Thursday, 19 November 2009

Poppleton Station

Look, my village has a station where the man pops out of his little house to open the barriers when a train is coming.

The village I live in is called Upper Poppleton. Nether Poppleton is a little further down the road. The station is just labelled Poppleton, probably so that neither village feels left out.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

York Village Challenge

I currently have the best of both worlds. I moved in June to a village on the north west outskirts of York, with the city on one side, and open countryside on the other. It takes me literally only 5 mins by train to get into the city centre.

The photo is of a section of my village's name, from the station platform. Anyone want to guess what the whole thing is? (A clue: There are 2 villages next to one another with "POPP" in the name. Say them both out loud. Mine is the one that sounds like bubble wrap popping).

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

The FuTuRe of Travel

The number 4 from Acomb to the university and Science Park is the poshest bus in York. It is called the FTR which immediately made me think farter. But no, the letters ftr are actually a reference to the FuTuRe of travel.

The FTR is a bendybus, with spacious seats, plenty of standing room, and a TV screen which displays messages such as "For the comfort and safety of FTR passengers, please do not eat, drink or smoke in the FTR." This one kept coming up a lot last night, which was irritating, because I had a vegetable samosa and bottle of diet coke in my handbag, and was trying to suruptitiously pic-nic. Not straightforward. The FTR is the only bus in York to have a conductor, who comes to take your fare once you've sat down. Every time he got up, I had to quickly freeze my jaw in whatever chewing position it happened to be. Which is why I hadn't finished before the end of the journey.

I justified my samosa-eating recklessness by telling myself that despite the FTR TV warnings, my samosa didn't actually pose a safety threat or inconvenience to any of the other passengers. This was before a pea fell out though, and rolled right into the middle of the sparkling purple FTR floor. I must have jolted in horror because the pea was closely followed by a potato cube and several other peas. Fortunately my stop was coming up, and I was able to exit quite speedily.

For some rather better pictures of the FTR than mine, do check out this gallery)

Monday, 16 November 2009

Ruby un-hibernates

I have been hibernating. Right through the tail end of last winter, right through summer and most of autumn. Then for some reason I decide to tentatively poke my camera through the back door in the middle of a rainstorm.

It's slashing it down in York today. This view of the remaining apples on the tree in my garden is the best I can do.

Things have changed since last I blogged. I now live in a village to the north-west of York, with Mr Ruby, Erik (my eldest son), and the two younger ones who are now not so young. Life continues. And I am still Ruby :-)

Friday, 13 February 2009

Pextons - a fine local shop!

I'm lucky to live near a good parade of local shops, just a few minutes walk from my house. Last night they were a real God send. It was nearly 5pm, snowing thick and fast, and I suddenly remembered I needed to make a tray bake for my youngest son to take to school the next day. I had a recipe handy for carrot and orange cake, but no carrots and no suitable cake tin! So I put on my boots and coat, and went to get what I needed at the shops.

The photos are of Pextons on Bishopthorpe Road, a hardware store selling all sorts of useful things for the home - including a cake tin in just the size I needed for my recipe.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Exciting news!

Today's photo is of our blue bag and green box, provided to householders in York for our fortnightly collection of recyclables. What could that have to do with exciting news? Bear with me, it's coming.

I make sure that I use both the bag and box shown above, but also do more besides, such as avoiding excessive packaging in the first place, using my own bags and shopping trolley for my shopping, shopping locally, and on one occasion, I even left my excess packaging behind in the supermarket.

The changes I made were as a result of following my friend Karen's Rubbish Diet Plan - which is about slimming the bin, not the waistline! There is a hideous problem in the UK (as in other places) with too much rubbish being sent to landfil, and ensuing environmental problems.

Karen, who blogs as almost Mrs Average, started her blog The Rubbish Diet at the beginning of last year after a new year resolution to create less waste, and a decision to participate in the local council's "zero waste" week - where the aim was to generate NO RUBBISH as a household for a whole week. In fact the only thing she ended up sending to landfil that week was just one sticking plaster!

