Saturday, 30 June 2012

Melpomine & Thalia

Melpomine is the muse of tragedy and Thalia of comedy, they are often depicted as in this stencil above. Or maybe Melpomine is an anti-malarial and Thalia what I will order from the Indian takeaway tonight. It has been a long week.........................

Friday, 29 June 2012

Country Churchyard?

All Saints Church in North Street is in the middle of York with a large hotel to the left and a big concrete office block to the right. Walking by the river last week I stopped to look back and caught this view of the church and the surrounding houses. It could easily be a country church in a picturesque little village couldn't it?.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Wet Feet and Soggy Sandwiches

I sometimes sit on this riverside bench and eat my lunch. Although not today obviously............................

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Ballet Girls

Poetry, yes, I also enjoy a wide range of music including opera, I will go along and see almost anything at the theatre, love Shakespeare, modern art, traditional galleries, you name it I will turn up. Ballet however leaves me cold, not interested, not even slightly curious, tried it once but fell asleep (watching not performing).
So why on earth do I want to read this book? I spotted it in the shop window, shop was closed, I felt almost annoyed. Then I remembered, I love old books, phew that was close I thought I was turning into a balletomane....................

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Family Motto

This gravestone is in All Saints Church, Kirby Underdale, a small village near York, and is one of a number of memorials featuring the same crest and motto 'I like my choice'. Mottoes are often Latin inscriptions and I was slightly surprised to find an English example so investigated further.
Buried here is Edward Fredrick Lindley Wood (1881 -1959) 1st Earl of Halifax. Amongst his many public roles he was Member of Parliament for Ripon 1910-25, served in WW1 as Lt Col Queens own Yorkshire Dragoons, was Viceroy and Governor-General of India (1926-31), Lord Privy Seal and Leader of the House of Lords 1935-37, and Chancellor Oxford University 1933-59. He was also Master of Foxhounds for the Middleton Hunt.
The coat of arms was granted in 1944 so during his lifetime. A life in the service of his country, and also of enormous privilege. I wonder what he considered to be his choice?
Taking part in  Taphophile tragics

Monday, 25 June 2012

When will it stop Raining?

This was the King Arms yesterday following all the heavy rain we have been having. Steel flood door in place and a hosepipe sticking out of the letterbox! Normally the pub is several metres from the river and those tables are a pleasant place enjoy a drink. I have seen the water as high as the pub sign so as floods go this episode is comparatively minor, but still bad enough for those with homes and business affected.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Rodney, you plonker..............

The famous catchphrase of the post title from the BBC comedy show 'Only Fools and Horses gives a clue to the name of this bar. A replica of The Trotters Independent Trading Company staff vehicle is embedded into the wall of where else but Plonkers Wine Bar.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Flying the Flag

Lots of flags around at the moment, some like this are left over from the Jubilee celebrations, others are flying in support of sporting events like the Olympics and the football. The Union Jack is not symmetrical and is often (accidentally) flown upside down, here the folks at the central  library are taking no chances and have hung the flag downwards to cover all bases.
The UK flag is made up of the crosses of St George (England), St Andrew (Scotland) and St Patrick (Ireland). Ireland became a member of the United Kingdom after  Scotland. If St. Patrick's cross had been centred on the diagonal stripes, then St. Andrew's cross would have been relegated to an inferior position. The solution was to divide the diagonal stripes so that the red St. Patrick's cross would take up only half of each stripe, and the half devoted to St. Andrew would take the place of honour. 
Still with me? If so the flag is the right way up if the side next to the flagpole has the thick broad white diagonal stripe above rather than below the red stripe.

Friday, 22 June 2012

York 2012

You guessed didn't you? The Olympic torch came to York this week on it's journey around the UK. The torch bearer here is Danny a local young sportsman who has cycled the UK end to end to raise money for cancer research. As it happened I was standing next to his aunt & uncle in the crowd who were bursting with pride as he jogged past.
It is easy to be cynical about the massive corporate sponsorship deals around the Olympics but the games are bringing a lot of moments to remember to ordinary individuals too. The lasting image of the day for me was a young boy of around 6 or 7 sitting with his granny on a bench outside the library long after the show had passed through the city. They were both concentrating hard on a small camera reviewing the pictures they had taken. As I walked past I heard a clearly delighted little voice declare 'Look Gran, there in the corner, we even got a picture of the torch'. I knew exactly how he felt, a future CDP blogger in the making I think!

