30 September 2011--Morning coffee at Costa. I watch a parade of students, mostly female, heading over the bridge toward
the university. In a little over a generation, university education has gone from being a predominantly male prerogative to a
majority female experience. I don't know, but guess that male enrollment has remained steady, while female enrollment
has exploded. I suppose these days it might be a good place for a young man to try to catch a wife.
I drive out of town on the A15, which follows the path of Ermine Street, the Roman road north. It's two lanes and very busy, so after a while I shift west onto the parallel B1398. I find I can drive just about as fast, except when passing through villages, with a lot less stress, and can see a lot more of the country (including those villages). It's warm again, and still quite hazy; there must be fine views across the broad shallow valley of the Trent to the west on a clear day.
Not far across the wide Humber sits the market town of Beverley. I walk around the market square a while before visiting the minster, the largest parish church in England. There is a similar history here to other large churches, with an early building replaced by a large Norman edifice. About all I can learn of this latter, however, is that it collapsed in 1214, to be replaced by the English gothic structure that stands today, in what is called the Perpendicular style. The church survived the Reformation, and even Cromwell's forces gave it a pass (although it's worth noting that most of the current statuary is 19th century).
Back in town, I grab a sandwich and then pop into a whisky shop I passed by earlier. I need a road bottle. As I'm perusing the very fine selection of whiskies on the shelves, a voice asks, "Can I help you with anything?" Even as I'm making my stock answer-- "I'll have one of each, please"--I realize the voice belongs to Richard Parker, last seen in Banff (see SP2BoL Pt 5). The Banff shop closed in less than happy circumstances, and I have heard through the whisky forums of unsatisfied customers. Parker tells me the bulk of his troubles were caused by an employee who was stealing mail-order shipments. I will leave judgment to others...just a bottle of Old Pulteney for me today.
Arrive in York around 5:00 and check in at my guesthouse. This was a very late booking, after another place reneged on a confirmation. (At least they did it before I arrived on their doorstep.) In fact, staying here at all was a late decision--I'm going to a concert tomorrow night in the village of Hovingham, fifteen or so miles north, and spent considerable time trying to find suitable lodging closer to that. Finally decided that a stay in York is always worthwhile. I have a very small room fronting on the street, as have all of my rooms so far, for a price slightly higher than I usually like to pay. Once again, breakfast is not included.
It's a fifteen-minute walk into town through Bootham Bar, and another fifteen to a pub called Brigantes, near Micklegate Bar. (These bars are gates in the city walls.) I read about this place in a CAMRA pamphlet in the Strugglers Inn in Lincoln, and am glad I did. I've stayed in York several times and have always liked the city, but had yet to find a pub that felt like home. Brigantes is part of a fifteen-pub Yorkshire chain called Market Town Taverns. The only other one I've been in is the Narrow Boat in Skipton, which I also liked a lot. Tonight I find good food (leaps and bounds beyond Wetherspoon's), good beer, and a comfortable atmosphere [which the photo below does not properly convey]. I find myself thinking of the Bow Bar, although the contrasts are obvious. After a moment, I realize it's the noise, which on a busy Friday night is the honest buzz of conversation--there is no television or music. The best thing there is to say about a pub, I think, is that people go there to talk to each other.