Sunday, December 27, 2009

A visit with Jay from Turkey

Yesterday Jay, the Turkish exchange student who lived with us for most of 2000, and his wife Ela, drove to York from their home in Manchester (a little over an hour away). We strolled York with them, then stopped at The Old White Swan (again - love it there) for a late lunch, then back to the hotel and a cup of tea before  they headed back to Manchester.

Robin and Jay tour The Shambles.

The Old White Swan wasn’t nearly as crowded or noisy as it was last time we were there. Delicious food and a cozy place to visit (after taking the York Dungeon Tour, a walk-thru, humorous presentation about the dark, violent side of York history).

I’m going to miss The Old White Swan. BBQ chicken and Bacon (ham, not Francis) on wilted spinach and crushed small potatoes. The treacle and custard for dessert. And a pint of cider.

Now we’re back in Uxbridge in Robin’s room at Brunel University.

Go Arsenal!

No, not an upscale shopping mall, just a London train station (St. Pancras).

A church steeple from the train window.

Iconic England design, being admired by a designer from the USA

On the tube ride from London to Uxbridge, we chatted most of the way with this friendly gentleman. Robin thought his scarf was a holiday design, but he unwrapped it to show it’s a scarf for his football (soccer) team The Arsenal. He’s returning from a game at Emirates Stadium where the Arsenal played a team from Birmingham. The Arsenal won 3-0 (three nil). He’s had a season ticket and has been going to Arsenal games for 62 years. I asked if that’s when the team was started. No, they’ve been playing for about 120 years. One of the other season ticket holders that sits next to him has been going to Arsenal games for 86 years. Go Arsenal!!

As we left York this morning...

Robin snapped this photo in one of the York train station waiting rooms. Hey look, some old-timer is using a MacBook. Other old-timers are looking up at a digital message board for updated train delay information.

Listening to official announcements about train delays and cancellations was impossible at first. Every announcement was a female voice echoing throughout the train station that sounded like “Wah wah waaaaah rah wah wah rah waaaah.” I soon discovered that if you stand within several feet of a speaker, and make sure the speaker is aimed directly at you, you can actually understand what’s being said.

From a crosswalk that crosses the over the tracks, I snapped this photo of the madding crowd. Five points if you find Robin.

Farewell to York

I can’t get enough of The Shambles!

One minute you’re in Medieval England, a couple of steps later you’re in Paris.

Pigeons and patches. Repairs to this tower on the Ouse River, made long ago, used red bricks to replace missing stones.

Quintessential Shambles.

York Minster and Cliffords Tower

Not many of my interior photos of York Minster were good, due to the subdued lighting, cold hands, and no tripod, but it’s a beautiful and spectacular place.

York Minster.

The pulpit in York Minster.

Of the many sculptures in York Minster, my favorite was one of several Arch Bishops, laying in eternal marble repose. The sheet must have slipped off the model’s shoe before the sculpture could stop chiseling. It’s hard to redo these things, I suppose. All kidding aside, I love this little touch of accidental carelessness frozen in marble. Genius.

Robin studies The Semaphore Saints, a series of headless saints holding signal paddles.

The Semaphore Saints

The Goose clan prepares to cross the street again to Cliffords Tower. I wondered why the geese were hanging out at Cliffords Tower. Then we realized they’re feasting on the green ground cover. And then we realized the stairs to the tower and the platform at the top is covered with goose poop.

The hillside is a tasty treat for the geese.

This plaque is at the base of hill of Cliffords Tower. The tower is what remains of the Royal Castle referred to on the plaque.

This plaque is on a wall in York Minster. If you’re ever given the job of writing something honorific for someone and don’t know what to say, just use the last 14 lines of this.

This is another plaque in York Minster.
Rule Number One:
Text set in all caps (capital letters) is more difficult to read than caps and lower case.
Rule Number Two:
An Old English font (sometimes called Blackletter) set in all caps is almost impossible to read. If anyone actually takes the time to read this, let me know what it says.

Back in London

At St. Pancras Station. Not that you care. I just get a thrill out of
being able to email a blog from my iPhone. Having soup at a nice train
station restaurant. Yummy.

On the train from York to London

Our 10:28 a.m. train finally arrived at 12:32 and we're on our way to London, the laptop's plugged in and charging, and the WiFi signal is good. The train is nearly empty. When we went to our assigned seats (with a table) a couple was sitting there. When we noted that they were in our seats, they said all reservations had been cancelled and that seating was open to whoever. There was one other table seating available here in Car E so we claimed it.

Our seating and table are exactly like the one across the aisle from us. Looks relaxing, eh?

When we checked out of the hotel this morning, Robin looked over the bill and questioned a charge of 11 pounds for tray service. It seems that the room service menu includes a fee for delivering the food to the room. And it's clearly stated on the room service menu, in 2 point type at the bottom of the menu, buried right after a sentence or two about food allergy warnings. The desk person removed the charge when she realized we were looking incredulously at the menu's tiny type. So after she removed that charge and another 100 pounds worth of charges that were unjustified, we moved merrily along to the train station next door.

From Christmas Day:
I've mentioned before that most of the walks on the city walls have been closed due to slippery snow and ice (and no handrails). Here's a shot of me Robin was able to grab as we walked one of the sections that wasn't closed. Fortunately she had the presence of mind to take a blog photo before giving me first aid.
Just kidding! I didn't fall. At least not in this photo. I did completely slip down once, and almost fell several other times during our York visit.
I forgot to bring the cable with me to York that I use for downloading photos and video from my video camera, so I shot the video screen with my other camera.

York Minster: Angel in Black