On Saturday we set off for another visit to York. We had originally intended to visit Fountains Abbey near Ripon but as I couldn’t seem to find a way to get there via public transport, that idea had been quickly abandoned, and we decided to return to York which is one of our favourite venues for a day out. Besides which, K wanted to push J forward as a volunteer in the Yorkshire Dungeon when the lady torturer asked for someone to demonstrate all her torture equipment on. So I booked the tickets online and then picked them up on Friday from the FastTicket machine.
Saturday morning arrived, it was dull but warm, and we set off full of high spirits to catch the bus to take us to Huddersfield train station for our train to York. Our tickets were reserved on coach B, seats 31,32 and 36. The train arrived, we boarded coach B to find some people sitting in our allocated seats. There were no reservation cards in the seats either. Some gentleman sat opposite insisted that they too had reserved their seats but had to sit wherever they could! Huh? Excuse me! A reserved seat means that you are guaranteed to sit together in that particular seat! Someone obviously hadn’t done their job properly and you know me by now, I know my rights!
Leaving J (who had his ‘oh God no! My mothers starting again! She has her ‘thunder’ face on!) sat sheepishly in the first seat he saw, K and I marched down the train to find the conductor. He was in his room right at the end. I knocked and he came out and examined my tickets and the reservation numbers. “Come with me” he said. Hmm. How was he going to handle this delicate situation? Turf them out of our reserved seats? Or (as I secretly hoped) seat us in First Class? We marched back up the train following him. He reached the folks sat in our reserved seats. Saw that there were no reservation tickets in the back. Asked me how many of us there were. Beckoned us to follow him and for my pains and complaints we ended up in spending the rest of the journey sat in First Class! It was obvious what had happened. When a train arrives at the end of its journey and is cleaned and tidied for its return journey, all reservation tickets are usually placed in the correct holders at the back of each seat. Some dickhead had not done this. So all those passengers with reserved seats who meekly got on the train and when they saw that someone was sat in their seats, they just sat elsewhere were idiots in my opinion! Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t the passengers fault who sat down in those seats, it was the fault of Transpennine Express staff not doing their job properly!
We soon arrived at York station after a very comfortable journey where J finally admitted that it paid to complain as he had so enjoyed lowering his first class seat to reclining position and generally had made the most of our situation. Whilst K and I had a toilet break, he waltzed off for a smoke outside the station as he usually does, then we went and booked some tickets for York dungeon from the travel office. We then walked from the station towards the Minster, our first intended port of call. On the way there, we decided to take a walk around the Museum Gardens nearby where the ruins of an old hospital and Abbey are to be found. Here J made a firm friend of a squirrel. A kind lady gave him some cashew nuts to give to the squirrels and he then spent the next hour coaxing a squirrel to eat out of his hand whilst I took a picture of the whole proceedings! Meanwhile poor K had to just patiently wait.
Eventually after a lifetime of ‘clucking and coaxing’ with me trying to get a good picture, we left the park and continued on towards the Minster. If ever you visit York, you MUST take in York Minster. It is a sight to be seen, you can’t really do the building justice with your camera simply because you can’t get its vastness in one shot. We went inside and decided to partake of the ‘Do Everything’ visit which allows you to go up the Central Tower, visit the Undercroft and the Crypts as well as the general walk around the vast Mister itself. And it was here where I made my biggest mistake. I must have left my brains outside because I completely forgot that K has bother with spiral staircases in ancient buildings. We were warned that the climb was not suitable for certain categories of people to take, namely anyone with breathing difficulties i.e hay fever (step forward youngest son who is chock a block with his hay fever) anyone with heart problems (cough!) or anyone who suffered vertigo or a fear of heights.
We began the ascent with K in front. 275 spiral steps. Most of them very steep and narrow. K bravely soldiered on with J behind her and myself bringing up the rear of our trio. At first it wasn’t too bad, but by the time we reached the half way point, which brings you out onto a small narrow walkway on one of the roofs of the Minster, K was beggared. She rested and had a drink. Then we began the last leg of the climb. Hmm. What had I been thinking of dragging poor K up here? We plodded on. Now I began to really panic because she came to a point where she said that she couldn’t go on and would have to go back. Of course we couldn’t do that because there were others behind us coming up and anyway there was no way that you could pass to go back down. J was brilliant here. He and I coaxed her to just take another step. ‘We’re nearly there!’ he kept telling her despite the fact that all you could see above your head was the continuation of spiral steps!
What sort of uncaring mother was I? How thoughtless to expect my poor Down’s Syndrome daughter to climb 275 spiral steps up the Central Tower of York Minster! I felt awful to be honest. Eventually we emerged at the top where there were seats provided, and K sat down with a drink and a well earned rest. The return journey down was absolutely no problem for her but it was with some relief to all three of us when we landed on terra firmer again I can assure you! My legs were so tired they were shaking as we made our way around the rest of the Minster. We had a short break outside before looking around the Undercroft (well a smoke break actually for J). K made friends with a huge St Bernard dog who she insisted was Beethoven. (from the film.)
By the time that we finally ended our tour of the Minster it was time for some dinner so we made our way to McDonalds and from there we then found our way to the York Dungeon. I couldn’t take any photographs in there but they have now introduced a new feature where you all get a photo taken as you start the tour of the Dungeon. One of you has to position yourself in the stocks whilst another pretends to be the executioner with the axe. So we all ‘hammed’ it up for this picture before negotiating the dungeon itself. This time, K clung onto J instead of me as she went round. At the same time she had her hands over her ears so that she couldn’t hear the blood curdling screams. Again, i would encourage anyone visiting London, York or Edinburgh to visit the dungeons, it really is good fun. The staff in these places really do ‘ham it up’ as they walk about with pretend blood all over their faces, dishevelled hair, costumes and big stary eyes! J thoroughly enjoyed the whole thing!
By the time that we emerged from there it was about 16.00pm and we still hadn’t visited the Railway Museum! So we made our way back to the train station (the railway museum is right next door) so that I could check up on my beloved Flying Scotsman to see just what progress had been made. I was to be bitterly disappointed though as it turned out that it still looks exactly the same as it did last year on my last visit! They are now asking for more donations as replacing the boiler and all the other necessary work has cost a great deal more than envisaged previously. I will try and send something to help. It is supposed to be back doing the Scarborough run next year, but……………its not looking too good at the moment!
We had some tea. Well should I say K and J had a Burger King meal each sat on the platform at York waiting for our train home and I just had a cup of tea. I did have a few of K’s chips and one or two of her chicken bites that she offered to me, as usual J offered me zilch. This despite the fact that we had bought him two t-shirts in York because the one that he was wearing had a hole under the armpit causing him to have to keep his jacket on in the heat of the day! It was quite pleasant sitting on the platform cooling down as we waited. Soon our train pulled in and we clambered on board.
The journey back was very uneventful. Our seats were this time correctly ticketed and reserved and J and K both nodded off for most of the journey, so I spent the entire time gazing out of the window at the lovely scenery. On arrival in Huddersfield, we walked up to the bus station and were soon home. Our legs were already beginning to ache. K took a shower as soon as she could, I had acquired a rather nice blister on my left foot which really was painful, but we had enjoyed a wonderful day. I was full of praise for K and how she had battled on up those stairs! Is she the only Downs Syndrome person to attempt and do that climb I wonder? Does she deserve a certificate of endeavour! You bet! More pictures HERE.