Anyway, back to the exciting news as advertised in the title of this post. Karen's blog The Rubbish Diet has just been shortlisted in this year's Guardian Media Awards! The award is an Innovation Award and you can see it for yourself on the Guardian's website here. Scroll down right to the bottom, you'll find it under the heading "Independent Media."

WOW! Congrats Karen, this is much deserved recognition for the Rubbish Diet, WOO HOO!

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

I like the Knavesmire in the mist

I posted a misty Knavesmire photo not so long ago, but went back to take more. Here's one of them (click on the Knavesmire label at the bottom of his post if you want to know more about it from my previous entries).

I got to London and back with no problems yesterday, and one highlight of the day was that I saw Feargal Sharkey somewhere in the vicinity of Goodge Street. My friend Karen, who is very good at celebrity spotting, pointed him out to me. So ever since, I have been singing - mainly the first song in this list, which is very catchy, but also the second two which bring back my early teenage years:
A Good Heart Teenage Kicks My Perfect Cousin

(Just so it's clear, Feargal Sharkey has nothing whatsoever to do with the Knavesmire, it's just that I'm thinking about seeing him yesterday while putting this photo up!!)

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

London again

Make way! I am going to London today! I need to be there to attend a luncheon at 11.45am, and will, I hope, be boarding my train at 8:12am.

Snow, rain, floods and all kinds of awful weather conditions are forecast so this photo of a Japanese bullet train in the National Railway Museum here in York is on my blog for good luck!

Not that I know how one of these would fare in British winter weather conditions. Our own trains tend not to do that well either, of course, and I will be amazed if I get to York Station tomorrow and see lots of "on time" trains on the board. I am kind of expecting lots of cancellations. How I hope I'll be pleasantly surprised!

(There is of course also the possibility that I might get there and not be able to get back. That would be interesting.)

Monday, 9 February 2009

More snow

Just when the last lot of snow had just about cleared, it's done it again! My daughter gave a huge sigh when she saw it, and told me; "School is freezing when it snows and some of the stricter teachers won't let us keep our coats on in the class room." Thermal vest for her today then :-D

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Army Climbing Wall in Parliament Street

The army recruiting team were in York for the recent residents' festival, with a climbing wall that moved on a conveyor belt sort of set up - so you could climb and climb but never get to the top. It could be tilted forwards and backwards to vary the gradient too.

LJ had a go, but don't worry, I'm not letting him join up. He'd hate the haircut, anyway :-D

Saturday, 7 February 2009

The Roman Bath Museum

In the centre of York is a pub called the Roman Bath, named as such because the steam room of a Roman bath house was found underneath it in the 1930s. The excavations have been turned into a small but very interesting museum, and last week I went for a look.

This was the bath house in the military fortress of York rather than in the civilan side of town, so there are no decorative mosaics and some tiles bear the insignia of the 9th legion who founded York in AD71. (OMG! This place was once full of naked 9th legion Roman soldiers sitting in the steam!)
I liked this model of the fortress and stood here for a while working out where everything was. That's the main gate at the front which was in St Helen's Square, and the tower on the front left must be the multangular tower. I think the square building in the middle is about where the Minster is, and I think the bath house must be that barely visible building on the front right, just peeping out from behind the wall.

LJ enjoyed trying out the replica armour, shields and helmets in the museum. He found out that a centurion's helmet is very heavy!

Friday, 6 February 2009

Sumo Wrestling in Parliament Street

This was going on for a large part of Saturday morning at the Residents' Festival, with various bystanders lured out of the crowd to don a Sumo costume and wrestle. I should have volunteered. It would have been a good way of keeping warm. Live coverage of events was going out on Minster FM.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

The Fountain

There's a Facebook group I've been enjoying recently, called You Know You're From York When ... and number one on the list is "you meet up at the fountain." Above, is The Fountain. No-one meeting there on the day I took this pic, Monday at around 10am. It was way too chilly!

