I’m pretty sure my desire to visit Yorkshire is like 90% based on my love for The Secret Garden as a kid. And an adult.
One of the strange things about living in the world is that it is only now and then one is quite sure one is going to live forever and ever and ever. One knows it sometimes when one gets up at the tender solemn dawn-time and goes out and stands out and throws one’s head far back and looks up and up and watches the pale sky slowly changing and flushing and marvelous unknown things happening until the East almost makes one cry out and one’s heart stands still at the strange unchanging majesty of the rising of the sun–which has been happening every morning for thousands and thousands and thousands of years. One knows it then for a moment or so. And one knows it sometimes when one stands by oneself in a wood at sunset and the mysterious deep gold stillness slanting through and under the branches seems to be saying slowly again and again something one cannot quite hear, however much one tries. Then sometimes the immense quiet of the dark blue at night with the millions of stars waiting and watching makes one sure; and sometimes a sound of far-off music makes it true; and sometimes a look in someone’s eyes.
Well, maybe 50% The Secret Garden and 50% James Herriot’s Dog Stories.
(And I find something in the fact that when paging through my copy of The Secret Garden — originally a Christmas gift to my brother in 1989 — I found a collection of dried dusty flower petals still pressed between the pages from lord knows what decade.)
There’s also something inexplicably romantic about walled cities. It just makes it sound so old — which, of course, York is.
Mostly, as usual, I just kinda wandered the city streets, through parks and gardens and castles, the names of which I quickly forget. And walls, in this case.
I did, at least, get to the National Railway Museum, which was very cool — especially the cars from various eras and places you could walk through. It wasn’t quite as expansive as the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento — which I think is among the many blog posts I fully intended to post and just… didn’t — but still super fun. And given my last couple of years, I feel an obligation to visit railway museums whenever I can.
I wanted to take a day trip, instead of spending my Yorkshire itch-scratching solely in York, so I decided to take the train out to Scarborough, then a bus up to Whitby, and back to York in the NYMR steam train through the moors. Which… sort of happened. Mostly.
I did go to Scarborough, which had unsettling elements of alt-dimension Daytona Beach to it, kind of both bleaker and much, much cooler. This was still, like, very early June, which is not exactly beach weather on the North Sea, but damn, people were trying. Also at this point I still had no sneakers — I think? — in retrospect, I think I did not get new shoes until Inverness — so I was walking around in my very cute but very cheap boots from Croatia, which gets old when the city is up and down hills and also there’s a mountain (not really, but a somewhat bigger hill) and also also your ankles are kinda grotesquely mangled at the best of times.
So I went to Whitby, but did not really spend any time there aside from hobbling to the library to get my shitphone a bit of juice and figure out train things, which I did not follow through on. The train would have been like £20, and did not go straight to York so plus bus fare/headache, versus a bus that cost half as much, straight to town, and followed basically the same route. Not great for pictures, and definitely not as charming as a steam train — but also did not have the block-stretching line of middle schoolers waiting to board.
And I finally got some photos of sheep!
Speaking of middle schoolers, this hostel (Safestay York) was an odd one. Not in a bad way, overall, though the schoolgroups of like eighty 10-13 year old kids with maybe two adults total. I’m fully aware that I’m already in the get-off-my-lawn demographic, as far as hostels go, and in general am not remotely fazed by the drunk 19 year olds partying ’til dawn unless they puke near me, but the shrieks of kids and, like, kicking of walls was… jarring.
But it was a cool place — probably the most gorgeous hostel I stayed in, with the possible exception of Plovdiv, in an old Georgian house from the mid-18th century, and plaques describing the history of each room.
However, within its storied walls also lurked these, uh, decorations.
Which are unsettling enough, but let me tell you, when you’re exhausted enough, and in an old historical house with odd decorations anyway, and you don’t really register what you’re looking for a couple of hours — that unprepared realization is a level of what-the-fuckery that I may never have experienced before or since.
(I mean, growing up in Florida, I’m sure I have, but it’s up there.)
Anyway then I hopped on yet another train and headed up to Inverness, which is really the only sort of vague ancestral heritage I think I have, like, period, in my general Northern European mongrel blood, and waved goodbye to Yorkshire.