August 1, 2012 by talkaboutyork
Well we’re here. It’s been a crazy first week in our new home town as we moved into our new house and then promptly moved out as the builders arrived. We’re now living in a serviced flat right slap bang in the middle of town. Location-wise it is terrific. As a result, it’s given us time to explore our new town and really come to terms with city life.
I love it!
Yes the traffic is awful, but you can walk most places. Yes there is plenty of people traffic too, tourists walking around staring upwards open mouthed at the history around them, shoppers browsing, residents going about their day to day lives. But we’re already learning which are the quieter lanes and snickets to nip down to avoid the masses.
What I love about it is the plethora of stuff you have right on your doorstep. Just yesterday I wanted to make some stir fry for dinner, but didn’t have chicken or soy sauce. No matter, I could pop out and two minutes walk away is a Budgens. Of course there are also about five Chinese, Thai and Malaysian restaurants the same distance away, but we can’t eat out EVERY meal, tempting as it is. This might not sound like a big deal but we’ve just moved from somewhere that required a car and a minimum of a five minute drive to find a local basic shop. Having stuff so close by is a novelty.
Walk in the other direction for 10 minutes and you find Rowntree Park, a fantastic park given to the people of York by the chocolateering Rowntree family. It wasn’t a purely philanthropic act. The land lay next door to the Terry’s chocolate factory, Rowntree’s big competitor. By buying the land and giving it the people of York, it effectively stopped Terry’s from expanding, forcing them out of the city eventually. (I learnt that little fact on an Open Top Bus (York City Sightseeing) trip. More on that in a minute.)
The park has a couple of fantastic play areas for children of all ages, plenty of room for kicking a football about, a putting green, a skate ramp, basketball courts, tennis courts and plenty more. Inspired by the basketball courts, we nipped into town, bought a basketball and went off and shot some hoops en famille, which was a great way to knacker out the kids.
It’s not just basketball that’s kept us active since moving here. There are so many beautiful places to run. From both our proper house and rental flat, you can run alongside the River Ouse for miles, crossing bridges to make a loop of it. The same paths run even further as a cycle path. We’ve discovered a bike repair shop, which we need to visit to get our bikes sorted out so that we can go explore the cycle routes.
We also quickly discovered the library, which has kept our children entertained for hours, mainly because they like scanning their books out electronically, but also because they’re doing the summer reading challenge and are determined to get all their stickers as fast as they can. The library has a cafe, so you can sit with a pot of proper Yorkshire tea and toasted tea cake and read books. Fab afternoon for all of us really. York Library also runs something called The Big Read in which they give away a particular book for free, with the intention being that you read it and pass it on, so that the whole town starts talking about the book. What a great idea.
From a tourist point of view, we’ve so far visited the York Dig, Clifford’s Tower, the City Art Gallery and the Castle Museum, a review of each will be done in other posts. But our first tourist stop was the aforementioned open top bus ride, purely so that we could get our bearings and find out a bit more about the City.
And we did – like the fact about Rowntree park, and the spot where Dick Turpin, the infamous highwayman was hanged, and the fact that all royalty enters York through Mickelgate Bar, well all except Queen Victoria who only visited York once. After dining at the station, Her Majesty was presented with the bill (this is Yorkshire you know, you get nowt fer nowt). Thoroughly unamused that she’d been asked to pay for a meal, Queen Victoria vowed to never return to York, and she never did.
We’ve dined out at plenty of restaurants (and paid I’ll hasten to add), which I’ll review when I get a chance. But so far the variety of eating establishments and quality of the food has been terrific. We’ve had a chance to chat to some of the local business owners near our house – delis and wine shops (important!) and cafes. They’ve all been so welcoming to us and we already feel like locals.
As for my children….while they have been driving me slightly mad cooped up as they are in a flat without their normal things around them and nagging for things to eat every time we set foot out of the flat (the novelty of so much stuff nearby is apparently intoxicating for them too), they have taken to city life likes ducks to the river Ouse. Their scooters, which used to get occasional use, have become an extension of their bodies. They now zoom all around town on them as though they’ve been weaving in and out of tourists their entire life. They’re prepared to ‘walk’ miles as long as they have their scooters with them.
There are downsides. There will no doubt be more downsides that we discover as we stay here longer, but for now, we are all in love with our new home.