It’s nearly ten years since I first stepped off the train and visited York. This beautiful City captured my heart straight away. My job, a Digital Audio Trainer for the BBC, took me to several cities around England, some of which I’ve never been back to, but this is one I have had the pleasure of revisiting many times.
I remember that first experience. From getting into the taxi at the train station and heading for BBC Radio York, to the late night walks back to the hotel, the restaurants and most of all the people. Not just those working at the Radio Station, but the locals I met while out shopping or eating in the evenings, were some of the friendliest I have met.
On 8th February I took myself back up to York to meet a good friend of mine (V) who has settled there after spending a few years at University. Even the train journey makes me feel content. Particularly going through Sheffield. I have no idea why, but I always catch my breath when I see the brick work just before you get to the station, which signifies (to me anyway) that I am in the North.
My trip this time was due to be a couple of nights of chatting, drinking and eating while celebrating my Birthday with V, which had fallen in the week before.
I stayed in that same hotel which I was booked into for work in 2003. With views over the River and just a few minutes into the heart of the City, I felt the hotel (Park Inn) was a good choice. I wasn’t disappointed. The staff, friendly and welcoming as always and the room, with a view over the river and toward the Minster, was just what I needed to help me to relax.
I met V in the shadow of the beautifully lit York Minster and we headed to the Three Legged Mare for a drink and catch up. As we walked in, I immediately fell in love with it. Filled with people relaxing, chatting, drinking ale courtesy of the York Brewery and soaking up the piano music being supplied by a well-known local Busker. Approaching the bar, V was hugged and welcomed by several people and not once was I made to feel like an outsider. The two gentlemen she knew at the bar, chatted away and included me in their conversations as if I had known them for months.
The evening progressed and we moved on to The Golden Fleece to take in the sounds of another local Busker and his band. Again, it was filled with people laughing and enjoying themselves. The band started up at 9pm and the music was brilliant. A great mixture of songs from the 60’s to the present day, which got everyone singing along, clapping and cheering for more when it was over. The skeleton at the bar was a surprise, but I’m reliably informed he was wearing a Santa hat at Christmas, so at least he likes to get involved.
The evening finished as it started, in the Three Legged Mare, where we planned our Saturday. Rather than my usual walk around the City, involving too much coffee, the Hog Roast and walking the walls, V suggested a road trip with another of her friends.
Saturday’s road trip was brilliant. After picking up K, we spent an hour heading East to Bridlington. The journey was worth it. Parking in the Harbour, we decided to go to South Beach. We walked toward the sea, with the harbour to our left, blue sky overhead and the warmth of the sun on our faces.
Having decided to go down the gangway toward the seawall where the fishermen were, we noticed there was a lack of dry land between us and the beach. The three of us and another couple who had the same idea were stood staring at the water, approximately 4 feet across, which was covering the sand by about an inch. V made a dash for it and made it across, as did the man who had appeared. Minutes later the water was gathering momentum, so, sensing a break in the tide, K made a run across the water, only getting her trainers and bottom of her jeans wet. The man was trying to encourage both myself and his partner across, but she gave up and said she would walk up and along South Cliff Road (a good 10 minute walk). I waited a minute or two to see if the water (now 3-4 inches deep) would go out. It did, but as I stepped onto a slightly raised bit of sand, it came gushing back in. Shrieking, I got out the other side to laughter, soaked trainers, socks and jeans (halfway to my knees). I squelched my way down the beach for the rest of the afternoon.
We walked for an hour or so, the warmth of the sun was welcomed and somewhat surprising. Soon, realising just how far we had walked (and how hungry we were), we headed back to find somewhere to eat. Walking around the town, we found a little cafe for Fish and Chips. Red seating and numerous old style heaters propped up on the windowsill gave it a very old fashioned feel and smell. I opted for sausage rather than fish which turned out to be two jumbo sausages and a plate of chips! The food was fantastic, but I couldn’t finish it all.
No trip to the seaside would have been complete without an ice cream, even in a rather chilly 4 degrees, and so we set off in search of one. Eventually (5 or 6 places later) we found what we were after and headed for a short walk toward North Beach. This turned into a very short walk as the temperature plummeted. A brisk walk back to the car and we had decided that enough was enough. We were all frozen stiff.
Saturday night was spent with V and a couple of her friends from University. I could direct you to the places we visited by I’ve no idea on the names. Mainly because we spent a good 20 minutes trying to find somewhere ‘quiet’ so we could have a chat! However the quiet locations were soon traded in for louder, busier bars and we eventually finished the night off in a club.
Sunday was a relaxed affair. I headed for breakfast, which was packed. The staff quickly found me a table and soon I was happily tucking in to a large Full English Breakfast and coffee. Over the 10 years I’ve travelled for work (and pleasure) I’ve had some awful experiences of breakfast, but this was very well done. No congealed beans or rubber scrambled eggs, instead it was hot, fresh and very tasty. After breakfast, I had planned to take a walk out in York and soak up the atmosphere, but the weather had turned and the wind and rain put me off. Instead, I returned to my room to stared out of the window at the City.
What strikes me most of all is that my thoughts while there, are always my most creative. There’s something about that City, like Liverpool, which inspires me. I don’t know why and being able to tap into that inspiration when I return home, is something I’ve never managed.
Inspiration and creativity seems to be so muted in my everyday life. It’s there, I know it is. It’s just a case of finding it.