “follow” at the bottom right of your screen. You can unfollow at any time so it’s not a huge risk!

Cheers!
Darren

20130623-141858.jpg

Walking around the lovely city of York, Part One

Walking Tours of York

I joined my first walking tour of York the morning after I arrived. A very relieved Doris, originally from Scarborough she moved here in 1982, was happy to see me. A woman of about 70 years, it wasn’t me in particular she was happy to see. It was just if I had not arrived she would have made the effort to come into the centre of York for no purpose. The walking tours have a minimum 2-person policy. This is not for the financial aspect primarily but because situations have the potential to become awkward when it’s one-on-one. “I wouldn’t trust Doris alone either!” I laugh as she turns red and gives me a gentle elbow with a big smile.

I have enjoyed the few walking tours I have encountered over the past 7 weeks travelling in England so when I saw the elaborate collection of tours available here in York I was quite excited. Some tours are run more than others so I have strategically chosen one or two walks for each day I am here. It could be that I end-up with other plans, but I am happy to have these starting out.

Our tour, “Mansion, Cellar, and Priest Hole,” starts with a location that is only appropriate for a handful of walkers at best, probably four would be the most that could attend this one as a group. Our guide unlocks a gate, followed by a door, followed a small stair and then by another door at the back of The Parish Church of All Saints North Street. This is not something I could have stumbled upon on my own, I don’t have keys to this section of the church.

Up the stairs we stand in a small storage room with boxes, spare candelabras, a monitor, and active WIFI hub. It has lovely windows matching the church although this is a later addition. A small square trap door of perhaps just over a square foot opens into the church on it’s rear wall high above the floor.

Until the 1960’s, this church had resident hermits living here. The hermit could enjoy the services and comings and goings of the church without having to actually move amongst the people. Imagine, until so recently. Our guide, Warwick, describes Hermits as being religious recluses. Some hermits had a tendency to prophetic words so in some cases it was beneficial to have the services of a resident hermit to predict the death of kings or the overthrow of churches and such. He tells us that there are 6 such dwellings attached to churches within the city of York. But it is a bit rare to see inside one, he has not taken guests here in some months. Our group size dictated this inclusion on our tour.

20130619-194547.jpg
We don’t just visit this church, our guide has the keys to allow us entrance to the private areas attached.
.

20130619-194652.jpg
This odd little attachment to the church does not block any window while creating a living space for a hermit who can view church activities through a spy hole. (Called “Priest Hole”)
.

20130619-194821.jpg
Today, the hermit quarters is used for storage and such. However, this was a living quarter into the 1960’s!
.

20130619-194939.jpg
Also interesting in this photo is the pulley system to lift the elaborate font cover for when the font is needed for baptisms. Notice the dark square towards the top left of the window where the rope also meets the wall; that is the shuttered door into the hermits quarter from which the hermit could spy on the activity below.
.

20130619-195125.jpg
Main areas of the church.
.

20130619-195247.jpg
Here is another pulley system. This one lowers these ropes to within reach to ring the system of bells.
.

20130619-195332.jpg

20130619-195350.jpg
A placard informs us that spectacles are very rare to be seen in medieval glass.
.
Our tour continues in to a tudor building with the name place “Jacob’s Well”. This building had a varied history that Warwick explains to us and shows us by drawing diagrams as we sit inside sipping a coffee. In the Bible there is a story where Jacob went to a well where he met his future wife Rachel. In one of this building’s carnations it was a pub. The name of Jacob’s Well suggested that it was a place for gentleman to come for drinks and to find wives. Except not wives, in this case they also added some bedrooms upstairs to facilitate those meetings.

At some periods this building was used as church rooms, it has experienced various renovations throughout the years to become what it is today.

20130619-201324.jpg
“Jacob’s Well”
.

20130619-201400.jpg
This lovely front door was constructed in 1905, perhaps from reclaimed materials. A kitchen now stands on the other side of the original entry door.
.

20130619-201519.jpg
Here you can see the original exterior wall and exterior door which now leads to the kitchen at the side.
.

20130619-201616.jpg
This emblem and number place was originally on the exterior of the house. This was to show that the owners had paid for fire insurance. In case of a fire, a private brigade of that company would come to the rescue. If they couldn’t find the emblem they would pass on by.
.

