Ahh, the curse that is my life. I am once again trapped in the country for insurance reasons so rather than doing something to alleviate this powerful case of SAD I am constantly complaining about -something like five days in Sharm- instead I opted for something a little closer to home.
Yorkshire. In February.
And not just February. It was officially The Week When Everything Is Closed. Yorvik -which only closes for three days every year- was closed for our three days in York. The Captain Cook Museum in Whitby? Closed. Whitby Abbey? (As seen/read in Dracula.) Closed.
Who do I blame for this? Well, me. Things have to close for maintenance and I’m sure the various managements were thinking “only a true psychopath or someone who has made a string of very poor choices in their life would ever dream of a driving holiday in Yorkshire the week before February mid-term. Let’s close.”
Well, screw you jerks! I qualify under both those assumptions. It was settled, then! A driving holiday we were to have.
Warwickshire isn’t actually in Yorkshire… It’s in Warwickshire. But we were setting out from Bristol having caught up with a few friends the night before and we needed somewhere halfway-ish.
It’s not really half way but it does have a couple of really nice castles and we got to stay in the attic a 400 year old former pub. The door into our (carpeted) bathroom was only thirty inches high. You can sort of see a photo of it here but not really. I took this from the actual toilet so at the time I was… Otherwise engaged.
No such problem with the castles, though. But we did get snow whilst at Warwick Castle.
Snow! On battlements of an actual castle! It’s what every little boy dreams of when he is young and imagining himself in one of those weird pointy princess hats with the frilly shit hanging off them that you sometimes see in The Wizard of Id.
The photos of the more ruined castle are actually Kenilworth Castle -just a few miles down the road and a preferable destination for a number of reasons.
Not only did I recognise some of names involved (Robert Dudley, Elizabeth I – it was probably a sex nest) but -unlike Warwick Castle- it wasn’t filled with creepy wax statues of people from the late 1800s and also King Henry VIII for some reason.
It also did not employ actors. Horrible, horrible actors chasing you round the great hall wanting to engage with you. Repeatedly. You can see them in a couple of the above photos. This strikes me as an unusual “attraction” for England. You see, most of the English seize up in terror at the prospect of possibly having to speak to people just in the course of their normal day. I’m sure almost half of them would be catatonic after being forced into verbal sparring with our particular ‘wigged buffoon’.
The French high school group, on the other hand, loved them/teased them mercilessly. It was cute.
I should mention I’m not impugning their actual acting skills. They were fine. In fact, the ‘buffoon’ in particular really belongs in the big leagues. I’m seeing Mickey or Goofy somewhere in his future. He may, however, want to stop referring to his penis every time someone asks about a sword on the wall.
The castles also instilled a bit of a Marxist revolution in me. Now, I’m usually way too lazy/apathetic to accept crude political explanations of history but fuck this.
You stand at the top of the tower and look out for miles around. All of it owned by a solitary fat fuck downstairs. Then you go down into the ‘state rooms’ and have to hear about how he imported French wall paper and liked to talk about it while some schmuck is ‘drawing his bath’. French fucking wallpaper?! These farmers out there live worse than their pigs! They paid for your fucking wallpaper you fuck! It made me oddly angry that there was this almost fawning modern interest in -for instance- the design choices of these absurd prats as if nothing else of note ever happened in the past.
People complain that stones from these ancient monuments have been carted away over the centuries for reuse as cobbles and pig sties.
Good. As far as I’m concerned, it was their stone in the first place.
There was also a wax statue of one of the Earls of Warwick who was also apparently the Viceroy of India. There was a wax statue of one of the royals in the green room with him ‘discussing the affairs of state’. That made me sick. A pointless Warwickshire freeloader was -for a time- running one of the world’s great civilisations on the other side of the planet. Explain that to me.
Democracy is actually awesome. This is what I learned from wax statues.
Okay, let me just say this and get it out of the way. I love Whitby. Love like I would actually live there if it had anything in the way of media jobs. (Well… There’s always the Whitby Gazette.)
It’s ominous and blasted and haunted and Lovecraftian.
The Captain Cook Museum was closed. So instead we walked through the old town and drank at a pub right by the sea that has been going since the 1600s. That means the chances that we were drinking in a pub that he drank in were about 100%. (If you can’t tell, I’m a bit of a Cook nerd.)
On the way through, we also stopped at the Hole of Horcum. Fun fact, this only placed 11th on the list of Britain’s 100 Rudest Place Names -which tells you something about the winner. (Gropecunt Lane, if you’re wondering.)
York also rocked. For some reason I don’t quite understand but I’m sure someone does -it wasn’t bombed as heavily as London, Coventry, Bristol, blah blah blah. Presumably it has something to do with not being an industrial town?
Whatevs. It just means that the old town is an absolute fairy tale. Overhanging buildings, cobbled streets, haunted pubs. By and large it manages to avoid the Disneyland fakeness because the buildings are actually in modern use -ie we saw a dental surgery in one of the lovely old, uneven wooden buildings. They’re not just filled with eponymous gift/fudge/sweet/christmas ornament shops. (Though they were certainly around.)
Oh, and I discovered the existence of a creepy and unironic subset of glamour photography: period photography. Check. This. Out. You can just make out the outline of my head in between those of the ‘happy couple’. Which is exactly where it belongs. I’m still on the fence as to whether or not I approve of these guys actually breeding. I either really love the idea of it or am totally against it.
The drive back to London was three and a bit hours. My GOD this place is small! I really want a car. It means I could potentially go anywhere I want on a Saturday morning whim.
Or maybe I just miss buying terrible junk food from gas stations. Because that also happened.