Today we are going on a courier run to the fine historic city of York. We had known it was on the cards since last week and it was confirmed yesterday. We bought our tickets on the way home from work.
Usually, when we go on runs “up North”, because of the cost, Tigger goes first by an early train to be sure of meeting the delivery deadline, and I follow on later when tickets are cheaper. This time, however, Tigger has been instructed by the company to leave after 9:30 in order to save money, so we are able to travel together.
In order to obtain the cheapest tickets, we have to travel on specific trains. The train out is the 9:30 to Newcastle. We had to reserve seats but as these were not together, we have come into the next carriage and found two unreserved “Priority Seats” near the door. We like these because they have more leg room than standard seats, a point worth remembering if you are a tall person.
The day started overcast and dull with a possible threat of rain but now—beyond Stevenage—shows signs of brightening as I had hoped. This seems to be the pattern of the last few days.
Even at this time of the morning, the train is fairly full, many passengers being on business and using the journey to catch up on paperwork and make phone calls. Free WiFi is provided on the train, so it’s possible to go online without using your expensive broadband dongle.
It is 11:39 and we should have reached York two minutes ago. There was a delay en route for reasons I am not sure of and by the time we reached Doncaster, we were running 20 minutes late. The deadline for the package is 2pm, though, so we should still make it comfortably.
To judge by the way the train is jolting and rocking, we are speeding to try to make up some of the delay.
On the plus side, the weather has brightened as I hoped. There are plenty of clouds but the sun keeps breaking through.
On arriving at York, Tigger sought a bus to the client’s address, hoping to save money for the company. We found the stop for the bus we thought we wanted, but when it came, the driver denied all knowledge of our destination. A passenger then piped up and said we needed another bus “which is usually a few minutes behind this one”.
We waited more than “a few minutes” and decided we’d better go back to the station and take a cab. We did so and delivered the package at 12:35.
By now the sun was shining pleasantly and we took a bus back to town. Tigger asked if the PlusBus ticket was valid. The driver, a rather relaxed-looking gentleman, looked at it and replied “I ‘aven’t a clue, luv”, but waved us aboard regardless.
Back in town it seemed reasonable to have lunch straightaway. We didn’t spend much time choosing but with little ado went into a nearby branch of Zizzi, a chain we had not tried before. I think I would probably give them 6 out of 10, deducting points for not indicating on the menu which items are vegetarian but adding points for amiability.
After lunch we crossed the bridge, passed by a section of the old city wall and walked through a park where we saw some Canada geese browsing peacefully on the grass. Every now and then they would look at us quizzically to see if we had any food for them.
We went through this tunnel under a railway bridge to reach our next destination, the National Railway Museum.
If you are a railway enthusiast you will be in seventh heaven in this place but surely most people will find something to interest them here. The collection is vast and covers the entire history of the railways especially in Britain but also with glimpses of events in other countries.
We went around the whole museum and watched a couple of the films. Half way around we stopped for coffee and to rest our feet. Among the more intriguing exhibits is a carriage from a Japanese Bullet Train, a monster steam locomotive built in Britain for the Chinese railways and an inspection pit where you can see a steam engine from underneath.
Admission to the museum is free and you are allowed to take photos without restriction. This should always be the case but as museums too often restrict photography, it is worth mentioning it when they allow it.
When we had seen enough and emerged from the museum, we made for the station which is close by. We were booked on the 1755 and it was now 5pm (1700). We filled in the time easily enough having a drink and talking about what we had seen.
Aboard the train, we again found that our reserved seats were not together but as there was an unreserved seat next to one of ours, the problem solved itself. The train is quite full, which I suppose is not surprising for a London-bound train at this hour of the day. As I write these words we are pulling into Doncaster. It will not be all that long before we reach Kings Cross and home.
We have now visited York several times and have explored different aspects of it each time. This was a fairly short visit because of our late start but we filled the time and feel that it was worthwhile. There is enough in York to keep us occupied on future visits, so I look forward to our next return.