A weekend in York (Day 1)

You know, it seems sometimes all I post about on here is Amiga stuff and charity shops. It’s pretty much what my life has became recently. Sometimes I do leave the house, and this time it was for a mooch around York. Well, yes, there were charity shops involved, but there was other stuff too.

In early July, Martlepool hosted a leg of the Tall Ships race. It’s something that has happened before, way back in 2010. Sadly, I wasn’t able to attend much of those festivities thanks to work commitments. this time, 13 years later, I avoided it through coice. This time, it promised absolute carnage for the lovely little fishing village of Hartlepool. Chris, who you may remember from many blogs previously, lives in an area of the ‘village’ affected by the traffic measures, so he decided to get out of the way for a few days, and head to Leeds and York, instead of having to fight the council for a parking permit. Plans were made for me to join him half way through this trip. I said I’d get the train down on the Saturday, meet up with him and stay overnight, and come back with him on the Sunday. Of course, there was possible “industrial action” on the train to worry about. Would I actually make it down?

I booked the ticket the week previously. I was surprised just how easy it was. I’ve never actually ordered tickets on my phone before. Despite my technical knowledge, I can’t help but think that paper tickets, or having some physical representation of a ticket is the best way to go. Anyway, no sooner had I paid, it got put into my “online wallet”, and I was all set. I was genuinely amazed at how simple it went.

Anyway, as mentioned. There were train strikes, and that was my worry. This particular train company didn’t have the greatest reputation when it comes to reliability. I’d have thought that any excuse to cancel a train, they’d be all over it. Anyway, I awoke early on the Saturday, still expecting to read my phone and find that the train had been cancelled. Amazingly, this never happened. I arrived at the station to find the board was still showing it was turning up. While in the waiting room, the guy next to me ran out without his phone charger. Amusingly, I’ve known the person who I spoke to for about 30 years, I’d totally forgotten he’s worked there, and to complete the circle of life, he still has some Amiga disks with my handwriting on. If only Elton John and Tim Rice were in the vacinity. I do wonder if this guy ever collected his phone charger.

This particular train company was even a guy walking up and down the platform showing people where to stand to get onto the right carriage. Never had that service before, so this was my position while I waited…

The eagle-eyed amongst you may have noticed that the other platorm (which was supposed to be ready in time for the Tall Ships) is still out of bounds. There’s now a bridge connecting both platforms, but it’s not ready yet, and there’s no canopies or lighting installed on that side.

Anyway, I successfully boarded the train, and took in the sights of Teesside and Yorkshire, as the bone rattler wound its way through many little villages and towns.

An hour or so later, I was in York., and I was taking in the sights and sounds… of a place I’d been to about 60 times before, but I still can’t help busting the camera out.

That last one is of “Grape Lane”. A street that has had a slightly different name in times of yore. I’ll leave you, the viewer to find out what that is.

As menitoned previously, I hit the charity shops. And by golly, did I find some classic tat in there…

At some point during the “Wayne King” record, and the Metrocentre postcard, Chris met up with me. Of course, we had a mooch around a few more shops (many of them may, or may not have been of the charity variety), before the weather started to turn. It was raining. Not much, but enough to think “Oh, there’s a microbrewery. Let’s have a sneaky pint”. And so, that’s exactly what we did.

I love that little ornament of the eagle, and his little hat made out of beermats. Sadly, I doubt he was for sale, so that photo will have to do.

Sadly, the rain kept up, so I didn’t get many more photos. Instead we headed off to Drake’s for some chips. Seems everyone had that same idea, because it seemed like the world’s longest wait for two portions of curry and chips. They weren’t bad, I guess, but could have done without the wait!

With the charity shops plundered and time getting on, we headed off to the B+B. And what a nice little place it was, about half a mile away from the city centre.

Sadly, I didn’t really get a decent photo of the size of the room, but Chris had that big bed, and I had my own bed, right next to the open window. This would become beneficial later on.

Shortly after, we went out to the first of the pubs we’d passed on the way.

