The plan was for Akeela, Lena, Margaret, Claire and myself to meet in front of the WHSmiths in Kings Cross Station. Unfortunately there are at least three Smiths in Kings Cross, which led to a frantic dash to our train once we had found each other. As it happens it wasn’t our train.
The time on our itinerary was wrong and we hopped onto a train for which our tickets were entirely invalid. Oops. Grand Central, the service whose train we had commandeered, were very nice about it and simply asked us to move out of first class. I was actually very impressed with Grand Central’s service and I would choose to use them again.
We reached York on Record time, checked into the Holiday Inn, picked up our VIP passes and met our tour guide Martin.
It was only 12 but I was starving. I was a little disappointed the plan was to go on a walking tour, then eat. I quickly changed my mind once on the tour though. York was beautiful in the late spring sunshine. I was typically English weather the sun warmed your face whilst the wind chilled your bones. We walked down snickleways and hidden passages, through the shambles; every building was stunning architecturally, be it medieval, Tudor or Georgian.
A walk around a section of York’s ancient walls took us to our greatly anticipated destination, lunch. You can read more about our wonderful lunch at Gray’s Court in my post Food in York.
Considerably revived after lunch we had our first taste of York’s vintage wares at York Open Air Market. Vintage Market Stall had a good range of later vintage pieces, with prices starting from a dress for a£10, shirts for £5 and scarfs for a £1. I picked up a yellow 60s shirt with statement collar for £5.
Our next vintage shop was Purple Haze. It is a very pretty shop but the vintage isn’t cheap, and a lot of pieces are vintage inspired reproductions. I did pick up a pretty pair of pink clip on earrings from £8 though.
Day two started with York’s outlet shopping centre. I prefer looking for bargains in charity shops and vintage stores, rather than outlet centres, but if you like brands it’s definitely worth a visit. As most of York’s streets are cobbled, it is a lot more wheelchair and pushchair friendly as well. Shops include Whittards of Chelsea, Penhaligons, Jaeger, White Stuff and Marks and Spenser.
Back in the centre of York, and back in our comfort zone we visited the Vintage Emporium. The Vintage Emporium is a beautiful shop with a lot of very good quality vintage, dating all the way from Edwardian. As well as dresses and jewellery there was also some gorgeous home wear. My personal find was a pair of paisley 1960s men’s jammies in their original packaging for my boyfriend.
Next was the Banana Warehouse, a warehouse of treasures collected from house clearances here. You’ll love it or you’ll hate it. I really enjoyed having a good rummage around, and the two fluffy dogs scampering around where adorable.
The York Antiques Centre, a three-story building with a tea room at the top, has an Aladdin’s cave of vintage gems hidden in the basement. This is the place to come for a bargain; there are plenty of 50s and 60s pieces, hats bag and coats and a well-stocked sale rail.
Having had enough of shopping and needing a little culture, we visited The Barley Hall, a medieval house which happened to have an exhibition of period drama costumes. Exhibits included Kiera Knightley’s dress from The Duchess, Maggie Smith’s purple dress from Downton Abbey, and that white shirt and pair of jodhpurs Colin firth wore in his role as Mr Darcy. Costumes were off limits, but there were plenty of hats to try on to help to channel your inner Elizabeth Bennet.
Dinner that night was at Melton’s Too, which you can read all about in my Food in York review. We also enjoyed a pre-dinner tipple in the tiny and excessively charming Blue Bell pub.
No trip to York would be complete without a visit to the stunning York Minster and York Castle Museum. York Castle Museum is a delightful mixture of exhibitions, from armor (yawn) to 50s bathing suits (yay). It included colourful 1960s street with mock shop fronts and pubs and an atmospherically lit Victorian street which makes you feel like you’ve wandered into a Dickens novel. York castle museum is definitely a museum for the whole family with something to interest everyone. I really wish I could have stayed longer, but I had a train to London to catch.
Thank you to the Holiday Inn for the accommodation and the fab breakfast (more about that in my York food review). We traveled back from York First Class with East Coast Trains. East Coast operates 72 services each weekday between London King’s Cross and York. Customers traveling First Class can enjoy East Coast’s complimentary food and drinks offer plus Wi-Fi. Advanced return fares, booked online at www.eastcoast.co.uk: start from £26 Standard Class or £79 First Class. Times and fares can also be found via 08457 225225 or from any staffed stations. And finally a big thank you to VisitYork.
All photos by me unless ‘claire’ is a the end of the title in which case they are by Claire Pursglove.