16 April 2006
Hurrah, it’s spring. Here are some daffodils on the bar walls, on Queen Street near the station, photographed during a long and winding wander through York.
I always expect public holidays to have really disappointing weather – maybe because I remember so many that have been like that. But this Easter Sunday the weather was great and York was full of happy looking folk milling about, many heading for the new big wheel.
Above left – the beautiful arches of the station’s curved roof. The photo above right shows the city walls with their daffodils through the frame of York’s Railway Institute buildings, where we’d gone to have a look at an old water tank. Yes, we do have glamorous days out, don’t we.
The wheel is visible from many places. No doubt the novelty will wear off, but at the moment it’s exciting every time you get a different view – as here, when I saw it for the first time over the top of the station, by the corner of the city walls. I liked the combination of the stonework, the station, the daffodils and the wheel, but unfortunately just as I raised my camera to capture it, lots of people deliberately drove into the photo from every conceivable direction, just to ruin the whole thing.
Doesn’t everything look so much better against a big blue sky. Here’s Micklegate Bar – its impressive outer face, welcoming everyone entering from the south. Well, actually, it was originally not there to welcome people but to keep them out. Still, we’re a lot more friendly these days, honest. Though we didn’t like the people who were clambering about on the walls, squashing the daffodils . . .
And here’s a rare thing – Blossom Street with no traffic – well, one car. The last time I saw this was Christmas Day. On this occasion, it’s not because there’s no traffic on the roads, it’s because it’s all squashed up around the corner in Queen Street (see above), which was absolutely choc-full. I found this traffic-less state on Blossom Street rather unnerving – like the Queen was coming. (She normally makes her approach this way, and gets serenaded by trumpeters on Micklegate Bar (which is visible at the end of the road, in the distance)).
We’re at Rowntree Park – its handsomest bit. By the lake, this sweet building, with a dovecote in the side. White doves were preening in the entrance.
The rest of the park was busy with people of all ages. There were also people feeding the geese, even though there are signs asking people not to feed the geese. There’ll be letters to the press about it, no doubt. And god help us if any of the wildfowl die – DEFRA will be expected to arrive within minutes.
Exiting the park, and turning right, we approached Millennium Bridge, a busy, buzzing spot. There was a continuous stream of people crossing the bridge, loads more approaching, people on bikes, people walking dogs. It reminded me of the 18th century (no, younger readers, I wasn’t alive then) when I believe the custom was to promenade up the riverside – on the other side – a section we’re coming to soon.
On the opposite bank, heading back towards the town centre, there’s this odd little building called the Pikeing Well or Lady Well, designed by the famous York architect John Carr in 1752.
There is a well in there – you can see it through the gate if you peer in, though it doesn’t look very impressive filled with empty lager cans, but then what would. In the old days, before people treated it like a litter bin, the waters were said to be good for sore eyes. I could do with its help now as I’ve been looking at this screen for hours.
The pathway along the river bank, looking along the river Ouse, towards the town centre. Beautiful blue sky and even the river looks clean. And lots of new April green.
In the 18th century the people of York used to walk along the riverside here, promenading in their finery. We had no finery, just our usual scruffy clothes, but we had just as fine a time.
Approaching the Blue Bridge, across the Foss, at the confluence, where the Ouse and Foss meet. That floodgate thing in the distance is suddenly surprisingly handsome – never noticed that before.
Regarding the confluence of the rivers, this is one of three things I remember learning about in geography at school – another was that the limestone from the bar walls came from Tadcaster. The other thing was about oxbow lakes – never found one of those though.
As we approached the city centre, on the place that we always called St George’s Field – though for at least the last twenty years it’s been a car park – the fair is here.
Around the perimeter were lorries and caravans – including this rather striking lorry, decorated with pictures of ladies with unfeasibly long legs.
Near to the "We Will, We Will Rock You" lorry above we caught a glimpse of a slumbering monster, apparently forgotten behind the main show. Frankenstein was lounging about like a broken thing – but we all know the story, don’t we, and he doesn’t look exactly relaxed, does he – look at that scary hand. Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid. Okay, you’re not, never mind, let’s move on.
Back in the busy shopping streets – here’s a photo of the recent development on Spurriergate – covered with hoardings and still in progress during the Christmas holidays, but fully open for business now – though not sure if it was open on Easter Sunday. Still, it looks okay, and better than the grey concrete thing that was there before.
This wander started with flowers, so let’s end with them too. In the Museum Gardens, there’s a large bank of daffodils, roped off, to stop invasion from the daffodil squashers mentioned above. The display was looking a bit tired, but my attention was drawn to the contrasting blue of these anemones, nestled behind a young tree, and still looking fresh. With these flowers I wish all visitors to this site a happy springtime season, full of bounce and vitality.