On 5th February 2016, I turned 33. To celebrate, I decided to take myself to York for the day. Travelling from London after work the previous evening, I had a full day planned in the City before heading back South.
Taking time out from London was much needed and other than the fact that I have a friend who lives in York, I have become very fond of the place and the people of this beautiful City.
With that in mind, following on from the devastating floods a few weeks ago, I had to go and lend them my support.
Many of the businesses within the City walls were hit when the banks of the Foss and the Ouse broke. The former was an unusual occurrence (in fact one person told me it never happens) and, as such, many locals didn’t believe it would happen. Even though warnings were given.
Now this isn’t the first time I’ve been to York after they have been flooded, but it is the first time I have been struck by the extent of the damage. Of course I was aware that this was much more severe than the last trip I made, but I was still surprised.
As I write this, I am sitting in the Fossgate Social (@fossgatesocial) who were one of the many companies who suffered in the floods.
The owner is currently being interviewed by BBC Local TV about the impact to her business and her concerns about the long term impact on York.
The Fossgate Social itself, is rebuilding. Replacing damaged equipment which had prevented them from serving beer and welcoming visitors and locals in to the warm, cosy and very relaxed environment that they offer. You’d probably walk on past this little place and pass it off as just another ‘tea room’, but it’s so much more than that and it’s quirky interior offers you so much more than the Costa’s of this World.
So what about York? What would keep people away or is it actually just paranoia from the locals that they think people wouldn’t want to visit?
I don’t think they’re paranoid. In all the years I have visited York, this was probably the quietest I have known it. Yes, it’s February, but even by those standards, it was quiet.
With that in mind, I decided to write down my thoughts and share some images from this trip to the North.
The most obvious thing you encounter in York, is the friendliness. It’s not just because I spend a lot of time in London, that I find this so obvious, but everyone is friendly. You walk in to a shop/bar/cafe/restaurant and there is such a willingness to help, with a warm genuine smile that you can’t help but enjoy yourself.
The offerings from the City itself are vast. You have the obvious attractions of the Railway Museum and the Jorvik Centre, but you can easily fill your days by just walking around inside the City walls (or on them!) and taking in the atmosphere.
The architecture alone is beautiful. The Minster stands proud and is always surrounded by cameras, phones and those just marvelling at it’s beauty.
If you’re wishing to do a trip on a budget, there are plenty of B&B’s in York which you can enjoy without breaking the bank and if you’re wanting to stay centrally, then I would personally recommend the Roman Baths. Cosy rooms, as ever a warm welcome and a fantastic breakfast all at a bargin price for the City Centre. They often have live music on in the bar too (as do most places in York) so you can be entertained without needing to leave the premises!
Buskers in York are on most corners and in most pubs. One of my favourite bands to watch and listen to is the Y Street Band (@TheYStreetBand). I was fortunate enough to time my visit with a performance they gave in the Post Office Social Club.
Playing a lot of their own material, they filled the Club and the dance floor as their supporters (old and new alike) took to enjoy their wonderful music. Finishing off with a crowd pleasing rendition of David Bowie’s ‘Lets Dance’, they were superb.
A new found musical delight was Rachel Croft (@rachelcroft27). It was the first time I’d heard her and she has the most beautifully silky voice. Positioned on a stool in Kings Square, near the Last Drop Inn, passersby stopped, entranced by her guitar skills and voice.
As for food, there are many places to eat and enjoy in the City. As a nut allergy sufferer, I find it hard to eat out sometimes. It surprises me that as a Vegetarian or Vegan, you can be promised food that is strictly adhering to these diets, yet something that can kill you, is never promised. Whether that be in order to protect themselves from being sued or not, my issue lies with the stress that gets attached to enjoying a meal, when they say ‘it should be ok’, or ‘you can give it a try’.
One place that I have to commend for being brilliant for allergy sufferers, is Ambiente Tapas Bar. Located just down from the Fossgate Social, they were incredibly helpful when I was selecting a bite to eat and their allergy menu was superb. Thank you to them!
Another wonderful place to eat was the Happy Valley Chinese restuarant on Goodramgate. Although their menu warned that all dishes may have traces of nuts, when I asked the staff about a dish and the risk of nuts, they were brilliant. They clarified that the dish I had chosen would be fine and I was made to feel very relaxed about it. Not easy when you’re paranoid!
Most importantly, both of these restaurants served wonderful food in a brilliant atmosphere by polite, helpful staff.
At the end of the day, the City has so much to offer. If you enjoy live music, good food and like to meet people, you should give it a try. Served by mainline trains from the South (London Kings Cross and trains via Birmingham New Street) and the North, it’s perfect for a relaxing get away.
You don’t need a lot of money to spend while you’re there. You don’t have to do all of the obvious trips and tourist traps. But I urge you to give it a try and get out and experience as much of the day and night life of York as you can.
So to echo the words of the locals… “York is OPEN”!
Gallery of pics – http://www.jemmaphillipsphotography.co.uk/p707824083
If you have a suggestion of somewhere that I should visit, please get in touch.
I’m always after new places to explore!