Thursday, 25 August 2011

A trip down memory lane - and how to entertain the kids in York

Despite an inauspicious start to the day - overslept so couldn't get any significant work done before the day's planned activities, woke to sound of pouring rain, children squabbling over a rudimentary game of chess (pawns & knights only) and dog choosing his moment to breach the final frontier and  eat the cat's dinner after 5 weeks of planning the attack - it has been great, and very nostalgic.

Allotment Junkie had booked tickets for us to see Peter Pan at the Theatre Royal in York. Recipe Junkie went to college in York manay moons ago and indeed met the Husband there (Henry J Beans, classy joint, classy bird...), and I was keen to show it to the kids so we planned a day out and about.

The Leeds Festival is on this weekend, so we decided to take the train rather than risk driving to York and getting stuck in hideous traffic. Allotment Junkie is very risk averse, so in the interests of preserving her nerves, my father drove us to the local station as instructed, in order to take the train. In typical Recipe Junkie/Allotment Junkie fashion, we were 25 minutes early for the train we had planned to get, and we had both forgotten our mobile phones. My father was staying at home to dog sit and 'work' (a euphemism he employs for playing solitaire on the computer) and later to pick us back up from the station. Fortunately, I had remembered the time the earliest train we could get home left York and thus waved him goodbye with a rough return ETA.

We had an exciting train trip mainly because as we neared York, we were passed by a steam train in full 'puff' coming in the opposite direction. "The Hogwarts Express!" yelled blue, making the slumped teenager on the table opposite leap from his torpor... This is the first time in about 5 years that we have been able to come to York without the purpose of the visit being to go to the National Railway Museum. The NRM is a very excellent institution and I recommend it to anyone wholeheartedly, but really, 3 times a year and its attraction does start to pall somewhat (although not, it seems, if you are a 7 yr old boy). However, the sighting of a genuine steam train and the promise of a visit to the real 'Diagon Alley' (The Shambles) seemed to make up for this. As we left the station and started to walk towards Lendal Bridge and the Minster, I tried to explain to blue and pink that York was where Recipe Junkie and the Husband had met but they seemed distinctly unimpressed. "How many minutes is it until we see Peter Pan" asked pink. "Is it lunchtime yet" asked blue.

We had a lovely wander round the Shambles, although despite all my attempts at expectation management prior to the trip, Blue was clearly confused as to why he couldn't find Flourish & Blotts. What appears to have been far more of an impact was the fudge shop - well, they are my children after all. What a place. It just smells of sugar, and the nice man at the counter actively encourages you to taste the fudge. In the back fo the shop you can watch them makign the fudge. This chap here is cooling the fidge (toffee, if you're interested) by moving it round on a marble slab. This stops large sugar crystals forming doncha know...

We tried to go in to the Minster but they are now charging £9.00 per adult and as I never allow my children to spend more than 10 minutes in any kind of ancient monument on the grounds that they get bored and destructive, I decided that we wouldn't pay. You can, however, get in far enough to see the Blue Peter bosses on the roof by the Rose Window though (any one remember that competition??)

The rain had cleared as the forecast had said it would and so we were glad to have brought our picnic (rather than cramming in to the busiest Pizza Express in the world) and headed for the Museum gardens, passing by Cafe Concerto, the best cafe ever, and still serving delicious coffee and salads and cakes and stuff more than 15 years since I last lived in York. Unfortunately, we didn't have the opportunity to go in today, but if you're ever visiting York, it really is worth it - just down the road from the Minster.
We picnicked in the sunshine - Allotment Junkie had made baked scotch eggs which were delicious, although pink decided that she would still rather just have a hard boiled egg. I haven't managed to get the recipe yet but basically you wrap the hard boiled egg in the sausagemeat mixture as you would for the deep fried version and them back them in muffin tins, each hole lined with a rasher of bacon. We had half an hour to kill so headed for the Art Gallery and spent a happy time using the loo and looking at the exhibition "Art and Controversy" - lots of nudes by William Etty (never heard of him? neither had I) - perhaps not entirely appropriate for a 7 & 5 yr old but they seemed happy enough.

Then came the main event - Peter Pan. It was fab - we all loved it - but it would be difficult to write about it. I must report that before the doors opened, pink asked if it would be in 3D. ... It finished later than we had anticipated, but still managed to get a train at a reasonable time and dad managed to meet us without too much bother, and (here comes the final bit of nostalgia of the day) it was meatballs for tea. It's late now and I'm quite tired, so I am going to finish for the day but tomorrow I shall bore you all with the meatball story...

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