After we left Oxford, we drove up to York. It’s more or less due North, and in theory an easy drive. In practice, the miles (quite literally) of roadworks made it a little more stressful. We did stop at a ‘rest stop’ for a quick bite to eat. I say ‘rest stop’ because it was unlike any rest stop I’ve ever seen in Australia. As well as the usual fast food options (though this was more like a food court than a dodgy roadside KFC), there was a newsagent, supermarket, hotel (the idea that anywhere in mainland Britain is so far away that you’d have to stop for the night is slightly laughable. I mean, I guess if you were driving down from John O’Groats* or somewhere, but surely in that case you could plan ahead to something better than a Days Inn by the M1?) and, most bemusingly, a gambling hall. The whole rest stop was called a ‘Welcome Break’ and the gambling part (pokies aflashing) was the ‘Lucky Break’. I know that when I’m on a long road trip, there’s nothing quite as refreshing as staring at flashing lights and losing lots of money. Makes me in a great state of mind to rejoin traffic!
Anyhow. We made it to York, and to the very nice apartment we were staying at. By the time we got there, and returned the hire car, it was 5pm, so we only had time to do a quick shop for dinner and then settled two very tired children for the night. (In terms of shopping, I’ve now been to a few supermarkets, and my order so far is Sainsbury’s > Waitrose > Sainsbury’s Local > Asda > Tesco > Tesco Express. In terms of Tesco Express though, the one in central York is far superior to the one on Holyrood Rd in Edinburgh. Just in case you were tossing up between the two.)
The next day was our only day in York, so we were determined to make the most of it. We woke to a beautiful day, and walked to the corner to see this as our morning view.
(St Georges Keep).
Our first stop for the day was Jorvik, which I thought my viking obsessed little boy would like. He did, though some of it was a little sobering for him. (The particularly gruesome explanation of wounds to the stomach and leaking bile has caused a few discussions). The ride around Jorvik is much the same when I went back in 1994 – though the animatronics have improved! The smells are still the same.
We then headed to the Jorvik Dig which is a more recent addition to the various historic museums/attractions. It is aimed at kids, and the idea is that they get to experience being an archealogist for themselves. There are four work sites set up for four different excavation sites (Roman, Viking, Medieval and Victorian). They all have actual artifacts discovered in York set into the ground, covered with rubber pellets of ‘dirt’. The idea is you expose an object and try and work out what it is, and what it meant about the people of the time period.
Toby found lots of oyster shells in the Viking section – in fact the actual archaeological dig uncovered over 750 000 oyster shells! Obviously a delicacy of the time, they would have been brought up the River Ouse by visiting traders. We also found broken pottery in the Roman section, a skeleton in the Medieval section, and a broken chamber pot in the Victorian section.
After we dug, we spent some time classifying found objects – bone, antlers, leather, brick and so on, and also saw (and touched) fossilised viking poo. (Coprolite, if you want the technical term). Toby also played around with making stained glass patterns.
After the dig, we wandered around York for a bit.
I didn’t actually realise there was a wool shop there until after I took the photo. But then of course I had to visit it. And after I bought some wool to make Millie a birthday dress/cardigan (what, it’s over a month away. I totally have time. It’s not like I’m doing anything else over the next month), I had to visit the wonderfully named Dutton’s for Buttons to get (unsurprisingly) buttons as well.
We stopped for lunch at an open air food court and marvelled at the number of people.
It turns out there was a fairly big horse race on, and there were 40, 000 visitors in York on Saturday. No wonder it was a little more crowded then I remembered.
This morning it was northwards once more – to Edinburgh. We caught the train from yet another beautiful railway station.
Toby did a really good job of doing his journal on the train.
Toby is obviously missing a lot of school, so we are in charge of keeping him up with his schooling. He has some online work from his teacher, but a big thing we are working on is his handwriting. So he writes in his journal as often as is practical (daily when not in transit, not so often when it’s frantic), and we’re writing lots and lots of postcards. Feel free to let me know if you want a Toby postcard of your own.
We got into Edinburgh at lunchtime today. None of us have ever been to Scotland, so we couldn’t resist the temptation to add it to our itinerary. We are staying at private student accommodation for the University of Edinburgh, and though it’s not the same as the Oxford College accommodation, it’s certainly not without charm.
Note two things above: One is blue sky. It’s a beautiful day here, but everyone has been saying it’s very unusual. Certainly the forecast looks different for tomorrow. The second is the big green outcrop in the first photo. That’s Arthur’s Seat in Holyrood Park. We plan to walk at least some of it tomorrow. But that will depend very much on point one.
As you walk out of our apartment, you enter the Royal Mile. This is the first thing you see.
There are spots like this all over Edinburgh. It’s full of amazing buildings, and bridges, and is just ridiculously beautiful. I love it. Right now the Edinburgh Festival and Edinburgh Fringe Festival are on, so it is also amazingly crowded. There are things happening in every pub, venue space and corner. There was a double bass and clarinet act in the Apple store. Toby is not entirely convinced by all the street performers.
He did however find giant plastic inflatable balls to go in:
(Note the crowd control system. I’m amused by the recycling. I guess Scots do have a reputation of being thrifty.)
We now have three nights in Edinburgh before we head south again, and tomorrow is full of lots of adventure to come.
*Yes, I looked at the map to pick that one.