The long weekend continues on. Bank Monday meant that we could all spend the day relaxing after the massive weekend at Ampleforth. After a well earned sleep in and some deliberating it was the perfect afternoon spent going for a drive in the country side, or as Damien referred to it as "Our outback". There was no better place to be then the Yorkshire Dales. The Dales are numerous valleys in the upland of West Yorkshire. The valleys of evergreen fields consist of stone walls, national parks and brilliant mountain sides. We had an enjoyable afternoon driving around on its narrow winding roads till we found a cosy little pub where we knocked back a few pints and had and enjoyable lunch. There was no better way to start our last week in Ilkley.
Slipping my adventure shoes back on we jumped on a train and headed off to York. Where I was once again blown away by the surreal setting of old Gothic buildings and cobble stone roads. After wandering through the towns beautiful gardens we set off to The Minster, one of the largest cathedrals in Northern Europe. The building itself is absolutely striking. Hand crafted stone walls with marble pillars was just the start. The cathedral housed some of the utmost astonishing stain glassed windows, some of which were original pieces from the early15th century, we got lost among the art and history. After my shocking display in Ampleforth I though it was only right to attend mass and take communion in a small intimate service, hopefully all my weekend sins have now been repented. Climbing all 275 up a narrow spiral stair case we reached the top of the Ministers tower where we enjoyed panoramic views of the intriguing city way down below.
One of my favourite things about York is its many many tea rooms and shops. Down every street and around every corner was a new tea store to explore. York is home to Yorkshires famous Tea house Bettys. With a line up down the street and a menu that blew our backpacking budget, the closest I got to a high tea experience was pushing my nose against the glass window and watching in amazement at all the selection of cakes, tarts and scones. Luckily York has so much to offer that before long the thought of tea was irrelevant and we were down in the Shambles where we found a little summer time market. Bustling with fresh produce, baked goods and home made jams we sampled our way through the stalls. Sourcing fabulous printed fabrics we stumbled upon a great little vintage stall where I got lost amongst the funky knits and 90's inspired overalls. In an disastrous attempt to control myself I just couldn't walk away from a great little old school Lee denim jacket. James was furious, not because I bought the jacket but because I didn't get him one.
York is also famous for its historic old city walls that date back to the Roman times. York is one of the only cites in England that has a majority of its walls still intact. Being a beautiful day we climbed up and walked the wall that stretches 4.2kms around the city. I love how the city adapted to the original layout from all those years ago and kept the structure of the walls, so well crafted it was a sensational sight to see.
An end to the day defiantly did not mean the end to our York experience. Being Daria's birthday we met up with the Crosse family and joined them for a dinner celebration. Being Polish there was no better choice then to dine in Yorks well known Polish restaurant, The Barbakan. Not only excited because I love birthday's but I was beyond intrigued to try traditional Polish cuisine. The menu was exquisite, although I couldn't read half of it I was still beyond impressed. Luckily we had Daria to give us polish translations and sweet talk our waitress. I started with Krokiet i barszcz, a thin pancake stuffed with mushrooms, covered in breadcrumbs and accompanied by the best beetroot soup I have ever had in my life. For main I opted for Pierogi which were lovely pan fried dumplings filled with a pot cheese. By the time the mention of desert came around I was to scared to make any sudden movements incase I exploded, so regretfully I had to decline. Dinner ended with the restaurant bursting into a 'Happy Birthday' singalong and finished with traditional Polish celebratory shots of vodka. The party continued back in Ilkley at the Crosse Household. Where drinks kept flowing and we all got a little too competitive in games of pool and table football. Just as Daria's birthday was about to come to an end a union jack lantern was lit in true birthday spirit. After two drunken attempts we finally got the lantern on its way, as we cheers'ed in honour and watched in wonderment as the lantern became nothing but a little speckle of hope way up in the sky 10,548 miles away from a place I call come.
As the week flashed before our eyes there was not a minute to spare. Joining the house hold was Maire's good friend Michael, who was just in time to join our day trip to the town of Whitby. Being one of Damien's favourite places in all of England there was no better person to lead the expedition. Whitby is a offbeat little coastal town in the county of North Yorkshire. Being a sunny 18 degree day the small town was bustling with excitement. As we explored the rustic surroundings Maire took us along to re-live her childhood days. Where we hopped from eEglish lolly shop to lolly shop, housing the best candy floss in all of England we filled ourselves with far to many sugary sweets. To burn off all the sugar we climbed the stairs around the towns beautiful Abbey ruins where we could peak over cliffs and watch the ships come in from the ocean to the port. After seeing Whitby from above we couldn't miss the opportunity to see it from a sailors perspective. So we jumped aboard the oldest life boat in Whitby. A fantastic tour ran by the eccentric Captain Barry and his wacky side kick who took us on a great little cruise out into the ocean and shared some facts about the history of Whitby with us.
*Did you know that Whitby was where explorer Captain Cook left on his voyage to calculate the distance between Venus and the earth, when he came across and first set foot on Australia?*
You can't leave Whitby without two important things. One is a belly full of its locally caught fish. So we opted for a fantastic fishy lunch down at The Marina where we were served a piece of fish the size of my head (As James says 'Now that's HUGE') accompanied by hand cut chunky potato chips. There is no contest, Whitby has by far the most delicious fish and chips I have every had in my life.
The second most important thing is a Lucky Duck. Made up of glass each little duck is individually handcrafted in the store "Whitby Glass" where the have been sold for the last 55 years. Tens of thousands of Lucky Ducks have been sold to people in all walks of life and are slowly sharing there lucky charm from the little town of Whitby to all across the world.
After checking off our Whitby must do's we were only left to wander the pier in the rays of sunshine eating ice cream and taking in the fresh sea air. My verdict was clear, Whitby definitely is a marvelous English town.
Our time in Yorkshire had come to an end. As the first day of summer hit James and I were rearing to start our summer European trip. Beyond grateful at the hospitality we received from the Crosse family, we couldn't have been more thankful for everything they had done. As a small token of our appreciation we prepared a small home cooked feast. Roast lamb with creamy baked potato and vegetables, a specialty of ours. Popping the champagne we had won at last weeks charity dinner. We ate and drank in celebration of old friends, new friends and the start of many more adventures.
After having the most amazing time in Yorkshire I thought saying goodbye was going to be hard. But with Maire I know it is never really a goodbye, but forever a see you later.
The Wanderers Daughter xx