Sunday, August 24, 1980

Sunday August 24th

Dad got me up at about nine o’clock; everyone else was up and eager to go. We all piled into the car and got to York at about ten thirty, after travelling 57½ miles through Whincliffe and by Calby etc.

One of the main reasons for our visit was to let Andrew see the National Railway Museum, although we’d had this planned since before our holidays. With it being relatively early and a Sunday everything was shut, even the museums, so we wandered around a bit and then down to the riverside for our dinners. I was conscious of a strained atmosphere today somehow; Mum looking absolutely fed up, wandering about slowly, looking at things but not really seeing them, Dad constantly stopping to read plaques and inscriptions. It all seemed false somehow.

York was packed with tourists, a lot of them Italians and Germans, and after doing the same, predictable rounds; (the Shambles, Whipma-Whopma-Gate etc.), we ambled towards the Railway Museum along with about a million other people. We got to the Museum at 2.15 and started to queue. Soon there were two massive lines of people, and when the doors were finally opened at half-past, things weren’t helped by the security checks on bags. Why the I.R.A. would want to bomb a museum in politically-trivial York I don’t know!

The museum was quite good although I remembered a lot from my last visit a few years ago. By far the most interesting exhibit as far as I was concerned was “The Mallard” the record-breaking steam locomotive. Dad acted as fireman on that engine in 1945 when it went either from Easterby-Sheffield or vice-versa for repairs (I can’t remember which). He showed me the actual seat on which he had sat all those years ago.

After the Museum we went into a Model railway Exhibition opposite which was crummy (and it cost 25p) and then had a look at the Minster and wandered around. York Minster, although pretty big, isn’t at all impressive in the company of hundreds of laughing kids, and banal old women.

We found a good antique and second hand book shop which was really expensive. Admittedly, the books were good but I’m sure the prices were too high. I looked at one book – “Voyage to the East Indies” (1660-61) – which was priced at £75!! Some books there were £300. The only thing which caught my eye really was “Shirley” in three volumes by Currer Bell, 1849. Priced at a measly £180.

We left York at about four on the A59 turning off on the B1224 and then off for the Tockwith-Long Marston Road. Soon the monument at the roadside came into view, and I was quite excited. So that I could spot the positions of the different units I brought John Bowles “Charles I” book which had a map of Marston Moor in the back.

The battle of Marston Moor was fought on July 2, 1644 between 27-28000 Parliamentarians and 17-18000 Royalists. The former won and it is generally regarded as the battle which turned the tide against Charles. Although in 1644, the area was open moorland, now it is all enclosed agricultural land – turnip fields and wheat etc. – but the topography of the area is still similar. On the south side of the road is the slight rise on which Fairfax and Cromwell were stationed, whereas to the North, along White Sykes Lane, a narrow dusty path, were ranged the Royalist men. Along the Lane mentioned above can still be seen the ditch in which the Royalists fought, running E-W.

I stood still for a moment and tried to visualise the scene on July 2nd 1644, 336 years ago. It was hard, especially with the sounds of cars and people laughing nearby. Up on the hill I could just visualise the serried, colourful ranks of Roundheads, with banners and flags fluttering. It was warm, too warm really, but we sat by the car and ate the remaining sandwiches.

We drove home a long way round because it was a superb evening. After Marston Moor, which I think I enjoyed more than the whole of the earlier part of the day, Dad drove us along little country lanes ending up on a big A road. We soon diverted again, through Kirkby Overblow and then on an incredibly narrow lane towards Stainburn. The road was a lot narrower than most of the Dales roads I’ve been on. We stopped below Almscliffe Crags, a huge mass of rock which I’ve often seen from miles away and wanted to go up. The land all around is perfectly flat, and with it being sunny the White Horse of Kilburn was visible, as were the Ferrybridge powerstation chimneys at Doncaster. Even though there were many people round there it was superb in the sun. Both Andrew and I agreed that it was perfect “One With The Sun” weather.

After Almscliffe Crags we next stopped at Keddon Moor, my favourite place. John and I walked up to the pile of old clinker near Ainsley Hill and watched the sunset, which was superb because just as the sun vanished below the horizon at one side, behind us rose a full moon.

We had fish and chips for supper and I came to bed at about a quarter to ten, leaving Mum and Dad watching “Testament of Youth.”

I enjoyed the journey back from York a lot, more in fact than the actual visit itself which in parts I found boring. On Keddon Moor we saw a lot of Harley Davidsons around (there was a rally there) and this really set my mind up. To go around the world on a Harley Davidson Electra Glide would be superb. Mum and Dad seem to think that all this talk is just all a dream. Mum keeps saying that you have lots of commitments when you’re older, so I counter by saying that you don’t have to. I am determined one day soon to go.

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