Saturday, 29 July 2017

York, Jorvik and a Golden Day

To make up for not having been able to cruise up to York we opted for another train journey. We had booked Fast Track tickets for the Jorvik Viking Experience, a new exhibition that has just opened, replacing the one that was destroyed in the floods a couple of years ago. It is not possible to buy these tickets on the door - only people queuing on the day can do that - so we had booked them online. We had also booked a table for lunch at Cote, a Brasserie that Mike had been to a few weeks back when in York for General Synod.

As we walked to Selby station we could see that the heavy overnight rain had left its mark with even deeper flooding under the rail bridge than last night, so much that that part of the bridge underpass was closed.

The trains were busy but still enough seats for all and it was again a very efficient journey to York. We had well over an hour before our lunch date so we walked to Micklegate where we left the walls yesterday evening and continued around in an anti-clockwise direction.

The image is carved in one of the flat stones of the walkway - is it a game or just a pattern?

The wall walk comes to an abrupt break just before Skeldergate Bridge. It was once almost continuous but 19th century developers had no scruples about demolishing anything that was in their way and when they decided that a new bridge was needed. One of the information boards reported that this action so incensed the then Archbishop of York that he made a fuss and the walls were then given a special protected status. Not sure whether this was before or after the railway companies had their go but they at least only made arches through the wall.

Across the other side of the bridge and Christine spotted this board recording various flood levels. We think that it has not been updated to show the most recent floods in 2012 and 2016.

Next, we passed Clifford's Tower, an ancient Motte and Bailey - in this form it dates back to Henry III bur replaced an earlier wooden castle built by William the Conqueror. We did not really have time to climb up to the top - certainly not to do justice to the entrance charge!

Wandering through the streets of the city centre we came to All Saints Pavement Church with its distinctive lantern style tower. It dates back to medieval times and became the regimental church for the Royal Dragoon Guards - one window is a memorial to them.

A modern window, installed about five years ago and funded by a local appeal, is in memory of those who served in Afghanistan, especially those who died in combat.

A street market has an enormous variety of mostly food outlets with the stall holders vying to take money from visitors by many new or unusual ways.

By now it really was time for lunch and we headed to Cote where a table was awaiting us. We had a really excellent meal - nibbles of sourdough, garlic bread (really impressive) and olives whetted out appetites for the main courses. Alice opted for Salmon Fishcakes, Christine a duck confit and Mikea veal escalope.

We did still have room for a dessert and Alice took Mike's advice (from recent experience) to have the Creme Caramel au Citron whilst Christine selected a chocolate mousse.

When that was done and dusted, there was time to come around in front of the Minster but as we were too close to take a decent photo, this one of a model gives a good idea of the position of the building in relation to the narrow streets around.

A nearby house was Guy Fawkes's birthplace - wonder what happened to him?

Now we headed to Jorvik where we smugly took our place in the very short Fast Track queue, pleased that we did not have to wait in the much longer line for day tickets.

After a small display about the excavations in the 20C of the Viking remains on the site when redevelopment  took place following the closure of the Craven's Confectionery factory, we came to the main part, a 'train' ride through a detailed reconstruction of life in those ancient times. Each carriage was suspended from an elevated track and played a commentary into each passenger' ears in a language of choice.

We were told that we could take photos - which we did - but not to use a flash. As a result almost all of them are too fuzzy to use and this is the least worst! Each display has animatronic figures - although one had two real humans just to confuse everyone!

After the train ride there was a display room which looked at Viking times in some depth, based on the archaeology of this area. There was a series of talks - the one we listened to explained how two apparently similar bone fragments had come from different animals and probably for very different purposes. We were there for about an hour and a half and came away thinking that we now knew a lot more about life in York around the time of the Vikings.

We walked back to the station over Ouse Bridge and could see that the river level had risen still further - comparing this photo with one taken yesterday there is at least one rung of the ladder more under the water.

So why 'a golden day' as in the title? Fifty years ago to this day, in Keele University Chapel two people were married - and have remained so.

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