David picked me up at the Leeds/Bradford
airport and I got my first experience in a right-hand drive
car. It is so strange to be in the 'driver's seat' and be
the passenger. Not to mention driving on the left side of the
road. Throughout the weekend I found myself being constantly
startled when I would be looking around at the countryside and then
turning my glance back toward oncoming traffic. A little panic
On Saturday morning we set out for York. York is
a famous historic city in England, almost 2000 years old.
We visited the York Minster cathedral first. It is a huge old
church that has a really beautiful interior and stained glass
windows. We walked up to the top and had a look down on
York and the Roman wall surrounding it. After York Minster it
was time for a coffee at Starbucks. While Starbucks hasn't
spread all through Europe yet, it seems to have established a good
presence in England - we saw 3 shops in York alone.
You know those expressions like '...in a shambles.'
? The Shambles is actually a street in York and that's where the
term comes from. The buildings are crooked and lean towards the
middle of the street giving the street a haphazard appearance.
My first experience in a pub was a place called the
Royal Oak. We sat in a nice room that was very comfortable and
made you feel like you were in someone's den or library.
In the pubs, you go to the bar to order your beer and food and pay
right then. No tipping in England. Then the bartender will
pour (or pull) your beer. The food is delivered to your table
sometime later. Here I learned about 'hand-pulled' beer.
This is where the tap is actually a pump and the beer is pulled from
the keg rather than flowing from the tap under pressure. I
had a pint of Boddingtons and a pint of Tetleys after which I was
ready for a nap.
After lunch, we walked around York on top of the
Roman wall - not all that fun but helped wear the beer off.
After that we went to an exhibit called Jorvik. Jorvik is like a
'historical fun-house' where you ride backwards through history back
to when the Vikings were in York, complete with authentic
smells. I'm glad we didn't go directly after lunch. It
also demonstrates the archeological processes they've gone through to
discover all the stuff that makes the exhibit possible.
That evening, David took me to a town called Haworth
where the Bronte sisters lived. We walked up to the museum and
in the graveyard behind the church. Even though it was still
daylight, there was a spooky effect with the crows flying around and
making lots of noise.
One distinctive feature of all the old buildings in
that area is that they are very dark. Most of them are made of
stone. The stone is actually still coated with soot from the
times when everyone burned coal for heat. There was so much soot
that it settled everywhere and is most evident on the buildings.
Speaking of stone, the other major impression I came away with was of
the stone walls. They are everywhere, lining the roads and
carving up the landscape into individual plots, fields, and
pastures. Part of the living history of the place that we don't
see so much in America.
The best beer I had was in Haworth at a place called
The Fleece. They served beers by a brewery called Timothy
Taylor. I had Landlord Pale Ale. Magnificent.
Another beer fact about English pubs. A freehouse is a pub that
is not locked into beer from one brewery. It is free to sell
whatever beer the proprietor wants.
On Sunday, we went down to the Leeds-Liverpool canal
and walked along it for a while. This is a fairly narrow canal
that still has boat traffic. The boats are mostly pleasure craft
that seems to be specially built to fit the locks. In Bingley,
there are 2 sets of locks, a 3-step and a 5-step. Both have
full-time lock-keepers that maintain the locks and operate them by
hand. We didn't get a chance to see them in operation - no boats
My flight was in the mid-afternoon on Sunday so we
had lunch at Dick Hudson's pub near his house before heading to the
airport. I was pleased they had veggie
Again this trip was blessed with good weather.
I had a great weekend and David was a fine host and tour guide.
My thanks to him for showing me a little about England and the history
of his part of the country.