Reality Conditions

Saturday, March 11, 2006


Time for another "personal" post, a what-have-I-been-up-to-with photos-included for friends and relatives. Today I went in a day trip to York (the "old York"). The trip was organized by the Postgraduate Society of the University. We were there from 10 am to 6 pm approx, more than enough time to walk around the city and see its many charms. It is one of those beautiful medieval little cities so common in Britain.

The first picture shows a typical commercial street in the city centre, and also the little group of people I passed the day with. I should mention that when we were just getting into the city, I saw a place called "Gaucho" and in getting closer I saw it to be an "Argentinian steakhouse". Why is there no such thing in Nottingham???

After having a much-needed cofee (we had left Nottingham at 8 am) we started our city tour by walking along the medieval city walls, which are still preserved in a long part of their extension. There is where the second picture was taken.

Afterwards we went to have a quick look to the art gallery (there was a special exposition on Spanish masters like El Greco) and after that to the cathedral, York Minister, which our "guide to places of interest" claimed to be the largest gothic cathedral north of the Alps. Two questions: is it true? if so, which is the largest south of the Alps? Whatever the answers, York Minister is certainly impressive, as you can see in the third picture (in which I couldn't fit more than one third of the building).

Inside the cathedral, among many other things, one which caught my attention was the line of statues of kings of England you can see in the fourth picture. Probably you can't get to read it, but the next-to last and the last in the line are respectively Richard the Lionheart and John Lackland. Yep, the goodie and the baddie in Robin Hood, at least in post-Walter Scott versions of the story (see here).

After the cathedral we were walking by the street and a fudge store caught our attention. Getting in, we saw that customers are allowed to go to the back of the store to see the process of preparing the fudge. This is a clever marketing device, because the viewing of the process was so mouth-watering that we just had to buy several pieces of chocolate fudge after it.

You can see that the fudge (made with whipped cream, sugar, cocoa powder, and I-can't-remember-what-else) is boiled in something that looks a bit like a cauldron from Asterix, poured on a table, then when it cools it is given shape. Afterwards it is cut into pieces for selling, each of which wheighs about 200 grams. We bought 4 pieces (for the six of us) for £ 13.99, and resisting the temptation to eat them immediately we found a place to have lunch.

After lunch we went to see Clifford's Tower, which was part of the city's fortifications in the Middle Ages. The present tower was built in the 13th century after the old one dissapeared in horrifying circumstances: Following Richard the Lionheart's coronation in 1190, a wave of persecution against the Jews took over England, and many of them were killed or forced to convert to Christianity. (To his credit as "goodie", Richard seems to have opposed and punished the persecution, although one wonders if he could not stop it quickly with his authority as King). In York the Jews took refuge in Clifford's Tower, but they were surrounded by the mob and had no chance of escaping. Then they commited mass suicide and the tower (made of timber at that time) was burnt to the ground. The story is here, together with a picture of a memorial plaque I saw today.

After that we went to see the National Railway Museum, where trains of historical interest can be seen. The most interesting were the Royal Trains made for special use of kings and queens, for example Queen Victoria. It seems that she was the first person to travel in a train with a lavatory, with inter-wagon doors, or with electrical light. I didn't take any pictures there... sorry about that. Afterwards we went back to the coach, eating the fudge in the return journey, arriving to Nottingham by 8 pm and feeling very full.

P.S. I apologize for the messy positions of text and pictures. It is the best I managed to do.


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