Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Adventures in Yorkshire Pt. 1

This morning at  6 AM, the boys and I wandered down the road into Barnsley center.  I'd managed to convince them (a) not to go without me and (b) wait until daylight,  Yes, we're all jetlagged.  All was quiet except for the odd garbage truck, reeking slightly, and a few early birds loitering about the news agent, where we stopped in to ogle the penny candy while averting our eyes from the prominently displayed girly magazines.
The boys homed in on the shopping mall, which was of course locked up, and they were fascinated by the new bingo hall. Neither knew what bingo was but the relativly snazzy architecture, at least for Barnsley, lured them.  I'd pointed out a few landmarks, such as the tower of the city hall, and pointed out that should they get lost they should head for the church spire across the street from our house.  However when we returned after our walk to the main roundabout, Nick was totally turned around.  I'm glad I hadn't turned them loose to explore or who knows where they might have ended up. 
At about 9 we drove up the rather boring but efficient motorway to York, which Nick (and I, for that matter) hadn't seen since 1995.  Passed the Tadcaster Brewery.  The grassy hill on which sits Clifford's Tower was covered with Canada geese and goslings. We went in -- it's just a modest site -- picked up some souvenirs (Nick happy to find spoons) and walked the battlements, from which we got a good overview of the town center and the Ouse River. I think the story of the 12th century Jews who burned down the original wooden trower with themselves inside it, rather than renounce their faith to the authorities, impressed Ben.
Then after a quick peek into the Museum of York we wandered through the narrow, lopsided, half-timbered streets of 'the Shambles' en route to York Minster cathedral.  Many stalls were set up in a square, selling everything fom clothes and jewelry to ostrich burgers and fudge, the latter of which we sampled and bought. The fudge company was called Mad Cow Fudge and all the flavors were correspondingly named: Depressed Cow, Bored Cow, etc. 
Fudge notwithstanding, we had a bite of lunch in a cafe (baguettes) and then toured the Minster, including the undercroft, featuring excavated Roman, Norman, and Medieval foundations and artifacts -- statuary, frescoes, chalices...and a large hunk of masonry that had fallen on a parishoner in the1300s or so and not killed him, thus becoming a Miracle immortalized in the Minster's stained glass.
We walked circuitously back to the car. The rain had set in by now so  we headed back on the A19 via Selden, which has an abbey nearly as impressive as the Minster, though we stopped only long enough for me to take a photo of some derelict industrial buildings that caught my eye, and through the sadly uninteresting town of Bentley near Doncaster (which the boys missed anyway since they had fallen asleep in the back seat after playing an evidently exhausting game of Top Trumps with Nick's new jet fighter deck, which he'd picked up at Waterstones Bookstore when I nipped in looking in vain for the latest Brian Aldiss book. Thus we looped back to Barnsley, whereupon we all collapsed into bed about 3 PM.  I awoke at 6.30 thinking I'd slept through the night.
Fog had set in by this time and I took a stroll around the vastness of Locke Park next to the house, before a dinner of pesto pasta. Boys woke up about 9.30 PM (still light out!) and immediately began playing PlayStation. I hope to get them into bed at a reasonable time tonight to try and get them over their jet lag.