York, our gorgeous county’s capital, is right on our doorstep, and I’m beginning to realise that we don’t appreciate it or visit it as much as we should (Stephanie here, by the way), certainly not for leisure purposes. I’ve been quite a lot recently for work, but it’s all too often in and out, without resting and relaxing to appreciate all it has to offer.
The history and the architecture, the museums, the Minster, the riverside views, the Potteresque magic of The Shambles, the brilliant hotels and shopping and dining options, the unusual and admirable blend of independents and chains to choose from … these are all pressing reasons not simply to visit, but also to relocate, at least for us, if an affordable city centre pad could be found.
Last year, I staged and styled a fashion shoot at the newly renovated and extended Grand Hotel & Spa and was so impressed by the architecture and the decor – every turn, pocket and corner in York is an opportunity for inspiration.
For day trips, we often used to dine at Plunketts, close to York Grand Theatre, but that’s long gone, so yesterday we set out in search of a new, slightly quirky place with a relaxed, holiday vibe. And we discovered Ate O’Clock, a restaurant/bistro tucked away from the crowds on its own little alley off High Ousegate. Lots of options ranging from burgers from around £7.50 to roast venison at £19.50, plus lots more besides, including veggie options. Lovely atmosphere, lots of outside tables, which will be great in the summer, and top service. Highly recommended. Go to https://www.ateoclock.co.uk/ for booking and info.
Anyway, if we were to relocate to York, the time is now, as 2018 is set to be an incredible year of culture for the city (really, really want to up the culture this year – can’t spend the rest of my life watching box sets and Death in Paradise).
So, for starters, Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre comes to York as a pop-up this summer, opening on June 25 and running to September 2. This I will not miss. The Elizabethan-style theatre will rise in the car park beside Clifford’s Tower and will stage Macbeth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Romeo & Juliet and Richard III). www.shakespearesrosetheatre.com
Big thanks to Make It York for sending us details of this event and more in its new book of ideas, encouraging the use of #onlyinyork to highlight the uniqueness of the York experience.
Here are some highlights, but there is so much more, so if you want to find out about Yorkshire’s Jurassic World, Vivienne Westwood shoes, York Mediale, York Literature Festival, York Festival of Ideas and the Proms at York Museum Gardens, and more (including the York Pass), go to: https://www.visityork.org/
• Horticultural festival Bloom! celebrates the 250th Anniversary of the Ancient Society of York Florists – the oldest florists’ society in the world, dating back to 1768. It will be held in York from July 5 to 8, supported by Castle Howard, York Minster, as well as the city’s hotels, restaurants and bars, Shambles Market, the council, York Museum’s Trust, York Civic Trust, universities and colleges, Indie York and plenty of others, so it looks set to be a floral feast.
• Year of Grandeur at York Mansion House – built in 1732, the Mansion House is the earliest purpose-built house for a Lord Mayor still in existence. It’s just had an extensive restoration so visitors can experience the story of York’s past and present and see how Lord Mayors from the middle ages to the present lived and entertained.
• There’s still chance to see Tim Peake’s spacecraft at the National Railway Museum until March 8.
• 1914: When the World Changed Forever runs at York Castle Museum until the end of 2018, exploring the impact on life around the world, from the pre-war golden age of peace and prosperity to the horrors of the frontline and a daily life changed beyond recognition as millions die in the first truly global conflict.
• Times of Change: Women and Confectionery – York’s Chocolate Story opens March 8 and runs until early next year, charting the role women have played in the history of chocolate and creating brands we still love today.