- Thursday, 4 June 2015

A Day In York

By some wonderful twist of fate, York yesterday was extremely sunny and actually very warm. Yes, I too am as astonished as you are. Having had gale force winds and an unfair amount of rain and chill-factor lately, it was very lucky that on the day I decided to venture on a little York exploration, the sun decided to come with me. Much appreciated, sun, please feel free to do that every time I go anywhere.

Anyway, my trip into town began when I left the uni campus at 11am, and I only found myself returning at just after 5pm. A solid six hours of hugely enjoyable wandering and adventuring through the city (a VERY significant portion of which was spent in Waterstones aka the best shop on the planet - post on the books I bought coming soon!), which I very much plan to repeat. Here, in JPEG form, is some of what I got up to.

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Probably one of the things York is most well-known for is Bettys Tea Room. On a prominent corner of St Helen's Square, this creates, without a shadow of a doubt, the largest queue for any attraction in York (yes, about a million times longer than queues for all of the nights out put together) and quite possibly the largest queue for any afternoon tea on the planet too. (Although I'm a tiny bit less confident on that last claim.) I'm already saving up for the full afternoon tea experience, because I feel like I can't quite justify living in York and never going to Bettys.. also I just really like scones.imogenmolly.blogspot.co.uk

Bettys also has a little café shop in the Shambles (very like the Lanes in Brighton, I think? And very.. shambolic) where you can sit in for a nice hot chocolate or try one of the vast assortment of swish and swanky teas, and also buy sweet treats and teas and various lovely kitchen things like Bettys aprons and tea towels and all sorts. (I love it all. I want to be Betty.)

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St Helen's Square is also a popular spot for buskers, as is York generally. On a nice weather day you are guaranteed to see (and hopefully hear) at least three or four street musicians and performers. I'm a big fan of The Y Street Band, who also happen to be playing at the University of York Summer Ball next week, and pictured on the left here is Matt Philpott, whose album is launching later this month.

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Although at first glance York may seem a quiet and relatively 'tame' place, there are actually an incredible 365 bars, pubs and clubs (as was drilled into us in Freshers' Week - "one for every day of the year!") The Punch Bowl is a nice one, but one that really completely absolutely deserves a visit is Evil Eye - supposedly frequented by the one and only Johnny Depp when he is in town, this cocktail bar doubles as an Asian restaurant with humongously extensive menus for both food and drink. Even if just to see the vast array of all the different bottles looking snazzy behind the bar, Evil Eye is well worth a visit (although you may have to queue for a short while - yes, it really is that good.)

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It's not just the nightlife that is impressive; the shopping in York is also very good. As well as the ever-photogenic Lush and the usual culprits that you would expect for high street shopping (Zara, H&M, Topshop - all with the most amazing summer stuff in right now that I am just besotted with, reminiscent of Spell and the Gypsy Collective whose clothes I would happily furnish my life with forevermore if I could), there are also loads and loads of lovely independent shops that are well worth checking out. The wide selection means that not only is there something for every taste, there is also something for every budget (students: this includes you).

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York's other must-see attraction: the Minster! This magnificent building really is a sight to behold; photographs can't really do it justice. Guided tours of the minster and the tower are available or you can wander yourself and just take in the sights. Bonus: if you happen to be a York resident, proof of your Yorkness/Yorkage/whatever you want to call it can get you in for free! There are also concerts and events held here frequently, and I have it on good authority that the upcoming performance of Benjamin Britten's War Requiem by the University Choir accompanied by the University Symphony Orchestra is going to be very very very good.. (Wednesday 17th June, it will be great, tickets here).

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Food. The food scene in York is extremely wonderful and majestic and generally brill. The York Roast Co is effectively a carvery in either sandwich or Yorkshire pudding form. Unusual, yes; pure genius innovation, YES. All you have to do is look at the menu and you will get an idea of how perfect this is on a chilly day when it's a bit past lunch time and you're just ravenous for something warming and comforting. This is it. A full Sunday roast dinner masquerading as a roll/Yorkshire pud for optimum portability.