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Lendal Bridge and Tower - seen from the York bus

So after dissing the York bus only a few days ago, I went for a ride on one. An open topped York bus. On the freezing cold last day of January with the snow blizzard that was about to hit York already making itself felt in the air.

I now know what it is like to have the beginnings of frost bite in my nose end. Why don't they make hats for noses? You can get hats, gloves, ear muffs, even thermal underwear to insulate your nethers, but noses are just left exposed to the elements. Anyone good at knitting? There is clearly a gap in the market.

Apart from the bitter cold, being on the York bus was really very good. There was even a commentary to listen to, through some provided earphones. I found it a bit irritating at first, because the commentator was talking to me as if I was an imbecile, but then I realised I had tuned into the little kids' channel. I hadn't realised there were channels. After playing around with the dial for a bit, and amusing myself by listening to various different languages, I settled into the English one (for grown ups this time), and began to enjoy it.

After about fifteen minutes though I'd had enough of being in the open top, and moved downstairs for the remainder of the journey. Maybe I'm just getting nesh* in my old age.

The view here is of the River Ouse, and the bus is going over Lendal Bridge onto Museum Street. The tower is Lendal Tower, built in the 1300s, originally defensive and also a toll point along the river. An iron chain was once stretched from this tower to Barker Tower on the opposite bank, to stop river traffic. A little ferry used to operate just here from at least the 1400s, to get people from one side of the river to another. But the ferryman was put out of business in 1863 when this bridge was built.

*Nesh was a favourite word of my grandfather, who hailed originally from Sheffield. Being described as nesh means you're a wimp - in the sense of overly sensitive to the cold!

Bishopthorpe Road in the Snow

This is the view looking up Bishopthorpe Road, from my morning bus stop. Continue up the road this way, and you go past Terry's and to the village of Bishopthorpe ("Good Morning Archbishop Sentamu").

This is the view looking down Bishopthorpe Road from my bus stop. Continue this way, and you'd go past the Southbank shops (Pig and Pastry, Millie's, hooray!) and into town over Skeldergate Bridge.

A bit of a blizzard was blowing while both these photos were taken yesterday morning, and the bus was half an hour late, booo! Neither of my kids' schools closed, to their dismay as they would have far preferred a day building snowmen and poly bagging. (Ruby Senior: "Well why should schools close because of snow? They never did when I was a child. Not even in 1947!")

Little J did manage to get a diminutive snowman built while we were waiting for the bus, however.

Please note: Normal service on Ruby's blog has been interrupted due to adverse weather conditions, and her subsequent urge to blog snowy snuff. Reporting on events at York Residents' Festival will resume at the earliest opportunity, weather permitting. Thank you for your patience.

Monday, 2 February 2009

York Residents Festival

This weekend it was the York Residents' Festival, and I'm afraid I'm going to be grumpy about it.

The idea is that York residents get to go and visit all of York's major attractions for free - or at a nominal charge. The problem was that everything was PACKED and it was FREEZING in the queues! The kids wanted to visit "Haunted" - a haunted house which is one of York's newer attractions, but the queue was humongous and barely moving. We tried for the Jorvik Viking Centre, which was only doing the residents' festival from 4pm, but again, mega queues in the cold.

There were quite a few interesting things going on in Parliament Street, so we stood and watched this chap (above) fire juggling for a bit while we tried to decide what to do. You probably won't believe what we ended up doing. I hardly can believe it myself. Photo tomorrow. Clue: it didn't make things any warmer!

PS. This chap set his hair on fire by mistake at one point, but just patted it out and didn't seem unduly bothered by the incident.

Sunday, 1 February 2009

York's Snickelways

On the first day of the month, the City Daily Photo blogs participate in a theme day, and this month, it is "paths and passages." I couldn't possibly not participate.

York is celebrated for its passageways, and being an ancient city, it is full of them, some very old and winding, leading between the main streets of the town and providing handy short cuts for those in the know.

In York these passageways have a name all of their own: snickelways, a word coined by the author of the book picured above, bringing together the words snicket, ginnel and alleyway. It caught on very rapidly, and is now a word in current wide use here, whether people are familiar with the book or not!