A nice little place. I think I had a pint of something called “White Rat”. It was nice whatever it was. We stopped at another place. The “Royal Oak”. I think we had one or two in there, and then decided to go for the most predictable part of the night… an Indian! I’m guessing it must have only been about 6PM at that point. Turns out this was the best decision of the day. We entered, asked for a table, the guy shuffled his papers for what seemed like an age, and then ushered us to a table. It was right near the door. this meant that we could hear everyone that came in. “Sorry, we’re fully booked until 9:30”. Ha! We’d just got the last table, and it was lovely. Not quite as nice as the one in Macclesfield, but it was certainly enjoyable, and the fact we were the last ones to get an unbooked table just added that little extra spice to it all.

No trip to York is complete without a stop in the “Three Legged Mare”. One of my favourite haunts in York Something interesting always happens.

We’d grabbed a seat right at the front. Little did we know that there was going to be a band/duo on, until they turned up with all of their equipment.

I must admit, I wish I could remember their names, because they were bloody good.

I’m bound to find out, and I’ll update when I do.

We began to head back relatively early. Chris wasn’t sure what time the B+B closed its doors, so we were back by 10.

About 10 minutes after getting back, we opened the window and found out that our timing was, once again, impeccable. We looked out, and there was a thunderstorm going on outside. I think we spent the next two hours or so discussing which presenter was at the centre of the latest BBC shenannegans. Turns out my guess was completely wrong.

Eventually, I drifted off to sleep, with the sound of the rain and thunder being a perfect white noise generator. Day 2, the journey home, should be fun.

Four pound? Profound!

I’m, once again, going to dedicate this post to streetlighting and yet another musical purchase I’ve made, but hell, when I’m finished with that, and if I can be bothered, I’ll extend it to include some normal life stuff.

So, yesterday (Saturday), I was in York. I was dismayed to find that this fine example of a GEC z5590 burning SON has been replaced…

Trip to York, 24th July 2010. Stunningly warm day! A GEC Z5590 has picked up a little bit of a mowhawk! This would have been mercury originally, but like all of the ones around it, now running a dayburning SON lamp.
Trip to York, 24th July 2010. Stunningly warm day!
A GEC Z5590 has picked up a little bit of a mowhawk!
This would have been mercury originally, but like all of the ones around it, now running a dayburning SON lamp.

It was a fine example, drilled for a photocell, and everything. Ironically, it’s been replaced with a dayburning heritage lantern, with LED arrays as its light output. Shame.

I’m actually posting that news as an experiment to see who actually reads this page. I wonder how many people from work actually know I have a streetlight interest? I’ll hazard a guess at not many of them.

So, er, anyway. Onto the music. I’ve been a fan of Jan Hammer for many years, since I first heard “Crockett’s Theme”. I didn’t know anything about it at the time, and certainly didn’t know it was from Jan Hammer.Anyway, yesterday, I picked up one of his CDs. A CD I probably paid over the odds for, but I’d say it’s worth it, seeing as I’ve been after one of the tracks since I was 11 years old, and that track is “Payback”, the last track on the CD. I’ve never saw a copy of it on CD before, nor have I ever held one in my hand, and never actually owned it!

My love affair for that particular song started in 1991. I had, as I’ve done every year, recorded the grand national, but this year recorded some of the buildup too. The BBC used this particular track to show highlights of the previous two days racing. I’d recorded it, and instantly loved it. Obviously, back then, there was no way of being able to quickly identify a piece of music., and so it sat, rotting (literally) on the tape for years, eventually getting forgotten about.

One night, while flicking through the satellite channels, Miami Vice was starting, and would you believe it? The tune just happened to be featured in it. Naturally, armed with this information, I was able to narrow down my search somewhat, and eventually came across an MP3 of it.

Seems to be a regular story. I hear a song, ignore it for years, hear it in a place I wasn’t expecting, eventually track down on MP3, followed by a CD copy the song.

That, I thought, was the end of it. I had some time to kill while some files copied. I thought I’d listen to the entire CD. that is genuinely a rare occurrence. I normally buy a CD, listen to one track and ignore the rest. This one was Jan Hammer, so I knew, somewhere, there’d be a hidden pot of gold. And I wasn’t wrong.

