Showing posts with label York. Show all posts
Showing posts with label York. Show all posts

Saturday, 17 August 2019

Legoland Day 2 - York to Windsor

Thursday 8th August

The Bar Convent was a really nice place. Not only did it have a wide selection of tea and coffee in the room, there was a large basket of biscuits. We all had a great sleep despite things going bump in the night. Not the ghost of a dead nun but N waking up in the dark, wandering around and banging his leg on the bed before I lead him back to the bed and he immediately conked out again. In the morning he had no memory (or bruise) of the occasion.

The Artful Dodger, York
Had a delicious breakfast of scrambled egg on toast, fruit and cereal in the covered central courtyard. (Would have had it in the garden but the seats looked a bit hard for my sore left butt cheek.) They even kindly printed out our tickets for the first day at Legoland. Nuns, eh? Nice folk. Who'd have thought it. No singing of "The Sound Of Music" or "Spoonful of Medicine" but you can't have everything. Am I asking too much?

At 10am we checked out and left our luggage (safely? Nuns are kind, but are they security conscious?) behind reception while we forayed back in to York for the morning. Our train was just before 1pm so we had time to go back to the Shambles and wander around again. N wanted to see the wand shop a second time but I was already getting sick to the back teeth of Hewlett Packard. 

The River Ouse, York
On the way there we passed a really nice old bookshop complete with movable ladder to reach the upper echelons. But no matter how great it felt to be in the shop inhaling disintegrating tome dust and the desiccated skin cells of long dead authors, no titles jumped out at me. 

In the next charity shop down though (Oxfam, same side of road) which also had a great selection of more modern books and records, the autobiography of Richard Prior called 'Prior Convictions' immediately leapt into my hand and began reading itself right then and there. I finished it over the course of the next two days and it's safe to say he shielded me from the full brunt of Legoland with his honesty, wit and insight. It is far and away one of the saddest most tragic stories I've ever stumbled upon. I had no idea the poor comic was so tortured. If you ever feel like your life is in the toilet and there's no way on for you, read this.

WoodsMill, River Ouse
Got train to Kings Cross (where we saw Platform nine and three quarters - Blimey! How much pop culture can one book idea spawn!?), Subway to Paddington, Train to Slough, Train to Windsor, walked to Oscar's Hotel, checked in and walked back to station to have dinner at Bill's Restaurant, where I had a beer and a Halloumi Burger and N had lemonade, beef burger and sweet potato fries and I have no memory of what M had. The Total came to £59 including 'Optional 10% tip' which was completely optional. Completely. But if we'd not wanted to pay it we might have had to say, "Er, excuse me, could we please change this tip to 7.5%? Because the seats were uncomfortable for me as I have a sore left butt cheek. No offence."

York sports many lovely pubs with abundant flowers
Oscars was (one of) the cheapest hotel(s) we could find in Windsor and had a wide variety of reviews from shit to shine, but we weren't that bothered with luxury, just needing a warm safe clean place to get our heads down while going to Legoland.

Funny thing was though, when I booked the hotel over the phone, the receptionist had a problem with the credit card machine running out of receipt paper and indirectly (or not) double-charging us. I called her back and she assured us they would refund the money when we get there... 

Oscars was cheap and cheerful but at twice the price we could have stayed at a real hotel made out of real Lego. When we checked in, the receptionist explained again how the mix up occurred. "Yes, I understand why the mixup occurred. I just want my double payment money back." But she said she couldn't access the bank account to make the refund. The manager would be here on Saturday to sort it out. 

This was going to put a whole dampener on the holiday. Instead of getting high strung at children screaming and frothing at the mouth because their parents won't buy them the next bit of plastic waste in this instant gratification capitalist hell-pit, I'd be distracted by whether or not Oscars was going to screw me over and how to deal with it.

And many artful but dodgy old houses
It occurred to me that if they hadn't paid up by our time to leave I would stand up straight with my chest expanded, hands up, palms out and say, "No! We are not leaving until I am refunded my double payment! We will stay twice as long if needs be to get what we've paid for!" But then I realised that would actually be in their favour, so decided against it. 

If the manager turned out to be a grouchy blue muppet in a bin I would be having strong words with his operator.

