York, and a hot shower...

We decided to take advantage of some opportunities for quick and easy weekend getaways and York was right up there at the top of our list.  Its a relatively quick train ride (2 hours from King's Cross to York) and we've heard good things about it.  It's another old, beautiful English city steeped in rich history.  I loooove the history, but man, the architecture of this place was something else.  You can't help but notice the substantial church visible from any part of the city, the amazing York Minster.  Its the 2nd largest gothic cathedral in northern Europe, and the seat of the Archbishop of York, the second-highest office of the Church of England.  Brian, Taylor, and Lauren climbed to the top of the tower and the next few pictures are their aerial views...such a beautiful place.

We walked these streets many times- both rain and even snow were seen during our visit.  York has the corner on adorable chocolate and tea shoppes- they were like donut shops in Texas....literally everywhere you turn.  Because it was Mothering Sunday, I treated myself to some fancy and delicious chocolates from the oldest artisan chocolate shoppe in town, Monk's.

We've had our fair share of hot cocoa while living in the UK because we have spent a LOT of time outside in the cold this winter and its been one of our only bargaining chips with our kiddos on our trips.

Because having "tea" (an excuse to gorge on good old-fashioned bakery items) is such big deal in York, we indulged at Bennett's tea house, right across the street from the Minster.  We ate a delicious spread of chocolate muffins, lemon cake, crumpets (hello, America, we need these, stat!), and scones with clotted cream and jam.  Wow- it was so delicious.  Give me carbs all day long and I'd be happy. :)  

After our tea time, we headed back into the Minster to enjoy their Evensong.  I've wanted to go to one of these since we stepped foot on English soil, and this was my first chance.  We all went together and sat in the quire while the boys sang, amidst candlelight and a stunningly ornate church.  I'm so glad we got to go.  Afterwards, we headed back to our hotel (which we picked out based on the fact that it had a pool), so the kids could go swimming. I'm pretty sure this was their favorite part of the trip and I'm also sure they could have swam all night, but we made them get out eventually and they fall asleep to a movie in their room...such a rough life! ;)

We explored for a few more hours the next day and grabbed lunch right before leaving.  I might have eaten the best BBQ sandwich I've had since my days back in Georgia.  So, if you ever find yourself in York, you MUST eat a melt-in-your-mouth pulled pork sandwich with Apple BBQ sauce from Shambles Kitchen.  On our walk back after lunch, we made a stop at the Museum Gardens (pictured above) right off of the River Ouse and right as the sun started shining.  The kids loved jumping and running around on the old ruins and through the cute little play areas hidden by the huge trees.  It was such a beautiful park and was also one of the kids' favorite things we did while we were in York.

 The Shambles is an old street in York, with some stores dating all the way back to the 14th century.  It is a pedestrian street with overhanging timber-framed buildings and narrow alleys...closest real-life place to Diagon Alley we've ever seen (for all you Harry Potter fans).  

On another note, the hot water for our entire building came back on yesterday after being out for SEVEN loooong days.  When you wake up and its 28F outside and your radiator heating is not that spectacular, that is no small thing.  I took 4 cold showers, in which my body literally turned blue by the time I was done.  Torture.  I had to bathe the girls the first night it was out and I boiled 4 big pots of water, and it still didn't touch the temperature.  They were screaming bloody murder for all of our dear neighbors to hear.  Oh man, I felt so bad for them!

 So, I got smart and decided one day that I would lug all of my toiletries across town to Tessa's preschool drop-off and then straight to the gym (about 3 miles with a heavy backpack in the, you guessed it, freezing cold).  I assumed that my gym would have warm showers...I was wrong.  It was like the worst tease ever when their water never warmed up and I had lugged all of my stuff for the same shower I could have had at home! Ugh.  You can bet on the fact that one of the things we were all looking forward to was a nice hot shower at our York hotel, pictured above (by the time we got there, our hot water had been out for 3 days).  I told the girls they wouldn't have to bathe again until our heat was back, no matter how long it took.  It was 4 more days...I am never, ever going to take hot water for granted again.  And, yes, I did a major happy dance when it came back on! :)  

We also visited Clifford's Tower, the keep of York Castle.  At over 9 centuries old, its looking very good for its age.  ;) And, the beautiful dandelions are blooming everywhere you turn.