I seem to have one of those things where my long-term memory is extremely strong. whether it’s a gift, or a curse, I haven’t decided, as it always seems I’m living in the past, but this CD played, and track 8 sparked my attention. It was a track called “The Runner”. Braincells flew into rewind mode. I knew it from an advert, going back as far as the 80s. It instantly reminded me of warm summer evenings, but I had a feeling I’d be the only one who recalled said advert. Off I go to Youtube, and typed in its name.

First result, third comment down…

“Anyone remember this music used in an advert for milk in the 80’s?”

The reply to that comment…

“Yes, they featured Bob Geldof in the late 1980s (about 1987/88). There are a couple of those adverts here on Youtube. Incidentally it was those adverts that brought me here. :-)”

Good lord. A buried memory from more than three quarters of my life ago, resolved in about two minutes. That was four pounds well spent. And now, a slew of youtube videos, that will undoubtedly die over time, and I won’t be bothered to fix them, but hey, they work now at the time of typing!

Here’s “Payback”, the track I bought the CD for…

And here’s “The Runner”….

And here’s advert 1, featuring the music.

Advert 2, the more memorable of the adverts, but with less music…

I feel the earth move, under my feet…

Apparently, there’s been an earthquake between Newcastle and York. I didn’t feel a thing, and Ilive pretty much between the two…

Sky News have reported it now, claiming it was inNorth Yorkshire. I am happy to report, however, that it didn’t disturb my dart watching / beer drinking. I’ll keep updating, but it apparently is all over.

Now the BBC are all over Twitter, asking if anyone wants to talk to the radio in the morning. No.

Although I could say that it knocked the froth off my beer, and Gary Anderson missed a double because of it.

Welcome to the readers of CycleChat also!

Her’e a link to Sky News with the story…

http://news.sky.com/skynews/Article/201009115879004 (Uh, would have helped if I’d actually made it a link)

UPDATE: It is now RAINING in Hartlepool, and my feet are cold. Everything’s back to normal, then. I’ll let this post rot.

UPDATE 2: Would have helped if I’d closed my tags properly too. What an arsehole I am.

Back to York…

I’m typing this several days late, as unfortunately, three days of work interrupted the normally smooth progress of my normal blog entries. I don’t apologise for making this post excessively long.

Anyway, Tuesday saw a hastily arranged trip to York, with Chris. York’s a good place to go as the people are friendly, no chavs, and there’s always the opportulity for a photograph or seven.

We’d arranged a couple of days before to go to York on Monday, but thanks to certain aspects (mainly me finishing at 6AM on Sunday morning, and not waking up at any time sensible, this was put back until Tuesday. Chris had came over on Monday night, and a good sup was had. Chris bought over this… stuff. I can’t remember its name, but apparently it must have been in Netto on special offer. He said it reminded him of liquorice.

We discussed a few places, and after pissing ourselves laughing at some of the train prices on certain websites for places such as London, we decided that York was cheapest. And easiest. Something which he said was very, very, very, very, very important was that we first went to the “Headland Gate” (formerly the Il Ponte / Bridge Hotel) to get some photos before another pub is wiped off the Hartlepudlian landscape.

Chris poured himself home, and I went to bed, knowing that Tuesday would have to start as early as possible. After the afore-mentioned sup, I awoke at 7:30, though I knew that Chris wouldn’t be alive again until at least 9.

At 9:30, I rang him to make sure it was still going ahead. It was. Hurrah, etc.

I arrived at his house at approximately 10:42, and we took the short walk over to the Headland Gate…

The Headland Gate

We took the walk to the Co-Op, a short distance down the road. This was for two benefits, firstly to get money, and to stock up on refreshments. Thirdly, the Co-op is over the road from the bus stop. Fourthly, it meant that Chris could avoid someone who he didn’t like.

We got on the bus. Turns out the number 7 no longer stops off at Christchurch, instead it stops off at Wilkinsons. Remember that, paupers.

So off we walked to the train station. It’s not much of an extra distance, probably 100 yards or so. Turns out the bus driver ripped us off to. Arsehole.

We got to the train station, and Chris examined the timetables . Turns out the direct train (the Grand Central) wouldn’t get us into York until approximately 2PM, and by this point, it was about 11:30. It was decided that we’d take the same journey that me and Coatesy took almost a year ago here. Hartlepool, Thornaby, then York.

