Day Seventy Three

We spent today exploring York, and what a beautiful city it is – 2,000
years of history on our doorstep. And guess what? The squirrels are
back! We see the first of them on our walk into the city. A spring
baby with a skinny little tail.

We start the day on high, by climbing up the ancient battlement city
wall adjacent to the river and lapping half way around the city, on
the way to see York Minster. The views from the wall are fantastic.
We learn along the way that the reason it’s still here is that the
church took the the council to court in the 1300s when they
attempted to destroy a section of it for development ….and won.
We haven’t changed much in all that time have we? Only now, sadly,
the developer would be more likely to win.

York has a history that goes from the Romans, to the Vikings, the
Normans and then the English. Really quite amazing that each ruling
people still has their legacy in the city. Along the way we see Roman
ruins, a wall and a building column that date back to 300 AD. Each
ruin is clearly marked with an explanation of its history. It’s very
subtlety, but well done. The wall offers a great vantage point to take
photographs, especially where the old and new come together in
sharp contrast. It makes us both laugh, the wall is only enclosed on
the steepest drops – again our OHS reps at home would have a fit.

We come off the wall in the city gardens, have lunch in a funky little
cafe, and spot two more furry friends squirrelling about in amongst
the ruins of an abbey. Another little one comes right up to me, but I
have left my stash of nuts at home. I won’t make that mistake
tomorrow.

The gardens and abbey are adjacent to the Museum, and a beautiful
old building which has a wedding in full swing. It’s a great setting
and when we return later in the day we see the wedding photos
being taken. The Treasury House is here too, but it’s closed too,
we’ll have to see it tomorrow. We see medial tudor houses too, from
the 1400s. Most are converted to cafes or shops, but they’re in
great condition. There is just so much history here. It really is a very
beautiful city.

After the gardens we make our way across the the Minster, and it’s
spectacular. Ornate and on a grand scale, its up there with some of
the grandest we’ve seen in the UK. Unlike many churches here,
there is a fair amount of gold highlighting interior features. There is
also a crypt were the church’s original Roman footings can be seen,
and the bases of the Norman church that was built over the top of
that, then the Minster on top of that. Amazing.

We learn that a minster is a very limited term for a church attached
to a monastery, whereas a cathedral is a church with a diocese. We
also learn about the present 10 year restoration plan for the church’s
masonry. There’s a detailed display of the work being done and we
get the opportunity to see the masons at work outside of the
church. We also here a brief prayer and see the minster moving
effortlessly through the visitors to comfort a woman whose troubles
have overwhelmed her.

The masonry work is amazing. It can take up to four months to
complete a single stone, and there are thousands to assess for
repair, restoration or replacement. It’s truly a labor of love.

After visiting the church we find ourselves on the edge of the
shopping district. In the “nice” shops….and a little while later a few
things find their way home.

We meander for a while, exploring a little further afield until we
cross areas we visited yesterday, then stop for coffee and cake.
Sponge for Chris – his favourite.

After that we start to make our way home, visiting the garden again
(and see another squirrel. This one keeping an eye on the wedding
party). Instead of the wall walk, we walk along the river. It’s late
Friday afternoon and happy hour is in full swing. People are on the
waterfront prepping for a happy weekend. The weather’s been
perfect all day, but as we walk along the river the sky blackens and
the sun streams through. The lighting is great.

It’s been a great day, and just to round out the squirrelly side of
things, we see our baby squirrel as we get back. I leave him a few
nuts, although he scarpers pretty quickly. He’ll be back, and that tail
needs fattening up.

I have my “furry things in burrows” series on tonight too. Bunnies,
water voles and baby badgers. Bliss

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