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London, Ipswich and Points Beyond
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Saturday, Aug. 14th ,2004

Explorer Day to York

Blech. The second load of laundry we'd put in hadn't gone thru the dry cycle at all, and last nights things we'd hung up were still a bit damp in places. Iron took care of the worst of it, but wearing damp jeans isn't nice that early in the morning. We mentioned the laundry problem to the desk clerk on our way out and he explained he was only the night clerk, we should tell whoever was on duty when we came back and were again assured someone would take a look at it. But if it was major it would have to wait for Monday as there no one to fix it on Sunday. I explained we wouldn't be back until after 19:00, so could he perhaps take a message and leave it for the day crew. After a bit of wrangling the request was logged, with the assurance something could be done if we talked to the day crew.

Ouse River

Today was our London Walks Explorer Day to York. We'd stayed up a little late watching another episode of Firefly, and hadn't remembered to set the alarm to get us up. Luckily we both snapped our eyes open and yelped at the same time. Right at 6. Sigh of relief all around. We had to get everyone up, coffee'd and at the station by around 8:15. (The scheduled time was 8:45, but with this family its always good to aim for early to be sure we make it.) Richard arrived a little before 8:30 and started collecting and counting. Since we have our BritRail passes we didn't have to pay the rail fare, so it came to 13 each with our walkabout cards. That's a lot cheaper than the 45 we'd have had to pay if we'd been paying for rail tickets.

There were a few more people than the number of seats reserved by London Walks, so 8 of us had to make do with random unallocated spots. Originally Len and Adri sat in front of me, and Matt across the aisle from them, but as one of the Adri/Len seats was reserved from Peterborough, we were moved around at the station, with Matt sitting in front of me, and Adri and Len in the car behind. Adris seat mate was a nice older woman from Kent, who was also on our tour.

St. Marys Abbey

At 11 we pulled into York and hopped thru the park to the St. Marys Abbey ruins, while Richard gave a brief overview of the day's plan and the history of York from Roman thru WWII eras. From there we went thru the wall and around the outside of the Minster. Richard talked about the restoration work, the Heart of York window and several of the notable buildings in view.

Then the tour went into the Minster and we were split into two groups for the Minster proper. We were in the half that stayed with Richard. We sat in the chairs and he discussed the meanings of several of the pictures in the stained glass, and talked about the layout and construction of the different parts of the Minster. (And what a minster was in relationship to a church, a cathedral (has a Bishop) and a Minster, which is a place of teaching. York also was a cathedral as it has a Bishop. ) The Chapter house was gorgeous, as all those lovely little carvings you see on the outsides of buildings are usually so worn, but here they were very distinct. Lens fave was the smiling woman with the cat-thing on her head, mine was the gruesome one nearby with the bird on a womans head with its talons in the eyes. There were "werepigs" as they had a piggish look, but as it it has been crossed with a wolf, fearsome fish, and people pulling their faces around into amusing poses.

Heart of York

After the Minster was a lunch break, so we wandered the inside a bit longer and then popped over to the National Trust Tea Rooms for lunch. What a difference from the last time we'd eaten there in 2000. Instead of ducking in trying to warm up out of the sleet, we ordered fresh squeezed lemonade (a bit tart at first, until you get used to it, then quite nice) and sandwiches. I had egg & cress, Adri the BLT, Len had the salmon and Matt had the ham. After the nice sit-down break it was back up to meet the t our at the heart window for the 14:20 afternoon bit of the tour.

From here Richard took us thru many little twisty small alleyways to show us the various periods of architecture, a small parish church and the 500 dumpsters of york. (Ok, so the dumpsters weren't exactly a part of the official tour, but the group had fun joking about it). As it was a wonderful Saturday the place was packed and getting thru the Shambles was a little tricky. From there to the River Ouse (pronounced Ooze, which is lovely, and considering how flooded it was, rather apt.)

Ouse in Flood

With the flooding it was under a foot or more of water and we couldn't take the river path, so had to improvise to get to Cliffords Tower. There were little carnivals all over town so frequently Richards talks were given to a background of pipe organ music. From there it was around and thru the town to the Jorvic center at about 16:00 where the tour officially ended and we had the choice of going to the center (Richard can get discounts on the discounts), or spending the hour or so as free time in the town. We opted for free time to get an ice cream and some water and swat yellow jackets. One scary hornet crawled onto the inside lens of Adri's glasses, but luckily flew out leaving nothing more than an adrenaline rush.

We'd hoped to have time to get down to the lower part of the Minster to see the Roman ruins and the crypt underneath but if we were going to get back to york station by 17:15 we just couldn't. As it turned out there was a broken train and our 17:20 to Kings X station didn't get there until after 18:00. And then stopped several times on the track on the way back to London. At that point it was after 21:00 when we pulled in, so decided to take the easy way out and just grab something at the station Burger King and bring it back to the flat.

Clifford Tower

From there it was dinner, play with the still unrepaired washer and another episode of Firefly - Ariel. Adri wanted to watch a second, since she was going to stay up and try and call home to the birthday party for her little brother, but the rest of us were ready to call it a night.

And as it turned out she had a tough time calling home. I brought my tri-band cell phone with us. I'd intentionally paid a little extra to get a tri-band phone so I could have it when we came here. But the website is a little skimpy on info, and I'd never used one anywhere other than home. According to the several people she ended up talking to at support (and oddly enough one mentioned that the 611 number isn't supposed to work in London, she should have had to use the 1-800-number. Not much help when the trouble we were having is we couldn't call a U.S. number) (n.b. Not only is it "impossible" to use the 611 number outside of the US, you'll be charged an arm and a leg for doing so. Luckily if you call, they will eventually credit you the $25 worth of charges for the "free" service call. And remind that it you couldn't have made the call in the first place as it's impossible.) your local cell number is forwarded to an unknown "hidden" number local to the country you're in. So if you go to retrieve voice mail you'll be charged twice. I missed that part on the website. And none of the ways the first few support people had her try dialing worked either. They talked her through resetting the network, and several other things. As we so rarely use a cell phone at all we didn't know that you actually have to dial the plus sign for international. The the 01- areacode - localnumber works. So at least we learned something new. So she got to bed around 0200, but at least after 2 hours on the phone got to talk to the family at home for 5 mins.



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   Last modified April 26 2014 17:37.