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Monday, November 25, 2013

Gee, has it been this long???

Wow, I really didn't realize that the last time I posted was back in September. Really? My, my how time flies- no matter if you're having fun or not. Where to begin....

October- Halloween! The concept of Halloween, as we American's celebrate, is relatively new to the Brits. Here's how Halloween usually goes down here. The community we live in had a Halloween festival in our local "Millennium Center", so we decided to check it out. (Although Millennium Center sounds fancy - do not be fooled. It's like the back room at your local VFW or community center.) To get into the festivities, you had to pay per child (two pounds fifty) and in return you got a hot dog and a drink. The hot dog looked like a hoagie roll with a Vienna sausage in the middle. I saw a lot of moms holding their child's 'baguette' after only eating the wienie concealed therein. Perhaps this was the 'trick' in the trick-or-treat. Apparently the standard hot dog bun has not made its way across the pond. They had tables decorated and laid out with sweets, cupcakes, cookies, various confections and little 'trinklets'-all of which you could buy. I was slightly offended at this; coming from small town America where we shove candy and treats at each other both the day of and the days leading up to Halloween. They also assumed that the only costumes you could don on Halloween are: a witch, a skeleton, vampire or zombie. They were baffled at Bean's Astronaut costume. Which, by the way, is pretty neat-o.
Spaceman Spiff
We wondered how things were going to go down in the 'hood', since this trick-or-treating gig was all new to them, so we headed to the base for the American style 'trunk-or-treat' followed by more trick-or-treating at the on base houses. We were just about to finish up our route, we had one street of houses left, when the Bean announced, "my bag is full. I want to go home now." The Hubs and I looked at each other in disbelief, but you just don't look a gift horse in the mouth. We headed for home.

British children, if they did dress up, were very upset at the idea of me selecting the treat for them. They wanted to choose themselves. Um, you're pushing it, kid. I have a stanch 'no costume no treat' rule at this house. They also pulled the 'can I get one for my brother/sister/cousin/ friend/ friend's brother/sister' get the point. Before I could answer, the Hubs shouted from behind me, "One hand -one treat!" They selected their treat and went on their way - quickly. I just knew I was going to wake up to a pumpkin massacre on my front step the next morning, but no such vandalism.

My only regret is that I didn't get a better shot of the jet pack. Its hard to hit a moving target, tho.

In between Halloween and more scrapping with the school and the county council, was Guy Fawkes Night, where they celebrate with bonfires and fireworks. Meh, I'll keep Halloween thank you very much.

Ah, yes...we took a little trip to York. This was fantastic. York is approximately 2 1/2 hours from our little homestead. Lots of great scenery, tons of tractors and combines driving down the A1, and a little Bean nap made the trip fun. The horrible traffic delay made the trip more like a sharp poke in the eye. Not to be morbid, but if I am delayed in my journey by an hour or more, I'd better at least see some mangled car bits, skid marks or an ambulance - otherwise I feel robbed. I was robbed.

So we didn't arrive in York until late afternoon. Since daylight savings time started October 27th, that meant we had about 30 minutes until complete darkness. We checked into our accommodations and headed out into the town proper to scope out the next day's adventures. I have found that with people's suggestions on what to do and where to go, is that you have about a 50/50 chance of achieving the same fantastical experience. My first question to them is: do you have a five year old male child with the attention span of a fruit fly?

Keeping that in mind, we dined our first night at a restaurant called Evil Eye Lounge. It served Asian cuisine, so I knew the Hubs would be happy and I was pretty certain the Bean and I could find something good to eat.

Downstairs was crowded with a couple of small serving tables and housed the fantastically ornate bar, while upstairs was the extra seating and lounge area of the bar. We found a nice 4 top next to a window where we could peer down at the cobblestone streets at the tourists and the groups waiting for various ghost tours to begin. The 'lounge' part of the restaurant were actually beds. The beds were screened in three sides by screens carved ornately with middle eastern motif with lots of pillows. This would have been ok with me, if the couple inhabiting the 'bed' adjacent to us wouldn't have been sucking face in the plain view of my five year old son. Lucky for me, he didn't notice and is easily distracted.

Well the Hubs and I enjoyed our meals. The Bean, not so much. He is one of those pesky children who refuses to try anything that doesn't look exactly like as it does at home. When you do manage to get a bit in his mouth he either makes a gag face or actually gags. Sometimes I find this amusing, but sometimes it just about sends me into orbit.

The next morning we headed out to the much promised, National Rail Museum. We took a lazy walk to the museum since it didn't open until 10 am. here are some snaps we took along the way:

The light was fantastic. Every time we go somewhere new, I am struck by the amount of history I am surrounded by on all sides. Then there are people, everyday people, just going about their lives as if its normal. I suppose it is normal, but still. I am really in awe.
Here we are at St Mary's Abby. The old craggy walls and the open sarcophagi with stones older than the oldest settlement in the states.  And my kid is just running his monster truck down the stone pillars. Hum... yes its humbling.

