Typically when my husband and I think of planning a date day out we tend to stay local. We seem to have a thought that if we’re heading out of town, we need to make a full weekend of it – expensive hotel bills and all.
Well, this weekend I decided to challenge that idea, by planning a surprise day trip out to the beautiful city of York, just over 2 hours across country from where we live.
I’ll admit, as a couple we don’t often see 7am on a Saturday morning, but this weekend as the alarm rang out I sprung out of bed, made up a cafetiere of hot coffee and urged Andrew out of bed and, eventually, into the car.
I had warned Andrew earlier in the week that I had a surprise for him this weekend. That we were going to do something fun and he just had to get dressed up in something warm and comfortable shoes. That was it. No clues as to where we were going, what we’d be doing or how long we’d be out for.
We arrived in York a little after 10am, and having managed to squeeze the car into one of the last parking spaces in the railway station’s long stay car park, we were eager to start the day off with a warming breakfast. It just so happened I had this covered, and having researched great places for breakfast in York, had come across the Perky Peacock, which I was assured by local bloggers, served the best coffee in town.
Not the best at navigation, it took us a while to find the cafe, but this gave us time to wander through the still quiet streets of the city, spying landmarks that we would come back to later in the day.
My sources were right – it certainly tasted like the best coffee in town, although we didn’t go anywhere else to compare. A cinnamon bagel and hot latte enjoyed in relaxed, intimate surroundings set us off to a great start.
Over breakfast I had given Andrew a number of options of things I had found we could do in York. Together we planned our perfect day, with a walk along the city walls, a trip to York Minster, a boat ride along the river, snaps of the Railway Museum and a little early Christmas shopping all on the agenda.
First stop… the city walls.
Throughout history, York has been a city defended by city walls, and large amounts of the walls are still intact today offering a unique vantage point on the city. We started our journey just opposite York Art Gallery and followed the ruins around the side of the stunning York Minster.
It was a beautiful autumn day, fresh and a little blustery but with the sun warmly shining. Our walk along the city walls felt so romantic. Leaves fell like confetti from red and golden trees. The Minster, the walls and all its history added to the romance of it all.
This was my most favourite part of the day. Just taking in the beautiful architecture, meandering hand in hand along ancient walls, in a world of our own (despite the busy stream of tourists who joined us up there!)
Having taken photographs from every angle we decided to get a closer look at York Minster, making our way to the pretty gardens that lie adjacent to the building and enjoying the autumnal feel that the falling leaves left.
On approach to York Minster we discovered that there was a special service on today and so the building wouldn’t be open to the public until 3pm. We decided to return later and continued onto step number two… a boat ride.
We found our way to Lendal Bridge where York Boats launch from and after a short wait jumped aboard and claimed our seats on the top deck. The sun occasionally popped its head out of the clouds (which had now begun to look rather menacing), but sailing along on the top deck sure was breezy, so I was glad of my hat and scarf, and of course the cuddles from Andrew!
Our driver (captain?) was brilliant. He was very knowledgeable about the area, pointing our places of interest, mixing in fantastic dry humour and delivered in a soothing voice not on a dissimilar level to that of Sir David Attenborough!
Gliding along the River Ouse I felt like Andrew and I were the only two people in the world (and of course our witty driver/captain!) It felt special to be huddled up with each other against the cold, taking in the beautiful sites of the city from what felt like our own private viewpoint.
We disembarked the boat a little further upstream with a plan to visit the rows and rows of wonderful boutique shops that we had seen during our city walk in the morning. The town was bustling. Cute Halloween displays called to us from quaint shop windows. The streets were narrow and cobbled, with the famous Shambles (the town’s oldest and Europe’s best preserved Medieval street) standing out as the most popular, bursting with meandering shoppers.
Along the way I found the purrfect shop (sorry), The Cat Gallery, which you can see, had me in my element!
After a quick perusal we headed away from the crowds en route to the National Railway Museum, where we had learned from our driver on the boat, we would be able to see a number of genuine Royal carriages and grab a bite to eat.
En route we were somewhat distracted by these little guys, who we found out (again from our knowledgeable captain earlier on) were Canadian Grey Geese.
They really were a bunch of characters. No fear from us mere humans, they leisurely crossed the road over to a patch of grass on the roadside. Settling in and enjoying the tourist attention.
When we finally made it to the Railway Museum I was delighted to find rows of vintage train carriages and unique displays of train travel paraphernalia. I peered through the glass into the empty, lavish carriages, imagining the world they had left behind. The royals really knew how to travel in style. Plush button back sofas, living rooms, bedrooms and even top notch kitchen spaces made up the vintage displays.
By this time it was 3:30 and having not eaten since breakfast we decided to track down Perky Peacock’s second city cafe, on the edge of the river on Lendal Bridge. It was super quaint inside, a secret little hut with beamed turret and a handful of solid wood tables. The perfect little hideaway from the growing cold outside.
By this point we were feeling quite weary from all the walking around, so when we arrived back at York Minster to find a queue of visitors snaking all the way around the front of the building we decided to save an interior visit for next time.
Having wandered around the city we found so many more things we would like to discover, like Clifford Tower and the Yorkshire Museum that we vowed to plan a second trip, and headed off home.
We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day in York. The spontaneity of it all, the excitement of revealing my surprise, the quintessentially English feel that the city and it’s maze of narrow streets emanated, the romantic architecture and fascinating history that it harbours. Everything just added up to be such a special day.
And the best part – we still have all day today (Sunday) free to get on with whatever else we wanted to do this weekend. I still love our mini breaks, but something about getting out of town, even just for the day feels a little bit more special. Like a stolen bit of time or a cheeky trip away.
There’s still so much we’d love to do in this beautiful city so needless to say, trip number two is already in its planning stage!
Have you been on a date day out that felt like a holiday? I’d love to hear where you went. Any inspiration for our next trip in York that we didn’t get to see this weekend – we’d love to hear about that too!