Turns out that Coatesy mas made a reappearance on flickr, after posting a photo of himself with that bloke off the post office ads with the northern accent before Wendy Richards pegged it. I’m sure he’s done other stuff, but I’m too lazy to google it.

Back to the subject in hand, we had to wait in a queue whilst some woman discussed the finer details of some voucher she was given. I gave Chris the responsibility of purchasing the tickets, as he knows about them more than me. Turns out the price was £11.00 each instead of the £9.50 I’d paid only 12 months earlier. Sigh.

This revised schedule still left us with about 45 minutes of wait time. Hartlepool Station is the most depressing place in the world. They’ve done the front portion of it up, so the ticket office no longer looks like something from ’28 Days Later’. Unfortunately, you enter the platform, and find it’s a state, with rusting metalwork and more pigeon shit than you can possibly imagine.

EVENTUALLY, the train appeared, and we embarked on another shit journey to Thornaby. You get to view the delights such as the Seaton Carew landfill, and the various abandoned factories along the way. It wasn’t long until the carriage began to stink of fish for the rest of the journey to Thornaby. You couldn’t inhale without feeling the hairs at the back of your nose curl up.

Halfway through this journey, I felt the flies on my jeans come down. OK, that occasionally happens if the locking mechanism of the zip doesn’t fall into place correctly. Imagine my horror when I felt that the zip had totally broken. Yes, my jeans were fucked. Grrr. I spent the rest of the journey trying to pull my jumper over the broken fly, and watching Chris piss himself laughing each time I moved the jumper.

We left the train behind, hoping that my sense of smell wouldn’t be permanently damaged. Thankfully, it wasn’t as the smell of Thornaby station became instantly recognisable.

Six minutes we waited there. It felt like a lifetime. Eventually, the train to York turned up. I liked this part of the journey. Modern train, no noticeable odour. Flip-dot display and LED combo giving the train’s final destination. Nothing unpredictable happened, except I kept noticing that the clock on the train had an extra LED lit up whenever it showed the number 2. I thought it was faulty.

York approached, and we left the train. The first thing that became apparent is that we were both starving, and that a Greggs simply wouldn’t cut it. It was either an Indian, Chinese, or a pub meal somewhere.

After a short walk, Chris triggered his homing-pigeon instincts to the “Tourist information office”, and while he received a map with some places circled, I stood outside, trying to stop my stomach rumbling enough to rupture a tectonic place deep under the ground I was standing on.

We ran like chindren in a playground to the first location, only to be presented with a shitty looking doorway above some shops, complete with scary 1980s vinyl lettering, and an appearance that the place hadn’t been cleaned since that lettering was installed. We gave it a miss, and headed off to another one of the circled locations, though expecting they’d all be of the same type of establishment.

After a short walk in the direction of the next location, I peered down a side street, spying a pub that served meals. They served “Curry of the day”. I was sorted. Chris was happy to choose whatever he wanted from the menu, and I was happy I’d be having a curry at some point.

I went for the chicken vindaloo, Chris went for the Tikka Masala. I spent the time waiting for the meal, watching one of the games machines crash, with the “DISK BOOT FAILURE, INSERT SYSTEM DISK AND PRESS ENTER” message. The owners powered it off and on again, which fixed it for about 10 minutes before it crashed, then rebooted with the same message. Oh dear. I must be the only person in the world that takes notice of stuff like that, and I was tempted to pull out my phone and take a photo. I thought better of it, despite my love of public computer failures.

Shortly after this computer failure, the meals arrived. My curry was indeed very nice, though I thought the portions were a bit small for the price paid. Still, the food was eaten and enjoyed.

We left the pub, and headed off back into the streets of York. This was not before I left my own little calling card with the few grains of rice that had spilled from our plates…


Chris told me he had another pub to show me. I hadn’t originally planned for the trip to be a tour of pubs, but hell, why not! This particular establishment is noted with one of those blue plaques as the birthplace of Guy Fawkes, visible here. It was an odd place. Expensive beer, gas lights, odd people who don’t carry cash – everyone who came in paid by card, even some woman who bought a glass of tonic water that she didn’t want, just so she could pay by card. I listened into the whole conversation, as I’d fallen in love with her accent. I should have asked her to buy me a pint. I didn’t.

