My Holiday in York
In May 2023 I took myself off on another solo trip – the second of many in 2023! – this time I visited York. This was the first time I had visited this stunning medieval city.
I stayed for two nights, and really one would have been enough for what I wanted to do. But I had the chance to take lots of photos and get video content for TikTok.
Day 1: Arriving in the city
I left Kings Cross Station at 11 am and arrived at 1:30 pm. It was a really smooth and quiet train journey, and the walk from the station to the centre of York was 10 minutes if that.
York reminded me a lot of Canterbury and St Albans, two other cathedral cities which I know well. Everything around you feels old. From the ruins of old buildings, old city walls and countless plaques marking the spot.
My hotel check-in wasn’t until 3 pm so I took myself off book shopping, as per my normal routine. There are about six bookshops in the centre of York, and then you’ve got countless charity shops, so I was walking about for a good few hours.
Bookshops, Hotel & Dinner
I visited The Portal Bookshop, a specifically LGBTQIA+ bookshop just off The Shambles, as well as The Little Apple Bookshop and the narrow Minster Gate Book Shop. I picked up x2 Alan Bennet plays, a historical fiction I’ve been after for a while and an Oxford World Classics edition of As You Like It by William Shakespeare.
By 4 pm my back was killing me! So I headed to the hotel and checked in. The hotel room was small and felt half-finished – I think the hotel was still undergoing some post-pandemic renovations – but it was comfortable and there was a waterfall shower.
I had a rest for a bit, reading my book and watching some TV before heading down to dinner later that evening. I ate at the hotel restaurant and had a posh prawn cocktailer – posh because it also had scallops – and chicken supreme. After eating my fill I headed back out to admire The Shambles and the York Minister as the sunset and the crowds had dispersed.
Listening to the bells of York Minster in the crowd less streets was definitely a moment for me.
Day 2: York Minster
On Day 2 of my trip, I started the day with scrambled eggs on toast before heading to the York Minster at the opening. For £13, I spent a few hours admiring the amazing architecture of the grand cathedral.
It’s famous for its countless stained glass windows, which were stunning. The Chapter House – wall-to-wall stained glass windows – was particularly beautiful.
I was very moved by the many World War One and World War Two memorials, including the individual chapels with the chairs that were marked for each soldier who had died. Looking at the chairs, I realised just how many said ‘From his mother / his father’ and how few of them said ‘From his wife / child’, it really proved to me how young many of them must have been.
Afterwards, I went into the Crypt and saw the medieval tomb of Saint William, the Patron Saint of York. There was also the intricately carved Doomstone, which is slightly terrifying to look at.
And finally, there was a small exhibition about the creation of the statue of Queen Elizabeth II that had been created specifically for the Platinum Jubilee. It was the first statue that had been carved in years, and was beautifully produced.
Admiring the York Art Gallery
Next, I headed down the road to the York Art Gallery. This is a very small gallery but it has some lovely pieces. I went to see an exhibition they had on Children’s Literature. There were first-edition copies of Anne of Green Gables and Pippi Longstocking, as well as handwritten notes by Roald Dahl and original drawings by Lauren Child. It was really sweet.
They also had an exhibition to showcase the Aesthetica Art Prize. I was particularly mesmerised by a photographic piece all Contortion.
Upstairs was the permanent collection of ceramics and art. I’m not a ceramics fan, but I loved the eclectic mix of portraits and landscapes. From the Queer Art section to Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe and art by Damian Hirst.
Antiques and Cream Team
For lunch, I went to Molly’s Team Room which can be found in the York Antiques Centre. I had a giant scone and a hot chocolate and began writing my new novel! It was nice to do some writing by hand for a change.
After lunch I went shopping and took myself off to see Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. This is what I mean by York is more of a one-night city trip. I had run out of things to do.
I wasn’t interested in the Jorvik Museum or the York Chocolate Factory, so I took myself off to a movie. It was pretty decent, and I ran into a friend on the way back to the hotel which was nice.
Day 3: York Ghost Merchants
After breakfast – scrambled eggs on toast, again! – I joined the queue for the York Ghost Merchants. As I said above, I had run out of things to do so I thought screw it, I’ll join a queue for two hours to get a one-of-a-kind ceramic ghost.
York is reputed to be the most haunted city in Britain, so why not buy a York Ghost! They’re very popular – see the two-hour+ queue – and they’re also really sweet looking. I’m very pleased with my little ghost I’ve christened ‘Hours’.
I had been planning to visit the York Castle Museum but my back was still sore – and it got worse when I put my extremely heavy backpack on – so I headed off to the Railway Museum and the station.
I’m pretty sure I’ve been to the Railway Museum before – as I’ve definitely been to York Station before (it may have been on the way back from a school trip). But it’s a free drop-in museum with a large number of trains, as the name suggests.
I saw my dad’s favourite – the Mallard – and saw my favourite Pullman carriages. I got some lunch and chilled for a bit, before finally heading back to the nearby York station to head back to London.
All in all, it was a lovely trip and I was blessed with fabulous weather. I saw the York Minster in all its glory and visited every bookshop York had to offer. I look forward to returning one day, but maybe only as a day trip.