Sunday, November 18, 2007

Old York

When I heard the Station Manager of Seaside Radio mention going to a museum of trains, I couldn't contain myself. Turning my reaction to this overheard bit of information into a joke, I berated him, mildly of course, for never telling me about this museum. His reaction? He promised to take me to it. Yesterday, that promise was fulfilled.
After I arranged myself in the back seat of my boss' car, the Manager's acquaintance, Dave, climbed into the front seat. With minimal delay, we were on our way. Dave, who was visiting from Northern Ireland, was quiet at first, but my constant banter eventually got through to him. On the way to York, we stopped in a small town, to visit another station. It seems Dave is a bit of a radiophile, not to mention a borderline train spotter. My boss talked tech with the station's management, while Dave looked on, seemingly enraptured. My interest waned after a few minutes. Once you've seen one bunch of radio equipment, you've seen them all, right? Besides, no one was paying any attention to me. It became a bit more interesting when they finally took us to see the studio. That would be the bit where I would work. The guy on air was about 100 years older than I thought he would be, listening to him in the car. The show he was doing sounded awful, to me. While technically competent, it was just the same old thing: a tired top 40 clone. A robot could have performed just as well.
Back on the road, we covered the rest of the distance to York fairly quickly. I have never been to the city before. It's an old, walled city. Founded in the year 71, the walls are older than New York, where I come from. We found the cheaper parking, across the street from the National Railway Museum, that one of the guys at the radio station we visited had recommended. It was almost full, but we managed to come across a space. On the grounds of the museum, a very large Ferris wheel was glistening in the sunlight. Known as the Yorkshire Wheel, it's a smaller imitation of the London Eye. Once in the entrance hall to the museum, we were pleased to discover that entrance to the museum is free. My boss asked if Dave and I wanted to go on the wheel. With his Northern Ireland accent, this sounded like "whale." I was trying to figure out what whale he was talking about, when it finally dawned on me that he meant the wheel. Since he was paying, I said yes. So did Dave. We all agreed that we would tour the museum first, then ride on the "whale." My boss acquired our "whale" tickets as well as our free museum tickets, then we immersed ourselves in railway hardware.
If you like trains, then the National Railway Museum is for you. I've always had a love affair with trains, since the earliest days of my childhood. I was interested in going to the museum, because my old friends, the husband and wife couple, Tim and Barbara, are due to visit me for Christmas. Tim is more into trains than I am, so I wanted to scout out this attraction, with a view toward taking them there in December. The National Railway Museum is home to many old locomotives, including famous ones, like the Flying Scotsman and the Mallard. If your taste runs more toward the modern, there are life-sized models of a Japanese Bullet train as well as the Eurostar. The museum offers more than just locomotives. There are railway cars, including retired carriages for the royal train, used by British kings and queens. On display are all sorts of items relating to railroads. Signs, signals, promotional material, plates, and furniture. I expect Tim will love it.
Once we had our fill of the trains, we made our way to the "whale." It may seem like a naff imitation of the London Eye, but rather than crawling around once, like the Eye, it is run at normal speed, like a traditional Ferris wheel. The view is wonderful. From the top, you can see not only the entire city of York, but the surrounding countryside. There's also a bird's eye view of the working, city train station. The rail lines run right by the Railway Museum. Another plus to the Yorkshire wheel is that the price is a fraction of the cost of the London Eye.
When our "whale" ride had finished, we set off to see the city centre. All of us were feeling a bit lazy, so we decided to ride a "free," miniature tram into town, made up to look like a steam train. One was waiting to depart just as we came out of the museum. My boss soon discovered that there was a charge to ride the tram he thought was "free." We were looking forward to riding into town too much to quibble, at that point, so we paid up. I was starving and my boss promised to take us to a restaurant which had great hamburgers. We set off in search of this culinary paradise. During the ensuing search, we wandered the streets of the old town. The old buildings now house modern shops, pubs, and restaurants. Narrow roads are bordered on either side by Tudor style architecture. This will appeal more to Barbara. Just when my boss was about to give up and settle for any old restaurant, we stumbled across it. I was so hungry, I didn't even notice the name. I'd had nothing since my train ride in to Hull that morning and by this point, darkness had fallen. I think all I could manage to mumble by that point was "food, food, food!" When the waiter came to take our order, I opted for a "Cajun Burger," and a Coke. Our timing was great, because as we waited for our food to arrive, the restaurant, which was nearly empty when we came in, filled up in a matter of minutes.
After dinner, which was tasty, we agreed we'd walk back to the car. Having rested our tired feet during dinner, the walk didn't seem too bad. I fell asleep during the drive back to Withernsea. I needed to get some rest before my marathon, seven hour radio show, starting at Midnight. My boss paid me quite a compliment by telling Dave that he must listen to my show. He even offered to loan Dave a radio to enable him to do so. You can also listen, via the internet, at . My show, "Night Waves," starts at Midnight, Saturday night and runs till 7AM, Sunday morning, UK time. Those times are five hours earlier on the east coast of the US, and eight hours earlier on the west coast.

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