Matt & Donna Leave

Well, once again we find ourselves alone in a strange city. Not that strange really after a year and a half but still just as interesting. As I write I imagine Matt and Donna must be nearing Brisbane. I can imagine how they must be feeling – like shit. I wonder what Virgin will make of the extra 40kg of baggage they have? Yesterday I helped lug all the crap they had managed to collect in their brief stay abroad to Heathrow to bid them a fond farewell.

But enough of the recent past. What about the distant past? I am gradually catching up to myself and the site should be up to date fairly soon.

We rejoin our heroes in the far north of England on a pleasant September day in the middle of the fuel crisis…


I love York. If I was making a list of unmissable English towns, York would be on it; along with Bath and Edinburgh. Oh yeah, and London. York has everything you want in a town: good shopping, a castle, an awesomely big church, fantastically preserved town walls, cobbled streets, half-timbered houses and about 10 million less people than London. Perfect.

The first we had seen York was when we went to play at the Minster for Kathryn’s boss’s wedding. We liked it so much we decided to spend another weekend there. The first time we went, we visited the National Railway Museum. Now this is a LOT better than it sounds. Even if you don’t particularly like trains it is worth seeing. It is big. And they have lots of, well, trains. From the record breaking Flying Scotsman to Queen Victoria’s Royal Carriages. We spent about 2 or 3 hours there. Seriously. They also have a turntable where they roll out one of there loco’s and spin it round while they talk about it. Very cool.

Anyway, that was last time. This particular weekend we decided to hire a car for a day and see all the things we couldn’t get to before. The Yorkshire countryside is beautiful and if I had to live in England, that would be the place.

The main attraction up here is Castle Howard. It’s not a real castle, but it is really big. Built by the same guy who did Blenheim Palace, it is seriously impressive. And it’s still somebody’s house!

Not too far away is the beutiful ruin of Rievaulx Abbey. It was built by the Cistercians (of Tintern Abbey fame) so naturally they picked the most remote, beautiful bit of wilderness they could find. It wasn’t remote enough to avoid King Henry in 1539 though.

Above the ruins are Rievaulx Terrace and Temples. The typical 18th century rich man liked to have a romantic ruin to look at and if you weren’t lucky enought to have a real one then you could always build your own. However the owner of Duncombe Park was lucky enough to have the real thing, so he landscaped the hill above the abbey into a terrace and built a Greek temple to have a picnic in while he and his friends enjoyed the romantic view.

We just had time to visit Fountains Abbey; another, much larger, ruin. It is floodlit at certain times of the year and we arrived just after sunset. It was quite lovely to wander through the roofless nave while gregorian chant was played from speakers.

After a typically large fried breakfast we spent the next day wandering the lovely streets of York. We went to the Minster again (of course) as well as Clifford’s Tower, the towns castle. There’s not much to see inside but the views over the city are excellent.

Another thing worth seeing is the York Castle Museum. It contains displays of everyday life from past times and even has a whole Victorian street scene. Like the Railway Museum it takes a couple of hours to do it justice. Kathryn was most interested in the History of Chocolate exhibition.

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