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Minerva and the Bus

Yesterdays helicopters were circling above the city to observe a once in a lifetime event.
I doubt even Minerva (top left) who has been looking down on Stonegate for the past couple of hundred years has seen anything like this before. Corporate sponsor logos were everywhere, carried on colourful buses and floats that were almost as wide as some of the streets. A cheerful relaxed atmosphere prevailed despite the security, and thousands of locals and tourists alike all turned out to see................ what I will show you tomorrow.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Is it a bird, is it a plane?

Look closely! Not one but two helicopters over the ruins of St Leonard's hospital. Something is afoot in the city that requires an eye in the sky. Come back tomorrow to find out more.............................

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Rosemary for Remembrance

Around 20 years ago work started to make a Physic garden in a portion of York cemetery. A beech hedge was planted around 30 graves, the turfs that had overgrown the graves were lifted, and herb beds were created by putting kerbs around individual graves. The beds were planted with a mix of culinary and medicinal herbs, and each grave given a carved stone marker showing the name of the herb planted.
Some of the names such as Alecost or Elecampane are unfamiliar but rather charming. I wouldn't mind sharing my final resting place with them, or others such as Yarrow, St John's Wort or Angelica. I would be less keen on Wormwood or Rhubarb, plants sowed on two of the graves above!
The herb garden was intended to be a commercial venture that directly benefited the cemetery but this never materialised. I think I can spot the fatal flaw in this plan, many people I suspect would not choose to buy rhubarb or herbs grown on a grave. Would you?
Taking part in Tapophile Tragics

Monday, 18 June 2012

Blue Bridge

There has been a Blue Bridge on this site since 1738, the present bridge dates from 1895. York has two rivers running through the city centre, the Foss and the Ouse. The Blue Bridge is the last (or first) bridge to cross the Foss just before the confluence with the Ouse, which you can see above in the blog header

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Mediaeval Nanoparticles

In somewhere that is so closely associated with the past it can be difficult to draw attention to the 21st century city. There are 60 colourful and informative pictures around York at present. They are part of York Science & Innovation Grand Tour celebrating the City's achievements in this area.
Nanotechnology emerged in the 1980s and the University of York has a state of the art facility to explore this fascinating area. This picture of a single atom is on a wall opposite the Minster, and in a clever link to the Minster itself notes that silver and gold nanoparticles have been found in the Minster's mediaeval stained glass windows.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Road Train

The National Railway Museum is situated in York. You can take a 15 minute walk from the city centre to the museum or you can travel by train. Just one carriage today but it can have three or four depending on the demand. Irresistible to children, and not a few adults too.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Stormy Weather

A typical York sky at the moment, lots of cloud, a hint of blue, and a big fat rain cloud just waiting to drop its load. Much more of the wet stuff and we all all be needing one of those boats moored next to the Mansion House just to get out and about.
See more and perhaps sunnier skies here  at Skywatch Friday

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Lack of Convenience

Here is a question for all you people familiar with York city centre out there, what is missing from this non-photoshopped picture? 
Yes, that's right, the Splash Palace is no more! Demolished a few weeks ago the whole of Parliament Street centre is being used as a market area once again. For those of you who are wondering what on earth the fuss is about around 25 years ago York town planners took the bizarre decision to site a large block of elaborately colonnaded public lavatories right in the middle of arguably the busiest street in town. As they were directly outside Marks & Spencers (free toilets inside) no locals used them, and as the number of cafes and pubs with their own facilities multiplied few others did too. New facilities nearby (Silver Street) finally made the Splash Palace redundant, now they have been flattened and IMHO Parliament Street looks far better without them.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Save our Ices

It has been raining, very hard, very fast, for a long time. The river is rising, the ice cream cart is in danger............. but relax, fire and rescue are on the scene. Or maybe they fancied a well earned break with a choc ice before the next call out to a flooded property.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Hells Angel?

