York & Thanksgiving in the UK

Well, as was somewhat expected, the vacation journaling got a little minimalistic and scattered after we left Scotland. Not a lack of desire, rather a wonderful time of catching up with many loved ones, family & friends that I had not seen in almost 5 years, or much longer in some cases.

We were in Scotland from when we arrived on Friday Nov 20th until the following Tuesday. We were scheduled to be in York on Wednesday which is around a 6 hour drive from where we were staying in Fort William. In order to avoid a 6 hour drive we decided to split the journey & I had us booked into a Holiday Inn Express just south of Glasgow. The price was great, the hotel was not, still it did the job, just a few extra back aches to worry about.

Wednesday morning, after 3.5 almost comfortable hours in the car ( the vauxhall Mokka is not really built for long journeys), we arrived to my aunt’s house in York. My Aunt, Uncle & cousin came to visit in 2012 for thanksgiving, so we decided that we would have our thanksgiving celebration in the UK at their house. After some catch up time and lunch we unloaded the car – I was starting to grow slightly weary of loading & unloading that thing, although I do had it down to a fine art by that stage, the Tetris song playing in my head the whole time. My wife then went to the kitchen to begin thanksgiving preparations, one of her favorite things to do. Which gave me the chance to keep a promise I had made to my young daughter, we would go and visit the Jorvik Viking Museum. She remembered going the last time we were here (4.5 years ago), but didn’t really remember the place.

It was about a 25 minute walk from the house to get to the museum, I delightful walk through the beautiful historic city of York. We knew we were getting close when we got to the old city walls and gate, I really love this town & have very fond memories of visiting as a child. There were many street artists playing all sorts of instruments and juggling, a Christmas market lining the street with all sorts of tempting gifts willing your wallet to open. We managed to pass them all and make it to the museum with plenty of time to spare ( it closes at 4 & I didn’t want to risk getting shut out or hurried).

The one thing everyone remembers about the Viking Museum is the smell, faithfully reproduced to build the atmosphere of being back in the time of the Vikings, it’s not exactly pleasant, you could say it’s somewhat like those candle shops that you get dragged into & then have every scent of candle under the sun shoved in your face repeatedly until your senses just give up & it all turns into a repugnant mush of an odor, yes quite like that 😉

The Jorvik Viking Center is just as a remembered it, it is a truly fascinating place & well worth a visit for anyone if you are in the north of England. The history of the archeological dig is covered well & the details they have been able to ween from their studies is astounding. They know the Vikings diets, lifestyles, diseases, physical ailments. They know where they went, where they traded ( international trade  – I’m a viking lol). The is the most historically significant true there too, fossilized & since world travelled, the guide seemed very proud to tell us all about it.

My daughter and I wandered a little around the center of York before returning home, I would have taken her around the city walls but she was worried that we would get lost & we both wanted to get back to visit with family. My girl especially enjoyed that there was a piano there, she had missed playing the last week & ended up spending the evening doing a duet of Mozart with my Uncle!

The next day, day 7 would be our first Thanksgiving in the UK since getting married. You know, Thanksgiving, the traditional US holiday, it might seem odd to be away from family and friends for it, however this year although we were traveling, we were indeed with family and friends. We were at my Aunt & Uncle’s house in York, my cousin and his fiancé drove up from Reading to join us & my Dad & step Mum came over from Leeds & brought our very young niece with them. I had the chance to revisit the comical old story of when my mother in law asked what I used to do for Thanksgiving when I lived in the UK, to which i dryly responded I usually went to work, it always raises a giggle, especially with my mother in law.

My wife had been cooking since yesterday & so the prep didn’t seem too chaotic (from my distance) on thanksgiving itself. We even had time to go get a good cup of coffee at the local Costa.

The spread was wonderful, everything I am used to, great turkey, dressing, sweet potatoes, gravy, back eyed peas etc etc & several pies. We were all so full after the meal though that we decided the pies should wait & we would go for a family walk.

A very pleasant evening stroll through the Christmas market and around the “Shambles” helped us to feel slightly less full, just enough to return to the warmth of the coal fire and enjoy some pecan or pumpkin pies. A little later I managed to figure out a stream for the Cowboy game, which turned out to not be a good thing, my cousin still suffered through it with me until it was clearly a lost cause & we called it a night.


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