We left early this morning from our questionable accomodation in Leeds for York which is only a short drive. We made a stop at Hazelbrooke Castle along the way, our first taste of what I’m sure will be many.
Not having any accomodation booked, the best part of the day was spent chasing up various hostels and hotels. So much so that we missed the free walking tour at 2:30pm. Not to be discouraged we took a walk around the old streets of York by ourselves and even joined a Ghost tour following dinner.
While York is of similar age to London, having been founded by the Romans, it is very interesting to be in a city that hasn’t visually changed a great deal since medieval times. London has burnt to the ground at least once and actually appears to be more modern than even Sydney in many regards while an English knight wouldn’t look out of place in York.
Stepping out of our car where we first parked I stumbled across the ruins of St Mary’ Abbey. Only one wall still remains behind the York Museum as its stone was recycled to build newer buildings. York Minster is now the main draw card, it is the largest gothic cathedral in northern Europe.
The structure in the above photo is Cliffords Tower built on a Norman motte and named after Roger de Clifford who was exectued and hung from the walls for opposing Edward II. According to our tour guide in 1190 the Jewish population of York, seeking protection inside the walls from a violent mob, found themselves trapped and rather than surrender killed each other while the tower was burnt around them. The tower was rebuilt in stone that apparently turned red with the blood of the Jews.
A very intersting city, it is a shame we don’t have longer here.
Our first leg of our UK trip is London to Leeds. We spent the day weaving through the english country side, which is beautiful. Very green with lots of little leaping lambs and fields of bright yellow canola.
When we stopped for lunch in Bedforshire Kimberley remembered that our Aunty Phyll (my Dad’s sister) lived somewhere in the area. Armed with only her first name and a vague memory of the street name we set off to find her. We grabbed a directory for Bedfordshire and found ‘The Birches’ ( Phyll’s street name) in the town of Shefford. Unfortunatly this was not right, so we stopped in the White Swan for a beer to reasses the situation.
A neighbouring town, Flitwick, also had ‘The Birches’ so we set off again. This was not correct either, but a lady in the street helped us out and let us use her phone to ring Aunty Phyll. After this (oh and a quick stop into the George hotel for some assistance) we found her in a different town not far away and topped off the afternoon with a strong cup of tea and good chat.
We then set off for the rest of our trip to Leeds, an overnight stop before our trip to York.
After our quick orientation of London yesterday, today we took our time to look at a few of the sites a bit more closely. What you are looking at here is Kimberley ascending a stairway (of 311 steps) which winds its way up the Monument. 202 feet high the monument gave us a great view of London and I was suprised by how modern the city looked.
From there we checked out Tower Castle and Tower Bridge and had lunch overlooking the Thames. We then met up with my cousin Candice and Kimberley took us all out to Camden markets. Lots of variety in Camden, from new age, to gothic to cheap souveniers and had the Aus dollar compared a little better with the Pound I may have come back with quite a few things.
I am enjoying London, it has all you expect, like the big red buses, old fashioned taxis, and telephone boxes, but it is much cleaner and has a interesting mix of old and new architecture. The gardens are also great, lots of tulips at the moment and the grass is thick and green,
Tomorrow it’s off to York and into the english country side
After a relativly short flight for two Australians visiting the UK, Gemma and I made our way to our Hostel in central London to meet Kimberly. We didn’t actually get in until almost midnight so the evening consisted of just a quick catchup over a drink. Kimberly has been here for a few days already, mainly enjoying the nightlife from what I gather.
We allowed ourselves the luxury of a sleep in to help deal with the jet lag then took a whirlwind walking tour of most of the tourist sites of London. Starting at The Monument, a 60 metre column built after the great fire of London in 1666, we then made our way past London Bridge, St Pauls Cathedral, Trafalga Square, Buckingham Palace (well the gates only, we will go back later to see the rest), No. 10 Downing Street, finishing at Westmister.
The tour was pretty quick, seeing all of the above and a few other tid-bits along the way in about 3 hours. We will have to go back to see some of the sites again but it was an informative introduction to London.