When I lived in Texas a trip “around the corner” averaged about 200-300 miles. I got very used to being in a car for a couple of hours to go anywhere outside of my home city. In fact, I got used to being in a car for several hours to anywhere inside of my city.
Moving to the UK has shortened my trip patience. If we have driven two hours I expect a significant change of scenery, if not the potential for being in another country. Mercifully, travelling north in the UK allows such an experience, even if I don’t make it all the way up into Scotland.
One of the things my job affords me is some time in THE NORTH. Set out on a trip heading to THE NORTH and you feel slightly like you are about to engage in some weird Game of Thrones ordeal as all the road signs are emblazoned with THE NORTH on everything, but thankfully doesn’t appear to become some sort of desolate wasteland as you progress in the direction, and the Wall is not nearly as terrifying. (PS – The dragons are supposed to be to the west in Wales… and no I haven’t seen them yet.)
This time the part of THE NORTH I travelled to was York. I’ve actually been in York a time or two before, but up until this outing I hadn’t made a point to take a walk through the old part of the city, which retains a huge amount of its city walls, though now for more artistic then practical purposes. And, despite my years here, I’m still always surprised the amount of ground you can cover when on your own and in a city found in 71 AD as, surprise-surprise, those kinds of cities were small because of all those skirt-wearing, blue painted people might come down and poke you with sharp sticks so better to keep everyone together methinks.
When people talk about visiting the UK London inevitably is the first thing mentioned, but I think THE NORTH gets too much of a cold shoulder (despite generally being cold). In terms of translating America to England, the north is more like the south – people have a tendency to be a little less ‘city like’ and a bit more relaxed and open. I also love the accent up here which, I’m told, has to have closed captioning in America for those watching Doctor Who. (I have a personal goal to one day say ‘but’ the way they do… it’s like this puff of air and you know it is the word ‘but’ but I can’t quite figure out how they do it.)
This time out I managed two hours before sundown to make it through to the Museum Gardens which house the remains of St. Mary’s Abbey and over to the shortest street in York with a ridiculous name of Whip-Ma-Whop-Ma-Gate. I wound through the tiny streets which remind people so much of Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter films there is literally a street of Harry Potter shops. (Spoiler: They filmed a lot in Oxford and it was written in Edinburgh… visit both + this street and you’ll ‘get’ it.) York is also quite famous for its Christmas, meaning one of these days I’ll manage a trip up to likely squeeze myself and my family through the cobblestones to look at dried fruit wreaths.
All being well there will be more trips up north this coming year. And if I can snag an hour here or there to appreciate not only the people I work with but the city they live in, then all the better for me.
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