Day 9 - York, England: A City of Many Stories
The British are amazing storytellers. At every museum we have visited in York, there are story telling sessions for children and all of our guides have been great storytellers too.
This morning we visited the National Railway Museum. It was a walk through a timeline of history with artifacts of every kind. As we visited each set of beautifully restored railway cars, piles of period luggage stacked on the platform had little stories written on them from someone who had traveled on that very train. Displayed on every wall was a collection of vintage photos and posters. One of my favorite photos showed dogs and cats at a station with a story explaining how cats were paid one pint of milk a week for catching rats. Another story was that between 1910-1950, if the chef ran out of certain ingredients, he put a message in a hollowed out potato which he threw out the window at a signal station. A telegraph was then relayed to the next stop so that when the train arrived, all the food was ready.
Food can be very expensive here in restaurants so we have taken advantage of the warm sunny weather to have picnics with a scenic view. Today's picnic was from the department store Marks & Spencer on the lawn of the Castle Museum. We had freshly made sandwiches, fruit, chips, and juice. Right beside us was an old fashioned carousel which seem to be in every town here.
The Castle Museum is an interesting collection of period rooms and even an entire streetfront recreated to look as it did in Victorian times. The exhibits were all beautifully designed and ranged from the history of toys to a celebration of the 1960s. There was also an extensive display to show life in York during WWII. We found out they even designed gas masks for dogs. To keep children engaged, there was an ongoing scavenger hunt to search for a missing cat.
Tonight after dinner we went to an old fashioned English pub that was jam packed. It was very atmospheric with wooden beams and candles, but also had an odd collection of decorations on the mantle over the fireplace including a skull, a collector's box of scorpions and beetles, and a dusty cobwebby elephant carving. We met a man from northern England who told us tales of his life in England. "I'm here on holiday with my family," he said. "Why would I want to be anywhere else but here in York!" We agreed with him whole heartedly.
At the railway museum today which was full of stories, a sign asked for people to submit their own travel stories and I have one I'd like to share on this blog. When I was a child my father worked in England. On my first trip here when I was ten I brought along a small white rabbit I named Bunny. Bunny spent many summers in England riding on the dashboard of the car looking out the window. My mother said he could see around hedgerows and kept us safe. Today Bunny is threadbare, but all of these years later, he is still my traveling companion and will be for many years to come.