Friday, 31 August 2012

Reflections on the Past

The keep of Helmsley castle reflected back in the glass of the visitors centre. This fairly recently constructed building (the visitors centre that is!) does make every effort to blend into the landscape.

Thursday, 30 August 2012


Buskers are a feature of the city, good ones are generally welcome, the less good are a nuisance for shop keepers and  locals alike who have to listen to repetitive music played badly. The Glass Caves I am happy to report were very good and attracted quite crowd outside All Saints Church.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

G is for Grey Squirrel

The North American Grey Squirrel was released into the UK sometime in the 19th century as novelty addition to the fauna by the Victorians. So successfully has this rodent adapted to life in the UK that it has pushed the native Red Squirrel population toward a potentially catastrophic collapse. I can see a Grey Squirrel every day if I wish, I have seen a Red Squirrel just a handful of times. 
However the Grey Squirrels are not to blame and many people enjoy their everyday encounters, this one was happily posing for pictures in the middle of the city.
Taking part in ABC Wednesday

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Wildlife Sanctuary

Walking along one of the less used routes between memorials in York cemetery I came across this arrangement of silver birch poles. It was there to stop wandering taphophiles stumbling into one of the tiny wildlife ponds spread around the area. As I stopped to take this picture a small frog hopped across my foot, proving that the pond is indeed providing a refuge and water source for a variety of birds animals and amphibians.
Taking part in Taphophile tragics

Monday, 27 August 2012

End of the Mystery

Today is the last day of this season of the York Mystery Plays, they won't be performed again until 2016. Over 30,000 tickets were sold making it a great success for everyone involved. It also means notices like this one in the Museum Gardens will be removed, a shame as this makes me smile every time I walk past it.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Roman Rose Bed

What is the oldest thing in this picture taken in the Museum Gardens? The stone coffins are Roman, the flower bed wall is made from stone salvaged from St Mary's Abbey after it was dissolved by Henry VIII in the 1530s. The rose however, according to fossil evidence, is 35 million years old! Although quite what red roses are doing in a Yorkshire botanical garden I am not sure.................

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Liberal MP for York (1871)

George Leeman whose statue you can see on the right was a successful local lawyer and politician. He eventually became chairman of the North Eastern Railway company. His contributions to the city were recognised by this statue of him carved by the York sculptor GW Milburn and paid for by public subscription.Wonder what he would have thought of the 'bendy' buses on York's narrow streets?

Friday, 24 August 2012

Riparian Reflections

This beautiful shot of the River Ouse from Skeldergate Bridge was taken at sunrise and sent to me by my good friend and today's guest photographer Mr Paul Bateson. The early rays of the sun have lit up the brickwork of the old warehouses on Queens Staith, whilst Kings Staith on the opposite bank is still in shadow. With pictures of this quality on offer I really must make an effort to get up and out with the camera earlier!
Taking part in Weekend Reflections

Thursday, 23 August 2012


This wooden carving from an oak tree trunk is of 33 water birds (ducks, herons, swans etc) climbing into the air in a spiral. Created by Bill Hodgson using specialist chainsaws this sculpture can be found in the grounds of York University behind Heslington Hall.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Finkle Street

Finkle Street was known as Finclegayle or Fynkullstrete in the 12th century. Then, as Yorkshire folk are famed for 'speaking as they find' it became Mucky Pig Lane due to it's close proximity to the pig market! The mediaeval name was revived in Victorian times in an attempt to improve the image of the area. The church tower in the background belongs to St Sampsons, and the Roman Bath pub has viewing area allowing a glimpse of the Roman remains beneath the building.
Taking Part in ABC Wednesday

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

York Waits

The musicians leading this troupe of players are the York Waits. Despite over 500 years service the Waits were abolished in 1836 as their mediaeval revelries did not match the Victorian ideals of public behaviour. Recently revived the Waits play the instruments of their predecessors such as shawm, cornett, saggbut, curtal, flutes, crumhorns, bagpipes, hurdy-gurdies, lute and cittern. Here they serenade one of the the Mystery Play wagons through the city.
Taking part in Ruby Tuesday

Monday, 20 August 2012

Stone faced

Not quite sure who this rather bizarre sandstone statue represents but as he is leaning on an anvil and holding a hammer it could be Hephaestus. Behind him is a rather more attractive stone edifice in the shape of York Minster Chapter House.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Treasurer's garden

For my money the most beautiful house in York, the Treasurer's House, happened to have the garden gates open as I passed by recently. Originally the home of York Minster Treasurer it sits next to the Minster giving stunning views from the garden. It does however have a slightly dodgy line in garden statuary, part of the collection of former owner Frank Green I suspect. He is described on the National Trust website as an eccentric bachelor with a very particular sense of taste and style! Close up statue picture tomorrow!!

