For the Easter break, we headed up north for an ambitious tour of Yorkshire, staying in York and spending two half days there as well as every evening, but heading to the Dales one day to see as much as we could, and to the Moors on another, all the way to the coast where Dracula’s coffin once washed ashore. I visited York once before, years ago for Jack’s birthday, but the visit was overshadowed by a pretty serious case of the flu, so I was very happy to return.
York is one of the oldest looking cities in England as the centre is still full of old Medieval architecture, leaning out, sagging in, and looming over the narrow Shambles of the town. The architectural style of the one pictured here is Tudor, which is the final architectural style of the Medieval period. This very home was the birthplace of King Charles I’s last companion.
Late 15th century on top, atomised 21st century life below.
Promptly after arrival on the first day, we made our way right to one of the best pubs in York, the medieval ale house House of the Trembling Madness for pies and excellent beers. There’s a whole wall of amazing and disturbing taxidermy, from the expected, to – actually mostly – the unexpected. Fox, goat, fish, Canadian geese, boar, collie, shrew, ferret, pig, deer hooves, badger, bird, mallards (both male and female), pheasant… much more.
Slightly more detail.
York is really one of the best beer towns, so after the House of Trembling Madness, we’d also recommend Pivni, where we headed next.
Walking around the ruins of St. Mary’s, set in a beautiful park with museums, a community garden and – on the day we were there – three alarmed birds of prey alternatively perching and lurching on their anklets, which you could hold.
St. Mary’s above is an old Benedictine abbey, close to where we had an excellent brunch at Brew and Brownie. Their pancake stack is out of this world.
Walking around the top of the York wall, peering through an arrowslit.
Looking over towards York Minster, past the garden. Although we didn’t have time this visit to make it, given the Easter closing times, you can visit the ‘Undercroft’ of York Minster to see the recently uncovered remains of Roman barracks.
Bluebell spotting from the top of the wall
I was kind of losing my mind over the fact that Woody Harrelson was about to be in York! The show was sold out; Jack gamely kept me company while I creepily hovered around the lobby, hoping to see him and say hi (probably literally just “hi,” what could I even say to Woody Harrelson with a straight face), but we missed him.
Before moving onto the daytrips out to the Dales and the Moors, here are ten small recommendations for York:
• House of Trembling Madness Don’t miss it. There’s also a very good beer shop on street level, which we usually visit several times when we’re in York to cart home as many rare beers as we can.
• York Minster, the largest gothic cathedral in northern Europe. No photos allowed, but it’s stunning, particularly the stain glasswork and the rows of saint statues. And remember the Undercroft!
• Another thing we didn’t make it to: the National Railway Museum. Even for people not super into trains it’s supposed to be fascinating.
• For brunch: Brew and Brownie. Their pancakes are ridiculously good.
• There’s also always a line out of Betty’s Tea Room, so maybe worth planning a breakfast or afternoon tea visit there.
• We really liked this tiny old man pub called the the Blue Bell.
• Walk around the walls!
• Walk around the Shambles and visit all the cute, independent shops. Bring your wallet and your camera, as it’s heaving with beautiful old buildings.
• Though we didn’t make it, we wanted to visit the Jorvik Viking Centre, recently reopened after the floods did significant damage a few years ago. It’s a time capsule attraction that is faithful to the detail, even the stench of the years of old.
• Another thing we didn’t have time to do but will be on our list next time: Mr P’s Curious Tavern – a dining and drinking spot that’s also a curiosity shop. They serve small plates all in old Victorian style (or at least in theory, there are some interesting twists: Pickled Cockles, Mussels & Herring, Douglas Fir, Sour Cream & Sourdough’; ‘Vale of York Osso Porco Cinnamon Fondant, Boudin Noir, Scrumpy Onions’)
Early morning mossy wood as we made our way down to Malham Tarn
The dark and silvery Malham Tarn, one of very few upland alkaline lakes in Europe.
More mossy England for you around the estate.
Cute baby sheep
Stumbled on the Ribblehead Viaduct in our drive through the Dales.
Stopping to take in a broad view of the Dales on our way to the Wensleydale Creamery for a lunch of alllll the cheese.
One of my absolute Dales highlights: the drive through Buttertubs Pass! Apparently it’s also Jeremy Clarkson’s favorite road in England.
More Dales fields
Visiting Hardraw Force, the highest unbroken waterfall in England, which you can only access by entering through the Green Dragon pub, strangely. It’s a good pub by the way, if you’re planning on visiting!
