Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Early Evening on King's Staith

Yesterday, my daughter reminded me at the last minute that we had to go into town to get her a pair of studded boots for hockey. We whipped the bikes out of the shed and belted down the river, arriving at JJB Sports ten minutes before closing time. Having got what we required, we took the time to have a walk round York together as evening was falling, and I took a series of photos as I went. The scene above is of King's Staith, the place I featured a few days ago in my "breakfast by the river" post. There's quite a different vibe there in the early evening.

Monday, 29 September 2008

An Opportunity Missed

I don't much care for formal flower arrangements, and big posh houses aren't my thing either. So I don't really know why I wanted to go and see the Flower Festival at Fairfax House, running last week from 20th-28th Sept. I think it might be something to do with my liking for the idea of living things (in this case flowers) adding life to buildings and somehow melding their energy into them.

I'm not the only one to like the idea of living things bringing life to buildings. Our predecessors liked it quite a lot, and it was customary some parts of the country to wall up something living, like a cat, in a newly built house to bring life to the place and protect it against witchcraft. Suffolk is big on walled up cats, and their mummified bodies abound throughout the county - including a couple of discovered ones on display in the Nutshell pub, Bury St Edmunds, suspended from the ceiling.

Anyway, it was the last day of the Fairfax House Flower Festival yesterday, so I guess I can't have wanted to see big posh house + flower arrangements quite enough to bother getting down there and forking out the £5 fee for entry. Now if they'd walled the flower arrangements up, and offered spectators a mug of ale or two to celebrate, I might actually have shifted myself off into to town for a look this weekend.

Sunday, 28 September 2008

Memory of Place

This peaceful haven is in St Mary's, a 13thC church in the centre of York, just by the Coppergate shopping centre. Since 2004, the building has been an arts centre, where an artist is commissioned every year, to create an installation reflecting the surroundings.

The current installation is Memory of Place by Keiko Mukaide , and is "a spiritual space in which to reflect on the memory of loved ones." Visitors are invited to light a votive candle and float it on the pool. The glass rods at the end of the pool represent a spiritual path to a higher place.
This installation is in its second season now, brought back by popular demand, and ends on November 2nd.

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Scary Soldiers

On Friday afternoon I walked round a practically empty York Castle Museum. Under normal circumstances I love the Castle Museum, but I have never been there before when it's so quiet. Empty, it is slightly creepy in parts. And in the room with the display above, I was actually scared. The figures are enclosed in a glass case, but they look like they would just smash through it and come an' getcha, given half a chance. And they look SO REAL!

"Our display shows a group of York soldiers gathered on Heworth Green, ready to join the army marching against the Scottish rebellion of 1570."

Heworth Green ... the Chinese/Fish and Chip Shop in Heworth was recommended to me earlier in the week. Imagine going to the chippy and seeing that lot loitering on a grass verge. Maybe modern day hoodies aren't too bad after all.

Friday, 26 September 2008

Brown Bowling Green and Bedraggled Flowers

And it's still really stinky. The first time I cycled through Rowntree Park when it was reopened earlier this week, I nearly gipped. Nowhere else along the river that was flooded smells this bad. Bleuuch! Good job the bowling season is over - have you ever seen a green looking like this before?

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Breakfast by the River

I'm getting in to a routine of being at the library first thing. I chain my bike to railings not far from the above scene (yes, I know, for anyone who knows York, I've left myself quite a walk, but I'm still a bit of a wuss on my bike in traffic and prefer to stick to off road cycle paths where I can). I'm always sorely tempted to stop and have a 2nd breakfast here. Probably just as well that finances don't currently permit!
When this scene previously appeared on the blog, it was completely under water (20 Aug 2008). It also flooded again - and to a worse degree - more recently. But things seem to have dried out now, thank goodness.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Naked Bike Riding, Anyone?

Today's photo is in fact a video, which I found on YouTube. I live very near the Millenium Bridge, and these cyclists are going across it at the start of the vid. Then they turn right and proceed into town down Terry Avenue, the same route I go on by bike just about every day. But the difference between me and most of these cyclists, is that I wear clothes when I go out on my bike ;-)

P.S. Check the screeches of horror at around 3.20 - 3.30 in the video. They happen as the cyclists are going past the gates to Rowntree Park, where there is a skate park / youth hang out. "AAAAAAARGH! LOOK AT THAT!"

Addendum: I've just found this, incase anyone is interested in knowing more - or indeed participating next year: World Naked Bike Ride UK.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Ruby and the Viking Turd, Part 1.

My eldest son Erik, I have discovered, was once charged with showing York's famous fossilized turd to parties of school children.
We lived in Bury St Edmunds at the time, but Erik came up to York to do some of his work experience, in Year 11. He got a place as a guide/explainer at ARC, the York Archaeological Resource Centre, now called DIG. Among his duties, was the the job (no pun intended) of explaining to kids all about the Viking turd, then on display there. He was even responsible for the manufacture of scores of "I've held a Viking Poo" badges so they could purchase a souvenir of the experience.

"From what I can remember, the poo was done in a bin," said Erik. "The bin would have been like a pit in the ground, and the poo was preserved by the other things around it. Had he - or she - done it in a latrine, it would have been lost forever. Presumably, the person got caught short."

OMG, I have a family connection with the Viking turd!

Monday, 22 September 2008

Stinky Park

I omitted to tell you yesterday that the notes of the brass band weren't the only thing drifting in through the kitchen door.

