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I have been working hard on my dissertation, and since I’m leaving in a little over a week for home, I knew that I needed at least one more trip out with my camera.  The chosen destination was York, but I was determined to get some good, properly summery weather before I went anywhere.

On Saturday, we had a bit of summer, so I quickly bought my tickets and headed to York.

It’s only two and a half hours south by train from Edinburgh, so it was just right for a day out.  And York is pretty too! It’s biggest claim to prettiness is the Minster, a massive Gothic cathedral that rises grandly, as cathedrals do, above the rest of the city.

Cathedrals always give me the same sense of mingled peace, awe, and joy.  They are so grand and seem to be constantly rising upwards.  How can something so massive and unmovable, something made of stone and glass, look as if it wants to fly?  Or maybe it’s just that I secretly hope that I will suddenly be able to fly when I step into a cathedral so I can better appreciate the vast spaces and distant ceilings.  I don’t know.

A sunny day makes all the difference when you want to appreciate stained glass windows.

I can spend a good while just taking in the atmosphere at a cathedral.  Sometimes, I sit and tilt my head back and try to grasp at what I’m feeling.

But then I want to discover some of the details, the little things that went into giving this cathedral its own shapes and textures.  The little things are amazing.

York Minster has a beautiful Chapter House.  Unfortunately, it was too amazing for my camera to take in all at once.  I have that problem a lot in cathedrals.

But, of course, I can always focus on the details.  Like the one below in which an eagle noms on some poor guy’s head.  Nice detail work…

I bought a ticket to climb the Minster tower, but it wasn’t for a couple of hours, so I hit the town.  I found the famous street called the Shambles, which is a narrow little alley of a street with buildings hanging so far overhead, they nearly collide.  Super fun!

I saw an alley that boasted a fifteenth century church, so I detoured down to see what that was all about.  

It was a lovely little church, but not a very tall one, and eventually, I had to return to the massively beautiful Minster for my tower climb.  The climb was surprisingly exhausting.  The stairs were those tightly twisting round ones that go up and up and somewhere halfway up to the top, you begin to suspect that someone is playing a nasty trick on you and you are actually just going in circles.

Fortunately, that was not the case.  I made it part way up and was treated to this view.

Then, there were even more stairs, and I was sure I wasn’t going to make it.  It was a dramatic moment on those stairs…

The view was pretty, but mostly barred by grates with little peep holes to take photos.  I assume people had done stupid things in the past and the fencing was necessary to contain excited tourists and protect us from ourselves… but I resented the obstruction of my photos.  I got this one, which is probably the best:

Back on the ground I realized that the woozy, tired feeling wasn’t just because I had climbed an epically (possibly enchanted) tall tower.  It was also because my excitement and preoccupation with York had caused me to forget that one generally eats lunch in the early afternoon and it was now about four o’clock.

After getting distracted with a few more pretty places, I finally committed to finding food.

My glorious plans involved finding some fish and chips and making a picnic of it in the nearby Museum Gardens.  I must have been more woozy than I thought because I made my way to the gardens first, realized to my surprise that the fish and chips were not  going to magically appear when I sat down in the gardens, and had to turn back and head into the city to find them.

I finally located a place that claimed to have ‘York’s finest fish and chips’ and decided that you couldn’t really get better than that.  They fried up the fish right in front of me and handed me a hot box of yumminess to carry all the way back to the gardens.

I found the perfect spot to eat.  Yes, next to a lamp post.  I think about these things.

It turned out the fish and chips were possibly the best I have ever had (well, to be fair, the fish was exceptional, but the chips were a bit subpar).  I felt immensely better after some food and sprawled out on the soft, warm grass to doze in the summer sun.

It is really summer!  Who knew?

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end.  In my case, the abrupt and rather frustrating end came in the form of a sudden migraine attack.  There I was enjoying the most glorious summer day imaginable, as relaxed and contented as I could possibly be, and my head decided to implode.

My theory is that the day had been too perfect and the migraine was seeking to restore the balance.  I didn’t appreciate its efforts at all.

I had a couple of hours left before my train home, and since migraines have never made me more logical about anything, I decided that the best thing to do would be to take a walk along the old Roman wall that surrounds the city.

This was not a good decision because, as you can see, the wall does not have, well, walls on both sides and I was not entirely stable and I was being led farther and farther from the centre of the city.  In the end, I had to turn back and find somewhere to sit and rest until it was time for my train to whisk me back to Edinburgh.

On the bright side, my extremely ill expression, along with the fact that I’m still coughing a bit from my recent cold, drove away the passenger sitting next to me and so I was able to curl up in solitude and doze off until I got home again.

So, York was an adventure and not quite what I expected, but it served the admirable purpose of getting me out of doors and satisfying my remnants of the travel bug for the time being. Now, I am ready to go home.

Oh, right, I mean after I finish my dissertation, I’m ready to go home.  I keep forgetting that part…

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