York Local

This is a personal website. All views and information presented herein are my own and do not represent the views of the Fulbright Program or the U.S. Department of State.

This week I spent wandering around York. For such a geographically small city, there is a lot to see.  I also spent a lot of time in libraries throughout the city.

This is the outside of the York Minster Library.  They don’t let you take photos inside so you will just have to imagine how wonderful this library is.

 

Friday I went to the York Minster library which is in a medieval building.  Having a University of York library card gets me access to all kinds of cool places.

Old York street

This is one of the many streets where I got lost looking for the York Minster Library.  

My project is taking hold; I am planning to do more about how we use public spaces like museums and parks to commemorate significant historical events like, in my case, the transatlantic trade.  I am trying to incorporate what I am learning in my global education class into this project.

I thought I would give this idea a trial run by looking at the chocolate trade in York.  I read a book about the chocolate industry in York and the story sounded interesting.  There’s capitalist conflict that occurs when the 30 confectioners in York are whittled down to three companies (with one being run a woman) and the three are now whittled down to one big mega corporation, Nestle.  An interesting side piece of information is that York makes 6 million KitKat bars daily!  There is class conflict between the workers working in the chocolate factories.  There was class conflict between the wealthy who saw York as their social playground and the poor who lived in awful conditions in an area known as Three Lanes.  The wealthy and the poor crossed roads during two cholera epidemics that hit York in the 1800s.  I also thought that if these chocolate merchants were sweetening the chocolate with sugar, they had to be dealing with merchants in London and Liverpool who were also slave traders.  As I finished the book last night, I realized that none of these conflicts were ever addressed.  None of the bleaker aspects of the chocolate industry were revealed because if they were, I’m sure York merchants would have been involved in the slave trade in some way – like merchants in most parts of England.  The book, instead, told a lovely story about how the wealthy came to relax and play in York and how the chocolate industry helped satisfy their cravings for luxury goods.  I also learned there a lot of ways to make hot chocolate.

So, giving up on that idea because there was no need to take photos that would illustrate a bland but lovely story about chocolate, I decided to be a total tourist right on down to the YorkBoat City Cruise tour.  The changing weather made this trip stunning.  There were bright blue skies and white clouds and stormy clouds with a quick downpour.  If you’re ever in York, this little cruise is worth it.

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River Ouse

 

 

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Lendall Bridge

 

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Along the River Ouse

 

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Sailing under the Skeldergate Bridge

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Houseboats on the River Ouse

 

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This is for Brian:  The building was once used for woodworking.

 

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River Ouse

After the cruise, I resumed my walk through the museum garden which was beautiful in the winter but I’m sure is even more spectacular once the spring flowers bloom.

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The Museum Gardens. 

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The remains of St. Mary’s Abbey 

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Museum gardens

 

These photos are all near Marygate and Bootham just outside of the Museum Gardens.

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I ended my day at Bennett’s, a little tea shop across from the minster.  Great tea and phenawesome scones with clotted cream.

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What you really need are some delish scones and clotted cream.

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Exploring York

These past two weeks have been really busy.  I feel like I’m finally digging into my project and some parts of it are actually coming together.  I had to sit with a little confusion for a bit but my advisors have been really supportive in helping me to clarify what areas I want to pursue.  Of course, I have a million ideas and have to do a little Keep It or Junk It.

Traveling these past two weeks have been local but there is so much to see in York.  I’m beginning to feel like, after a month, I really do live here.  I walk everywhere like everyone else, but one thing I have noticed is that Yorkians walk with a very definite purpose – they have somewhere to be and they need to be there NOW.  As I walk along the streets, with my camera around my neck, I’m strolling along, taking in the sights and people look at me like I don’t know where I am going. It is true, I often don’t know where I am going, but I’m taking in all the sights while I figure out how to get there.  I am also amazed at how many Yorkians wear shorts and t-shirts in this 20-degree weather.  There hasn’t been a day yet where I have not put on my heavy-duty winter coat.

