Day 8 - Churches Both Grand and Small
This morning as we walked down the narrow cobblestone lanes into town, the sweet smell of honeysuckle permeated the air. It's been a warm sunny summer here in Yorkshire, but the grass is green and the hanging baskets are bursting with fresh flowers.
At the old ruins of the abbey this morning we had almost the entire area to ourselves. In Ireland, places like this are residents of morning doves and we're used to hearing their cooing and fluttering wings. This morning it wasn't quite like that. The silence was broken with the ongoing wails of sirens from police cars in town. It was quite a contrast to the ancient ruins we were exploring.
York is surrounded by old stone walls. We took a short walk on part of it this morning. It was fun to look down on everything from the old remains of an ancient moat to the gardens of many homes. On one building was an old sign that said, "Nightly Bile Beans keep you healthy, bright-eyed and slim!"
Down a winding narrow lane is the Church of Holy Trinity. First constructed in 1082, it has remarkably preserved stained glass from 1471. This predates Columbus. It also had old dark wooden pews which must have been uncomfortable. In the front of the church on the lawn people were admiring owls and falcons from a rescue organization that was attempting to raise awareness for the protection of birds of prey. It seems that animals are well respected here. Not only are dogs allowed in many caves and on boats, they had a consignment shop called For Pets in Need of Vets.
York Minster is the main attraction in York. It was built in the 13th century and has the widest gothic nave in Europe and more medieval stained glass than all the stained glass put together in Europe. During WWII, it was protected in private homes. Joining a tour group, we were fortunate to have a storyteller as a guide. He pointed out a wall with a giant digital picture replacing the stained glass windows while they are undergoing restoration. Created by Hewlett Packard, this is the biggest digital image in the world. Our guide told us the story of a stone mason who helped hang it within the past few years and fell 30 feet onto the marble floor. Miraculously he stood up and walked away with only bruises.
Shopping opportunities are numerous in York, and we spent part of our day exploring high end establishments, such as the National Trust Store which features a charming array of gifts for birders, gardeners, and weekend naturalists, as well as more downscale shops, such as those selling plush Union Jack-clad bulldogs and solar powered models of a waving Queen Elizabeth and corgi dog companion. Needless to say, we enjoyed both kinds of shops immensely.
Tonight we had dinner at Wagamama. It's a Japanese restaurant and noodle bar found throughout the UK and the food is delicious. Tomorrow I'm looking forward to visiting the Railway Museum which is supposed to be enormous.