Some guy walked in with what could only be disguised as a wolf, on a lead, asking is someone had arrived to stay the night, as the place also had hotel facilities.

It suddently got quiet, so I recall me and Chris discussing random stuff. Our conversation was rudely interrupted (literally) by some guy butting in, saying he was giving a talk about Guy Fawkes in the back room in approximately 6 minutes. We nodded politely, drank up and left.

I got the camera out, and took some photos of York Minster. I already had loads of these, so I took a couple at a jaunty angle, this being one of the best…


Okay, it sucked. I wasn’t really interested in photographing something of which I already had good images.

We walked along the river. Not literally, but the footpatch beside it. This turned out to be the most photographically acceptable part of the whole journey…

Firstly, there was the bridge over the river…


You know, I really should consult something such as Wikipedia and give these structures their proper name. Either way, it reminded me somewhat of the bridge near the hotel in Berlin. Again, I’ll have to look up the proper name of that…

We walked along the river, to the next bridge, which happened to be closed for repairs…

Well, I should hope the bridge works!
Well, I should hope the bridge works!

Wait, hang on, if they say that the bridge works, how can it be closed? I’d be happy to see a sign that says that the bridge works! That way I knew I wouldn’t fall into the river half way through crossing it.

I suggest that this sign is altered to say “CAUTION: BRIDGE IS FUCKED”. Everyone would understand it then.

We went up to the fucked-up bridge and back, but not before I took more shit images, including this…

"Often licked, never beaten". That's what SHE said! ........ I'll get me coat.
“Often licked, never beaten”.
That’s what SHE said!
…….. I’ll get me coat.

You know you’re an adult when you can see “Often Licked Never Beaten”, and can’t think anything but dirty thoughts. I turned my attention from the ice cream van, and to the ducks. It seems that every time I go somewhere that has a waterside location, I take more photos of the ducks than I do of anything else.

I like this particular photo, even though it appears that the duck is either blinking, or it actually has no eyes…


We headed off back to the station at this point, only to find there was about an hour to wait before our train to Thornaby. Some guy missed his train by seconds, and I had to laugh at myself as he karate-kicked it as it left the station. I decided that there was no way I was going to sit at York station for almost an hour, so I announced my plan to either walk about, or find a pub to settle into for the remaining time. Chris followed, and we headed… er… east, I think.

The first pub we entered was literally deserted. Not even any bar staff, so we made a sharp exit, even though I forgot where the door was, much to the bemusement of Chris.

We walked across the road to a pub which, if I remember correctly, was called “The Punch Bowl”. Unfortunately, the effects of the vindaloo were kicking in at this point, so while Chris necked a whisky, I retired to the toilets. It was one of those “I wish I was dead” moments. The toilets stunk, and as I closed the door to the toilet, it turned out I was sharing my experience with a pair of shit-stained underpants on the floor, which must have been there for some time.

I almost took a picture, as I had my phone in my pocket, but I think the important part was simply getting out there as quickly as possible.

We drank up and left, and walked back to the station. Thankfully, there was no waiting time, as the train pulled in as we got there. The journey back seemed to take longer than the journey there. The time was passed by someone leaving a paper behind. I plugged my phone’s headset at this point, in order to allow my phone to scan for nearby radio stations. Turned out there were none. The only thing my phone managed to pick up was general interference given off by the train. Not good. Eventually, the phone picked up some stations, mainly just TFM, which happened to be playing Shakira. At this point, I disconnected the headset.

We arrived back at Thornaby station, hoping to get the connecting train back to Hartlepool. Unfortunately, despite what the message boards said, it had left just before we got there. Fucksticks. That meant that there was yet another 45 minute delay before we headed back to Hartlepool. The sun had gone down at that point, and there was no way we were sitting there for 45 minutes. Off we went to, yes you guessed it, another pub. This particular one happened to be in the shadows of TFM Radio.

I’d have hoped this pub would be good. It wasn’t.

We made our drinks last as long as possible, then headed off back to the station. Thankfully, the train was due, we boarded and they all lived happily ever after.