This week I went to a few lectures on campus.  One was a talk on book printing in the late 17th century and that was very interesting.  Most of the books printed had to do with religious ideas and sermons that had been recently given in church, but there were also a few printers who printed pamphlets on social reform.  The talk two weeks ago was about crime journalism.  The newspapers here are like nothing we have at home.  Local crime is all over the front page and the press really lights up when there is celebrity crime.  After hearing this talk about crime reporting in the 18th century, I can see where today’s tabloids have their roots. The other talk I went was about worker’s rights and companies doing business in the UK.  Should have been good, but it was a little dreary.

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The offices of the local newspaper.

I am always experimenting with new ways to walk to the City Centre.  I recently discovered that Walmgate, which is the gate down the street from where I live, leads directly to Fossgate, which crosses the Foss River, and leads directly to City Centre.  Walking this way, I can really see the damage that the December floods caused in York. There are many stores closed down and while some have relocated or are slowly re-opening, I think the losses were so great for some of the shopkeepers that they may never re-open.

I also made it the major river in York, the River Ouse. I stop almost every day at the bridge and just take in the sights of this beautiful river.

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The River Ouse:  York’s largest river.

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Cholera burial grounds which honors those who lost their lives in the cholera epidemic.

 

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The Railway Museum is just through this arch.

I take Friday afternoons off and walk through the city.  On one Friday, I walked over to the Railway Museum.  It is a great place to grab a cup of tea and read a book.  Plus, they have the best scones that I have found so far.  The photos you see are of the railway cars that were refurbished for Queen Elizabeth.  She was the first monarch to have electricity in her rail car.

This past weekend was Residents’ Festival and everything in York was free.  It was a lot of fun and a great way to see York.  There were a lot of cheesy historical re-enactments but there were some interesting sights, too.  The Clifford Tower, which was originally the lookout spot and first line of defense for the city of York, had a beautiful view of the city from the top of the tower.  The stairs were steep, tiny and narrow but the view was well worth the climb.

Fairfax House was also another highlight.  Evidently, the Fairfax family member who owned this house wasn’t too much more than a country gentleman.  He built this house so that he could live in the city for the duration of the social season.  In the off-season, he lived on a Yorkshire farm where others did the farming for him.  He was related to the Fairfaxes who farmed tobacco in Maryland and Virginia, although I am sure others did the farming for the American Fairfax family, too.

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The entrance to the Fairfax House. No photos were allowed inside.

I also went to the Minster, the city’s biggest church.  It was quite beautiful but what I thought was really interesting where the tombs of people who were buried in the church.  There were some that had stone carvings on the tombs and others had these wood-carved figures on the tombs. The two you see here were husband and wife but I am not sure if they were buried together.

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The Syrian refugees have been a topic of discussion throughout the UK.

 

Barley Hall was interesting because there was a lot of information about Henry VIII. Evidently, Henry visited Barley Hall regularly.  More research to come later on this.

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The cheesiest part of the York “history” was the visit to the Roman baths.  I think this sign says it all.  I’m sure half of what the guide told us wasn’t even true.  I cut out of the tour early.

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The gift shop at the Roman Bath Museum.

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Primary source or secondary source?

This past weekend I went to the York Art Gallery and had lunch at the Antique Center tea room.  The York Gallery is where the ceramic center is housed and the second floor has some beautiful pieces.  The photos that you see here are from the private collection of Martin Anthony.  The exhibit is designed to look like his house because he wanted people to be able to get close (“but do not touch!”) to the artwork.  The shelves below, and there are many more shelves than just what’s in this photo are full of his book collection.  The books are organized by publisher. I’m not sure how I felt about his exhibit.  There were some beautiful pieces like the photo of the cat who has the dog and cat sitting on her lap, but I also found myself wondering why isn’t all art for the public and why does he organize his books by publisher?

