About this blog

This is a window into the weird world of Anglicanism, as experienced on a Cathedral Close. Has anything much happened since Trollope's Barchester Chronicles? You will still see the 'canon in residence' hurrying across to choral Evensong, robes flapping, as the late bell chimes. But look carefully and you will notice he is checking the football score on his iPhone as he runs. This is also a writer's blog. It charts the agony and ecstasy of the novelist's life. And it's a fighter's blog. It charts the agony and ecstasy of the judo mat. Well, the agony, anyway.

Sunday 14 August 2011

WEEK 32--An Overnight Stay in York Youth Hostel

An old primary school chum, Angela, has just celebrated her 50th birthday in the York Brewery.  Good food, good ale, good company.  It's official--the girl can organise a piss-up in a brewery.  If you yourself have difficulty in this department, get in touch, and I will pass on her details.

A spot of organising was required on my part, too, if I was to be there on the night.  I didn't fancy driving there and back in an evening, so I looked into overnight accommodation.  Don't ask me to organise your brewery piss-up.  By the time I got round to looking for budget hotels in York, everything was booked solid.  So the good old YHA it was.  I have stayed in Youth Hostels before, but never by myself, never booking it myself and all that stuff.  I'm reassured to think that if I am tragically widowed, I will at least be able to go away on a mini break without getting lost or kidnapped or locked out of my room.  Well, there's no real guarantee is there?  I've been locked out of rooms before and had to go down to reception in my pyjamas, tra la la, how hilarious!

Anyway, dorm of 8 bunks, very reasonable price, comfortable walking distance from the town centre.  I arrived and checked in and made up my bunk, as you can see, in a nice verdant duvet cover and pillow slip.  Then I got changed and headed into to town for a mooch and a sight-see, before the bash.

York is the perfect pottering town. Oodles of history, tea rooms and quirky shops.  I had a pot of Earl Grey and a slice of extremely good lemon cake at Georgina's, and later on, an extraordinary liquorice ice cream from a chocolate shop in the Shambles.  Weird, but wonderful.  I sat eating it in a little square listening to the buskers and thinking life was good.  I then meandered to York Minster for choral evensong.  I was late, because they clearly don't know in York that choral evensong is at 5.30pm not 5.15pm.  I'm sure they will rectify this.  After the service I admired the statue of Constantine outside the  Minster, where he appears to be waiting for the nail polish on his right hand to dry before he embarks on his left hand (see below).

With a bit more time to kill I wandered down towards the river.  It rapidly became clear why the hotels were all full: stag nights and hen parties.  I won't detain you with a description, merely pause to suggest that if 'Vomit-Skating in stilettos and half a dress' ever becomes an Olympic event, the Gold medals have Great Britain written all over them.

After the party I was driven back to the Youth Hostel by a kind friend of Angela's, was not locked out, phew, and all seemed peachy, until I crept into my dorm to find a great big Spanish bird in my bunk.  We had a hissed exchange over who's bunk it should be, before I found myself flailing around in the dark trying to make up the top bunk and locate all my kit which she'd moved.  Quite a challenge, after a couple of the brewery's best.  I was pretty grumpy at the time, but it's got steadily funnier since.  After discussion with the nice bloke on Reception as I checked out, I think I know what must have happened.  The cleaners had mistakenly stripped her bed, and she'd come back to find someone had apparently taken it over.  'Unless she's just bonkers,' I said.  'Well, we do get a lot of bonkers people here,' he conceded.

So, how do I rate my first ever solo stay in a Youth Hostel?  Hmm.  Let's just say, I was glad I'd taken earplugs to block out the gentle concerto of snores, farts and smoker's coughs.  Good value, provided you are prepared to take the rough with the smooth, and a cracking breakfast.

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