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Little Owl

A closer look at the window of the house on Ogleforth featured yesterday shows an owl (instead of the usual York cat!) on the windowsill. I suspect this is here because one suggested origin for the street name is that it derives from the Scandinavian for 'The Ford Hunted by an Owl'. An alternative suggestion is that it was formerly Ugel's Ford, although who Ugel was remains a mystery.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Double Dutch

This is the Dutch House, believed to be one of the oldest brick built houses in the city dating from 1648. It features a variety of architectural styles and is may be the result of a recently qualified designer showing off his newly acquired skills. It is on a very narrow street called Ogleforth and hence rather difficult to photograph at pleasing angle. Come back tomorrow to find out about that white blob on the top left windowsill.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Dappled Window

As I was hurrying past Kings Manor on Sunday the sun came out, and the mellow stone plus the coloured leaded lights just lit up this beautiful old building.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Exhibition Square

Exhibition Square was built in 1879 to celebrate the Yorkshire Fine Art and Industrial Exhibition of that year. It houses the city Art Gallery and looks out over Bootham Bar and York Minster. The square is also a busy traffic thoroughfare which prevents it from being a classically beautiful square. The statue is of William Etty, York's most famous artist, who campaigned successfully to prevent the demolition of Bootham Bar.
Taking part in ABC wednesday

Tuesday, 14 August 2012


Much of York cemetery is overgrown and graves are interspersed with wild flowers and grasses, bushes and even trees. Parts of the cemetery where recent burials have taken place are kept tidy, as are some graves which are looked after by York Cemetery Trust. I rather like the less manicured areas, although I know some are appalled by the idea, and it is ideal for encouraging local wildlife.
Taking part in Taphophile Tragics

Monday, 13 August 2012

St Olaves

A green leafy corner of St Olaves churchyard in the centre of York is highlighted by a few yellow flowers.
Taking part in MellowYellowBadge Monday

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Fabulous Foxgloves

Two fabulous foxgloves flower through the railings. This flower is also known as Bee Catchers, Pop-ladders, Witches' Gloves and Dead Men's Fingers. Did you know that fairies give foxes foxglove flowers to wear on their paws to enable them to approach chickens silently and steal them? Not only do foxes wear them but the flowers are also sometimes known as Folks’ Gloves because the fairies wear them as hats and gloves.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Tower Bridge

Well actually it is Lendal Bridge with Barker Tower and its cone shaped roof in the foreground, and Lendal Tower, the square building flying the flag, in the background. A chain used to be strung across the river at this point each night between the towers to guard the approach to the city by water. Before the bridge was built a ferry operated here from at least mediaeval times, with the ferryman living in Barker tower.
Barker Tower gets it's name from the tanning industry which used to thrive in this part of the city, and from 1879 the tower was used as a mortuary. Nowadays it is a cafe, and rather more fragrant smells waft from this old building.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Blue Sky

The church tower of St Martin on Coney street, with that rarest of sights this summer a deep blue sky in the background.
Taking part in Skywatch Friday

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Behind the Scenes at the Museum Gardens

These 'extras' were waiting for their cue to feature on stage in the Mystery Plays in the Museum Gardens. I am guessing they are in the big flood scene.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

D is for Door Knocker

This door knocker can be found on Stonegate, one of York's oldest streets. It has been painted black like the door and I suspect has quite some age to it. I didn't notice the colours reflected in the glossy paint until I reviewed the photo back home! When I look at this door knocker I think I can see a gentleman in a large floppy hat with a ruff around his neck, and very long arms which can be raised to knock on the door. What do you see?
Taking part in ABC Wednesday

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Snail Mail

The initials GR show this is a George V letterbox placed into the wall of the Treasurers House between 1910-36. The mixture of red brick and limestone blocks are typical of walls in the centre of York which have often been patched up over the centuries with stone from St Mary's Abbey or other ecclesiastical ruins.
I wonder how much use this post box gets these days?
Taking part in Ruby Tuesday

Monday, 6 August 2012

Once upon a time.............

In an inspired move the Museum Gardens have cleared a path through the middle of a clump of old trees and shrubs, and added a couple of upside down tree stumps as gate posts, a big pair of wooden gates and a little wooden fence. This creates a special place which you can go inside, there you will find seating in the form of stones from (real) broken Roman columns, and you can sit down and tell your kids a story.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Cleveland Bay

Said to be Britain's oldest breed of horse originating somewhere around the 17th century is the Cleveland Bay. The Bay Horse Pub on Blossom Street in York pays tribute to this old breed with a plaque on the wall in praise of this rare breed. The present Queen is patron of the British Cleveland Bay Horse Society and Clevelands still pull the occasional royal carriage.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Baby Blackbird

Young birds have little or no fear of humans, this blackbird was busy sunning herself on a garden wall as I passed and had no problem with posing for a picture!

Friday, 3 August 2012

King of the Castle

One bird that can almost always be found on old ruins is the jackdaw. This jaunty blue eyed jackdaw is king of Helmsley castle.
Taking part in Skywatch Friday

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Start of the Mystery

Today is the first day of the 2012 cycle of Mystery Plays in the city. Each guild used to perform a particular play and in the 1909 Mystery Pageant the guilds paraded their Guild Banner through the streets of York. These same banners are now on display in the Merchant Adventurers Hall. This is the banner of the Weavers Guild. It shows three leopards' heads facing forwards, each with a shuttle in its mouth. The shuttle was used to run the weft yarn through the open warp yarns when weaving. The Weavers Mystery was the Appearance of Mary to Thomas.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Cat at No 25

York is famous for cats on buildings, they can be found running up walls, sat on window ledges or walking 'Tall Tail' across roof tops. This black cat is stalking birds along the ledge above No 25.

Taking part in CDP theme day 'Numbers' and ABC Wednesday
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