On Thursday afternoon, I packed up my things and left the West Country to explore the beautiful city of York with one of my best friends, Lyzi, for three days. We were there to sample everything that the city had to offer, including events from this year's York Literature Festival - which runs from the 10th-23rd March and boasts a multitude of goings on for readers, writers and general bookish people!
thursday 10th march
After a train journey in which I got to stare at cute dogs, which is always a bonus, we hopped into a taxi driven by the most incredible Yorkshire man who talked to us about the football, his plans for the evening, his best mate's wife and the layout of the city walls.
We stayed at the newly-refurbished best western monkbar hotel and it was an excellent base for our escapades, as it is only about a minute's walk from Goodramsgate, as pictured above, and around 3 minutes walk to your first sighting of the Minster.
Once we'd settled in a little, we went to ambiente tapas in Goodramsgate after about a billion recommendations from you guys to do so. Thank you, pals! We polished off plates of garlic prawns, lamb ribs, swordfish, meatballs and the like and had a thoroughly great first evening. If you're staying on the other side of the centre, not to worry because we wandered by their Fossgate branch and it looked just as nice!
FRIDAY 11TH MARCH
Full of hotel breakfast, we got dressed and headed straight to the Shambles to walk the cobbled Medieval streets - said streets house little shops, cafés and even chocolatiers. My squeals of 'IT'S LIKE A REAL LIFE DIAGON ALLEY' may have fallen upon incredibly deaf ears! We had meant to return to The Shambles later on in our trip to explore it a little more but we, unfortunately, completely forgot...which gives us all the more reason to return one day!
In need of warming our bones and catching our breath, we dived into Café Concerto for mugs of tea which sits just by the astonishingly beautiful Minster.
Cathedrals, perhaps oddly, happen to be one of my favourite things to explore when I'm in a new place that happens to have one. The craftmanship that goes into them never fails to astound me and the Minster was no exception - no wonder when it's the largest gothic cathedral in Northern Europe! We toured the inside and gawped in every direction thanks to our York Passes which meant we could enter for free. If you're planning a trip to York, it may be a good idea to check out the Visit York website and get your hands on a York Pass as they get you free entry / discounts to attractions and restaurants, etc, throughout the city.
With some time to spare before our next scheduled tour, we popped into a few little shops...
...such as which was full of skulls, taxidermy & other curiosities
... which was home to reasonably priced and A++ visually merchandised vintage
...and which offered absolutely stunning vintage pieces at higher prices. Ain't Nobody played as we browsed so that took the edge off being in a room full to the brim with things that I wanted but couldn't have
...And we also stopped by because secondhand books.
As we headed into the afternoon, we toured York's Chocolate Story. Our guide, Lee, somewhat miraculously made the history of chocolate in York just as enjoyable as eating it! At the end of the tour, you get the chance to make your own chocolate lollipops that you can then expertly design to your taste. Having no taste whatsoever, I opted for sprinkles, biscuit pieces and caramel curls. They were glorious. This is another attraction that is covered by your aforementioned York Passes so, again, food for thought!
After a lie down at the hotel, it was time to head back out again for some food, cocktails and instant photographs at Bills. We then braced ourselves for the the first event in our #YorkLitFest calendar...
We headed to city screen basement bar for SAY OWT PRESENTS: INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S WEEK WORD RIOT featuring spoken word performances from women such as Sophia Walker, Adele Hampton, Marina Poppa, Rose Drew and Lily Luty. The highlight of the night, for me, was discovering Adele Hampton who performed pieces on her grandmother, weight-lifting, her experiences as a mixed race woman, and lesbian sex. You can check out her performance of Mixed Girl on Youtube. Say Owt are actually releasing a podcast with both Sophia and Adele this weekend that I'm very much looking forward to listening to. If you're in the York area, I highly recommend checking out future Say Owt events!
I definitely want to attend more spoken word and poetry evenings from here on out - perhaps a little closer to home next time! After a brilliant night, we strolled back to the hotel and talked until we fell asleep more than a little reluctant to wake up on our last day in the city!
SATURDAY 12TH MARCH
Once we'd packed up our things and dropped our bags off at baggy daycare, we popped into YORK STJOHN CON (after getting a little bit lost wandering around the gorgeous buildings) to browse the zines and graphic novels that they had on offer. They had a multitude of workshops and events going on throughout the day, from zine workshops to a fan fic open mic. Unfortunately, we had to head across town so we didn't have time to attend any of them.
However, the how not to submit your manuscript talk at the friargate theatre was worth it. Literary agents Sam Copeland, Sallyanne Sweeney and a woman that had stolen Lyzi's mum's identity covered everything that you need to know to put together a well-crafted submission package. It was insightful and gave everyone food for thought, myself included.
After a quick lunch, it was time to head to the train station for our 4 and a bit hour train journey home, where there were dogs to be met and many more conversations to be had! I already miss York and cannot wait to return to try out more of the restaurants & cafés, visit the Minster Gate bookshop (because I bloody forgot!!!), tread the Shambles again and walk some of the city walls.
If you're thinking of taking a UK city break, I would more than recommend planning a trip to York. I would also high recommend York Literature Festival if you're into writing and reading. It's held once a year and it always boasts incredible guests and workshops. I hope you've enjoyed coming along on this Northern adventure - Lyzi and I had the best time. A huge thank you to said bean for bringing me along. York, I'll be back.
If you'd like to scroll through all of my adventures then you can do so.
*Travel, accommodation and festival tickets were all paid for. However, views are my own.