20130619-201733.jpg
The original certificate that ties to the fire insurance remains.
.
We have time for one more sight on this 90-minute walk. We now happen to the Mansion. Over the main entrance is the sign “ace York”. Warwick points out features from the street that could be easily overlooked. Slight non-symmetry of the windows. Holes where a second gas lamp would have been suspended. A cut-out in the iron work where coal could be poured down a chute.

Today this is a boutique hostel. He is known to reception and they are happy to let us take a look about. One could never happen off the street, be allowed to poke around and know all the odd little corners and hallways and doors he takes us through. Our guide shows us evidence here and there of this having been two homes combined to make one larger one. This was the city home of a family who had their estate in the country. They would have stayed here for a month or two at a time during their city stays.

We wander up the staircases to see the attic rooms where house-staff would have housed and wander through the now-finished basement that originally contained a kitchen of the smaller of the two joined homes, as well as storage rooms, wine cellar, and such.
.

20130619-201919.jpg
The front of this gentry pied a terre that was originally two smaller homes.
.

20130619-202010.jpg
Originally the dining room, now this is the dining hall.
.

20130619-202047.jpg
Who’s that? Oh, it’s me!
.

20130619-202113.jpg
The gorgeous main staircase with three variations of palisades.
.

20130619-202349.jpg
Wonderful ceiling details at the top of the main staircase.
.

20130619-202438.jpg
This view from one of the upper floors showcases the lovely York Train Station. *CORRECTION: I was misinformed, Dorris had told me and our guide agreed but they were mistaken. It is so easy to have these mistakes happen because how do you know someone is wrong with their information. Anyway, it is a nearby hotel, Cedar Court Grand Hotel and Spa. I walked past it the next day. When you see any such mistakes in my postings, please do point them out in the comments so I can fix them. It’s impossible not to have some mistakes when presenting information about different places all the time, it’s not like I am an expert on one specific place that I talk about over and over so that a mistake would be shocking. ((Sorry, I had several really rude correction notes from Indian residents who said I was lying about some facts (I was accused of lying about place names and some names of buildings. Not sure why I’d do that.) rather than accepting that I made a few mix-ups.))
.
At the conclusion of our walk Doris walks me to the centre near to where we started and helpfully points me towards the information centre. I stop for lunch at Browns, sitting in an open central square where I key in this account before attending my next walking tour at 2:15. I hope I meet Doris again this week, she is keen to explore her city of 31 years. She too had not been to the three locations we visited today.
.

20130619-202553.jpg
This gentleman played the violin near my table where I had lunch in the square. Sadly, I had no coin left and my smallest bill was a £10 ($15) which was a bit too much to show my appreciation.
.

20130619-202720.jpg
After dining, I took this photo of the area as I left.
.
_______________________________________

Afternoon Tour

I joined a tour called “Snickelways” in the afternoon of my first day in York. The word Snickelways was coined in 1982 as a combination of three words that refer to the tiny little pedestrian alleys that exist here and there throughout the city of York. In Edinburgh they were called Closes.

We had a very dramatic tour guide who was passionate about history and historic details. In fact, he was so dedicated to showing us the wonderful attributes of this city that our tour went over by nearly an hour.
.

20130619-202847.jpg
This tour was far too long and too details to possibly remember all the things we saw. 90 minutes would have been a better stopping point.
.

20130619-203023.jpg
A bit of York University. This coat of arms currently being refurbished.
.

20130619-203108.jpg
An entrance into what was the walled city.
.

20130619-203140.jpg
Here is our first Snickelway!
.

20130619-203304.jpg
One comes upon the very imposing York Minister when wandering the narrow streets.
.

20130619-203436.jpg
According to our guide, this is one of two cathedrals in the world with it’s own police force. The other is the Vatican.
.

20130619-203534.jpg

20130619-203557.jpg
What! Who’s that!
.

20130619-203630.jpg

20130619-203701.jpg
I am sure he said something interesting here, but then there was fully two more hours of him presenting us facts and figures and my brain dumped much of what he said.
.
That’s my excuse and I am sticking to it.
.

