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I've been to York a few times, but never at Christmas - and never with my lovely Mum.
We decide to take the train. This is a break from my daily commute on the regions roads and takes the stress out of trying to find a parking space. There's also the added bonus that we can sample a Yuletide tipple (or two) along the way. With booked seats and our train app in hand we are relaxed and ready to go.
Previous visits to York have mainly consisted of shopping and eating. It's a city that perfectly combines the old and the new. Buildings from times gone by (some parts of The Shambles date back to the meat market days of the 14th century) now house - inside those Tudor and Elizabethan facades - artisan bread shops, specialist crafts, fashion and food for the modern shopper.
For today's visit mum and I decide to do a ‘bit of both’.
The morning starts cold and frosty. We link arms and wander along Museum Street, where we're lucky enough to get a blue-sky backdrop to the majestic Minster ahead.
We're excited for the markets. We head straight there.
A mini 'makers market' in front of the Grade 1 listed Judge's Lodging, selling unique and locally crafted presents, provides a brief taster to the St Nicholas Fair awaiting us around the corner. The aroma on Parliament Street is intoxicating, a heady mix of spiced orange and clove from a stall selling handmade decorations made from citrus fruit. It looks amazing. It smells delicious. The market breathes us in. We move between the shoppers and the stalls, sample the sweet and the savoury, browse the handmade gifts, the leather goods, and the obligatory Christmas Jumper Stalls.
I can’t get mum on the Helter Skelter at Kings Square as she's afraid of heights, but she is more than happy to get a dizzy head from what’s inside the Yorkshire Makers Market. Beyond the hats and scarves, ornaments and jewellery, is a little stall selling big cups of mulled wine. They look like festive takeaway cups, but they house a very generous glug of sweet cinnamony goodness. We're all warm and fuzzy.
As our heads clear, the weather closes in. It’s time to move indoors.
York is famous for many things: art, culture, history and heritage.... and chocolate! Mum and I may be too old to sit on Santa's knee but it doesn't stop us enjoying the sweet treats on offer at York’s Chocolate Experience. They're putting on a special tour for the festive season all about the marriage between chocolate and Christmas through the ages. Mum and I start to get all nostalgic about my childhood. It's estimated that at this time 1 in 10 stockings contained a Terry's Chocolate Orange! The tour finishes with me trying (badly) to decorate a chocolate candy cane with edible glitter, mum eating too many chocolate caramels, and master chocolatier Serena demonstrating 'Chocolate Rain' - wow! After drinking the best hot chocolate I've ever had we need a stroll…
If there's one thing I love to do it's nosey around old houses looking at 'the way they used to live'. As you'd imagine there are a number of them in York, and most have festive features this year. In the heart of the city, in St Helen’s Square, is Mansion House, recently renovated and restored to its original Georgian glory. It's the earliest purpose-built house for a Lord Mayor still in existence. As we approach the beautifully decorated exterior we spot the Lord Mayor himself through the window! For its first Christmas open to the general public the interior doesn't disappoint either. All with a Yuletide touch we make our way through the Banqueting Hall, traditional working kitchen and silver room - one of the largest civic collections in England. The renovations revealed many secrets. There are two hidden cupboards behind paintings in the Stateroom. We get to peer inside. Mum is not too impressed with the mummified cat. I am fascinated!
As the day draws to a close we can't help but stop at Betty's for a mince pie and a pot of Special Christmas Tea. As our feet warm up and the sun goes down we agree it’s been a lovely day. We must do it again… and soon. X
Why not follow in Kerrie’s footsteps and book your very own festive day out?