There are so many snickelways in York, some of them spooky, some plain, some ancient, some modern, that I couldn't decide which one to photograph. In the end disorganisation made my choice as I only remembered to do it at the last minute when I was already waiting for my bus to go home. So the pictured snickelway below is the one next to my bus stop! I've never been down it so I don't know where it goes, but I do like its name: Black Horse Passage.

Click here to view thumbnails for all participants in the City Daily Photo Blogs Theme Day.

Saturday, 31 January 2009

Now then, Smiler!

I felt like a twerp taking this photo, and I don't really know why. Maybe it was because it's not exactly a place where people normally stop and take pictures. They just fly through the barriers (just behind me here) and on to wherever they're going. Taking this, I did have a bit of an audience of puzzled ticket barrier "help" men behind me who probably wondered what the hell I was doing.

And then there's that whole "being a tourist in your own town" sort of thing to mentally deal with, which is a sore point for me because I regret my separation from this metropolis - and that I haven't been around to witness and live through its recent developments.

I must have got over it though by the time I exited the station, as I was greeted by a group of passing workmen with: "Now then, Smiler!" Which made me laugh. I had a friend at school who used to say that exact same greeting to people who were smiling. Wonder if it's a Leeds thing? I've never heard it anywhere else :-D

Leeds Blogs!
Two great Leeds blogs I've been enjoying recently are:
Leeds Daily Photo by Paul and
Leeds Grub by Katie.

Friday, 30 January 2009

Day Trip

Above is York City Station on a wet January morning. In a few hours, I shall be there, setting off on a day trip to Leeds, where I'll be meeting my old school friend in the Art Gallery Cafe. We haven't seen each other for a few years now, as she's been living abroad for a while, and is only here on holiday in fact - so I'm grabbing the chance to catch up. It will be great spending some time in Leeds with her. It's home town to both of us, and a place which has changed immeasurably since the days of our mispent youth!

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Sightseeing Bus!

There are quite a few bus stops for the York City Sightseeing Bus along my normal morning bus route. The buses run all year round, have a running commentary, and you can get on and off as much as you like. Unfortunately I won't be reporting back about whether it's any good, because it costs £10 for a ticket, which only lasts 24 hours and seems to go where my normal bus goes anyway :-D

I buy a weekly ticket for the ordinary bus service, which costs £15 and with it I can travel anywhere on any bus within York. I intend to do some exploring some time soon.

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Ghostly Gate House

I was in the village of Bolton Percy yesterday, about six miles to the south of York. It is a quiet little backwater and in parts, is one of those places where it seems not a lot has changed for centuries.
This gate house, glimpsed through the trees in the church yard, is believed to date from around 1467. It is now falling into disrepair, and is on English Heritage's buildings at risk register. Plans are underway, however, to conserve it by converting it into a holiday home to let. Much as I instantly dislike this idea, it does seem like the only way forward, as the money generated would pay for its upkeep.
Currently, the gate house is semi-derelict and one imagines it to be full of the ghosts of the past. Personally, I prefer it that way.

Monday, 26 January 2009

The Mutangular Tower

Here it is. The multangular tower. A rather nice piece of Roman architechture left in the Museum Gardens, once at the corner of the Roman military fortress of York. The small bricks at the bottom of the tower are the Roman ones. The top part with the larger bricks is from when the tower was rebuilt during the medieval period.

Here it is from the other side. You can see the difference in brick type more clearly here, that upper part with the "windows" being the later one. The red stripe in the Roman built section looks decorative but was apparently to cement the structure together

There are lots of Roman tombs all over this part of the Museum gardens. They have been brought here from other sites around York. Here, Little J is lamenting the fact that there is rubbish and graffiti around them. "That is someone's tomb, so why do people put rubbish in it?" he asked me.