Yes, even I reach a point where I dn’t be dicked typing anymore!

York City are magic! Magic!!

I thought I’d start off with a Lee and Herring quote, as I don’t think there’s enough of them in this blog. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if that one was my first one. Anyway, it does have some relevance, as I have spent the day in York. Needles toupé I took my camera.

Several days ago, Coatesy made a reappearance on the scene, it was a nice surprise to see him on Messenger. It was the first time I’d heard from him properly since February 12th, after a trip somewhere got abandoned at the last minute.

We got talking (unsurprisingly), and arranged a meet-up and a trip out, to York. This sounded cool. I’d never actually been to York since I was a kid. In fact, I remember getting some type of colouring in / crayon set from there the last time I was there. And Treasure Hunt was still on telly.

Er, anyway. The trip was arranged. I was to meet him at his flat on Saturday Morning at approximately 8:30AM. I awoke at 6AM. After spending the last two days awaiting a text saying that he wouldn’t be able to make it, I was surprised to find my phone void of texts. Awesome!

Anyhoo. I set off, along the moderately short walk from Mercuyvapour Towers to Coatesy’s abode. It was a lovely morning, if a little chilly. In fact, I turned back because I thought it’d be cold enough to require a jumper.

This apparel change, unfortunately made me three minutes late for the festivities, and I arrived on his doorstep at 8:33. He was ready to go, and after picking up a Wispa and a foreign bottle of Dr. Pepper (which smelled oddly of cheese) from the local shop, we headed off towards the train station.

I was surprised to see that the station at Hartlepol has been slightly revamped since my last trip on an English train six months ago. Yes, it’s all been redesigned, and it really doesn’t look right. The platform is still a pigeon and chav infested mess, however.

I am happy to report, however, is that one of the possible reasons that the station hasn’t been done up yet, is because the fares are so damn cheap. £9.60 retun to York. Bimler.

We sat on the platform, awaiting the train which would take us the first part of our journey, from Hartlepool to Thornaby. It’s a journey of approximately six metres. In fact, it hardly felt worth sitting down for it.

My memories of Thornaby station aren’t good. I simply remember a vast expanse of urine soaked tarmac and bricked flower beds which uncomfortably acted as the only decent and non-vandalised piece of seating. I’m happy to report that this is no longer the case. There is a station building, ticket office, proper seating, and even destination boards saying when the next trains are due. These weren’t there last time!

Coatesy informed me of some of the things he’s been getting up to recently, including meeting Ricky Tomlinson, and getting his autograph. Unfrotunately, he didn’t get the pleasure of meeting Duncan Norvelle who was also appearing with Ricky Tomlinson. According to Wikipedia, Duncan Norvelle now lives in Darfield, a place which I have visited, and had a very nice bag of chips at. You may also notice that I didn’t complete that post about Barnsley. Oops.

Er, anyway. Back onto the present day, and back to the trip to York. After a few minutes loitering around the Thornaby platform, the second train showed up. A big, purple, comfortable looking train, manufactured by Siemens.

We picked two of the only seats available, sat facing some odd couple. It was not possible to look forward without staring them in the eye. I think I know every detail about the train carpet, walls, seat design, yet I wouldn’t be able to pick the guy who was sat in front of me for the hour-long journey from a police lineup.

The journey passed pretty quickly, thanks to the playing of the golf game on my mobile with Coatesy, and also the reintroduction of posting stuff to my twitter account.

We arrived at the station, just before 11. The first thing I noticed was… OLD STREETLIGHTS. Oh, man. I was in my element. More on those later, as I’m sure you’ll all be gripped in hearing about those.

It was at this point I whipped out of the camera, and began to take photos…


Yes, I was taking a photo of the streetlight. The Yorkshire wheel is just a bit of an added bonus. Speaking of which, we did go up onto the wheel. And it was great. Whilst up there, Chris rang me to see what I was up to.


I informed him that the trip had gone ahread, and we were indeed in York.