Several things about this memorial caught my eye. It is remarkably good condition to say it is 300 years old, but that is no doubt due to it's position inside St Mary's church. Then there is the word Presbyter, it is unusual to see this in York where I am not aware of a strong Presbyterian tradition. Next comes the text which is less interested in praising the deceased than in saving the soul of the reader, a very altruistic approach. Then finally there is that fabulous winged skull, usually only seen nowadays on bikers leather jackets, which symbolises the ascension into heaven.
 Even 300 years after his death William Mason comes across as a man with a strong desire to teach people to live a god fearing life, and secure in the knowledge that he would be judged by how well he accomplished this task.
Taking part in Taphophile Tragics

Monday, 11 June 2012

Modern Day Guardians.

This statue is by local artist Ailsa Magnus. It shows a Terry's employee holding a chocolate orange (a confectionery produced locally for many years), a shopper who represents commerce,  and a child, a reference to the future. Members of the local community, including the children at the school featured on the blog here were invited to write down a short phrase, some of which are engraved around the base of the statue. They include:
What's the time?
The past has gone
Do you like cheese?
Why did my best friend move?
Ban broccoli
What would would you have chosen to write? That's a question by the way not another phrase!

Sunday, 10 June 2012

What Big Teeth You Have......

This grotesque is one of a number of winged creatures emerging from the side of St Mary's church. De-consecrated in 1958 the nave of the church is now used as York Art Gallery's contemporary space usually housing a single large installation. Currently it is home to "The Temple of a Thousand Bells" by Laura Belem. This particular winged creature appears to have been muzzled, rather a relief given the size of those teeth!

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Sparrow Friendly Street

The House Sparrow is common throughout the world. In the UK it is almost a national symbol, the chirpy little cockney sparrow was once found in every big city, even London. Since the mid 1970s urban populations of the sparrow have declined by 60%. It is now a red-listed species of high conservation concern. 
Many of the answers to halting this decline can be found in this picture. As I walked down the street I was immediately struck by the numbers of sparrows I could both see and hear busy building nests. It is fair to say that the houses here look a little old fashioned, wooden windows rather than UPVC, wooden gables with the odd hole, an occasional loose tile and missing piece of mortar. One side of the street consists of allotments growing fruit and veg, which means soil instead of gravel, paving and decking.
In short the sparrows have all they need to survive and multiply, the odd nook and cranny near human habitation in which they can build a nest, weed seeds for food, and bare soil in which to dust bathe to remove parasites. Sparrow heaven.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Sunny side of the street

The impressive street light stands in shadow on Skeldergate Bridge, whilst the riverside warehouses  now converted to apartments are bathed in sunshine. All of which makes the buildings look to my eye rather like an artists impression of what might be built here instead of solid bricks and motor.
See more Skywatch Friday pictures here

Thursday, 7 June 2012


Always remember to look up is a good maxim to follow if you want to get the best out of a visit to York.These 3 gruesome locals have been leering down on passers-by in Coney Street for many years now, although one of them is younger than you might think. The devil in the centre had to be replaced a couple of years ago as water from the drainpipe above had soaked into the wood and damaged the previous carving beyond repair.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Vegetable or Mineral?

Which part of this picture appeals to you the most? The red brickwork of the building on the right, the soaring stonework of the Minster towers, or the spring colours of the old tree on Deangate?

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Diamond Jubilee

Today is an extra Public Holiday (although not for me, I am at work as usual) to celebrate 60 years on the throne of  Queen Elizabeth II. There is a lot of red white and blue around, even the charity shops like this one are doing their best to dress their windows with a patriotic royal theme.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Hansom Cab

Joseph Hansom inventor of the patent safety cab was born in York in 1803. He did not make much money from his invention as the company he sold the design to got into financial difficulties and could not pay him. This was a recurring theme throughout his life as a number of his building projects also went bankrupt. He spent most of his life working as an architect building many churches including the Roman Catholic Plymouth Cathedral.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Choose your Spot

Some people like to sit in the shade and others prefer the sunshine. I am a shade person myself, how about you?

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Victorian School House

Built in 1896 this Victorian school is a Grade II listed building that is still in use today as a primary school for children living in York. It's outer appearance could not be more different from the brightly coloured modern school buildings of more recent builds. Daunting or inspiring, what do you think?

Friday, 1 June 2012


Tranquility can be hard to find in a city as popular as York. There are quiet out of the way spots of course, but to me tranquility is finding one of the main thoroughfares with no one else about except perhaps another early riser. The picture above shows two views of The Shambles taken about four hours apart.
Click here to view thumbnails for all participants
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