Closet Patriots

9 Jun

This morning Jenni and I set off for York. About a 90 minute drive from Manchester on the way to her home in Hull. York is known mainly for its history of Vikings so I expect to see a lot of of people walking around with tall helmets with horns on them and drinking glog (which could be anything as long as it’s in a big stein held by a bearded man in a funny hat – not Santa Claus). Instead I find people walking around with silly Union Jack hats (it’s the Queens Diamond Jubilee) and drinking tea. A little word about this whole Union Jack craze going on here. Every Brit I know has always made fun of America and our love for our flag. So now the truth comes out. The Brits are closet patriots. It took an 86 year old woman to work the same job for 60 years for them to finally say, “Yay us!” without shame.

When we arrive we park in the central car park – lack of parking in town makes this a smart move – and take the bus into town. We note that the bus has dropped across the street from the Marks and Spencer so we’ll be able to find our way back and set off to explore. As we’re walking to the Minster (a fancy name for an old church) we notice that there are about 7 Marks and Spencers. Hhhmmm, I foresee challenges in our future.

The Minster is huge. And every bit of open wall or floor space seems to have some writing telling the history of someone who is buried there, some priest or vicar (still trying to figure out what a vicar is) or some spot that was blown up in 1941. Many of the dedications are in Latin and we Jews do not know Latin.

We pick up a “99” for our walk. This is an ice cream with a Flake in it. So what’s a Flake you say? Well, you should first know that American chocolate is crap. Yup, I said it. All apologies to Hershey, our chocolate tastes like we melted down a brown Crayola crayon, maybe threw in some nuts or Rice Krispies, and shaped it into a bar. While the Brits swear by their Cadbury’s, Smarties and Maltesers, I am a huge fan of the Flake. It’s chocolate that crumbles as you eat it. It can be a bit messy but chocolate doesn’t need to be neat.

So, we grab our “99’s” and start walking down The Shambles. This is an old section of town (700 years old instead of 500 years old – it’s all relative) with buildings that look like they are about to collapse. Every one of them looks like the Union Jack factory blew up. Oh, and there are all kinds of items with the Queen’s face plastered on them. Jenni and I used to have a tacky souvenir wall in our cabin. This is like the mother load. My nine year old niece is obsessed with Queen Elizabeth (a bit odd I know) but I can’t really see buying her a dish or tea cup with the Queen’s likeness.

One old fort and my first Cream Tea in the park later (tea and a scone with jam and clotted cream = heaven) and we are off to Hull. If you’re from England and are reading this you are saying, “huh?” Why come all the way from the U.S. and go to Hull? A few reasons. First, it’s where Jenni lives. Second, it’s where her father lives and we’ll be staying with him due to a little Fizz issue (her cat, my allergies). Finally, her dad has a nice collection of fine malt whiskey (my drink of choice). And her dad is a smart man. He understands that the only thing a good whiskey needs to be served with is a glass. Neither of us understand why anyone would dilute a perfectly good whiskey with ice (I’m not positive but this might actually be illegal in Scotland). We settle in, have some tea, then have a scotch, then head for bed.

The next day we look at old photo’s from the ship Jenni and I worked on (really, why was I rollerblading down the hallway in my bathrobe?) and, as per my request, head off to the gym. After a great workout we tour Hull. One really long suspension bridge, some shoe shopping (I like this place as I wear a smaller size shoe here so I feel dainty) and a quest to find the perfect necklace to go with my pretty new dress (no luck) and we head back to pick up her dad to get some fish and chips.

There’s a bit of history with Jenni and I here. When we roomed together 18 years ago I was teaching her American and she was teaching me British. Yes, two countries separated by a common language. I taught Jenni to say, “Gee is that ever cool” while she taught me to say, “we got our bucket and spade and went down by the seaside.” So we went down to the seaside and searched for a bucket and spade. What we found was a closed bucket and spade store, 50 mile per hour winds and a freezing mist. Although I generally like to dip my foot into any ocean I find, I pick up a couple of rocks from the shore of the North Sea and call it a day). We also found what we in America would call a Penny Arcade. Jenni, her father and I were the only ones in there but we had fun and she spent about 9 Pounds (where’s that symbol key on my keyboard?) winning me the tiniest of teddy bears. We then head over to the restaurant to have fish and chips. Vinegar? Yes please. Mushy peas? Uh, ok.

Final thoughts? Hull is not dull.

Note: I never planned for this to be any sort of travel blog as I think that could be a bit like having your neighbors over for dinner and making them sit through a slide show of your vacation to Niagara Falls. But, as I’ve received some positive feedback while writing about this trip, I’m thinking of doing a series called, “The Snarky Traveler.” Send me your feedback. If it’s positive, I may just buy you a drink (Scotch Whiskey please, hold the ice). If not, I will be numbing the pain with the whiskey and drinking alone (Do you really want to be responsible for that?).

Tomorrow, a train to Brockehurst in the New Forest where I meet Paul on the train (gotta love first class) and three rugby players in the pub (gotta love a pub). Read it in “The Rail Journey South”


One Response to “Closet Patriots”


  1. Who Are the People in Your Neighborhood? | My Own Adventure - October 30, 2013

    […] More about the British in “Closet Patriots” […]

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