Rowntree Park stinks. Much as I love the place, we've been keeping the windows shut and taking detours where possible. The park was under five feet of flood water for several days, and for just over a week now, pumping machines have been getting it all out. They're almost there from what I can see through the railings, but it looks very brown, bedraggled and sorry for itself - and what a stench. According to Ruby Senior, it has never smelt this bad on previous floodings (thank you park, wait till I arrive in town, why don't you) and she was heard to utter with screwed up nose while firmly shutting windows yesterday "Urgh! I think there must have been a burst sewage main!"

Not surprisingly, I don't really feel like going to the Food Festival today. Maybe I should make the recipe for atomic buffalo turds kindly donated by Jane instead. Or even research the aforementioned Viking story. Because guess what? My eldest son Erik has provided me with an unexpected and welcome lead on the saga of the Viking Poo.

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Sunday Brass Band

I've just been standing on Millenium Bridge, listening to this brass band. I can still hear them as I write, in fact, as the kitchen door is open and the notes are drifting across on the breeze. This event takes place every year apparently and is called "Praise on the Bridge," organised by York Churches Together. It's a half hour service, constisting mainly of favourite, traditional hymns.

I've missed seeing brass bands around the place.

Saturday, 20 September 2008

York Food Festival

The York Food Festival 2008 is in town. In the interests of good taste, mebbe I should postpone the aforementioned Viking series for a day or two :-D

I am actually quite excited about the festival. There's a definite party atmosphere in town, with lots happening. It's amazing to see the amount of food producers from Yorkshire there are at the Festival - culinary rich county or what! The pictured stall is obviously not a local one, but has come over from Germany. And the York Press was being very exotic tonight. I got a free big bag of Thai Sweet Chili Pringles when I bought mine from a stand by one of the food tents.

Only managed a quick jaunt to the Festival today though cos it's shed clearing out day (groan, awful, nasty, don't wanna do it) but I shall be back.

Friday, 19 September 2008

Out of the House

I don't like staying in all day to work. I concentrate better in a busy environment, with plenty happening and noise going on. So I like to go out, to somewhere lively, and I work there far more productively than at home.

The above photo was taken on my way to do just that. It's of one of the back streets I pass on the way to town, and the view cheers me even before I get to my chosen place to work. On this occasion, since I had something to research in the National Railway Museum, I decided to stay there, and set up camp at a cafe table.

I got loads done - although I was vaguely distracted by some of the train nerds - why do they all have ENORMOUS cameras? I was severely out-camera'd :-D Apart from that it was an excellent place to work and I'll go back soon.

And I'll be going somewhere else soon, as well. On a mission. I have decided to research the story of the Viking Turd ... stay tuned.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

A bit of the Minster #1

York Minster is enormous. Like really, really, neck-achingly tall and wide. Impossible to photograph in full.

I have however made it my future mission to try and get it completely into a photo, even if it means buying a wide angle lens at some point when I have more money than I do at the moment. For now though, we will have to make do with pics of small portions of it, like the above. And if I don't ever manage to fit it all in, we can put all the pics together like a jigsaw to make a whole one :-D

I like this scene because there's lots happening at once. I didn't even see the school girls arriving from the right when I took it. The cyclists are a bit in the way, frankly, but that's generally the case in York. Not that I can say anything because I'm a York cyclist too.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Banks, Bikes and Viking Turds

Here are some bikes in front of Lloyds Bank, Pavement Branch. The second bike from the left is my bike. And the bank is my bank. My current awkward financial situation means I visit the bank quite often - but I always have a grin on my face when I do, because I can't go in there without thinking about Viking turds.

Let me explain:

One of the first things I did on arriving in York was google "Lloyds Bank York" to find myself a new local branch. As I cast an eye down the page of results, I spotted the following among the results:

"Lloyds Bank coprolite - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
It was found in 1972 beneath the site of what was to become the York branch of Lloyds Bank and may be the largest example of fossilised human feces ever found ... en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lloyds_Bank_coprolite - 21k -
Cached - Similar pages - Note this"

Pardon, Wikipedia. Did you say feces? I quite urgently needed to find a bank, but couldn't resist clicking on this entry first, instead of the normal ones listing the bank's address. Would you like to know what it said, too? I thought so.

"Analysis of the nine-inch (23 cm) long stool has indicated that its producer subsisted largely on meat and bread whilst the presence of several hundred parasitic eggs suggests he or she was riddled with intestinal worms. (Nice) In 1991, paleoscatologist Andrew Jones made international news with his appraisal of the item for insurance purposes: 'This is the most exciting piece of excrement I've ever seen. In its own way, it's as valuable as the Crown Jewels.' "

And what's more, said turd is on display at the Jorvik Viking Museum. I need to go and see it.

(This post was actually going to be about cycling in York, and how awkward it can be chaining your bike up. I took the photo specifically for that purpose because it took me about 10 minutes to chain it today, with my nose in a petunia for most of the time owing to the cramped up position I was in. I don't know why I ended up writing about the Viking turd instead. Probably because it's far more interesting :-D)

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Political graffiti on glass

Walking down Micklegate with my cousin at the weekend, a street most noted for being infamous pub crawl territory, (the "Micklegate Run") she noticed that the old church along there was open as part of the national Heritage Open Days. We went in, and discovered that this rather beautiful building, the Church of St Martin cum Gregory, has been shut up since the 1960s - hence a quite musty smell as we entered!

The church has impressive stained glass windows, and windows with graffiti on, dating from the 14th to 18th centuries. The Church is going to become "The Stained Glass Centre," a national resource for the discovery and interpretation of stained glass, comprising a gallery, workshop and meeting spaces.

Photo: Political graffiti on the window of the church, from the 1700s, which refers to the battle of Collodon.

Monday, 15 September 2008

Bargate News

A picture of the very nice little newsagents, on Bishopthorpe Road, where I go to buy my morning papers. It's always busy first thing.