Rowntree Park Lake

Rowntree Park is just near our house. I took the kids there yesterday afternoon, along with their friend and they played happily for ages in the playground. Then I looked round to find the lake and sky were pink, and managed to quickly grab this shot. The park closes at dusk, and the park keeper was already on the way over to us to say time up, jangling his keys, as I took this. 4.40 pm, if you wondered!

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Ruby investigates Roman York in St Helen's Square - with "help" from Little J

My youngest son Little J is not particularly into historical stuff, unlike my eldest Erik who loved it when he was this age. Above is Little J on Saturday, pictured thwarting my attempt to photograph the location of the Praetorian Gate - the main entrance into the fortress of Eboracum (York) established AD 71. He had just bought a new game for his Wii with some Christmas money, and wanted to go home and play it. So he decided to pogo around me and my camera in protest.

Here is the same location, St Helen's Square, without Little J pogo-ing into the photo. The road you can see between the blue and black shop fronts there is Stonegate, and follows the line of the original main road into the fortress established by Roman soldiers who built the first city of York, all those centuries ago (there was nothing here before the Romans' arrival, at this strategic meeting point of two rivers, the Foss and the Ouse).

Nothing left of the Romans' gate here now, but five minutes away in the Museum Gardens stands a multangular tower that was part of the fortress's defences.

Ruby: Would you like to go and see it?
Little J: Oh, all right then! But can we go home, soon?
Ruby: Look, I'll do you a deal. If we can go see the ruins, we'll watch Mr Yellow juggling for a bit first.
Little J: Done!

Saturday, 24 January 2009


When belting into York Station to catch a train, it's always a relief if it leaves from one of the lower number platforms, as you know the platform is right there near the staion entrance.

If, on the other hand you get something like platform 5 - like I did on Wednesday, you have to leg it up these steps, and down the the ones at the other side before you can look for your train.

I love this clock at the top of the first steps going up, as I can look at it and work out how many minutes I've got. In this picture though, unusually for me, I had plenty of time, as my train to London didn't leave till 10.29. But that was because Ruby Senior, who is Organised, dropped me off at the station ;-)

NB The rose in the metalwork of the clock is the white rose of Yorkshire :-)

Friday, 23 January 2009

Ankle Boots and Chewing Gum at York City Station - and London!

I was very pleased with myself for wearing my posh ankle boots to go to London in yesterday. That's why I photographed them at the station, while waiting for my train. Look how the chewing gum splodges on the station floor match the pattern on my skirt. I didn't notice that when I took the picture, but it's actually quite cool.

