A Sunday in York

Last weekend we found ourselves in beautiful York for a wedding of two close friends. They had chosen The Hospitium in the York Museum Gardens, an intimate 14th century, two-storey building which was the perfect setting for their ceremony, dinner and dancing.

The next day, we met up with some family for a stroll around the centre of York, which is one of our favourite cities (and, for once, we weren’t there to sing!). The day started as every Sunday should [apparently], with tea – and this time we went all out at Betty’s. Yes, we probably should have gone to Harrogate, but this Southerner had never experienced Betty’s at all and was too excited to wait any longer. It lived up to the hype: silver teapots, cosy corners and very good tea.

Betty's in York

We walked down the cobbled streets to explore some of the less well-known attractions, with the Minster still always in sight around the corner.

York Minster

Show me more from this day

A trip out West – St Asaph

No, we’d never heard of it either. All we knew was that it was a city in northern Wales and we’d been asked to sing there. Enticed by some good music and lovely friends, we agreed – and then realised that it was rather a longer drive than we thought; about 4.5 hours from London [urgh]. So, we decided to make a weekend of it and go up early, spending Friday night in a hotel nearby.

St Asaph is the second smallest city in Britain [it was only awarded city status in 2012], but the cathedral has been a cathedral for 1,400 years, while the building itself dates from the 13th century. Musicians may recognise Mathias’s name – a composer of considerable renown, he was buried here with his wife upon their deaths.

Mathias' grave at St. Asaph's Cathedral

The cathedral is simple in design, but with a historical feel to it:

Inside St. Asaph's Cathedral

Show me more from this day

Up the hill: a weekend at Lincoln Cathedral

Neither of us had visited Lincoln for a long time (I had once, at university) and had forgotten quite how stunning it is. Perched up the appropriately-named ‘Steep Hill’, the cathedral looks out over the city.

As John Ruskin said, “I have always held and proposed against all comers to maintain that the Cathedral of Lincoln is out and out the most precious piece of architecture in the British Isles.” [And I whole-heartedly agree with him.]

Inside Lincoln Cathedral

Building started in 1088, under William the Conqueror’s instruction, and in heavy Norman style, opposite the castle he had already built across the city. Around 100 years later, a fire and an earthquake between them caused extensive damage to the great building, and parts were rebuilt in the Gothic style, which included the use of flying buttressing to enable huge stained glass windows, and pointed arches replacing the original rounded ones.

Rose window at Lincoln Cathedral

Show me more from this day

Return to Cornwall, part 2 – coastal paths and cosying up

[Haven’t read part 1 yet? You can find it here!]

You know we love the National Trust. They don’t sponsor our blog (maybe they should!), but they just always seem to appear in the right place at the right time, even when you haven’t planned it…

What we did plan was a day of walking, exploring the beautiful coastline around the Fowey area. One trip to the tourist information centre later, and we found ourselves with an invaluable National Trust map of walks. It took us to secluded coves…

View over bay near Fowey

We made friends with some frankly hilarious-looking pigs…

Pig

Show me more from this day

Return to Cornwall, part 1 – exploring somewhere new

It’s time for the second (and final, sob) summer holiday post of the year… After our rather more exotic trip to the Algarve, we decided to re-run last year’s brilliant camping holiday to our beloved Cornwall. However, this time we thought we’d try somewhere new – Padstow, Mevagissey, we love you, but this year we drove to Fowey, two days before the miserably forecast Bank Holiday weekend.

Butterfly

But fabulous as Cornwall nearly always is, we arrived to its own micro-climate of bright sunshine and barely a cloud in the sky… Fowey welcomed us with brightly-coloured houses and bunting all over the town, steep hills to the car park (ouch!) and picturesquely narrow streets.

Coloured houses in Fowey

Show me more from this day

Weekend in Leeds, part 2 – Hardwick Hall

After Nostell yesterday, we then headed to Hardwick Hall. Although pretty cloudy (see below), it was stunning. This year, the house is celebrating its association with Arbella Stuart, niece of Mary, Queen of Scots and Bess of Hardwick’s protegee. Bess, Arbella’s grandmother, built the house and attempted throughout Arbella’s youth to realise her not insubstantial claim to the English throne. Arbella had other ideas, however, and ended up imprisoned in the Tower after a secret marriage.

Hardwick Hall

Gripping as it is, the experience of the house runs alongside and yet beyond these two fiesty Elizabethan women. Built in 1590, the house is one of the earliest examples of English Renaissance architecture, and seems to herald the arrival of the ‘country house’. Its very structure has been built to accommodate the more traditional hierarchy of master and servant, with very separate living quarters and ceiling height and scale to reflect the seniority of that room’s inhabitants. It also sees a move toward the more decorative architectural style, and a departure from the fortifications of castles of old.

Bedroom at Hardwick Hall

Show me more from this day

Weekend in Leeds, part 1 – swans and statues at Nostell Priory

Today on the blog we have two very special properties to help you make the most of that National Trust membership! (Even without it, entry fees were reasonable.)

We have a family in Leeds, so headed up there for the weekend. First stop was Nostell Priory, featuring a beautifully symmetrical exterior… [although, if you look closely, you’ll notice some damage on the left-hand side from a fire in 1980]

Nostell Priory

And an interesting lighting project, From Gloom to Glow, where they cast light on previously hidden objects. It certainly made for some dramatic photographs!

Gloom to Glow statue at Nostell Priory

Show me more from this day