One exhibit that was very cool was Manifest: 10,000 hours by Clare Twomey.  It is said, by the exhibit curator that it takes 10,000 hours to master something.  Ten thousand people from York made these bowls to represent each hour it takes to master something new.  To me, it was just a really imposing exhibit that drew me right into the ceramic gallery.  The dresses that you see were designed by students in the Fashion Institute in response to the exhibit.  They all have something ceramic incorporated into the design.

Wedding dress

 

10,000 rice bowls

The last room we went into at the gallery was the Lumber Room.  This is just an eclectic collection of all the things that interested the curator. There is no order to this room, but it’s a lot of fun to look at.

lumber room

lumber room 2

We stopped for lunch at the Antique Center Tea Room.

After the gallery and lunch it was time to head back to study.  But, not before I stopped at Hebden Tea Co.  Earlier in the week, I stopped to study at Bicis y mas, a bike and vegetarian café.  The tea was delicious and I was told that the tea came from Hebden Tea Co. at the foot of the Shambles.  I passed it on my way home and tasted tea at the open window tea bar and then went inside to buy some.  I could become a tea drinker after drinking this tea.

tea shop

 

 

Getting down to the books

 – and taking some time weekend time off

 

This week I began my first classes the university — one on global and citizenship education and one on race in the United States.  The class on global education has mostly international students, several are at York pursuing a master’s in human rights studies.  There are so many ways that citizenship is taught but the predominant thought, at least among the students in my class, that citizenship is taught as a morals class. You are taught how to uphold good values — which aren’t really defined— and know and obey the laws.  The global education often centers around terrorism and the need to be united as a nation in understanding dangerous world forces.  I looked through our standards and discovered California has a very limited description of how citizenship should be taught.  Given there are so many attacks on voting rights, maybe we should teach more about citizenship.

These are my two favorites libraries.

 

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photo (3)

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I have to break up my studying with walks around this beautiful campus.  

 

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Where it’s time for dinner and some more reading.

For the first time since I completed my master’s I spent hours each day in the library, in my office and at home pouring over books, articles and primary sources. I love it.  Right now, nothing is clear about my project, and I was worried about this.  If I was at home, I would put aside the research and go ahead and plan the unit, saving the questions for next year.  But with this opportunity, I can sit with the questions for a bit and take the time to solve them.  To my students who are reading this, learning takes time and I hope you always have at least one or two teachers who give you the time to wrestle with questions.

 

Friday was graduation day for mid-year graduates and it was great to graduates and their parents milling about the school.  I love the pomp and circumstance that goes with graduations.

York graduation

I met with my advisor on Friday and he asked was there anything baffling about English customs.  The first thing that came to mind was crossing the street and walking on the sidewalk.  I still forget to look to the left when crossing the street and I cautiously rely on crosswalks with when to walk signs because pedestrians do not have the right-of-way.  There are also rules to navigating the sidewalk which are unclear to me.  Sometimes you walk on the right side, sometimes the left, and sometimes somewhere down the middle. Maybe by June this will all be clear.

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Favorite English word of the week: Pigeonhole.  A pigeonhole is your office mailbox.

 

For my first weekend trip, I joined a teacher from London in Liverpool.  It’s a short two-hour train ride and the hotel, Lord Nelson Hotel was five minutes from the train station. My friend wanted to see the Cavern Club where the Beatles first played before they were famous.  We found out that this was really the rebuilt Cavern Club.  The English really love old American rock ‘n roll.  The cover band outside the club was playing an old Lynyrd Skynyrd classic, Sweet Home Alabama, and the crowd, young and old was whooping it up. By the time the Beatles cover group came out to play, we met 8 women from Edinburgh and 2 others from southern England.  This “Beatles” band has band members who eerily strongly resemble the shaggy-haired early Beatles.  They played almost every song the Beatles ever recorded. Again, young and old were on the dance floor singing loudly with the band. They performed a few with an electric sitar and that met with comments like “terrible” and “awful” and “what is that” from my new Edinburgh friends.  They had clearly come to hear the “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” Beatles.