20130619-203829.jpg

20130619-203849.jpg
Some shots around York as we wandered about.
.

20130619-203940.jpg

20130619-203952.jpg
Most interesting to me about this medieval room is the fire area in the middle of the floor, fire places with chimneys were only invented in the 1500’s!
.

20130619-204118.jpg
Another snickelway.
.

20130619-204159.jpg
This lane was originally called “Groppe Cunte”. Yes, they did mean what it sounded like, it was a street of brothels and they highlighted that in the street name. Don’t blame me for being crass, I am just the middleman. (Later, another guide said that Grape was more simply changed from Grope and that there are Grape Streets all over Great Britain that have been changed from their initial spelling which was to help travellers find the local lanes of “women of negotiable affections”.)
.

20130619-204247.jpg
.

20130619-204457.jpg
.

20130619-204546.jpg
The reason he included this church wasn’t for the church but for what was in it’s front garden.
.

20130619-204650.jpg
No, not this, silly. This is just the back garden where they put the dead people. Who, according to our guide, number more than 1.5 million in York. That’s a lot of fertilizer.
.

20130619-204857.jpg
Oh my goodness, birds of prey on leashes. That little guy to the right behind the sign is a real owl!
.

20130619-205006.jpg
I was really surprised how calm these owls were to be approached and held.
.

20130619-205056.jpg

20130619-205115.jpg

20130619-205124.jpg

20130619-205133.jpg

20130619-205142.jpg

20130619-205200.jpg
We are told that when walls sit on top of the floor boards overhanging the wall below, it creates a stress on the boards that keeps the floors within straighter and in need of less floor joists.
.

20130619-205327.jpg

20130619-205353.jpg

20130619-205404.jpg
At one point the many priests of York Minster lived separately. It became known that some of them were leading secular lives of playing cards and visiting ladies and such. At some point it was ordered for them all to live together here so they could keep an eye on each other. We are told that 50 or so priests had quarters here.
.

20130619-205601.jpg

20130619-205616.jpg

20130619-205628.jpg
The inner courtyard.
.

20130619-205712.jpg

20130619-205721.jpg

20130619-205734.jpg

20130619-205746.jpg

20130619-205755.jpg
Dutch House is entirely build with bricks from the Netherlands. Dutch traders used bricks as ballast in their ships coming from Holland to return home with quarried rock. Do you see the cute window detail, here because of the name of the street?
.

20130619-205930.jpg
Here it is, a little owl! Seems to be a theme today!
.

20130619-210014.jpg

20130619-210029.jpg

20130619-210042.jpg
York is no longer completely walled due to some removal to improve roadways a century ago or so. But most of the walls remain.
.

20130619-210156.jpg
.
Thank you for visiting http://www.Personal Travel Stories.com.

I hope you will visit some more of my postings, as of August, 2013, mostly of India, Great Britain, Manhattan, and a little Los Angeles.

I hope you will also follow my blog by clicking on “follow” at the bottom right of your screen. I try to share my current adventures every 4 days. No worries, you can unfollow with just a click if you change your mind.

Cheers!
Darren

20130623-131200.jpg

Visiting the Lovely City of Bridges, Newcastle-upon-Tyne

Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Northumberland

I approached the lovely city of Newcastle from the North after having visited my former home of 18 months, Edinburgh. Situated near the East Coast of England in Northumberland, the first thing I noticed about Newcastle was how it lies in the valley along the river Tyne. All roads lead downwards towards the Tyne, this kind of feature creates an extra visual interest as well as very strong orientation cues when wandering about.

After checking-in to my quayside hotel and depositing my car behind the old fish market, I set out for some initial explorations. The second thing I noticed about Newcastle was how friendly the locals are. Known as Geordies and Tyne-siders, I found that everyone I interacted with from the hotel reception to strangers on the street were warm and helpful. After determining my plan for tomorrow, I return to my hotel. On the way, the third notable aspect to me are the handsome bridges that span the Tyne. They really add to the character of this town.

