A week or so ago I began my holiday blog but had to stop when the second part, a trip to York, intervened. Here, briefly, are the edited highlights:
Wednesday 28 July
Flick and I went to see Toy Story 3, talking advantage of the Orange Wednesdays promotion to save some money. Cinema tickets are so expensive and throw in the food (best way to eat it) and it’s not a cheap day out by any means. I had to hand over an arm, a leg and both ears. (Heaven knows how much it costs in that there London). Now cinema chains can use the excuse of a film being in 3D to add on extra charges, like £1.75 just because it’s 3D and £1 each for a pair of plastic 3D glasses, although you can keep them. And don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed the film, but the much hyped stories of grown men coming out of it crying make me mad. Dry your eyes guys.
Part of the afternoon was spent being very patient as I tried unsuccessfully to teach Flick how to ride her bike without stabilizers. Back to the drawing board.
Thursday 29 July
Another away day and another cheap one thanks to membership of the Sport and Recreation club.This time it was the Almond Valley Heritage Centre, which isn’t as olde worlde as it might sound. Sure there are parts dedicated to its former life as a mill but there is much for adults and children to do.
We arrived just before opening so we could take advantage of the quiet to see as much as we could before it got busy. It was a good job too because by lunchtime it was heaving. And this is when the problems started.
There’s an area with five sunken trampolines, which was overrun with kids and watching adults. While most kids were happy bouncing about, two boys, between 6 and 8, were wrestling over them and generally being little shits. This I could bear but not what happened next. While they were rolling about they stopped and one of them gobbed on the trampoline. Then his mate joined in. Since when has this kind of behaviour become acceptable? It was too shocked to say anything.
I was so disgusted that I fetched Felicity and we left. On the way out I spied a woman allowing one of her charges to pee behind a bush; a bush that was no more than ten yards from a toilet. I can understand parents, stranded nowhere near facilities, assisting their precious little angels to do the business at a roadside but when there are toilets close by there really is no excuse.
Just before the spitting incident I had the misfortune to be sharing a bench with two, shall we say, chavvy women. Their conversations made interesting listening.
Chav 1, discussing baby names: “I was thinking maybe Maddie, you know, Madison, for a girl”
Chav 2: “My pal suggested Summer but I thought that was too chavvy”
Chav 1: “I see Susan cut her hair short… for cancer (charity)”
Chav 2: “Aye but she’s a lesbian. She can get away with it”
An enjoyable day of seeing a cow being milked and lunching alfresco and riding baby tractors had been somewhat marred. I’ll stick to East Links in future, even if I have to pay.
I also spotted a celebrity. Well, I say “celebrity”, it was an ex-Rangers player with his over-tanned “glamorous” wife.
Friday 30 July
After an exhausting four days Flick and I plumped for a lazy day at home – it was my idea but she went along with it. We played games (board, card and Wii) and we got all the toy instruments out and had a good old noisy jam. I also introduced Felicity to her first foreign language movie, Belleville Rendezvous. It’s a bit dark to begin with but she stuck with it and she enjoyed it so much she was still talking about it a week later.
Saturday 31 July
Sunday 1 August
Everything was packed for our holiday and I did my weekly radio show, Where The Action Is.
Monday 2 August
Today was a day of transport. The local D7 bus to Inverkeithing train station, the train to York, a Sightseeing bus round York and then a boat trip on the River Ouse.
We had reserved seats and got into them with the minimum of fuss. Unlike some people. What is it about trains that attracts people I affectionately call “dithering fuckwits”? They spend the first 10-15 minutes of the journey working our where they think their seat is, which coach they’re in and what day it is. (On a previous train journey one couple berated two people for being in their seats only to find out they’d got on the train a day early! I kid you not.)
The journey south (cue for a boy band song?) was relatively uneventful although K and I smiled at each other every time the train had let more fuckwits on. We whiled away the time with, amongst other things, Top Trumps Toy Story edition, which we’d bought especially.
We got to York too early to check in so we had lunch in a York train station waiting room. A five-minute walk and the quickest of check ins and we were in our family room.
The 55 minute bus tour took us round York and thanks to our guide Sharon gave us a brief insight in what could visit later and fuller at our own leisure. We liked Sharon because she was straight out of a Victoria Wood sketch, probably played by Susie Blake. At one point she said, “Ee, we’re a right funny lot!” She really did.
