Sunday, May 30:  Rain, Hail and York

Had our final “Full English Breakfast” at the Old Bakehouse and Sarah got me started faxing the boys schoolwork back to St. Charles. The fax machine has got to be one of the biggest impediments to progress ever invented. Sheet had to be trimmed to A4 size, they jammed, several got sucked in at once,. . . I’ll probably need to send the hard copy after all.

Repeated our drive to Warwick, carefully avoiding Stratford, then eventually gained the M1 motorway up away from Birmingham, past Sheffield, then towards Leeds. Some of the driving on the M1 was reminiscent of Italy, but then maybe I was the instigator in a few of those occasions. Somewhere near Sheffield the rain finally began and it poured pretty good, so we elected to have lunch and perhaps miss some of it while off the road. I managed to find a quiche, yogurt, and a fruit-filled pastry, thereby avoiding a side of chips.

Once to York, we made it to the B&B straightaway (OK, blew the penultimate turn, but quickly recovered), though it verged on fortuitous. Sycamore House seems like the prototypical family-run, serious-business, bed-and-breakfast-in-an-old-house. We have two comfortable rooms, adjacent, with the facilities shared with a family in the other room on our floor. York itself is quite a tourist-town, and a quick chat with the “community support officers” (i.e. beat cops) confirmed that it is especially packed due to the bank holiday on Monday. They said last night was especially busy. The town seems to be pretty well packed with British families and couples taking a quick holiday.

We’ve learned that a holiday on Monday means shops and restaurants are closed Sunday and Monday, so you gotta get organized quick. Laundry requires driving to, one Internet shop went bankrupt, the other has no connection at the moment, but claims they’ll be open Monday and it took us three attempts to make a reservation for dinner.

We took in the Minster, which is a truly impressive cathedral (which I can say now, having seen plenty of churches). (Photo 169) Very old, lots of neat details and lots of records, all suitably qualified of course. For example, its the largest cathedral in Europe -- well, north of the Alps, anyway. And the Chapter House has the largest Gothic dome in England without a central supporting pillar (having a central pillar sounds like cheating to me, anyway). However, this same dome was my favorite part.

Walked the length of the city, taking in The Shambles, a street renovated in the 1400’s and unchanged since, with its overhanging buildings and cock-eyed architecture. (Photo 170) Saw the place where Cromwell’s 2-year-old corpse was burned and hung by the restored king, Charles II, and the remaining tower of the city’s castle down by the confluence of two rivers. On the return trip, the skies looked more and more threatening. The rain began and quickly turned into a thunderstorm with pounding hail. We all retreated into doorways with whoever else was nearby to ride it out for fifteen minutes or so. Despite all being in possession of our umbrellas (David’s being brand-new), we arrived at dinner mildly drenched, but still not equaling the soaking we got in Rome. Maybe number 2 on the list, though. (Photo 172)

Dinner was early, and so the boys had plenty of time for their journals after dinner.

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Photo 169  York Minster
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Photo 170  The Shambles

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Photo 171  The Golden Fleece
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Photo 172  Hailstorm

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Photo 173  Harry Potter Queue
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Photo 174  Harry Potter Theatre

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Photo 175  Emperor Constantine
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Photo 176  Bootham Bar
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Photo 177  St. Mary’s Abbey

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Photo 178  St. Mary’s Abbey