Regular readers of the blog will be aware that I’ve recently been ticking items off a ‘bucket list’. (You can read previous posts on this here and here.) The term ‘bucket list’ was coined by a friend a few months ago when, upon hearing we were leaving York, said, “So, do you have a bucket list?” Our brains work in the same twisted way, so I instantly knew what he meant without having to seek clarification, but perhaps I’ve been a little too hasty to assume that your mind, dear reader, is equally twisted. So I’d better explain…a ‘bucket list’ is a list of things one hopes to do before he/she ‘kicks the bucket’ – a nicer way of saying “100 things to do before I die”, I guess. I’m not intending to die particularly soon, but my bucket list consists, instead, of the things I want to do before I leave York.
(Except…we’re now not leaving York. At least, not yet. Oh dear, that’s a long story – wait for another post to explain all that, and forget I mentioned it. Breathe. Refocus. This post is about all the fun I’ve been having in York.)
I’m a little behind on bucket list updates, I’m afraid, so there’s quite a bit to come. I’ll try and be brief, but you’ll know brevity doesn’t come naturally to me, so, you know, just warning you.
First stop was the House of the Trembling Madness. I persuaded my Tuesday Tots leaders to hold our end-of-term celebration/meeting there (I’m becoming quite the expert at steering friends towards places on my list…) and it was great. Firstly, the building is VERY old. I’m no historian, but I’d say Roman. Viking. Medieval. One of those. So the place has a great atmosphere. The food was rustic and hearty – I had a mixed platter of yummy meats, cheese, chutneys and stuff. OK, I’m winging it now – this was back in March, right? So my memory’s failing me. There was duck. And stuff. I’d go back.
Next up was the York Wheel. Now I kind of knew this would be a bit rubbish before I paid good money to experience it, but went because a) it felt like something that needed to be done, and b) Mister was keen. His little friend was keen too, so our two families managed to find a time when none of us were working (work – who am I kidding?), the kids were awake and the skies were clear, and made our little excursion. It was fine. Reasonable view of York, and we got several rotations (the thing really isn’t very big) to spot new things each time. I’m actually rubbish at spotting landmarks from a distance, although I did manage to correctly identify the Minster:
Thirdly, we took a walk on the North York Moors. My bro and his family came to stay; he insisted that they help me tick off some more of my bucket list, and then, in a roundabout sort of way, rejected all my suggestions. It might have been a more efficient use of our first evening together for him to outline his plans first-off, rather than discuss options for two hours before landing with his – but he’s a kindly fellow, and not taken to overtly forcing his views on anyone. But he got his way. So, the following day, we set out for Dalby Forest.
Finding a walk suitable for four kids aged 10, 9, 3 and 1, with enough interesting features to keep their attention (rather than resorting to “Look! There’s the sky!” every 30 seconds) and small enough distance to piggy-back the 3-year-old if he needs it, is so tantalizingly impossible it’s pretty much laughable. But the walk we did, just a small number of miles (again, this was April, so forgive the fuzziness), and with interesting rock formations along the way, cut the mustard. (Thank the Lord for precious people who put walks on t’Internet for mere mortals who haven’t got a clue.)
There was also an interestingly-shaped tree, which always makes life better:
The fourth bucket trip since I last wrote was to Le Langhe, an incredible Italian restaurant. We were taken by some very kind friends at the end of our first Sabbath week – the dates were coincidental, but I know you’ll never believe that. I’d been wanting to go for some time, having heard lots of recommendations from friends. At this point, I’m trying to type what I ate, but I keep deleting what I write and starting again, and deleting, and starting again. Damn! Should have made a note or at least taken some photos. I’ll have a go. Starter was perhaps fish. Main was some sort of game? And dessert was…there. (Actually, a quick look at the website has jogged my memory that it was, in fact, an utterly more-ish hazelnut tart with chocolate mousse.) But the main food item which stands out in my memory was a delicious side of courgette fries, perfectly deep fried and full of flavour: something to attempt at home some day. It was a delicious meal – but, and I feel like a broken record as I say this, it did seem pricey and the portions slightly small. There could have been more vegetables to accompany the main course (I could easily have demolished several bowls of the courgette loveliness on my lonesome). A bit like never getting over an old boyfriend, nothing in my mind quite matches up to the quality and value you get at Cafe No. 8. And now I’ll stop, because that’s definitely not the first time I’ve said that on this blog. Suffice to say that it was a lovely meal, couldn’t fault it, but shared with even lovelier friends.
It’s always a treat to do something in the daytime sans kids, and my good friend Jen and I managed that a few weeks ago when we took an afternoon to climb York Minster tower. Recently, I’ve been thinking about how deep friendships come out of quite insignificant moments. When we were preparing to move to York four years ago, a lady I hardly knew from our church handed me a scrap of paper with her daughter’s email address scrawled on it. “She’s just moved to York. She’s expecting a baby too.” Be best friends, she might as well have said. I could have lost the address, ignored it – she might never have replied. But I didn’t, and she did – and now, two children and a lot of cake later, Jen is my best friend here in York. She’s amazingly dependable, a wonderful listener to my babble, and a creative and intuitive parent. I’m so pleased we’re friends. For her birthday treat, I managed to coordinate dads-off-work to look after our kids, and we spent the most gloriously blue-skied afternoon climbing lots of steps:
Here’s what my church looks like from above:
And, after burning all those calories, where better to replenish supplies than at Gray’s Court? (Betty’s is so 1919.)
Finally (at long last, you say), a Chinese acquaintance had recommended that the most authentic place for Chinese food in York had to be Red Chilli, so that made it to my bucket list. I hadn’t yet planned when to go or who to go with, but was on a trip to see friends in Leeds recently, when it just so happened that the restaurant my friend had booked was…Red Chilli! Something of a Northern mini-chain of authentic Chinese restaurants, Red Chilli was filled with Chinese people, mainly eating things I couldn’t identify. The menu was full of offal – enough said. It did strike me as the sort of place where you need to know what you’re ordering – I happened to hit jackpot with both starter and main course (salt and pepper squid, followed by crispy beef – both fabulous). The dishes came as they were (my friend’s starter was cold duck – and it was just that, no salad or any accompaniments), so if I were to go again, I’d ask the staff’s recommendations of what to order, as I reckon a good meal at Red Chilli might be made up of several complementary dishes.
And now I’ve distracted you from the fact that I went to Leeds to fulfil one of my York bucket list items, right?!