The ride lasts only 13 minutes (according to their website), so at £6.50 it was a bit expensive, but the views, as you can imagine, are stunning. Should you ever go, we were in car number 22. Just so you know that I have breathed in that very same car… oh, and the air conditioning doesn’t work in it. It’s supposed to be lovely and cool. It was more like an oven. This is one of the reasons I look like a beetroot in the above picture. That, and the fact I may have had the saturation setting up too high on the camera….

So, it was time for a quick look at the railway museum. This place is vast, and I’m pretty sure we didn’t get to see it all during our trip round there.

Now, for all of you going there to see the Flying Scotsman, well, you’ll be a bit disappointed. It’s in bits.


Of course, if you LIKE to see old steam engines in bits, then I’m sure you’ll be happy with the sight.

So, after another quick look round, we headed out of the museum and down the road towards York Mister. It was one of the reasons I wanted to go to York. Last time I was there, I wasn’t old enough to appreciate it, but I still remember shots of it burning down on the news.

Before we went there, we stopped off for some food. I opted for a pair of sausage rolls, whilst Mr. Coates disappeared up the road for a Subway. We walked along to a shady little square situated at the end of The Shambles to consume our food products.

Out of the corner of my eye, I spied a market. Now, these things normally mean one of two things… records and lots of cheap fruit. You’ll have to work out for yourself which one of those I’m more interested in. I didn’t really come to buy records, and even though I found a stall that sold records, I couldn’t really buy any. It was still early in the day, and although I was sorely tempted to buy one, I held off the temptation. After all, lugging records around on a day out really isn’t something worth doing.

Next stop was York Minster. This place is immense in every sense of the world. One thing I found really interesting was a “busker”, for want of a better word, sat outside, playing something called an autoharp.


I see that the guy is called Paul Jennison (or at least that’s the names on the CDs he is selling) but unfortunately, Mr. Jennison doesn’t have much of a web prescense, unless I’m just searching for the wrong things.

Onto the Minster itself, then. As I said before, this is one of those places that is just immense.


Remember my rant about Notre Dame being handed over to the gawking tourists, with camera flashes going off every six seconds? Well, I am happy to report that this place has got it right… You have to “buy” the ability to take photos. This means that your average Little Miss Snapalot will think twice about leaving her camera with full flash on, because you have to pay for the privelege! An awesome idea.

The full price for everything (that includes, photo rights, entrance to the tower, entrance to the lower levels) costs something like £9. Now, because there was a private wedding going on (seriously, a wedding in York Minster? How much money do these people have?), we got a discount, so the cost was £7.50. Unfortunately, we were unable to gatecrash the wedding, but I’m sure that Husband and Wife will have a happy three months together before it all ends up getting shat up the wall. Not that I’m cynical about marriage, or anything.

Our first stop was the tower. We thought it was probably best to get the excersise out of the way first of all. There’s a narrow 275-step climb up to the top of the tower. It’s the first time I’ve ever visited a church and had a health and safety warning, and been asked to declare that I didn’t have a list of diseases longer than my arm…

This now ranks third in the “most steps I’ve climbed in one go”. The top three looks as follows…

1. April 14th 2007 – Scott Monument, Edinburgh… 287 steps
2. July 17th 2008 – Arc De Triomphe, Paris… 284 steps
3. September 27th 2008 – York Minster… 275 steps

The walkway for the Minster is almost as thin as the Scott Monument, but not quite. You do also get the chance half way up for a nice view…


This was, however, only 108 steps into the journey. There was still a hundred and a bit to go. No mater how much I liked the view right there, it could only get better the more we got up. And if I’d have just stood there taking photos on a very narrow gangway, I’d have held everyone up.

Another very narrow corridor and set of stairs later, we arrived at the roof, and I’m sure you’ll agree that the views were absolutely stunning…


I mean, have YOU ever seen a CCTV camera that size before? I couldn’t BELIEVE it.

After eight minutes on the roof, we were ushered back down by a woman who seemed eager to get everyone down as quickly as possible. It became quite clear why. By the time we’d got downstairs, the queue was pretty much round the block. Talk about good timing, we only had to wait a few minutes, whereas the people in the queue… well, they’re probably stil there now…

We took a further look around the Minster, including taking in all of the sights of the underground section. This was a particularly interesting section, as you get to see all of the medieval / Roman stuff. It was amazing how it was preserved.