The memorial day ceremonies were taking place - thus why we couldn't continue on the rock wall surrounding he city. The 12 mile wall surrounding the city was one of two items on the Hub's list to do whilst in York. Slightly bummed about not getting able to trek any of the wall, but secretly excited because this meant we could wander back to the Newgate Marketplace and the Shambles. Woo, buddies! This was coolsville. It is just awesome to stroll down a street which has remained the same since before the black plague leveled the population.

We'd walked up the Shambles (the night before) to take a look at the shops (having heard that the Shambles were packed with tourists during the day) and I struck up a conversation with some ladies who were also window shopping. I overheard one of them described some little dolls in a window display as Golliwoggs. The Hubs and I were quite shocked to see these types of dolls on display and they appear to be quite popular. They also told me about the Cats in York tour where we could take Bean on an iron feline scavenger hunt.

The Newgate Marketplace was pretty fun. We needed to replace Bean's gloves and finally found the Hubs a Indiana Jones hat. Here I am wearing the hat:

Trust me, the Hubs looks much better in it, but as he was carrying a very tired Bean on his shoulders, I played the stand-in. I look much more stunning in the snugly cashmere sweater I nabbed at 75% off retail at the Edinburgh Woolen Mill .

However, the brunt of our trip was spent inside the National Rail Museum. At first the bean was not at all interested in the trains, especially the Royal coaches on display, but managed to crack up a small crowd of people when he asked, "Dad, where's the TV?" The tide turned when we found the antique lorries that were used to bring goods and service the trains. This was a pivotal moment in history. For me, that is, not the locomotive industry.  I witnessed monster trucks slide into second place -and trains secured the top spot in the interests category. This is a much welcomed change. So much so that we spent two days at the museum.

Here are some humorous signs that made me giggle to think these were actually displayed in train stations once upon a time. 

I have a lot more pictures I'll be posting on FB, so if you're interested in the rest of the photos you'll have to check them out there. (Or if you want to be friendly - send me a request.) The Bean was so enthralled he couldn't not be bothered to look at the camera. He was too busy watching the museum attendant fix the model display that jack-knifed off the rails.
This was the display the day before when it was working properly:
The things we missed this trip were Jorvik and the Jorvik Dig, the Chocolate Tour, and the York Minster. Which, by the way, has a fantastical stained glass window the size of a tennis court. The entire backside of the Minster was scaffolded off for renovation. So we will definitely go back to York to partake of these wonderful sights, plus the Hubs was really sore we did not get to walk along the ancient wall. 

One place we dined, twice, was the 
This was fun because since Merry Old England does not celebrate Thanksgiving, they jump right into the Christmas/ Yule Tide Holiday. (They are still a bit sore about that whole 'independence from England' episode.)The Inne was festively decorated and all the waitstaff were wearing ugly Christmas sweaters and Santa hats. In most pubs and restaurants, they are known for their 'Sunday Roast'. This is always amazing. I have never had a bad Sunday roast. The Ye Olde Starre Inne was cosy and very affordable. I spotted the sidewalk sign and made the executive decision to go there for food as soon as I sensed grumpiness from my traveling companions. The Inne was located in an off-street mews, and we managed to get there minutes before everyone else decided to grab a table- twice.  I would definitely recommend this place to anyone and feel a bit excited to find this little gem not listed in my Rick Steves guide book. Perhaps I will send him a little FYI about it....then again-maybe not. 

Everyone got a new hat at the Newgate Marketplace, actually. Bean picked out his replacement gloves. Yes, they are purple stripped, but they had pigs on them and so he would not have any other pair.  The moose hat is incredibly adorable and easy to pick out of a crowd. 

There are tons of other stories and pictures I could elaborate on, like Clifford's tower:

Which has nothing to do with a certain big, red dog. It does have a rather morbid history.Then again, this is England so you can't really go anywhere with out finding out some morbid tale of woe. 

We'd also heard that we 'had to go to' the Trembling Madness, and we tried it. To say we tried it meant that we went into the restaurant/pub, took a look at the mounted animals on the wall, saw the line at the bar (you have to order food from the bar), took a look at the one cook/bartender and the 10 food tickets still hanging on the line,and decided to head out. At least we can say we've been there.  The upside is this lead us to the Olde Starre Inne. 

I must apologize for the lack of humor in this post. I have been trying to finish this for about a week or more, and with two sick males at my house it has drained most of my energy- comedic or otherwise. 

Our next big adventure, and I don't want to spoil it, will be much more exciting. I hope.

Until next time....



  1. Aww..thanks! He looks awfully cute in if he needed anything to boost his cuteness quotient!!