Monday, October 14, 2013

September 10 Tuesday in England, Arriving in York

Sept 10, 2013
After our ferry landed in Hull, England, we taxied over to the car rental where hubby had reserved a mid-size car and hopefully with a GPS. That didn't happen. They had no mid-size cars, only the little guys and a 7 person van. And we all know what size car he needs. And they had no GPS. So we started with 4 points against this challenge: a big car, no GPS, driving on the wrong side of the road, and the driver seated on the wrong side of the car. It would prove interesting, to say the least. 

We had about a little more than a one hour drive to York, and the directions seemed to be simple if you know where you're going. I was supposed to help navigate and not sightsee, but when there are no street signs, what can you do? Get lost, of course. We did get pretty close to our goal but took a wrong turn and ended up driving around in circles at York University before finding our way out, then trying to figure out where we were, and how to get back on track. We finally found a main road and I suggested stopping at a gas station for directions. After being pointed back in the right direction by a lot of helpful people, we finally got back to the point where we had made the wrong turn at the City Centre stone wall and made the right turn we were supposed to. And then we saw the sign that would have helped us the first time. GPS would have really helped on this trip. We drove on a few streets looking for more street signs, where we finally discovered are attached to the tops of some buildings, which doesn't help until its too late. This became a reoccurring problem throughout our trip. We managed to double back to where we recognized one sign, and FINALLY made it to the street our B&B was on. And they all looked the same! But halfway down the street was the little sign to ours, The Bronte Guesthouse. And yes, it was named after the author, Emily Bronte, who used to visit York. 
Here was its pretty front porch. 
Our room wasn't quite ready as we had arrived earlier than they planned, so the innkeeper helped us bring our luggage into the front parlor and said he would take it upstairs when it was ready. He gave us some maps and flyers and sent us merrily on our way to the old walled city of York, which was about 2 blocks away. This was our path was we walked the streets to there. 

Found a place for lunch sometime this week! Cornish Pasties! 
Except hubby found what he was looking for- Drakes Fish & Chips! And boy was it good. The batter was thin and very crispy, and perfect. 
Since I'd learned about there being a Bettys Tea Room here we compromised where he got to eat this, and then we'd go to Betty's where I'd have my afternoon tea. So after he was done eating, we headed over there. 

Our innkeeper told us to look for "little" Bettys, not "big" Bettys which is a larger more modern & commercial one in the town square. It took a while going up and down streets that seemed to turn back into themselves often but finally found it. 
There's a tea shop downstairs, and upstairs is the tearoom. We had a wait of about 15 minutes so it wasn't bad. 

Here is my afternoon tea: sandwiches were a ham and cream cheese, a delicious salmon, which I don't normally like, an egg mayo, and a cucumber & butter. My tea was their Bettys Tea Room Blend. A nice fluffy large scone came with lots of clotted cream and raspberry jam, and desserts were a mixed fruit tart, a square of a mocha Opera cake, and a pistachio macaron. I only ate the Opera cake, and saved the rest for later because I was full. Hubby had his dessert of chocolate torte and a delicious hot chocolate. 


After enjoying our meal, I went downstairs to the tea shop and bought a bag of their hot chocolate and a tin of their Betty's Tea Room Blend.
The goodies they had in the bakery case were just gorgeous and it was hard to walk away from them. The little owl cupcakes were adorable. 
We continued walking around town and finally found "big" Bettys in the town square. It occupied the entire downstairs corner of this building, and did look very modern. And there was a line of people waiting outside to go in. The window displays were also very pretty. 

I found a couple more tearooms I would have loved to try out. 

The narrow roads twisted and turned and it was fun to discover little details on the buildings. And you had to look up!!

 Even the churches had beautiful details to look at.

It started raining but I finally found the York Antique Center I'd been told about. 
Pretty much everything was locked inside glass cases and anything you wanted to see had to have it unlocked. Most of what I saw was really old, like medieval and Asian, and lots of jewelry. Right away I found a mourning brooch with braided hair inside it for a really good price, according to what I've seen in San Diego. It would have been about $72, which was amazing when I've only seen them for $150-200. Hmmm, maybe resell it? But then I saw a mourning bracelet and it was love at first site. The medallion was Vulcanite, and the band the dealer said was Bakelite. It's flexible and opens to go over your hand. It was L53 ($85), still a deal and I wanted this for myself. I passed on the hair brooch but was sorry I had no way of asking my friends online if they were interested. I walked away happy.
While I was shopping in there, hubby went off to find the train station so he could pick up our tickets ahead of time for when we arrived in Carlisle on the 14th. It was very picturesque and reminded me of a Harry Potter movie.

We headed back to our B&B finally to see if our room was ready and it was. We were shocked that the innkeeper had dragged all our heavy suitcases up the 3 flights of narrow stairs to the room but he said as long as he takes his time, he won't throw his back out. 

These are the cute little backyards behind us. 
After unpacking and getting ourselves settled in, we chatted up the innkeeper again and asked which ghost tour he would recommend. He said many of his guests had really liked the one on Shambles Street. So we headed back to town for that and dinner. As we were leaving, this little girl popped up to say hello. Her name is Pixie, a chocolate point Siamese who has adopted the innkeepers, and she loves cuddles. So I got my cat fix a few times while we were here. She even fell asleep in my arms the last day. Ahhhh.
Since hubby had REALLY REALLY liked his fish and chips earlier from Drakes, we decided to have dinner in their restaurant, and sat down to some HUGE pieces of fish. 

Then we headed off to find Shambles Street, the oldest street in York, and the most interesting. Yes, the buildings are leaning in. 
A group of people began gathering at the appointed time of the tour, and shortly a very loud and obnoxious gentleman in black showed up to greet us. He warned us about being taken in by other ghost tour guides and that this was the only true one. We gathered around him to pay our fee, and when we were done, he ran away. Everyone nervously giggled but a few minutes later he returned with folks from the opposite end of the street to join us, and we started off.  

He started the tour in front of a church and scared the children after telling them we were all standing on graves.
Our tour was about an hour and we wandered the streets to different buildings hearing some stories of children being locked in their rooms and abandoned by parents when they came down with the plague. Their ghosts still knock on windows to be let out. He knocked on one door very loudly, and yelled RUN!!! 
So much of it was kind of scary but funny, and very family friendly. We went through narrow little alleys that you'd never notice unless someone pointed it out. It was like finding hidden rooms and doorways. Fun! The final high-jinx was we all stood across the street from an Italian restaurant where you could see the people eating inside through the large windows. He stood with his back to them talking to us. At one point he said wave at the people and all 25 of us did. It caught their attention inside. At his signal we all walked across the street up close to the building, stared a second, and then yelled BOO!!!  And ran!! 
What a hilarious way to end the tour and our night.  
As we were leaving we started hearing the church bell at York Minster Cathedral start tolling for 15 minutes at a time. It would stop for a minute then start up again. It went on for an hour, then stopped. I need to find out what that's all about. 


  1. Dear Val,
    Heavens, I am enjoying reading about your trip. Your fun in York is infectious, as I'm smiling. Was there in 1982 (yes, that's right), and it doesn't look much different. I didn't understand tea then, and it's very clear I missed out. Your B&B looks marvelous, and so lucky with Pixie. Saw and enjoyed the cat statue climbing the outside of the pub, too. If you have a large file, that one would make a great printed card for cat lovers like me.

    Very best,


  2. Oh I would have loved the ghost walk, the fish and chips, and especially tea at Betty's. You have convinced me I must go to York and spend a few days.

  3. Oh, fabulous times! Even the getting lost.