I start the next day having the Full English Breakfast that came with my room. This happens all too often, I find it hard to turn down the fry-up to have the cereal and yoghurt alternative. Staying in mid-range places, many of them do include a full breakfast, but most of them do not include having a fitness centre to work it off. I will need to start balancing this better, traveling more than not as I am. But, there will be other countries to have daily fruit and coffee for my morning meal, I tell myself. Oh, the excuses.

I walk up lovely Grey Street, the Victorian corridor that curves up the valley climb that was named after Earl Grey. I’m going to the information centre to join a walking tour that starts at 10:30. I have so often missed these tours by minutes or hours by having not known about them until it was too late so now this is something I look into straight away. These are a fantastic chance to be led around an unfamiliar place by a local who has studied lots of interesting details. It’s also nice to meet some other travellers, especially when travelling alone, dining alone, wandering alone, driving alone; you get the idea. Originally I was not interested in meeting non-locals, but this has changed over time from coming to understand that it can be harder to meet people than I had anticipated.

I join a retired couple from Phoenix, Arizona (but originally from and sounding as from New Orleans), and a young man from Blackburn as we are led around the centre by a volunteer guide from Gateshead. (Gateshead is basically the continuation of Newcastle on the other side of the Tyne.)

20130617-121038.jpg
This lovely Victorian Shopping Arcade is just around the corner from the Tourist Information Centre in Newcastle.

20130617-121148.jpg
The lovely Grey Street with a wonderful variety of Victorian Architecture.

20130617-121345.jpg

20130617-121359.jpg
This unique building also on Grey Street.

20130617-121447.jpg
This Monument to Earl Grey was in honour of his good social and civil works. The tea “Earl Grey” was named in his honour, it was not a concoction of his making and he was not in the tea business.

Following the 90 minute tour, Amir, the 21 year-old from Blackburn, and I decide to continue for lunch. This turns in to quite a tour itself as we look for halal alternatives. There are lots around for dinner, not so many for lunchtime. “There are only two mosques here and they are both in the university.” Amir tells me by way of explanation. We happen by one person who notices Amir and greets him traditionally. There are not a lot of Muslims in Newcastle, at least not in this area.

Amir wants to visit every possible art gallery and we go in to two different shops when we happen upon them. He does not see the difference between a store that sells paintings and a public art gallery. Having been a store owner, I do. We are lucky at one of the galleries, the artist, from Harrowgate, is actually present today. He has some very interesting paintings on 3-dimensional canvases. He paints in reverse perspective, basically painting the exact opposite of the perspective that our brain would expect and interpret. Smaller things look like they are further away, views diminish with distance. In his work, the opposite is true which makes for fun brain confusion.

Af first when I look at them I see the dimensions of the canvas, but after a few moments they appear flat to me and my eyes strain to interpret what is in front of me. Quite fascinating, I’ve never seen them done quite like this before. Amir is excited to meet the artist but has nothing to say or ask. In fact, he led us into the gallery and then toured around as if navigating a maze rather than looking at the artwork beyond periphery glance. This he does in all three of the galleries we view today.

Outside the galleries we continue our search for food Amir can eat. He had originally only wanted take-away to keep his budget, but I am happy to treat to have a sit down meal. I need this kind of break when touring around. “There is something that I have been wanting to talk to you about,” Amir says, “but I’ll wait until we’re sitting down.”

“What!?” I am thinking. I only met him a couple of hours ago and he has already been pining to tell me something for which I should be seated? I’m not sure I want to hear whatever this could be. He’s already told me how he left his abusive father with his mother and two sisters seven years ago, and has not keep in contact. (He would have been quite little, only fourteen and the oldest of the children.) I know he has had issues that had him delay his schooling and that for the past two years he has worked at charity shops in Blackburn. I know that he wants to have four masters degrees, an odd detail of ambition I didn’t think about when he said it. Four separate masters degrees. I don’t think he’s started uni yet. I know he has a fixation on libraries, he joins the local library everywhere he goes. He has twelve library cards and today he hopes to make his favourite number, thirteen.

I’m sure he’s harmless though. Very possibly a lunatic, but safe. He’s just little too.

