York holds a lot of memories for me. I did my undergraduate degree in York and even stayed on for a little bit after I graduated; I grew up, fell in love, made friends for life, learnt how to live by myself, got a job, moved in with my boyfriend and accompanied drunken companions to A&E. I loved my University experience but it was pretty intense. I felt heartbreak, crippling self-doubt and learnt to love myself, not without the help of the people I met here. I whizz through York on the train regularly but this trip was the first time I’d stepped foot in the city since I still had friends living in halls. Arriving out of the station and walking along the medieval walls, exploding with cherry blossoms, I almost burst into tears. Everything was so sweetly familiar. It felt smaller somehow. James recently stayed in York with uni friends for a conference and I was so jealous, we had decided to book a weekend to stay just the two of us.
It was bizarre being in York on a weekend – as students we avoided the town centre on a Saturday at all costs. York is excessively popular with hen nights, so on weekends you can’t move for penis balloons and people drinking rose at your favourite cocktail bars. My favourite drinking spot has always been Evil Eye, so we snuck in a couple of midday cocktails to avoid the evening rush. The tables were just as sticky as I remembered, the drinks just as ludicrously strong. It’s a pretty fantastic place (both York and Evil Eye) so if you haven’t been yet, I highly recommend it. It’s probably too small for me at this stage of my life, but I would definitely move back in the future. It has beautiful old architecture, a rich history and medieval cobbled streets, the best Cathedral in Northern Europe (sorry Durham) and a pretty fantastic selection of pubs.
We were so lucky with the weather on our trip, we had a mini heatwave! I got to break out my summer clothes! This meant we spent lots of time meandering outside, took a walk in the countryside and hired a boat on the river for Sunday afternoon. We had lunch and dinner and afternoon tea at the vegan institution that is El Piano because how could we not. We walked along the walls, climbed to the top of the minster, and found the glorious flower bouquet photographed above. I carried it home and admired it on the table in our apartment all weekend. It warms my heart to know there’s a flower guild making bouquets and leaving them as surprises for people. I love flowers, so finding this really was the cherry on top of a perfect day.
I was just as excited about our apartment as I was about returning to York. Over 600 years old and located on Stonegate, it was advertised as haunted, and came with a ouija board and a “beware of the ghost” plaque above the fireplace. The rooms sagged in the middle where the wooden floors had sunk over time, and the individual glass panes fogged around the edges. I know it’s a little tacky, but I love ghosts and the idea of haunted houses. I find the occult and mystical things so exciting, and I always have. The book collection was amazing, particularly the handwritten copy of “The Snickelways of York”. My favourite touch was the visitor book which contained accounts of all the ghostly experiences people have had in the apartment over the years. Unfortunately, we didn’t see any ghosts, although we did have friends over both nights, which might have scared them away. The interior was beautiful too. The four poster bed (with curtains!) and iron-footed bath made me feel like an extra from the Tailor of Gloucester (if you haven’t read that particularly twee Beatrix Potter story, really what have you been doing with your life?) I would stay again in a heartbeat. I love you York.