York – Rainy Saturday
It is amazing how the brilliant blue skies of yesterday can turn into the heavy wet gray gloom of today. I’m rethinking my desire to venture out and go to a pub for lunch, this seems to be a curl up with a book and tea, and have leftover stew for dinner, kind of day.
Michael is elated at the weather. After returning from Castle Howard he told me it needs to rain so he can wash the bird poop from the car; the paper towels and window cleaner he tried using before our day out yesterday didn’t quite work. It is amazing the damage an ill fed group of birds can do. Not being able to pull off obtaining a monthly parking slot in a covered garage is turning out to have more repercussions than we thought.
While Michael is out shopping for a scrub brush so he can execute a poor man’s version of a car wash I sit here thinking—perhaps he deserves the cheerful atmosphere and comfort food of a pub after his ordeal. Suddenly I hear the door opening and his feet on the stairs. “Wow, that didn’t take long,” I tell him
“That’s because I haven’t gone to the car yet. I just bought a brush and some other things.”
When I tell him my idea for lunch at a warming pub after he returns from washing the car he invites me to come with him so we can walk to the pub directly after his job is done. What I’m thinking, but don’t have the courage to say, is that we will have to walk back by the apartment anyway so maybe I should just stay here. Coward that I am, I grab my raincoat and umbrella. We walk down the fifteen steps to our apartment’s front door in order to walk down an additional sixteen steps to the buildings front door.
The women on the street form a sea of umbrellas while the men on parade go without, and are even sans hats. The owners of the small bobbing canopies try hard to maneuver on narrow sidewalks in two way traffic. There is much turning and lifting and twisting and snagging, making the use of all these colorful coverings rather useless. I am seriously considering closing my umbrella when suddenly we are turning the corner onto a narrow cobblestone lane, leaving the Saturday strollers behind.
Even with the scrub brush we still need glass cleaner and paper towels. This is taking longer than Michael projected. It is a frustrating business. I wonder what people on the street are thinking. Luckily we are parked so far away, and the weather is so miserable that there aren’t that many observers.
Checking out the city map earlier I think I know the most expedient way to reach the Guy Fawkes Inn on the other side of town. Michael walks in the opposite direction of the route I planned explaining that we need to go up and take the city walls—it will be quicker. Well, at least it’s not windy. But won’t the walls be slippery in the rain? And I have very klutzy feet. I hold my breath and climb the high stone steps at the Micklegate entrance.
Reaching the top of the ancient stone fortress I feel better once I see that there are chest-high stone walls on one side and a white iron fence on the other. Until there isn’t. Then the wall becomes my new best friend. I’m not moving away from it for anyone or anything, except steps leading down.
The weather is terrible and yet there are masses of people everywhere. I hear someone complain that it “is like the New York State Fair”—the reply comes, “It’s Saturday.” I believe I made a huge mistake planning this outing. I’m doubly sure when we push our way into the pub at the Guy Fawkes Inn finding people stuffed in every corner, sitting, standing, leaning against the walls. The outside courtyard is full–it’s raining! I optimistically walk to the hostess stand. The young woman tells me, “It will just be a sec while we clean off the table.”
I spend the sec reading about Guy Fawkes. The first time I recall ever knowing of his existence was decades ago—sometime between the age of sixteen and twenty-six when I was a Thomas Hardy fan reading Return of the Native. I remember his name, the name of the heroine, Eustacia Vie, and bonfires on the moors. Now, many years later my education is complete—kind of. I’m not sure these images are the best to take with me to the lunch table.
The dining area of the pub is dark and cozy and comforting—just what I was hoping for. In England I don’t want new and shiny and glitzy—I want old and worn and warm. This inn is it! But I can’t believe they are already thinking Christmas.
Michael orders a beer. I order wine. When I’m told the steak and ale pie I desire for lunch will take a minimum of thirty minutes we ask for a small assortment of appetizers to occupy our time till lunch is served. The olives are my favorite—Castletrevano marinated in garlic, and the chunks of chorizo with roasted red pepper is delicious. The entrees live up to our expectations and are so generous in size that I can barely finish a third.
When we are the last couple left seated in the dining area we pay our lunch bill of £48 and ready ourselves to brave the elements—the crowds outweighing the weather.
…was part of a conspiracy to assassinate King James I and restore a Catholic monarch to the throne by blowing up parliament. The conspirators leased an undercroft beneath the House of Lords, and Fawkes was placed in charge of the gunpowder they stockpiled there. Authorities were alerted to the plot and found Fawkes guarding the explosives. He was questioned and tortured and eventually confessed. Immediately before his execution he fell from the scaffold where he was to be hanged and broke his neck, avoiding the agony of the mutilation that followed.
Fawkes became synonymous with the Gunpowder Plot, the failure of which has been commemorated in Britain since 5 November 1605. His effigy is traditionally burned on a bonfire, commonly accompanied by a fireworks display.
Traitors were hanged, almost to the point of death, the mutilated by drawing and quartering.