We finally set on Italian where he can have a vegetarian pizza. I didn’t know what a Muslim could eat but if he had shared this before we could have easily eaten an hour ago. Anyway, I order a cappuccino before we look at the menues and continue to wonder about what he could possibly want to talk to me about. He’s a traditional looking Muslim guy, a 21-year old with olive skin and a long beard stands-out. Maybe he’s struggling with being gay and wants to confide to someone outside his circle? Or maybe he’s going to ask me for money, I hope he doesn’t ask me to sponsor him to university or something. Finally the time is right, he is going to talk about whatever it is he has been waiting to share.

“So I’ve had this pen pal for 2 years and we finally met and I really like her,” he starts,”but there’s this other girl too who I think I like.”

Ha,ha,ha on me. He just wants to talk to me about his girl troubles. An older guy who is not Muslim so will not have the bias of that particular religious perspective to be the sounding board for what he should do. Of course I am instantly relieved and have to force myself not to laugh as he concludes, “so I’m kind of in a girl sandwich.”

It does sound very complicated in that to date either girl he needs to nearly concede to eventual marriage, neither girl would date without that aim in mind. As of this moment he has barely spoken to either of them, one works in the library and giggles when he speaks barely able to fuse any sort of response. The other shared buckets when there were pen pals (a type of Muslim online dating site), but became typically shy once they met in person and has barely spoken since. Anyway, it’s interesting for me but I encourage him to perhaps forget about both girls if he is being true that he does not want to marry until he’s about 30 since he knows both girls are looking for a springboard to marriage. If he doesn’t want to offer them that and he knows that is what they are both looking for then I don’t quite understand the conundrum. He’ll probably be married within the year.

After lunch we cross the incredible Gateshead Millennium Bridge. A really interesting engineering project, the pedestrian bridge is a partial loop when flat over the water, with a counter-balance hovering above. When turned on it’s axis, the horizontal walkway made vertical creates a large opening over the water. It’s very cool and adds an extra dimension to Newcastle’s lovely collection of 7 bridges.

20130617-121938.jpg
St Nicholas Cathedral, with one of 3 Scottish Gothic Crowns. (Other two in Edinburgh and Aberdeen.)

20130617-122129.jpg
Close-up you can see how it looks like a crown.

20130617-122209.jpg
For perspective, our guide told us that these figures are life-sized. (The golden statues at the corners.)

20130617-122354.jpg
I thought this was a rather optimistic clock. I’m not sure how often this clock using sun shadows would be effective. Not today anyway!

20130617-122717.jpg
The most famous Tyne Bridge designed after Sydney’s Harbour Bridge by the same company.

20130617-122846.jpg
Because Newcastle is in a valley, the higher bridges span partly over city streets which I thought made for really interesting cityscapes. This is a very handsome city.

20130617-123006.jpg

20130617-123026.jpg
Another bridge, this one green, crossing over buildings until it reaches land level beyond.

20130617-123124.jpg
The World’s First combined road and railway bridge, called High Level Bridge, was built in 1849.

20130617-123247.jpg
Another view of Tyne Bridge.

20130617-123406.jpg
Any lover of bridges must visit Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

20130617-123530.jpg
Walking across the Swing Bridge (pivots in the middle) with a view of the Tyne Bridge.

On the opposite side of the bridge we enter the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art. Here we enjoy wonderful views from two viewing platforms, as well as see a few art pieces such as a square soccer ball and a large plain make-up mirror with lipstick writing on it. It said something like, “I love you” in French. It wasn’t exactly that, but it was forgettable. Clotheslines of bedsheets hanging as if to dry. That kind of thing.

Amir notices a boat tour as we approach the very impressive Sage Gateshead, a triple concert hall that reminds me of an Aubergine. It is an amazing space. Amir runs up to the concert ticket desk and asks, “How much are boat tours?” I have not yet entirely clued in yet that he is perhaps a bit off, so I find it funny that he has approached this question like a 6-year old. “Those adults at the big desk look official, they’ll know.” I imagine him thinking.

“Well, we sell concert tickets,” a kindly man replies, “but I could look that up for you on the internet.”

“I’ve been to all the cities in Yorkshire!” Amir informs and starts listing all the cities he as visited over the past two years on day trips.

“There’s an open bus tour you can take to see all of Newcastle,” a friendly adjacent ticket agent offers.

