So where is the best place to stay in York for five friends on a mission to have a weekend of laughing, drinking, and ghost hunting? Apparently it’s a convent. Yes, that’s right, a convent…and a working one too!
The weekend was planned long in advance but trying to find a cheap place to stay for only one night is not very easy in York, so we opted to stay in the rather charming Bar Convent. It is, in fact, England’s oldest convent but in recent years they’ve started offering bed and breakfast accommodation and also run a cafe. My single room was very small, as you might imagine a nun’s cell to be, but it had everything you expect to find in a hotel room and was warm and comfortable. I would not hesitate to stay there again or recommend it and I don’t believe I have ever stayed anywhere so spotlessly clean. Before we arrived, there had been talk of packing wimples but actually, we didn’t knowingly see a single nun the whole time we were there!
But the weekend wasn’t about the convent it was about a group of friends meeting up and having fun. We all met on Twitter and have gone on to become good friends in real life too. Twitter has, for me, been a great source of friendship…and I’m talking real friendship, the kind that lasts. We don’t see each other very often, but when we do I love that it’s so comfortable. We gossip, we giggle, we talk, and we share. We tease and poke fun at each other and it’s good. It’s so good!
We wandered somewhat aimlessly around York, found somewhere for a lovely lunch, then mooched a bit more before settling into York’s most haunted pub, The Golden Fleece. We saw no ghosts but there was a skeleton sat at the bar! The pub was the place where we discovered and laughed ourselves silly over using personal hotspots. Who knew WiFi technology was so full of double entendres?
After plenty of drinks we made our way to the assembly point for the Ghost Hunt of York at the bottom of The Shambles. One or two of us might have been slightly tipsy but even so, I’ll never know how this happened: “Was that a ghost? Oh…no…it’s a limo!” Just one of those moments that you couldn’t make up. And no, it wasn’t me who said it!
The Ghost Hunt was very popular and we followed a gentleman dressed in Victorian garb around the streets of York with over a hundred other people while he stood on a very un-Victorian stepladder and told ghost stories. The general consensus was that the tour was a victim of its own success and suffered from having too many people on it. Considering the tour runs every night we are all now thinking about a change of career!
By the time the tour ended we were all rather cold and one of us was complaining that if they didn’t get some “Yummy Chicken” soon, they wouldn’t be responsible for their actions. Duly warned, we made our way to a popular chicken restaurant where between the five of us we demolished over two whole chickens, although some people’s eyes were much bigger than their stomachs!
Having eaten we made our way back to the convent, dodging York’s Saturday night crowd, many of whom seemed shockingly underdressed for a cold evening in February. Maybe I’m showing my age now but I don’t recall going out half-dressed and going home half-cut when I was that age.
Back at the convent we attempted to find the recreation room on the third floor which inexplicably appeared to have been relocated to the second while we were out (this was our conclusion…and no we weren’t that drunk). Having found it, we settled down for some red wine and champagne cocktails. There is something deliciously naughty about lounging around and getting tipsy in a convent.
The following day, after exchanging a few harsh words with the automated pay by phone system for the car park I was using (very expensive), I met the others for breakfast. There were no hangovers so after checking out and dumping our bags in the cars, we did some more wandering around York. Obviously a cooked breakfast wasn’t going to keep us going for long so we went to Betty’s Tea Rooms where I decided to ignore my wheat intolerance and ate the most delicious Yorkshire Curd Tart I’ve ever had. The others demolished some Fat Rascals. If you haven’t come across one before, a Fat Rascal is a Yorkshire speciality and is similar to a scone. Betty’s Tea Rooms are not exactly cheap but they are old fashioned and quintessentially English, with waitresses in buttoned up blouses and white aprons. The tea was particularly good with a huge pot containing proper loose tea not tea bags!
After satiating ourselves on rascals and tarts (sounds so wrong!), we went to York Minster. The others decided to be brave and climb the tower but I declined on the grounds of having dodgy knees and a longish drive home. You can call me a wimp if you like! While they climbed I wandered around the beautiful Minster taking photos. I have to admit that I wish I could have climbed up the tower because the views from the top are simply breathtaking. Although, having said that, it did mean that no-one could accuse me of being “taken up the Minster”. As you can see, our sense of humour is nothing if not predictable. We ended the day in another pub while the tower-climbers attempted to recover their breath and ease their aching legs.
We didn’t exactly caper around the convent but it makes a good blog title! And even without any capering I loved every minute of my weekend and was terribly sad to say goodbye to everyone. They say laughter is the best medicine so I’m unsure how I managed to come home with such a terrible cold but it was worth it. I consider myself extremely lucky to have met such lovely friends through Twitter and I look forward to seeing them again before too long.
(Photos taken in York have been posted on my Flickr account)