European Adventure VIII: Return to England (Grantham, York, Leeds)

After almost a week of hot sunny days in Spain, we flew back to England from Malaga. We arrived at Gatwick and it was raining cats and dogs. What a welcome, eh? 🙂

We made our way back to Mei’s place, and that evening we went to a barbeque with Mei and Colin and met a bunch of people from their diving club. Unfortunately no pictures of the barbeque because a) it was night time and b) it was still pouring rain. It’s true – the English barbeque in all weather!!

The next morning, Mei and I picked up a rental car before she went off to work, and Vin and I packed lightly for our one-night trip up north to Leeds where Vin’s sister Joanne lives. So we got into the very small car (I should have taken a picture of Vin sitting in it!! Sort of Kancil-sized) and I drove us up north. Since people in England drive on the left-hand side of the road and I grew up driving in Malaysia (also on the left-hand side), I had no trouble driving our little manual car. It was some kind of Chevrolet that I had never seen before!

So we drove up and about 2 hours south of Leeds is a town called Grantham, where we stopped to eat lunch. Grantham is the site of Harlaxton College, where Vin spent his sophomore year of college.

[[image:eur122.jpg:Signboard for Harlaxton College:center:0]]

Harlaxton College is affiliated with the University of Evansville and students of the U of Evansville could spend a semester or a year abroad at Harlaxton. Vin took advantage of this program and came to live in England (where his mother is from). So we of course, stopped by. Unfortunately the term was over for the year, so the main gates were locked and we couldn’t go into Harlaxton Manor. Here are some pictures of Harlaxton College:

[[image:eur121.jpg:The main gate:center:0]]

[[image:eur124.jpg:Vin in front of the main gate:center:0]]

[[image:eur123.jpg:Harlaxton Manor – from a distance:center:0]]

We had lunch at the Gregory Arms, which was where Vin worked part time during his year abroad. We found that the place had been renovated and had been quite yuppified – and the menu had been upgraded quite a bit. I had a lovely risotto (at a pub?? pub grub has certainly come a long way). But the outside of the place looks the same, Vin says.

[[image:eur125.jpg:Gregory Arms:center:0]]

So after we had a nice lunch, we drove up further north to Leeds. Joanne lives just south of Leeds so we didn’t have to drive into town, luckily! I would not have liked driving into a big city not knowing the roads. Guarantee we’ll get lost! We hung out with Joanne, chitchatted, took tea and later we went out to dinner with her and Terry. They drove us to York for dinner (York is about a half hour drive from Jo’s place).

At York, we walked around for a while before we ate. Some pictures of York Minster:

[[image:eur126.jpg:York Minster:center:0]]

[[image:eur127.jpg:Slightly different view of the Minster:center:0]]

[[image:eur128.jpg:Close up:center:0]]

[[image:eur129.jpg:The Main Minster door:center:0]]

[[image:eur130.jpg:Looking up to the Minster:center:0]]

York is a very old city – and has the remains of Roman walls. They have found remains of other Roman structures underneath the Minster as well as below the current city of York itself. There’s a statue of Constantine in York:

[[image:eur133.jpg:Emperor Constantine:center:0]]

Also a Roman column:

[[image:eur134.jpg:This column may be 2000 years old:center:0]]

The buildings were just beautiful – you can really feel the history flowing through York.

[[image:eur132.jpg:Another cool looking church:center:0]]

[[image:eur135.jpg:An old graveyard the size of a shop lot, right in between 2 other shops:center:0]]

[[image:eur136.jpg:You can shake hands across the road from the upper floors:center:0]]

[[image:eur137.jpg:Doorway through to the outdoor marketplace:center:0]]

[[image:eur138.jpg:This house looks so European:center:0]]

We had a lovely dinner and a wonderful time with Joanne and Terry. Here’s Vin with Jo and Terry:

[[image:eur131.jpg:Joanne, Vin and Terry:center:0]]

On the way back to the car, I took a couple more pictures of York Minster at night. This is one cool looking building!

[[image:eur139.jpg:York Minster at night:center:0]]

In the morning, the rain had started up again. Some pictures of a church right by Joanne’s house in Leeds:

[[image:eur141.jpg:Church in Leeds:center:0]]

[[image:eur140.jpg:Pretty graveyard:center:0]]

We had breakfast with Joanne before we drove back to Surrey. It was friday before a bank holiday and we were to watch Madame Butterfly with Mei and Colin in the evening, so we said our goodbyes to Joanne and journeyed back south. Thus concluded our adventure in Northern England. And now, I’ve seen York Minster, Salisbury Cathedral and I saw Westminster in the winter of 1997 when I visited Mei in my very first trip to England. Checking off the oldest and most famous churches in England now! Also, I can now say I’ve had dinner in York and New York!

We had a lovely time with Joanne and Terry, who I met for the first time. Thank you so much for your hospitality, and we’ll be back for a longer visit next time, Jo.

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