Ruby Senior was doubtful about my choice of footwear for London. The boots have a heel, and I don't do heels, as a rule. She was also alarmed by the fact that I was still trying to zip the boots up when she took me to the station in the car. I had to push the passenger seat back to the max, rest my feet on the front dashboard, then give each zip an almighty prolonged tug to get
them up.
"It's not like you'll just be able to slip them off if they're uncomfortable."
"I'll be fine!"
London is crazy, and big. My feet were fine. To begin with. I was a bit teetery with the heels when getting on and off trains, but it was all going well, until I stood up after being seated during the meeting ... and felt like I was standing on knives.
I hobbled out in the direction of the tube station, with the gait of an old lady. I should have been brandishing my umbrella at the crowds, saying; "London is for the young! Make way! I need to get home!" I passed a couple of shoe shops, and cursed myself for not buying a sensible flat pair instead of the ones I was wearing. Then I saw the entrance to Marble Arch tube, which involved stairs, so I hobbled on along Oxford Street instead. I would get a bus! But none of the buses were going in the direction I needed.
In my semi-incapacitated state, I was also a sitting target for the army of distributors of a free newspaper called London Lite. Avoiding eye contact was useless. It was thrust in my face at regular intervals along Oxford Street, but a loud, assertive "No thank you" seemed to make it disappear again.
Then suddenly, I needed to sit down. Immediately. But there was no-where. So I staggered across Oxford Street, and got on a bus to take me back in the direction I'd just come from. I didn't know what to do with my London travel card on bus - whether it needed swiping or what - so I held it up cheerily at the driver who glowered at me and growled "Just get on." Charming. Then I found all the seats in the bus were taken. Aaargh, I couldn't even sit down in here!
Trying to distract myself from the knife like pain in my feet, I stared through the bus window, and found myself looking at an irate fireman in a fire engine whose siren was blaring. He was yelling and gesticulating and trying to move the engine. My mind blotted out these superfluous facts, as I am rather partial to men in unform, especially where rescue scenarios are involved.
A daydream was imminent. Help me, handsome fireman! I am stuck on the top of a tall pair of shoes, with knives in my feet. Carry me to safety, and away from this godforsaken metropolis, back to my home town!
The fireman turned and looked at me. Eek, had I been thinking out loud?
Then I saw him mouth: "Tell the driver to move the bus." He probably wasn't talking to me. I looked away. Then I looked back at him. His face was angrier now and there was no mistaking his nasty glare was directed straight at me. "TELL the driver to MOVE THE F*ING BUS and TELL HIM NOW!"
Aaargh, what a nasty fireman! His scary order propelled me straight down the bus on my painful feet and I stood in front of the driver's cab. The driver turned and glowered at me. Up until this moment I think I had been considering yelling the words "Move the f*ing bus!" but one look at his face told me this was a very bad idea. What I actually said, was "Excuse me. The fireman driving the fire engine has told me I have to ask you to move the bus." The bus driver looked at me with a reptilian grin, indicated the gridlocked traffic around the bus and said. "Ask him, 'Where to?'"
I decided that I wouldn't bother.
Opposite Marble Arch tube, I flopped out of the bus and onto a low sill outside a shop. I let out a scream of relief as I took the weight off my feet. Within seconds, a London Lite newspaper was in my face
"Have a paper, please darling."
"No thank you."
"Why not? It's free."
"I don't want it."
"Please, have a paper."
"No thank you."
"Take a paper."
"Take it."
"Why you don't want take it? I am just doing my job."
"If I took a paper from everyone who offered me one, do you know how many I'd be carrying by now? About six."
"Sick? You are sick?"
"NO, I said six"
"Take a paper."
"I don't want one. PISS OFF!"
"OK darling, have a nice day."
Yes, I thought, I will have a nice day. So I went in the shoe shop next to Marble Arch tube, and bought a pair of padded slip-ons, a size too big, because my feet were too swollen for anything else. Wearing them was bliss, and probably the highlight of the day.
Ee, it's grand to be back in York.

Thursday, 22 January 2009

View Through a Window

This is the view through our back bedroom window, taken just now at 5 to 9 am, Southbank, York.

When I lived away, and used to come up and stay here in my mother's house, I used to sit and look at this view and dream of coming back to live here. It is so very Northern, and feels like home for me. Although I can see why it wouldn't appeal to some (I also like mills, and cooling towers :-D).

And having just waxed lyrical about the North, I am now off down South for the day. London is calling, and I have a ticket to ride (how many more song titles can I get in?), leaving shortly and back late this evening. I've just joined a professional association that has about 7 meetings a year there, and today will be the first of those for 2009. I lived and worked in London for about 3 years - it'll be good to be back for a visit.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Squidgy Bits Rule!

Look! The council wants us to join the gym, and is telling us to say NO to our squidgy bits! Frankly, I am quite at peace with my own squidgy bits. I am sure we should all have at least some, anyway. It's probably when you're squidgy all over that it's time to start worrying. Nice red posters at least, but Ruby isn't joining the gym - I'll stick to riding my bike, thanks :-D

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

News about Terry's

A leaflet came through the door this week about the disused Terry's factory, seeking our opinions as nearby residents on the amendments to the council's brief for would-be developers.

Terry's is currently owned by the developer Grantside, who bought the factory in 2006 for £26 million. They put in a proposal to turn the place into loads of homes, a luxury hotel, offices and workshops, but the plan was thrown out by the council's planning department.

So the amended brief from the council says the developers may submit proposals for: a high quality hotel, conference and leisure facilities, shops, restaurants, and specifies that the development must benefit local people and have a "communal" feel.