“Oh, no. I don’t want to do that. I already went on a bus tour in York so I don’t need to do that again.”

“But this is a different city, I’m sure it would be an entirely different tour?” She looks to me now with eyes a little bit widened as if looking for some glimmer of comprehension. I’m rather taken by surprise myself by his response. He has such a high function in some ways but is a very young child in others. His memory is exceptional, but memory is not intelligence. It can look like it though. I had been surprised that he includes specific dates when he talks about things he has done and when he told me of his girl troubles. “So on March 2nd I saw her a the library with my friend and she only listened from far away but on March 9th she actually talked to me.” “I went to York on April 23 and to Leeds on May 12th and I went to Liverpool on February 7th.” I am one easily impressed by details of memory because if I don’t write it down I may forget where I was three days ago. Or what I had for dinner last night.

So I have found the boat tour information using my phone before the gentleman at the counter has, distracted as he is by Amir sharing all the details of his day trips. “We missed the last one at 3PM, that’s the one we saw going.”

Next door this is a Heritage Information building where Amir inquires as to whether he can get a library card and what the library hours are. Again, the people here are very friendly and do their best to answer his random questions, but I have the answer using my phone before any of them are able to conjure it. “It closes at 5:30,” I tell him.

We cross the River Tyne over the swing bridge this time. This bridge is manned in a little office 24/7 because it needs to be operated locally. Any happening vessel, even a private yaught, can request it’s opening so hands need to be ready. All this information according to our guide, who has toured it’s interior during a specialty tour. He thinks the bridge only opens about a dozen times a year, certainly less than 20 times. That’s a lot of man-hours in waiting. Perhaps vessels should be required to phone ahead to have it opened rather than it be constantly staffed. Or, a signal could come from a bridge up-river to indicate the need to open is approaching.

We make our way to the Central Library where another kind and warm local does his best to turn off his auto-script when signing someone up to get a library card. “So when you use our online services. . . .” “I don’t have the internet.” “Right, so when you take out a book . . .” “I don’t take out books. I just want the library card. This is number 13.” “Yes, yes, you said you live in Blackburn.” The librarian seemed quite entertained and amused by this young man collecting library memberships everywhere he goes.

Amir was really excited to have his 13th card. It made the entire day with it. Three hours coming and three hours back by train to be here just the day. The ticket cost him £72 ($100 ish) which is a huge expense for him. It would be cheaper for him to stay in a hostel and visit a different nearby city before returning home, but he does each trip as a completely separate day trip. Some of the cities are very near to each other and quite far from Blackburn, but it is his way and I am not sure he could alter that. Stay overnight? No, no, I go home at night.

We stop for a milkshake at what makes Amir’s 12th different shake place, but this is only if he counts having a shake at Costa Coffee and that’s not a shake place so he’s not sure if it really counts. Not strictly, I think, but really he should make his own rules for what he has created as accomplishments so I don’t offer my opinion.

I leave Amir at the train station and wander in the direction of my hotel by the water. He insists on giving me a bag of crisps that he bought 2 for £1. I’ve not bought chips once during my trip but these don’t last the night. Oops.

What an interesting day, I’ll never know just how quirky or possibly certifiable that little guy is.

20130617-123706.jpg
What a fantastic building, the Sage Gateshead is a triple concert hall.

20130617-123830.jpg
A view from inside the Sage Gateshead.

20130617-124015.jpg
Here you can see the counterbalance of the Gateshead Millennium Bridge.

20130617-124115.jpg
Now you can see how it curves when it sits flat over the water.

20130617-124225.jpg
Watching the bridge rotate on it’s axis to give way for sea traffic, you can see where it got it’s nickname, “Blinking Eye”. Mostly it opens as a tourist attraction, no boats passed underneath when we viewed it’s scheduled opening.

20130617-124400.jpg

20130617-124452.jpg
Looking up the Tyne from the viewpoint of the BALTIC. See Gateshead to the left and Newcastle to the right. Magnificent.

20130617-124715.jpg

20130617-124753.jpg
View from my window at the Waterside Hotel. I enjoyed staying here but the hotel is for sale, in case you are looking for one.

20130617-124857.jpg
You can see the Waterside Hotel in this photo, around the middle, a creamy-coloured building.