Windsor Castle, Windsor, hence the name
Incidentally the Oscars car park was completely empty making me wonder if we were the only guests, but the room itself was fine.  No biscuits though. Would it have been a sin to steal biscuits from a convent?

NB : This is Day Two and we still haven't even set a foot in LegoLand. That all happens in the next section. Stay tuned!

Friday, 16 August 2019

Legoland Day 1 - Yorkward Bound!

Wednesday 7th August 2019 

Watched Kung Fu Panda 3 while eating breakfast and getting ready to leave. I keep trying to find wisdom in Kung Fu Panda, as if it's some kind of deep form of metaphysical advice helping me find 'The Way'. But alas I have to keep reminding myself it's just a cartoon for kids. And yet, it seems to make a lot of sense. Inner peace. Be yourself. Be the best you you can be. A dramatic entrance is vital because the battle of the mind begins before the battle of fists.
View from the train
Left on foot with all our bags at around 10:20am and walked to the station. Managed to print out some train tickets to York at the station and took the train into Edinburgh Waverley, which was mobbed due to the Edinburgh Fringe. M insisted on taking an earlier train so we didn't have to rush for our connection at Waverley so instead ended up having to stand around for longer than necessary.

Micklegate, York
The queue for the toilets in Waverley was really long for the ladies and non existent for the men. Made me think of gender inequality. Didn't seem fair that women should have to wait for the toilets. Were gender neutral toilets the way forward? Or more cubicles for women? Or urinals for women? I didn't know. 

Smartphone zombies everywhere. Well, two. I think it should be permissible to throw a cream pie into someone's face if they are walking and looking at their phone at the same time.

Finally got on a really nice LNER train with red seats and mini screen displays telling us whether seats were reserved and where from/to, which is a nice change from having to check the white paper slips stuck in the back of the seats that I remember. Also very comfy and quiet, with air conditioning. N, M and I got a seat altogether at a table, prebooked. The train tickets seem to cost as much as the hotels. Why so expensive? Probably due to above. Made me wonder if maybe we should have just taken the train all the way to London in a oner rather than splitting it up over two days.

After playing slappy, thumb wars, and one potato two potato, we had some rather delish onigiri and I started work. The wifi seems not bad, and we have a plug socket, so I can relax in the knowledge that we'll arrive at our destination fully charged.

Looks like a right 'Shambles' to me!
As we passed what I believe was Torness Nuclear power station at North Berwick I couldn't help wondering why nuclear power stations all look like factories of death. Someone should really work on their PR. Maybe paint some mutated flowers on them or giant Hello Kitty's bleeding from the eyes. 

Right now I'm editing the wedding of D & Y, the chapter of the surprise Italian opera singer and Scottish chef, which happened right after dinner when everyone was bloated and sitting like overstuffed armchairs. Not bad, but I think Zombie singing waiters would have been an improvement. The next big thing for weddings, I'm convinced. They serve, they sing, bits drop off. Entrails slither out. They attack and eat the guests. The bride and groom have to fight them off with the big sword they use to cut the wedding cake, or a double headed axe hanging on the wall.

We've decided to break up the five hour train journey from Edinburgh to Windsor by stopping off halfway at York. Never been there before so quite looking forward to it. First night in a working convent so hopefully it has lots of history and ghostly nuns drifting through walls etc.

When we got to York at 2:30pm, and after checking in at the Bar Convent (Spanish style with central courtyard, tiled floor and garden) we set off in search of the famous 'Shambles' which apparently was the inspiration for Diagon Alley in Henry Potter. HP shops abounded in the tight, tourist trapped, tunnel-like terrace, so much so that I felt we'd stumbled into a Henry Pinter amusement park with posters of the old wizard Dusseldorf and villainous Scrape standing around with their wands out.

Bar Convent Hotel : Recommended Stay
N wanted to buy a blank notebook with a great leather cover depicting a dragon and latch, and since he'd recently finished his Happy Self Journal I was in half a mind to buy it. Unfortunately the other half of my mind wondered if perhaps we could get a cheaper one online. So we put it off until our next visit on the way home.

The ceilings in Bar Convent were extremely low and I was painfully conscious of bumping my head at some point. Fortunately due to the ubiquitous 'Mind Your Head' signs I didn't forget to take my head with me when we left.

Mind Yer Heid!