Hiya! (That’s how you say “hi” or “hello!” in Yorkshire, apparently.) … My first weekend spent fully in York was a foggy one… not my state of mind, the weather, of course! For the past few mornings I have woken up to a thick, grey fog covering the city, creeping in and around shadowy alleyways and shrouding the towers of the York Minster in a hazy mist. The temperature hasn’t necessarily been bone-chilling cold, but it’s a wet kind of cold–the kind that, if you’re not moving around, can become bone-chilling.
My weekends start early here at York St John University. I don’t have Friday classes, so that leaves extra room for things such as time for finishing homework (ha!), exploring the city, going out to unique restaurants and trying new foods, and making extended weekend trips. Thursday night I went out with a group of people to the Three-Legged Mare, a pub near the City Centre. I tried a Wonky Donkey, a malt ale brewed only at that particular pub. The pub was very low-key and pleasant. I shared great conversation with my York friends and had some good laughs, too. Many of us were hungry afterward, so we split a couple of pizzas from St John’s Takeaway, just across the road from campus. We then watched a movie The Count of Monte Cristo back at the residence hall. (P.S. Richard Harris–the guy who played Dumbledore in the first two Harry Potter films–was the best part about that movie.)
Friday was a relatively low-key day. I did some homework in the library and checked out a few books that I need for my YSJ modules. In the evening, we were invited to Dean and Nancy Ward’s house to watch the first episode of the Simon Schama documentary A History of Britain. Dean meant for us to come in two separate, smaller groups since he was showing the movie both Friday and Saturday night, but all but 4 or 5 of us showed up! Needless to say, it was a crowded viewing experience, but worth it. We stayed and talked about our experiences so far, even starting a quote book of sorts. (So many funny things have already been said, I can’t imagine how many more will be said by the end of the semester.)
Saturday morning I trekked out to the mobile library at 10 AM to get a York Card. The actual library is under renovation, so York is temporarily housing its library on a bus that is parked outside the City Art Gallery every Saturday. The York Card, essentially, is a city library card and free pass into some of the city’s more prominent sites and museums, such as the York Minster and York Castle Museum–the latter being our excursion destination for the afternoon, hence we had to get the cards in the morning. A particularly strict woman working the mobile library told us that we could not get a York Card unless we had a proof of residence in York. We never really received any “official” document saying we lived here, so we had to inconveniently walk all the way back to the Grange to scrounge around for any paper with any kind of address! Argh! By the time we got back, we had tripled our numbers, and THEN the ladies working the library seemed very willing and eager to give us York Cards, making us wonder about all the fuss to begin with. That’s life, though, some things are just frustrating.
York Castle Museum
We spent the afternoon at the York Castle Museum. The museum had many period displays, showing English life and culture through the years. A Princess Diana and Prince Charles tea mug particularly piqued my interest for my mom owns a very similar one at home. It’s weird when you see something you own in a museum. Below the museum, we winded through the dungeons of the York Castle Prison, where they had ghostly projections of past criminals on the walls. But the most prominent feature of the area was Clifford’s Tower, a round fortress on a great motte (or mound) in the center of the ruined castle grounds. (I’m not all clear on the history of the Tower yet, but hope to be by the end of my stay.) The sky was grey, so we saved ascending the stairs to the Tower for another, sunnier day, perhaps.
That night, hungry from a long day wandering through the halls of a museum, a large group of us went out to Cross Keys, a quaint pub and restaurant near Monk Bar in the City Centre. The pub was crowded and a rugby match was being televised, so you can imagine the loud roars of excitement or anger at the television when whatever team the locals were rooting for was winning or losing. Since there was no place to sit inside with such a big group of us, we sat outside on the patio, which was not too cold for there were heat lamps. I had a hearty meal of steak and ale pie because the “toad in the hole,” which I wanted to try, was not being served. It was probably just as good anyway.
Sunday at York Minster
Sunday morning I attended Solemn Eucharist (with the Book of Common Prayer) at the York Minster. Coming from the CRC, this was a very different service for me. Although sitting in the cathedral choir got quite cold (no heating systems in very old churches!), it was all worth it. The high liturgy felt very holy. I really felt the presence of God in the place, even if that sounds corny. I couldn’t help but feel just how old the traditions of Christianity are in that place. The singing of the choir was magnificent. They sounded pure, not to mention the acoustics of the Minster are excellent. I was a little nervous about communion, as had never taken it before, but it helped being with a group of peers who were experiencing something new as well. The priests put a bread wafer in my hand and lifted the cup of wine to my lips and said a prayer for me and everyone who came up. I have no more words to describe it…
Tea and Toast
At 4 PM many of us Calvin students went to “Tea and Toast” at the local parish church, St Thomas with St Maurice Church. It was a bit like a youth group meeting. They served us hot tea, toast with jam, raisin buns, and crumpets (foamy, spongy bread-like treat) with chocolate spread. It was all delicious. We watched a Rob Bell video, ironically (he’s from Grand Rapids), and had a discussion afterward. It was interesting to hear the views of a British Christian who I met (but will leave unnamed), and opened my eyes a little more to Christianity around the world.
Next weekend I’m off to Wales for an overnight stay in the northern part of that country. Otherwise, the second week of classes got off to a great, but busy start. Cheers!
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