Let the Banner of York Fly High

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Keighley: Friday, 30 January 2015

I decided that after all my travels, I needed to rest up and sleep in, so that’s what I did. I got up around 11:00, had a shower and watched a bit of telly while writing up some of my adventures and sorting through the hundreds of pictures I’ve taken already.

I’m quite impressed with how well my camera is holding up. It’s a Sony Alpha 6000 mirrorless with interchangeable lenses, so it’s significantly more compact than a bulky DSLR. I bought it especially for this trip and was worried about its power consumption based on reviews. But I’m getting at least 1,000 shots a day without draining the battery!

I also worked out how to use Levi’s washing machine, so I did all my laundry and hung it up to dry, skeptical about the ability for a clothes rack to dry clothes in the middle of winter. Wandered down the road a bit and got something to eat. I suggested we go out for dinner (my treat) to a place Levi recommended. So he, Julie and myself went to the Balti House Indian restaurant in Keighley — it was delicious.

York: Saturday, 31 January 2015

Today was Julie’s birthday, so I made sure to wish her a happy one before rushing off to York where I was meeting Pirates — Phil and his wife — for coffee. It was good to catch up and discuss what’s been going on. They seemed a little jealous of Australia’s elected and proportional upper house of Parliament. After spending about an hour with them, I walked back down into York.

My first stop was Clifford’s Tower, the keep of York Castle which sits atop a sizeable motte (mound). The keep was built in the mid-13th century, and despite being a ruin now you can still walk up the steps and go inside. The attendant who sold me my ticket asked if I was a UK resident (because if you are, you can give a small donation and claim it back on tax), and was then surprised when I told her where I was from: “You don’t sound Australian!” she said. I went right up the top of the ramparts, where you get an amazing view of York, with the Minster looking surprisingly distant. It was windy at the top, but I did get a good panorama shot. I bought a “ruler ruler” (the shop attendant described it as his favourite joke) — a ruler that lists the kings and queens of England on it, and a poster of the history of England. These are gifts for my little brother, whose birthday I will just miss (so I’m getting him a bundle of stuff for when I get back).

From Clifford’s Tower I walked to York Castle Museum, which has a variety of displays from the last four centuries, including rooms done up to look as they would in the Restoration, Georgian and Victorian eras, as well as sections on the First World War and the 1960s. There’s an entire area — Kirkgate — made up to look like a Victorian era street, complete with school, pharmacy, sweet shop, grocery store and horse and carriage. Two curiosities that stood out were a World War I bulletproof vest (described as essentially useless), and a packet of 007 elastic bands from the 1960s. Consumerism has hardly gotten worse over the last 50 years.

After the Museum I headed back towards the middle of York, and Jorvik Viking Centre, but the line was far too long: as I neared it, I wondered what people were queueing for, and when I rounded the corner I found out. Rather than waste time hanging about (though I’m sure it would be interesting — something for a later trip) I walked up to the significantly less busy York Minster.

York Minster must be at least as big as Westminster Abbey, and is equally as impressive architecturally, both inside and out. It’s crazy how large these buildings are! In the pictures I’ve seen before they don’t look anywhere near as big. There’s a statue of Constantine the Great next to the Minster, who I didn’t know had actually been proclaimed Roman Emperor in York in 306 AD.

Next stop was the York Museum Gardens, which contains three ruins I found were of particular interest. The first is St Leonard’s Hospital, which was built in the 13th Century and was the largest hospital in medieval England. You can walk through the ruins and look at the beautiful ceiling. A short way down is the Multangular Tower that formed the west corner of the Roman fort Eboracum, and was constructed in the late 1st Century. Additions to the tower during the middle ages are evident by the upper part being made of larger chunks of stone. The last ruin I saw was that of St Mary’s Abbey, dating from the 13th Century. As part of the Disestablishment of the Monasteries in the 16th Century (under Henry VIII), it was disestablished in 1539.

My last stop before heading back to Keighley was the National Rail Museum. This is an amazing collection of locomotives and rolling stock. You can get up close to all of the trains and go inside most of the driver’s compartments and carriages. I was impressed by the Mallard — it’s always been one of my favourites, and I loved seeing it up close. The Winston Churchill Pacific-class locomotive is also quite impressive. I started thinking about whether they’ve ever had a Hogwarts Express exhibition and then wondered how the Hogwarts Express works: the train is hidden, the platform is hidden, but at some point it must cross into the real world. How else would Ron and Harry manage to spot it while flying in the car (which didn’t go through the barrier between platforms 9 and 10 at King’s Cross). So does the Hogwarts Express cross into our world, or did they somehow cross into the magical world? Confusing.

I got the train from York to Leeds, and then Leeds back to Keighley where I met up with Levi and Julie, their friend Emma and her boyfriend Matt, another friend called Jenny, Julie’s brother Rob (who looks like the spitting image of Simon Pegg, and also resembles Tintin), and Levi’s workmate Joe. We got drunk, played Cards Against Humanity and had a great time!

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Author: Mozart Olbrycht-Palmer

Pirate Party Australia Deputy Secretary and Press Officer. Former member of the Pirate Parties International Court of Arbitration.