The Chef’s Wife UK Holiday – York

IMG_5444I love England to bits. There is just so much to see and do. One of my most favourite cities in England is York. In my opinion, it is so packed full of attractions, it’s the best place to visit after London. Like London, York has a very long and rich history. Spanning back nearly two thousand years – founded by the Romans, conquered by the Vikings and in modern times made famous by the steam train era and rise of large confectionary companies.

IMG_5452We start our day just on the outskirts of York, at a designer outlet shopping village. It’s strongly encouraged that you don’t bring your car into the walled city. The Tour de France started from York, just a couple of weeks before we were there – I was blown away by how many bikes were in the city. It seemed to be many people’s main mode of transport. There were literally thousands parked around the place. We opt to “park and ride”, the bus is very convenient and cheap too. In no time we see the city walls and we are in the heart of York.IMG_5318

We stop just near to the tourist information centre – a must stop for visitors. We pick up a York Pass, which is a pre-paid card (RRP £36 for an adult 24hr pass) so you don’t have to pay admission at 30 of York’s top attractions – you end up saving about 30% and it also offers many discounts on tours and eating out.

After collecting an armful of flyers and leaflets we set off to the Jorvik Viking Museum. In the Coppergate area of York they found 40,000 Viking artefacts in the early 1980s. We saw helmets, weapons, pottery and much more in the museum. Little chef loved it and the highlight for him was going on an interactive journey through recreated Viking village where you can smell the fires, cooking and really feel as if you are there. Little Chef thought this was pretty cool, as you sit in a moving “time capsule”.IMG_5335

Just around the corner is the ancient Clifford’s Tower – the keep of York Castle, which is now mostly gone. We walked up the many steps, rewarded with one of the best views in York from the top. Next to the tower, outside the Castle Museum was a vintage fair. Little Chef loved the helter skelter – what a beauty! IMG_5344

And we just couldn’t say no to some locally farm-made “Ryeburn of Hemsley” Ice cream from the vintage Fordson Thames ice cream van – one of just a handful still in operation.IMG_5343

IMG_5380We were hoping to stop at the Yorkshire Institution, Bettys, for morning tea. I love a high tea as much as the next person and I have heard the Betty’s experience is quintessentially English. Unfortunately many other people had the same idea as us and the queue was snaking out the door. We had so much to fit into our day, so we instead grabbed a macaroon and some fondant fancies from the shop counter. It is a beautiful olde worlde shop, where the assistants are dressed up as they would have in Victorian times. I would definitely recommend you make a booking at Betty’s.IMG_5385 New Image1

We ate our goodies from Betty’s in the grounds of the enormous York Minster, the ancient cathedral. Then had a wander about the rest of the city centre. IMG_5402

One of my favourite streets is the narrow medieval lane “The Shambles”. I found a fab little butchers down there that sold many many types of pork pie, chili, black pudding and wild boar to name a few. IMG_5358 IMG_5350 IMG_5362

York is a great place for shopping. One of the things I really love about York is it’s abundance of one-of specialty shops and boutiques. Every other town has the same old chain stores, but in York there are so many interesting little places to find a one of a kind gift.

IMG_5442It was time for a bite to eat. With so much still to see we decided to eat on the run. Chef and I do enjoy a hot roast roll at the York Roast Co. York has a long history with the humble hog, dating back centuries to before the War of the Roses, when kings would go hunting for wild boar in the forests. Chef and I enjoyed a couple of rolls, with apple sauce, gravy and a few morsels of pork crackling on the side – scrumptious!IMG_5426

York’s Chocolate Story celebrates the city’s rich confectionary industry. From the history of the coca bean to the process of making chocolate bars. Rowntree, the company that developed Kit Kats, Smarties, Areo and many more, still operate in York. One billion Kit Kats are made in York each year. Terry’s, maker of one of my favourites the “Chocolate Orange”, was taken over by Kraft. York’s Chocolate Story is an interactive and interesting attraction. A must stop for chocoholics!IMG_5429

By this time, though York is fairly compact, our feet were in need of a rest, so we hopped into a tour bus. Little Chef wanted to go on a red double decker bus while we were in the UK, so that box was ticked too.

We hopped off the bus near the National Railway Museum. It is a free attraction to enter, for a small donation Little Chef received a lovely train colouring book. It’s a vast museum which houses many trains including opulent royal carriages once owned by Queen Victoria, iconic locomotives like The Mallard steam train and a Japanese bullet train.IMG_5568

It would have been nice to spend a couple of days in York and experienced even more. We passed the York Dungeons, somewhere Chef and I had a bit of a fright a decade ago.  For the older kids and adults the York Dungeons are full of very interesting and often gruesome historical tales. There are many ghost tours at night too, which I bet would be fascinating, since York was home to famous baddies – highwayman Dick Turpin and gunpowder plotter Guy Fawkes. York is one of the most haunted cities in England.