Easter morning walk, first visiting this cute town, fictionally known as Aidenfield for Heartbeat, but actually Goathland.
At one point in the walk: the Mallyan Spout and Beck Hole.
Jack on our Easter walk
One of the smallest pubs in England: Birch Hall Inn.
Later on in the day, over many miles of the Moors, arriving at Robin Hood’s Bay for a beach walk.
Overlook of Robin Hood’s Bay
You’re allowed to bring dogs to most beaches in England between October and the end of April, so this was prime time for some good dog creeping.
Another family fave: rock pooling
Abbey ruins above Whitby (also, a convenient spot to park before descending to Whitby).
Nearby Robin Hood’s Bay is the very crowded, touristy Whitby. Worth a visit for their fish and chips! We got ours from Quayside, which is award-winning but since then I’ve heard several people mention Magpie’s Café as one of the most memorable meals they’ve had. I think there’s usually a line out the door, but worth going.
A few other highlights from London, Oxford, and times in the Southeast:
Enjoying Gujarati Thali at Borough Market, usually one of my favorite places but definitely one to avoid at high time on the weekends. Go early.
A visit to the British Museum on a cloudy day.
Such a beautiful building!
The four Sons of Horus, Imsety, Hapy, Duamutef and Qebehsenuef (good luck pronouncing that guy) protect the liver, lungs, stomach, and intestines.
The mechanical clock exhibition was one of my highlights! The one pictured, the mechanical galleon, could shoot tiny cannon balls from its sixteen barrels when it once worked!
Incredibly beautiful and complicated little pocket watches.
Mid-April is usually about the start of bluebell season in SE England, so I was pretty single-minded about finding good bluebell woods. The first, here, is close to our house in Bagley Wood.
Cute and weird little Muntjac deer face!
Okay, this has got to be one of England’s most incredible bluebell woods: Badbury Hill (near Farringdon). It’s maintained by the National Trust, so it is enormous and absolutely flooded with beautiful bluebells.
Just so stunning!
There is a big cross path cut through the huge bluebell wood, but also tiny walking paths for getting lost in the blue.
Forcing Jack to pose with the bluebs
The enormity of it!
Badbury Hill is also connected to miles of walking paths, so here we are deeper into the woods.
Wild garlic! I wish we could pick it.
Another free Sunday, we headed to Chastleton Manor! Only open for 3 or 4 hours each day to minimize the number of visitors, this estate is well worth visiting. It’s an old Jacobean house that has been well-intact as the family sort of ran out of money and stopped replacing things. All original furniture, textiles, decoration, everything.
We got there a little early, so took a long walk through the surrounding and found this cute Shetland.
So many sheep! These ones were unflappable, as we got closer they hardly moved. See that real casual guy on the left. I said to Jack, I bet I could pat one on the head. He doubted me, so I did. So relaxed, these guys.
YESSS, another one of my favorite aspects of England springtime: floods and floods of rapeseed fields! Also known as canola. So much future oil.
Bobbing on a veritable sea of rapeseed.
Days and days of rapeseed
Bloom in detail
Jack was like, “that guy counted too many of his friends.” Kilt me. ZZZ.
We also stumbled on this tiny, wrinkly lamb baby! Its mom was on the other side of the trunk, so we were able to get a close peek.
Alright, back to Chastleton Manor!
White Japanese Wisteria
This topiary garden was a little confusing. Aren’t the shapes supposed to be recognizable sculptures and not just blobs?
The beautiful house, from the back garden.
I like this sort of unnecessary deer flourish.
The Long Hall! I asked what the use of this room was and apparently it’s where women would come for ‘exercise’ (walks) after dinner. They also found badminton equipment in the floorboards.
The Long Hall in the other direction. One of those times I really wish I had a wide-angle lens.
Old political ads up in the attic.
The open quad
The sun is finally breaking through, toasting Harlem in her beloved sunbeams as she moves from one stream to another, all day until we’re home again.
Okay, the last highlight you get from me this time: my permanent residency! It has been a saga getting this, and my application was actually really straight-forward, so I can’t imagine how difficult it is for others. I had to fill in an 85-page application form, supplemented with a minimum of two official documents from every year I’ve worked in the UK (every year contributing to my application), had to send in my passports (and the application can take up to 6 months), but the real challenge was supplying a list of every instance I left the country over the past 6+ years including the location, the date of arrival and of return. I logged 51 lines and a total of 292 days out of the UK over my 6 years here (not counting travel days, so if I left for a 7 am flight, I would only count the next day). Anyway, I’m humbled and relieved to get this, and apparently eligible for citizenship.