21st-22nd of June, 2017: Ham and Riss do York!

Wednesday, 21st of June

So what to do when your ol’ boy has some holiday time to use up before June, but your passport has yet to wing its way back to you? Explore the southern aspect of your country, of course!

This is basically all I knew about our destination of choice before we headed down–that the folks from there seemingly have a mighty adorable accent.

So first thing, we hit the road. But not before a cheeky stop at my old work to say hullo to some folks and pick up a precious wee parcel (more about that later). After that, we began our drive through the scenic Scottish Borders. I think I’ve mentioned them before. Man, I never get tired of that drive.

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Our destination today was York! The heart and soul of the wide expanse of area known as Yorkshire. As you can see from the map below, there’s a lot to Yorkshire–lots of big, rolling parks, seasides, and famous towns. It was a bit of a struggle to figure out where we should stay and what we should see, but in the end we settled on York for the first half, then up north of Scarborough for the second half. This was due in some part to the fact that then we’d be able to see the North York Moors–but mainly because I found a farm B&B we could stay in out there. ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

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Anyway, York is reachable from Edinburgh by car in around four hours. That makes it an easy journey that finds you leaving Scotland for England. Though I haven’t spent much time in England, York felt like a decidedly different kettle of fish than Edinburgh for sure. Maybe it was how hot it was when we got there, maybe it was the funny accents, maybe it was how … flat it was? Either way, York has its own feel for sure, and while I did like it, its mild strangeness made me appreciate Edinburgh all the more.

After checking in to our B&B, we hit the streets. We spent most of the day wandering the streets of York, which are charming in a quirky and slightly mad sort of way. Each building seems to have been built to the beat of its own drum, some bulging outwards on the higher floors, some with fantastically ornate windows and paint, some looking like something from storybooks. One such street is quite famous for all of this, in a windy area called the Shambles. That one had made my list before and obviously many others, as when we arrived it was packed full of tourists. All things considered it looks very Harry Potter/Diagon Alley-esque. We ended up going back several times, trying to get a good photo of it, but none of them quite did it for me for some reason.

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You see what I mean though. And, obviously the Harry Potter resemblance didn’t go unnoticed by some clever businessman (or woman):

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Despite having my interest, Haitham and I didn’t set foot inside. It’s probably a good thing, considering the grumbles I would have gotten from my husband, a probable descendant of the Dursley family for sure.

I could obviously go on and on about every nook and cranny we explored during the day, but instead I’ll leave off on one of my favorite photos taken that day, featuring the infamous York Minster. What a beast that thing is!

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Thursday, 22nd of June

Day two in York! And this time, we actually made some plans (go us).

First off was scoping out The Wall. Of course every old British city wouldn’t be complete without some crumbling bits of fortification around it (even Edi has the remnants of one!). However, York just so happens to have a pretty dern good one… and you can walk on it!

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Okay, walked around ancient wall: check. After a bit more wandering around, taking in the York museum gardens (and feeding some squirrels and very determined pigeons) and also seeing a weird, putt-putt golf/interactive art exhibit, we’d obviously worked up a bit of an appetite. One of our Yorkshire-native friends had told us about an afternoon tea place called Betty’s which as she described it was a Yorkshire institution. True enough, it looked massive, and absolutely rammed full of people at all times. However, after taking a peep at the prices (and wandering past the queue outside the front door) we decided to opt out of Betty’s and go for the path less traveled by.

That’s chocolate afternoon tea.

For those who haven’t experience the delight of afternoon tea, it’s normally something like this:

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You got yer scones (with jam and clotted cream of course); several choices of patisseries; and then your layer of sandwiches. Unfortunately for us veggies, sandwich choices are usually pretty boring when it comes to most afternoon teas: egg + cress, tomato + cheese, maybe brie + cranberry if you’re lucky (my fave!). However, egg and cress is for sure my least favorite (it’s so soft) and when we saw that was our only option at the pricey Betty’s, well. Can you blame us for looking elsewhere?

Enter York Cocoa House. The end-all of afternoon tea providers.

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CAN I JUST TELL YOU HOW GOOD THIS SHIT WAS. IT WAS SO DAMNED GOOD. Everything not only was graced by the presence of chocolate in some way, but they also did the veggie options like bosses. All the stuff on the bottom had chocolate in it: white chocolate stuffed bell peppers; some sort of eggy bake with chocolate sprinkles; and mysterious wraps that were damned good but were stumped as to how they contained chocolate (still don’t know how they snuck it in there). Not only that, but those cherry and chocolate scones. Oh my god. Who knew heaven actually exists? And is in York?

We polished all that off with a chocolate porter and an ice cream IPA. Is this real life??

After some more rambling, we decided to see some bits of the Yorkshire countryside not too far away, specifically, a garden centre that specializes in lavender!

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It even had a lavender maze. How about that?

And what better way to close an evening than with delicious Mexican food? Who cares that it’s like 5,000 miles away from its original source?

Unfortunately even lovely towns like York have their pitfalls, and when dusk falls in York gang activity begins to pick up. It was a silly thing for me to do, but I managed to get a cheeky shot of the culprits just after they caused a minor traffic incident without them noticing.

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