I've been trying to get my head round it for a day or two now. It isn't stated on the information given to me why the last proposal was chucked out, and how the amendments will prevent that happening again - which surely, it the key piece of required information here. I think, if I remember rightly from what I read in the paper at the time, the main reason was the traffic congestion that it would supposedly cause in the area. I can only assume this must have been because there were too many homes planned as part of the last proposal (?). Why am I having to assume things? It would be nice if it was all made a bit clearer After all, this article in the Press yesterday tells us:

"It's one of the biggest and most crucial developments in York's recent history - and now the people of the city are getting their chance to reshape its future!"

Communicate to us clearly about it, then!

After residents have given their opinions, which we have until Feb 22 to do, the brief will be revised, and presented to the council's planning committee in March or April, according to the article in yesterday's Press. Then I suppose Grantside will have a look at it and submit another proposal. If they can still afford it, and if they aren't too p*ssed off by now.

Monday, 19 January 2009

Hockey in Halifax

Today in York, it is one of the most miserable days imaginable. Dark, cold, windy and raining hard. I just got drenched on the school run, and am now warming up with a cup of coffee while looking through the photos I took of Little J playing hockey for York City Under 10s yesterday in Halifax. We had sun, and lots of it, hooray!

Halifax is about 35 miles to the south west of York, on the edge of the Pennines, in my home county of West Yorkshire. It was good to see some hills - the area immediately around York, known as the Vale of York is completely flat. It was even better to the see the sun.

On the way there and back, we passed signs to Brighouse and Rastrick, famous for the Brighouse and Rastrick Brass Band which scored a pretty massive hit in the late 70s with the Floral Dance.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Angry Tree on Bishopthorpe Road

This piece of graffiti is on Bishopthorpe Road. Look at the photo below, to put it into context.

Building with whopping great hole in roof. Tree leaning over it in an aggressive stance. Did the tree actually inflict the damage? Or was it another tree, now gone? I really don't know, but one thing's for sure: Tree 1, Building 0!

Saturday, 17 January 2009

The Knavesmire - a closer look

Knave - a rogue, a rascal - from the old English, cnafa
Mire - an area of wet, swampy ground; bog; marsh - from the Old Norse, myrr

The Knavesmire is a large area of undeveloped ground in York known as a stray. It is the haunt of dog walkers these days, and is low lying, flooding easily when it rains.

The York Races take place on the Knavesmire, with the racing track (not pictured) occupying a large part of it. Between 1371 and 1801 public executions took place here too, as I mentioned the other day. In fact horse racing in York started as a side show event for the crowds who came to town to watch the knaves being hanged. It didn't surprise me when I found that out. There is still a motley crew coming to town for the races these days too, with restaurants and pubs in the city centre hiring extra bouncers for the occasion.

But the Knavesmire has a strong character all of its own, which for me overrides the unpleasant aspects of its history. It is very atmospheric, especially in the early morning mist, and a great place for a walk - preferably with wellies.

Friday, 16 January 2009

Ruby's Morning Bus Ride #3 - Bishopthorpe Palace

The bus ride is nearly over. We stop at York College of Law while an early student gets off, and then continue on up Bishopthorpe Road, to Bishopthorpe. Since thorpe means a place in Old Norse, I guess "Bishopthorpe" means the place of the bishop. In fact bishops have been living in Bishopthorpe for centuries. And one still does. Not just any old bishop, either. This is an Archbishop.

Yes, Archbishop John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, lives in Bishopthorpe. We go past his palace every morning, and as we do, it has become a bit of a tradition to call out a greeting and enquire how he is getting on with his daily routine (please take note, I am with my young son when I do this).

The bus is going fast, but here comes Bishopthorpe Palace ... "Good morning Archbishop Sentamu! How are you today?"

"Are you up yet? Have you cleaned your teeth yet?"

"Or are you in your office already? Good-bye!"

Why do I get the feeling that this is going to be one of those posts you regret doing the minute it's up?