Monday (Attempting to get there)
Glossing over the morning which for some reason was spent cleaning the house, we were a bit late setting off partly because Mum had to take grandma to the eye hospital for a check-up after her cataract operation which was at 9:00am, Mum wasn’t back home until 1:00pm. I had set out my clothes the night before ready to be packed into a suitcase and Dad whilst brilliantly cleaning the bathroom and sorting out his own clothes neglected to get the suitcases down from the loft. Anyway that is just normal attempted departure for my family, the mature stage of which is when Mum starts calling from various rooms in the house random stuff like “Have you got the camera?” which means we all then run around searching for the camera because after the previous twenty questions none of us can remember which of us had it or where we left it.
The drive to York was estimated to take two and half hours by Google. It took us much longer; partly because my parents do not trust either the road signs, the AA map of the British Isles or the Google directions. We set off about 2:30pm and arrived in York about 8:00pm; admittedly we stopped off in a place which all of us used to know the name of but now has been renamed and none of us can remember the original name. But that wasn’t for very long, and then we got lost somewhere near the junction for Leeds where my Dad went into over-explanatory mode and my Mum went into panic-four-minute-warning mode every time we turned a corner. This was the mistrust of the directions came in. Which continued into the centre of York when we finally got within the city boundaries, it had been dark for some time by now and so we could say night had well and truly fallen so none of us could properly follow the Google directions which were all we had to guide us to the Hotel? We were looking for the Barbican Road, which we never found in the car, and ended up stopping off at the Waitrose to beg directions from the local inhabitants. Even then we remained lost owing to the road system around Walmgate Street; who would ever have thought trying to find what essentially a large landmark opposite the hotel is a 15th Century church could be so difficult in York. It’s not the Minster by the way its St Denys’ Church, which like the Minster no longer belongs to the Catholics.
However all soon perked up once we had found the hotel and got checked in, then we went to find somewhere to eat, which meant going back out into York. This time we went on foot, to avoid the prospect of parking. For some reason best known unto God Monday night at 8:15ish was heaving, we passed many an eatery on the twenty minute walk, the four that looked as though they might house three extra persons turned out all to be full with at least 30 to 45 minutes wait for a table.
Then something strange happened. We came out of one eating place having been told it was full and over the road there was a large building and outside it was a delivery van unpacking stuff and on the pavement to the left was a young woman who had just finished a conversation with two older hoodies which ended with “I’ll add you on Facebook”. It didn’t really strike any confidence either when my Dad, who had crossed the street to look at the menu outside the Italian place, was approached by said young woman trying to hand him something that looked like a small leaflet. Now this young woman was wearing a short parka with a fur hood, a black mini skirt and boots. Me and my Mum were of one mind here: what the hell is going on…is this really what I think this is? Turned out it wasn’t. The young woman was one I think a student of York University (or similar) and two she worked at the Italian place and was handing out wine promos. We then toddled off after her into the Italian place which was a family run Italian restaurant in the old building of York Girls College, which meant it had very interesting display cabinets which were great when you waited 15 minutes for a table. This was now about 8:30 and we got a very nice real Italian meal I had a salmon tagliatelle thing which actually turned out to contain no salmon unless it was in the salmon coloured source but many mini prawns which were delightful anyway. About half way through one of the Italian family started playing this upright piano in the corner; he was incredibly talented at the ivories and was very entertaining playing slight variations on “You’ll never walk alone” and the that Titanic song. He had several large wine glasses on top of the piano which were all full of tips. As my Mum commented at the time “It was all very Italian” however unlike in Lourdes they a) didn’t attempt to run you over with the chariots and b) didn’t push you off the pews in the Underground Basilica. It was all lovely though and I will get a photograph of the restaurant in the daylight and add it to this post.