24.04.2011 - 25.04.2011 69 °F
Not as if anyone EVER doubted that we come from fancy-pants royal roots, but back a few centuries, we did have kind of a kick-ass castle in the family.
Mom and I had the luck to get to return there and say hello to the old girl. It overlooks a really steep canyon area, with all sorts of trees and vegetation— almost reminded me of Costa Rica in some ways, with the vines growing up the immensely tall trees. There were oodles of a certain type of teeny while flower (still googling), and it made the air smell like freshly chopped shallots. And yes, we did take a wee nibble of the flower once we figured out what it was. It tasted pretty onion-like, and we felt pretty refreshed after we both came down from the hallucinations. (Apparently both my parents are big proponents of the “when in doubt, try it out” method of plant identification.) Another botany-related aside to any of you youngsters out there, if your mother insists that a particular plant is a nettle (even a variety you’re not familiar with) and you happen to disagree, it’s best not to assert your all-knowing youthful independence in open toed shoes.
The Roslin chapel is being restored at the moment, (and it was Easter Sunday morning) so we didn’t get to check it out, but the castle was really something. It was a little awe inspiring to think about being connected to a place that’s been around for so many centuries before you were born. Seeing even parts of it still standing was truly impressive. Part of the area within the original walls is still being used as a guest house, and there are many lovely walks around the area, including one along the valley floor underneath the castle. It was just breathtaking to see what kind of a view they must have had. (Actually, there was only about a two foot high wall around the whole area, and it was scaring me spitless to see mom leaning over to get better views.) Though there was a lovely cemetery between the chapel and castle, I really didn’t want her to miss London on account of a mere eighty foot drop.
From there we drove to York, which is a lovely little town, home of York Minster Abbey, and has the River Ouse running through. It’s pronounced “Ooze”, which lent itself to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles theme song running through my head for at least 4 hours each time I looked at the water. Given that our B&B was right on the water, it was a tough day for me. The location was fantastic, but the B&B sported the single steepest staircase I have ever been on. The places we’ve been staying are all half-way ancient and not built for the faint of heart, but this place might have been better off with the rung-ladder set up my dad’s boats had in the galley. That might have made it easier for toting bags upstairs as well.
Mom did a little walkies about town while I took another cough syrup assisted afternoon nap, so the evening was spent checking out the cooler points of what she’d found. The city still has the old fortress walls around it, and you can walk along most of it. It
overlooks the Minster, and the outlying buildings (old Treasury house, etc) that have the most immaculate gardens. (If thousands of people were looking down on my garden every week, I’d probably maintain them a little more meticulously. And probably not garden in my pajamas or au natural quite as much.)
Mom found one of the lovely narrow riverboats for sale near our B&B, and briefly considered scrapping this whole moving-to-Alaska thing and messing about on the water for the rest of her life. I rather like the idea of her cruising about the river system of Britain, maybe starting up a mobile pasty shop and serenading the locals with the goofy German songs she used to sing to us as kids.
We visited the Minster the next morning, as it was closed for Easter services on Sunday night. We’d hoped to catch Evensong Sunday night, but our usual repertoire of taking many, many wrong turns before arriving tastefully tardy to our destination was in full effect, so we had to wait till the next day to see things. There was quite a bit of contemporary art on display, one of which was an embroidered panel featuring a scene from the Garden of Eden that was particularly gorgeous. The stitching was just immaculately detailed, from the peacocks down to a very redheaded and topless Eve. The mother of all mankind apparently shares my style of gardening.
The pipes on the organ were surprisingly detailed in their decoration as well, and the woodwork along the top looked about as delicate and intricate as lace. The Minster is undergoing some refurbishment, and they have a display on one end showing the process that the stone cutters and stained glass artists have to go through for restorations.
It was a shame to not get to see the full stained glass of the East Front that’s being worked on, but we DID get to see a good bit of “local colour” (as mom calls it) on Sunday night… Since Monday is a bank holiday, everyone took the liberty of getting dressed to the Nines and going out. Actually, most of the women were a little less than half-dressed, so we’ll say they were dressed to the Fours. Earlier during the afternoon sun, there were tons of families having picnics in the Museum Gardens, but as soon as the sun set and the chill set in, the 20-30 something crowd came out and left the sensible dressing to us fuddy duddies. We’d thought the Scottish girls put the “tart” in “tartan”, but the Yorkie women definitely gave ‘em a run for their money. How those women walk in high heels on cobblestone sidewalks without breaking anything, I’ll never know. I rolled both my ankles at least three times just while wearing flats.
After our tour of the Minster, we grabbed a quick lunch of pasties (flaky crusted little meat pies, mom’s new addiction) and headed off to London.