The tickets were £10 for adults but you could use them for 24 hours, hopping on and off at will. Preferably when the bus is at a standstill. The bus tour offered half price tickets for the boat tour so we bought a couple up before we got off. He asked how old Flick was and we said “Five”. To which he replied insistently, “No, she’s four!” Who said the people of Yorkshire were tight.
The boat trip was only £3.50 each (except Flick!) and we enjoyed the luxury of a refreshing pint of lager (nearly as expensive as the ticket) as we cruised and waved at everyone on the shore as we bobbed up and down the Ouse.
We settled for tea at Pizza Express and marvelled at how we’d fitted in so much in the short space of time we’d been there.
Tuesday 3 August
It was all about the National Railway Museum today. Now it’s free to get in but knowing what was inside from previous visits we happily stumped up £6 for a guide-book. We didn’t have to but the Museum is worth £6 of anyone’s money.
Our first stop was an area where you could dress up in 1930s clothes and everyone was walking past it but Flick fancied it and we soon joined her. We looked like something off an episode of Poirot. Check me out giving it the Philip Marlowe look!
Tonight’s tea was in the Slug and Lettuce but it was rather a let down after the reliability of Pizza Express. The food was just okay but the service was slow. The people looking after our table weren’t very attentive – it wasn’t as if it was busy – and we decided against dessert or more drinks and left. I made negative comments about the service in their little comments card but I kept it so I could send it directly to head office. They’re still looking for their tip now.
In the evening I finished reading Richard Herring’s “How Not To Grow Up”, which I had thoroughly enjoyed. I’m so glad he seems to have settled down with a nice girl.
Wednesday 4 August
A one hour train journey, via Leeds, brought to us Eureka, the National Children’s Museum in Halifax. We got there before it opened because their website had warned that it got busy. It seemed quiet enough when we entered but an hour later it was swarming with rugrats of all shapes and sizes.
I was impressed with Eureka and there was plenty of things for the kids to pull, push, poke and ping. There are pretend businesses like a bank, garage and post office. We all joined in for the Circus Skills workshop led by two of the guys from Circus Sensible. So much so that Kirsty bought a Diablo from the shop on the way out.
My advice to any Scots planning to visit is to do so at the start of the Scottish school holidays. There direct trains to and from York and we managed to get one of those home.
Today we had our dinner at Ask, a restaurant K and I had visited pre-Flick. As you can see from the picture on their website this particular branch of Ask is stunning and a joy to eat in. They even have two of the musketeers guiding tour parties in and out. The food is great too. Highly recommended.
Thursday 5 August
There was so much we would’ve done in York but time was against us. We only had three full days and we decided on a lazy shopping day. So the York Maze, Castle museum, Jorvik Centre and Steam Rally would have to wait for another year.
The Outlet Shopping Mall is a short bus trip south of town. I was particularly interested in the Ben Sherman and Fred Perry shops – it’s a mod thing – and while I left with a jacket from the former (obviously I paid for it first) I was a bit depressed at the lack of bigger sizes in the latter.
The Ben Sherman sizes are Soho (Slim Fit), Mod (Regular) and Union (Easy Fit). Although Regular must refer to regular Biafran because Union’s “Easy” fit is anything but. It’s akin to wearing cling film. If they had stuff in my odd size I could spend a fortune. Your loss Benny boy.
Returned to town and searched for a local record shop recommended by ex-colleague and would-be Italian Joe, a native of York. I found it all right but it was up two flights of narrow stairs and the size of a BMW’s glove compartment. It was also all vinyl and while I hankered after a Caravelles album I didn’t want to risk it on the train with all our luggage.
Joe also recommended Cafe Concerto, which is across from the Minister, which is HUGE! The food was good but they mucked up some of the order. Wouldn’t stop me going again though. I think we were just exhausted by the time we ordered our scran.
Friday 6 August
From the feeds on Twitter it seemed that all the comedians were on the East Coast line at the same time, albeit on different trains. We spotted Andrew Collins, who was on my radio show last year, on the train in front of ours as he pulled into York.
There were thankfully no hassles getting our reserved seats and we settled in for our return journey to Scotland. It’s great to go away but it’s great to come home.
I retained my crowns in Top Trumps High School Musical 3 and Toy Story but attempts to unify the belts with a win with the Top Gear Cool Cars pack were scuppered by a very sleepy little girl. I swear she was putting it on.
And that, as they say, is that. Roll on October. And Christmas.
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