Saturday, 11 October 2008

Up and down to York

Every year, my motorbike club has a final event of the year called the 'Birthday Bash', which commemorates and celebrates the founding of the club over 30 years ago. It's a chance to meet up with old (and new) friends, visit a part of the country you might not otherwise visit, go on a bike run with a different mix of people, and generally enjoy some good food, drink and company.

This year's event was in York, which meant quite a trek for me - I keep my bike in Brighton rather than West London, as I got fed up of it getting knocked over in the streets by ignorant motorrists here. (But that's for another blog).

Unfortunately for me, the week-end in question just happened to be unseasonably cold, with a grim forecast, so I decided to break the journey: a round trip of 600 miles on my own over three days in the cold and wet did not seem to so appealing (not that I'm a fair weather biker - more a case of making things a bit easier - after all, it's supposed to be fun!).

So I decided to break my journey at Peterborough, which is roughly half way on the route, and stayed with the very jolly people at the Sibson Inn on the Great North Road. It's a lovely old converted farmhouse, with many of the rooms arranged around a courtyard in former outbuildings. The food is excellent too - dinner was really good, and it's nice to have a cooked breakfast made to order rather than serve yourself from a hotplate.

Before setting off the next day, I headed to the lovely little village of Castor for a look at its famous church of St Kyneburgha. This is well worth a short detour if you are ever in the area, for its astonishing array of Norman carvings and the 15th century painted angels (over 60 of them) which adorn its roof.

And then to York, staying at the hostel at York Racecourse; this provides very decent budget accommodation for groups, with good traditional cooking; everyone was impressed by the evening meal of steak pie (or veggie lasagne) with plenty of fresh vegetables. It certainly lived up to the image of generous northern hospitality!

York itself, of course, needs no introduction, whether you like history, railways, churches or all three. The downer was that it was packed, with a particular emphasis, it seemed, on large organised tour groups. Still, both the National Railway Museum and York Minster live up to expectation - though, oddly, the former is free and you now have to pay to get into the latter!

The run back started with a quick visit to the legendary Squire's Cafe (well, legendary in biking circles): this former pub, taken over as a milk bar in the 1960s, is a biking mecca: literally thousands of bikes a week visit during the summer months. It was a great opportunity to say farewell to our friends before heading off back to the four corners of the UK.

And I even got home without getting wet!

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