After that, we took one last walk around the minster itself before leaving it and heading towards the arrays if shops. At this point, I was gasping for a drink. The climb up and down those narrow stairs certainly took its toll on my body’s fluid reserves, and before I knew it, I was in a little paper shop buying a nice bottle of Ribena. This is one particular drink I have started to like again, despite not drinking it for approximately 10 years.

At this point, we decided to have a look at the boat trips. There’s a nice boat trip which takes you all they way up the river Ouse to the Tate + Lyle factory, and all the way back round again. When we got there, it was quite clear that the nice weather had influenced the entire population of Yorkshire to come out and have exactly the same idea as us – the queue was about half a mile long. It became apparent that we weren’t going to get on the next boat trip, and we wouldn’t have time to get on the one after that, so we just headed back to the station in order to get the next train. Unfortunately, Coatesy had to attend his place of Employment on the night.

Now would be a good time to mention that his old job involved the manufacture of many things including streetlights, and he could confirm that the Thorn Beta 79 ceased manufacture only a few months ago. Shame. It seemed odd that we were having a conversation about streetlights.

Oh, and I also think that now would be a good idea to copy and paste some links to the streetlight photos I mentioned umpteen paragraphs ago.

To start us off, here’s an example of an extremely rare Thorn Beta 9, gear-in-head…

I think it’s probably the only one I’ve seen in my entire life, so that was a nice surprise. I originally got the name of this lantern completey wrong. Bah!

Secondly, there’s this one…


It’s been identified as a “Thorn Grenville” floodlight. Oddly, if you google that, the only thing that comes up (apart from something about family names) is the reply to my request for identification in the StreetlightingUK group.

After heading back to the station, we nipped into WH Smiths. I was still dying of thirst, mainly because my clothing apparel consisted of black items, and considering this was one of the nicest days of the year, I was sweating buckets. I picked up a bottle of water, Coatesy picked up a paper.

We sat on the platform and watched a train undergo some emergency maintainence. Apparently, one of the doors had jammed, so I whiled away the few minutes watching them trying to fix the doors. I never found out of they managed it because our train arrived shortly after. Again, it was very similar to the one we’d got down there. Nice and comfortable.

After a short while, we were back in Thornaby. Now, it said that the 16:37 train to Carlisle (via Hartlepool) was cancelled, but the following screen said it was still running… how odd. Luckily, the ticket office was still open, so we thought it would be best to check. Coatesy volunteered to ask, and I wasn’t going to argue with that

Now, the oddest thing happened in the queue in front of us. Apparently, some old woman had just got a free ride from Northallerton to Thornaby, as nobody had came around to sell her a ticket. Fair enough, you might think. She’d just walk away with a couple of extra quid in her pocket… no.

She was demanding that she should be charged for this journey. The guy behind the counter looked about as confused as I did. Huh? She’s just got something for nothing because someone clearly wasn’t doing their job correctly, and she feels like she should be the one to cough up?

Eventually, the guy printed her a ticket out, she paid for it…

Guy: “Shall I just bin this?”
Her: “Well, it’s no use to me now, is it?”

Miserable old goat. I bet she’s the type of person that leaves your average customer service rep with a nervous tick.

However, there was still the matter of the cancelled train. Was it cancelled or not? After Ms Moneybags fucked off, it was Coatesy’s turn in the queue. The guy explained that they were testing out a new system, and the train WAS running. Hang on, surely if you’re testing out a new system, the information you give out on it should be ACCURATE? Otherwise, what’s the point of actually redoing the system?

At 16:37 and 2 seconds, the train pulled into the station, We boarded, and took the short journey from Thornaby to Hartlepool, taking in the wonderful sights such as the abandoned Cerebos factory and the various waste disposal sites. During this journey, I attempted to get Daddykins to pick me up from the station. He was cooking the tea, so he suggested I get a taxi and he’d pay for it. Awesome.

Coatesy and I went our separate ways, and I becan the mammoth task of uploading all of the photos, and eventually typing this blog.

All in all, an excellent day, and it has became apparent that if I am going to use this camera properly, I’ll need more than just a 2Gb memory card… all of the photos here!