Monday, 1 September 2008

So good, they named it once

So we went to York. We only had a day there, but we did the things one does in York - 'wow' at the Minster, which no matter how often you see it, still looks bloody spectacular); shove and kick German and Dutch and Japanese and American tourists out of the way in The Shambles (I don't think I've ever been surrounded by so many tourists in one place - as you can imagine, I loved every one of them); buy some pointless overpriced tat; eat well.

This latter brings us to the most amusing part of the break - our host at the B&B (previously mentioned for his remark when I made the original booking here). It's fair to say he lived up to expectations as a wonderfully entertaining cross between Basil Fawlty and Frasier Crane. You get the feeling that here is a man who secretly loathes his guests with all their asinine questions and requests, and so goes out of his way to second guess every eventuality by publishing his own guides and instructions on where to visit, what to see, how to behave whilst under his roof ("please allow time for your breakfast to be cooked - we do NOT own a microwave"; "you do NOT need a bathmat, your bathroom floor is specially treated to allow wetness, however if you REALLY MUST have one, feel free to ask and one will (grudgingly) be provided") and most important of all - where to eat.

So, after a short questionnaire to ascertain our specific tastes and dietary requirements, Frasier Fawlty proceeded to tell us exactly where we should dine that evening - from his own handpicked list of "recommended" eateries. He even went so far as to draw us a map and show us the menu on the internet. All very helpful, and polite, and amiable - if a tad patronising, in a "you're obviously far too stupid to be allowed to make a decision like this yourself" kind of way. But anyway, though we did go as far as to check out his recommendation... we ended up choosing another restaurant a little further up the same street. And a mouthwatering repast we had there too. But Louise, of course, just couldn't wait to confess to FF our willful disobedience...

"You went where?!? Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear!"

"We really enjoyed it."

"Yes, well, I'm afraid I had to strike that particular establishment from my list after our last experience there when I'm certain he served me reheated duck. And when I questioned his culinary credentials, he had the temerity to tell me, 'it's duck, sir - duck is supposed to be pink!' - as though I don't know what colour duck should be! The outrage! The absolute outrage! Needless to say, we won't be dining there again..."

I can still see him, shaking his head in my rear view mirror as we drove away from York... and on to Beverley, of which more tomorrow. Probably.

Oh, it's good to be back.


Penelope said...

It's good to have you back!
I haven't been to York or Beverley in years. Absolutely loved your desciption of Frasier Fawlty. Why do I think that only you could end up somewhere like that? ;o)

Tenon_Saw said...

But did you have your cartoon drawn by the street artist? (

Brother Tobias said...

FF sounds wonderfully entertaining. Would make one want to reverse usual practice by leaving little bottles of shampoo and boxed shower caps in the bathroom, just to enjoy the thought of him finding them after you've gone.

The Poet Laura-eate said...

Fantastic post Rol!

Sounds like your host was at least as memorable as York!

York is gorgeous though - sadly I have never stayed there more than a day myself, but I'd love to spend a long weekend there sometime.

Must just avoid your B&B though. Then again any B&B I chose would have to do a good veggie breakfast, so that might rule him out in any case.

Steve said...

I've spent many a great holiday in York - really love the place. Nice atmosphere, great food and tonnes to see and do. And you had good weather too. I thought the sun was only meant to shine on the righteous? ;-)

Welcome back!

a Tart said...

So glad you're back, Rol! Having never been to York I find it comforting, at least, to know that wives are the same everywhere: tattletales.

And I quite agree with you on the nature of American tourists, we're awful, even at home. Don't stay away so long next time! xoxoxo

The Sagittarian said...

Fantastic photos...I love old stuff (just ask The Stud)...sounds like a good break was had. Pleased the ol' codger lived up to expectations.

SwissToni said...

I used to live in York, so I've never had the pleasure of a B&B there... if I ever need one though, I'll know who to ask for a recommendation. He sounds brilliant.

York Minster, incidentally, is my favourite cathedral in the country. I just love the sense of space (even better if you catch it on a day when they've taken all the chairs out of the nave). I also love the wonky choir screen with an extra Lancastrian king tacked onto the end, but with the story that Richard II actually has Richard IIIs head, put their by lovesick Yorkists sticking two fingers up at the Tudors.

Oh, I studied medieval history there. Does it show?


Rol said...

Penelope - well obviously, I seek out like-minded souls.

Tenon Saw - we did see him, but the queue of tourists was just a little too long (i.e. there were two people waiting).

BT - you should have seen his face when I asked for Green Tea (which *was* on the menu, along with every other herbal variant you could think of). "There's always one!"

Laura - no, veggie breakfast was also on the menu... in fact, I defy you to think of *anything* that wasn't!

Steve - I guess the sun in York just ain't too picky.

Tart - Louise would ask me to point out that we're not married. As to my xenophobia, it's not merely directed at your own countrymen... but anyone from anywhere outside of Slawit itself.

Sag - I forgot to mention that he was also an expert at exactly how many guests all his competitors had that day too. "They're empty, they're empty, they've got two - we're FULL!"

ST - being that I gave up history some time after the dinosaurs, you could tell me anything and I'd believe you.

SwissToni said...

did you ever read "Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell"? there's a bit in that where a guy makes all the statues in York Minster come to life and start talking. great scene.

Did you know that England contains half the medieval stained glass in Europe, and York Minster has half the medieval stained glass in England?

True that, as it goes.


Rol said...

Afraid I didn't get that far in the book - I found it all a bit overwritten in a kinda Dickensy way. Sounds like a cool scene though.

But like I say, you can tell me anything...

anglopunk said...

I've been to York several times, and I've always found it a rather magical place (could be the fact I'm a Canadian who longs for anything more than 100 years old). I even set one of my short stories there when I was 18.

And as far as Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell - I had the same reaction of tedium to the Dickensian style until I got to the second volume and by the end of the book I was very impressed with the amount of themes woven into the storytelling and the sheer wit of some of the scenes. So, I would recommend giving it another go.


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