We walked a couple of miles on along the stone city walls, on the way back to our bus stop. We had a brilliant day out in York. I’d plan your day before you go, to make sure you get the most out of your time there.20140725_160407

Many thanks to Rachel and Kay at York Visitor Centre for the use of our York Passes and fantastic expert advise – it really made our trip.

Visit http://www.visityork.org/ for more info on this beautiful city and http://www.visityork.org/food/ for the insiders tips on where is best to eat and drink in York.

UPDATE Great British Chippy – Currumbine

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Great British Chippy on Urbanspoon

For British ex-pats in Perth, the Great British Chippy in Currambine is like an oasis in a sea of frozen chips.

If you have been to the Great British Chippy, the chances are that you encountered it’s teething problems first hand. The first authentic pommie chip shop in WA has been open about a year now. Their frying range was brought over from “Chumly Warners”, Queensland’s answer to “Harry Ramsden’s”. The second hand range didn’t prove to be very efficient, which lead to enormous queues.

GBC was shut for a month long refurbishment in July – incredible since it hadn’t yet been open a year. A brand new range has now been imported and installed from the UK. The shop’s new layout gives better organization too. You can sit on benches whilst waiting for your order. There’s also a small dining area – in case you don’t want to wait till you get home to eat. We ate in, whilst the cod and chips were still piping hot.

The verdict from the new range… the fish and chips are great! The thick, flaky cod was moist and coated in a crisp golden batter. The delicious chips are perfectly imperfect – all different shapes and sizes. Our sides of chip shop curry sauce and mushy peas were spot on too. I’d love to try the scampi – a fave of mine. We’ll be back for sure. I may even try a deep fried Mars Bar – for “research” of course! My recommendation is that you take advantage of the new seating at GBC and eat in. Nothing can compare to fish fresh out of the fryer.20140904_174021

With our English holiday and copious amounts of fish and chip suppers still fresh in our minds – this is certainly authentic British fare at GBC and even better than some of the chippy’s we visited in England.

Chef and I had craved pommie fish and chips for the best part of a decade. We certainly made the most of being in the UK recently, with many trips down to the local chippy. Because, quite frankly, there’s nowt like a bit of North Sea Cod.

For the most part the fish and chips in England were just as we remembered.

Tony's Fish and Chips on Urbanspoon

IMG_4320The best of the lot was a recommendation from my very own Dad. He considers himself somewhat of a chippy connoisseur and during his trip back home to Yorkshire in 2013 he made many lunchtime trips to Tony’s – widely regarded to be Sheffield’s best fish n chips. Chef and I made a special trip to Tony’s, in Mosborough and the traditional fish and chips were excellent. There was a queue out the door, but they food was well worth waiting for. The fish and chips there been cooked to a “secret” recipe for over 100 years.IMG_4324

Tour de France 2014 – Grand Depart

IMG_2496I’ve sat through many years of the Tour De France on TV. Chef gets really into it, almost to the point of sitting on the sofa with his bike helmet on. And so, I shouldn’t have been surprised to find that our trip to the UK just happened to be at the same time the Tour De France was in England this year. Admittedly, I was looking forward to see it live and in person. IMG_2490

The people of Yorkshire were out in force to watch the Grand Depart. Stage Two of the tour de France peddled its way from Harrogate, through the beautiful countryside of the Pennine hills to the finish line in the city of Sheffield. IMG_2482

After a 5 mile walk from the car park on the outskirts of Sheffield, Chef found a good spot to watch the cyclists make their way through the village of High Bradfield. There was a carnival atmosphere – yellow bikes and bunting everywhere. Before the competitors came through, there was a parade too.IMG_2552

On stage two there were some challenging category graded climbs. It’s crazy to see how fast these riders go – it’s so much faster than it looks on television. The pure speed of the cyclists going down a hill is amazing. Chef got a good spot – watching the riders coming into the village on a downhill bend and then after they’d whizzed by, a steep uphill climb.

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The stats for the cote de Bradfield;IMG_2515

10470607_761693573882128_3552737804984825264_nThe Le tour Yorkshire was a massive success, with a fantastic turnout. There’s now talk of it becoming a yearly event, as Yorkshire is considered a hub for road riders in the UK.