If, however, a roast with all the trimmings doesn't float your (gravy) boat, then you may be in search of something healthier. York boasts more than its fair share of healthy eateries, namely the Shambles Kitchen (more about that below) and Filmore & Union. Filmore & Union is a healthy restaurant with a delicious menu featuring almost entirely gluten free dishes, who pride themselves on their use of nutritious, natural, good-for-you ingredients. The menu is even complete with vegan, vegetarian, dairy free and paleo options so there really is something for everyone. Not only is the food fantastic, I also really love the decor and atmosphere inside the restaurant - if you fancy nourishing yourself and feeling very zen then I fully recommend a trip here. They also have a little café in York train station where you can chill out for a bit with something wholesome and scrummy while you wait for your train too!

To round off your York gastronomic adventure, there's nothing better than the renowned (and for good reason) Fudge Kitchen. The extensive range of flavour combinations is enough to keep you going back for days on days on days, even if it is just for the free samples.. Don't pass up the opportunity to do a fudge-making course yourself, though! At £60 for two people it might seem like a lot, but for that you get six slabs of fudge which are usually around £5 each which covers your £30, and then you effectively get to make the fudge for free. I have also heard that you can pretty much eat as much fudge as you can during the making process too, so really it's a bargain. All I need to do now is clear some space to store all the endless fudge I'll be making. Goodbye, course textbooks, FUDGE COMING THROUGH. Fudge is more important. Fudge. It doesn't really sound like a word any more. Fudge. Fuj. Phujj. What?

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Take a stroll down the Shambles and you'll find yet more of the treasures of the city, from the higgledy piggledy buildings that are so iconic of the area, to hidden gems such as the very highly-rated Shambles Kitchen (on my 'must try' list!). Another source of healthy but equally delicious food, the Shambles Kitchen only opened very recently and has been a massive hit from the off, finding a niche for smoothies and healthy fast food. From their hearty, daily-changing street food boxes and soups to their popular wrapinnis (toasted wrap-paninis, in case you were also confused), there is a whole selection of flavours. This is one of those 'healthy but you wouldn't know it' places - i.e. it is all good for you but tastes super indulgent. Definitely a win.

Weather permitting, you can then cleanse your palate with an ice cream from one of the many (MANY) ice cream vendors dotted around town. Some of these are permanent fixtures, so you don't even need to bargain on summery weather (although it's questionable whether you would actually want frozen food on a less than melty-weather day.. you do you, though.)

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Whilst wandering the Shambles and having approximately zero idea of where I actually was, I ventured down a little alleyway behind a café and found myself in a massive opened-out square with a market that I didn't even know existed. I knew of the market on the aptly named Market Street right in the centre of town, but I hadn't come across this one before. Due to having spent a ridiculous amount of time (I would disagree on 'ridiculous', but it was a very long time) reading through all the recipe books and all the fiction books in Waterstones, it was mid-late afternoon by the time I stumbled across this market. This was lucky for me, as it meant that stuff was going cheap, yeah buddy. Two punnets of raspberries for £1 (the last of which I am munching on as I write this, having had a whole bunch with my breakfast this morning - post on that coming soon too), four avocados for £1, and three very slightly overripe peppers for 50p. Not a bad lot at all! I roasted the peppers with olive oil, salt and pepper last night so that they would keep for longer, and am going to put them in a quinoa salad to serve as sunny summery lunches for the next few days.

All in all, a very successful and really lovely day. 10/10 would recommend. Keep an eye out for posts on the books I bought, the breakfast I made featuring the raspberries, and various other bits and pieces that haven't quite been fully thought through yet!

*All photos in this post are mine. If you wish to use any, please ask my permission and credit me!*

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4 comments:

  1. Loved your York tour!

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    1. Thank you, really glad to hear it! York is definitely worth a visit and there will be more posts on things to see and do here soon too!

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  2. This is great! My family and I are going to be visiting York in the summer. I can't wait to try out some of these places. Thanks for the tips!

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    1. Thank you so much! That's fab, these places are definitely worth checking out, glad you found this useful!!

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