Day Seventy Four

Another lovely day exploring York. We start the day walking in along
the river and set off to the garden to see what the squirrels were up
to.

Armed with nuts this time, we expected a fine reception….and we
weren’t disappointed. Almost immediately, we were happily
attracting squirrelly attention. Our first buddy was a baby who
looked like he needed feeding up. He very bravely came up for
treats from both of us, and cheekily held his little paws out for a
second nut each time. Once he asked for three! I shoot a great
video of Chris feeding him. The look on Chris’ face is priceless.

Each time he got a nut, he would diligently go and bury them for
winter, first digging a little hole, secreting his nut, and then tamping
it down to remove all trace of digging. Interestingly, he dispersed
them, presumably to minimise losses in case anyone found his stash.
Each of the squirrels we saw did this, bar the last one, who was a
little fatty boomba….he ate his. I hope that the nuts help them
when it’s cold and snowy. I wish I was here to feed them in winter.

Squirrels fed, Chris drags me away for a little cultural enrichment.
Today, the Treasurer’s House is open, so we set off to see it. The
house has a long history, from when it was actually the Royal
Treasurer’s house, but we see it as its most recent incarnation, as the
private home of Frank Green from 1897 through to the 1930. It was
the first house given to the Trust complete with its contents.

Frank Green was an extraordinarily wealthy man, being the
grandson of a man who invented a way recirculating heat from
boilers to use for other means. This technology is still in use today
apparently. Frank was a flamboyant character and decorated each
room in the house with period of history that took his fancy. We see
Medieval rooms, Georgian rooms, Victorian rooms. Each of the
rooms has magnificent antiques spanning across 300 years (he was
an avid collector). My favourites are the French ones. The Georgian
room has enough French antique bling to challenge Napoleon’s
rooms.

He was very much seen as “new money” by society, and caused
quite a stir when he scooped them all by inviting the then Queen
and her attendant to stay when they visited the York show. Frank
took the opportunity to redecorate lavishly and promptly renamed
the room “The Queens Room”, which is how it stands today.

We take the cellar tour, that not only has one of the original 2,000
year old Roman column bases and a Roman road in the basement,
but also a scarily spooky and convincing ghost story. Roman soldiers
and their horses, seen a number of times and by different people in
quite solid form over a number of years in the 1960s. The interesting
thing about it, is that the level of detail documented (shields, swords
and uniform colours) went against historical records at the time.
Until that is, the roman centurion quarters were uncovered by
archeologists some decades later….who went on to confirm that
each of the unusual details reported….were all accurate and in line
with what was found at the local garrison. Spooky, thought
provoking, goosebumpy stuff!

Frank, it seems, was a bit of a perfectionist. He had stud marks put
into the floor of each room so that when it was cleaned the furniture
would be replaced exactly as he liked it and he hated noise, so used
to have coal delivered to the rooms …..wrapped in paper. We also
find out that he was responsible for saving a number of the Tudor
houses in the city. On finding out they were targeted for demolition,
he simply bought them and restored them, saving them to this
present day. Thanks Frank; appreciated!

After lunch at the house, we set off to walk the section of the city
wall that we missed out on yesterday. This part of the wall takes up
through the outskirts of central York, mainly through residential
areas. We see a lot of backyards! York people like their cats too –
we’ve seen more cats here than anywhere else. Along the way we
come to a number of watch towers that are in strategic defence
spots along the wall. Most of these are locked, but one is open the
public and the volunteers manning it invite us up.

The stairs are tiny and in a sharp spiral. You virtually have to step
sideways to maintain a foothold. I make it up to the first level
without a glance, but when it’s time to step back into the staircase
to go up to the next level I just can’t do it. The first step you have to
take upwards, has to essentially happen backwards, in space, with
the abyss of the below spiral below you. I just can’t do it without
feeling like I’m going to plummet….so down I go.

Chris, being made of much sterner stuff, goes up. I chat to the
ladies downstairs instead. He reports that the stairs were pretty
narrow and at the top was an open room with slits for arrows. Tough
existence. They must have lost a few people on those stairs at least,
me thinks.

We complete the wall walk and end up back in town to wander
through a market of international foods and plants. Really quite
interesting – they have displays of different herbs and vegetables
from various exotic parts and stalls set up with home made local
delicacies from those areas. Europe and Asia are both well well
represented. Given the English reputation for not being
adventurous eaters, they’re doing a roaring trade. There’s also a
standard market and we wander through and make a few laps
taking everything in.

By this stage we’re both a bit tired, so head back for a little r&r
before we head out for dinner. We’ve spotted a Malaysian
restaurant with a good menu and will head out of that tonight.

It proved a good choice – the food was fabulous.

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