We spent the next day at the International Slave History Museum where we saw a really good short documentary on slavery in India, Kavi. If you can get this online, it’s definitely worth watching.  We then went to the Tate Museum. We spent the rest of the walking around taking pictures of buildings.  Anyone who knows me, knows that’s what I like to photograph.

 

 

 

Our final day, we went to the Walker Gallery and the St. George Hall.

 

St. John’s Garden had many war memorials and flower gardens.

 

St. George’s Hall.  There are many popular references to major slave traders in this city.  There is a statue of Samuel Robert Graves.  Penny Lane is named after James Penny who was a merchant, slaveship owner and defended the slave trade in Parliament.  It is interesting that the statue of the only woman in the hall of statues is unnamed.

 

It was time to take the train back to York.

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Adventures in York

IMG_6138It’s hard to believe that two weeks ago I was getting ready to board the plane to London and Kingston, Lauren, and Cait were there to see me off.  I look pretty relaxed in this photo, even though everyone who has flown with me knows — I hate to fly. But, it was a smooth trip.  The next afternoon, I landed in Heathrow and after several trains and taxis, I moved into my new York apartment. The next morning, I took off again for a conference in Manchester.

I love gaudy Christmas decorations and this ginormous Santa was amazing day and night. The English don’t take their decorations down until the twelfth day after Christmas. Unlike, the U.S. where we have Valentine’s Day stuff up

Manchester Santa claus

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In Manchester, we ate well.  The photo of the tiled mosaic, symbolizes the importance of the cotton trade to economic growth of the city of Manchester.  Manchester was called Cottonopolis during the heyday of cotton production.We visited the Chetham Library.  This library was amazing, a real medieval treat.  The smell of old books, for those of who love print, was priceless.  The librarian opened up a locked case of old books and we got to look at them.  The big tourist spot in the library is the table where Karl Marx wrote Capital.  (Don’t you love a library that has a spot mentioned in TripAdvisor!) Evidently, Engels was out working and doing research at Angel Meadows, a notorious housing project that housed hundreds of workers and was recently rediscovered as part of an archaeological dig, while Marx sat in the same booth by the window in the Chetham Library.

 

The next day we went to a graphene lab at the university which where we were not allowed to take photos.  The two scientists who discovered graphene won a Nobel Prize for their work.  Graphene is made by taking layers and layers of graphite like the kind from your pencil. With each layer, the bond becomes more solid. It’s a very strong material.  At the lab we saw lights made out of graphene that are supposed to use even less heat than LED lights.

We spent an afternoon with an Egyptologist at the Manchester Museum.  These paintings were painted in the early years AD.  When someone died, the family put the painted face over the mummified body.

Our last night in Manchester we had a lovely tour and dinner at the Whitworth museum. Most of the exhibitions have to do with textile but their were photo exhibits, too.  There was also a focus on feminist art.  The way cool thing about this museum was that they don’t use mechanical controls for their heating. It’s a totally green museum — and their art work is all appropriately temperature-controlled.

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On our final day in Manchester, we visited the Alan Turing statue in Manchester. Manchester has a pretty big LGBTQ community and the Turing statue sits in the heart of this community.

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By Saturday afternoon, I was wandering the streets of York with my camera hanging unashamedly around my neck.  My accent kind of gives it away that I am not from York so why not make it official and hang a camera around my neck.  Here are a few photos from the street I live on, Hull Road.

The town is really rich in medieval architecture. There are churches, fortresses and stone gates everywhere.  Although there was record flooding a few days before I got to York, much of the city had already been cleaned up.  Most of the townspeople I talked to said that while the flooding of the two rivers, Foss and Ouse, was worse this year, flooding was not unusual.  It’s kind of how Californians feel about earthquakes — they aren’t really unusual.

Here are some photos from the City Centre.  This is lovely 30-minute walk from my apartment.

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On Monday, I began my work at the University of York.  I have my own office and best of all, a university library card.  The most beautiful library is just outside the City Centre, King’s Manor. And, this is where I ended the second work week of my stay in York.

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