20130617-125008.jpg
Walking under a bridge near the castle.

20130617-125115.jpg
This is a medieval castle but it replaced the new castle from which Newcastle got it’s name. So this is the new, new castle.

20130617-125311.jpg
A busy pedestrianised shopping zone. I will miss these pedestrian zones when I leave England.

20130617-125436.jpg
It was my cousin Kate’s birthday so I took this photo for her Facebook.

20130617-125529.jpg
Tomorrow is Father’s Day so I took this for my Dad back in New Brunswick, Canada.

20130617-125644.jpg
Just some random last photos around Newcastle. My car is parked behind this lovely fish market building along the Tyne, in the hotel’s car park.

20130617-125752.jpg
This sculpture reminds me of the larger white baby sculpture in Monaco.

20130617-125803.jpg

20130617-125814.jpg

20130617-125832.jpg
Coming from Canada, I had no notions as to what to expect in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Only after did I read that it has a hold-over reputation as being industrial and dirty. I can say with complete confidence that this reputation should be washed away. Today, NewcastleGateshead is a very handsome, thriving, clean and interesting city and I am very happy that I included it on my itinerary. Definitely worth a visit, I will probably be back.

20130617-130147.jpg

20130716-202501.jpg
(This is the sculpture in Monaco I mentioned above, on a trip with my niece in August, 2012.)

Wandering about one of England’s Finest Homes, Castle Howard

Castle Howard is a continued residence of the Howard family who have opened their home to the public for 300 years. Located about 20 minutes north-east of York, it was the perfect stop for my short journey to York coming from near Scarborough.

From the Castle’s Website:

20130619-091804.jpg

You can visit the website for more information. Click here:
www.castlehoward.co.uk

20130619-091920.jpg
According to my Sat Nav (GPS) the distance from the initial property gate to the next property gate was about a mile. “Follow the road for one mile,” she told me. “It’s not a road,” I explained to her, “it’s a driveway.” Easy to confuse, long as it was.
.

20130619-092155.jpg
After entering the second gate, there was still a large area of ground within.
.

20130619-092254.jpg
This large oblesque stands in the centre of the Howard’s traffic circle. For the main home, take the third exit. (Turn right.) I expect the other directions lead to further property access, but I did not travel them.
.

20130619-092514.jpg
I started my visit to Castle Howard with a delicious lunch at their Courtyard Cafe which you can see in this photo ahead to the right. Of course the cafe has an interior dining area for in-climate days. There is also another dining option in the Castle itself with both indoor and outdoor seating.
Do plan to lunch here if you visit.
.

20130619-093107.jpg
The front of this sizable home faces a lovely sculptured garden.

20130619-093219.jpg
Perhaps just as deep as it is wide.
.

20130619-093337.jpg
This would be considered the front yard. (Front garden if you’re British.)
.

20130619-093652.jpg
This fountain in the middle of the front garden.
.

20130619-093503.jpg
The back door entry where visitors are welcomed. Seems nicer than a servant’s entry though.
.

20130619-093558.jpg
Some of the hallways open to visitors.
.

20130619-093813.jpg
I like the fun variety of different types of 4-poster beds.
.

20130619-093923.jpg

20130619-093949.jpg

20130619-094007.jpg
View into the central area between the front and two side wings. This “courtyard” is open to the lovely country view with lake.
.

20130619-094117.jpg
View from the back of house.
.

20130619-094407.jpg

20130619-094420.jpg
Perhaps because I come from a family of engineers who operate in heating and cooling industries, I always seem to find different radiators to be interesting.
.

20130619-191729.jpg
This and the next few images are of the main central hall.
.

20130619-191829.jpg

20130619-191842.jpg

20130619-191852.jpg

20130619-191923.jpg
The Howards became friends with William Morris when they hired his firm to do much of their wallpapering and window glasses. Here is a display of various Morris wallpapers used throughout the house.
.

20130619-192359.jpg
Here you can better see some Morris designs. I have always liked these myself.
.

20130619-192447.jpg
The front garden hedging used to be more elaborate than today.
.

20130619-192559.jpg
But the fountain is still lovely.
.

20130716-212401.jpg