And was the holy Lamb of God,
On Englands pleasant pastures seen!
- And did those feet, William Blake

lørdag 18. juni 2011

The World's an Inn

The world's an inn, and death the journey's end.
- Palamon and Arcite, John Dryden

in the beginning, all
drunkenness is Dionysiac, divine.
- Another Life, Derek Walcott

I'm not a drinker of alcohol; I have never seen the appeal, nor have I felt compelled to try it. I don't mind, however, to be in the company of people who drink, and I can enjoy a good pub as much as anyone. Had this not been the case I would have found myself much more on the sideline in this matter, but luckily I could experience the pubs in my own way rather than to shun them altogether, and I could experience them in the company of great friends.

I love the concept of pubs, and I take delight in York's many old and charming venues, although the compulsory odour of alcohol, old upholstery and old wood combined sometimes can be a bit heavy to the nose. Since York is known for its university and as one of Britain's best tourist cities there's a big market for pubs, which I had become aware of already on my first visit in 2009. Some of these I visited in the course of my stay, others I just passed by, planning to return but failing to perform said plan. In most cases I frequented the pubs for a good meal, and I soon took a liking to pub food which in my view counters many of the prejudices against British cuisine, albeit reinforcing some of them.

This blogpost is basically an array of pictures showing pub signs and, in come cases, pubs. Most of these I never visited, mostly because when I decided to go to a pub I was too preoccupied with getting food to remember to take pictures.

Into a Foxe himselfe he first did tourne;
But he him hunted like a Foxe full fast:
- The Faerie Queene, Edmund Spenser

The Fox, situated on Poppleton Road, is a pub I passed on the way to the city centre on my first visit in 2009. I never visited the place, but I found the building charming and I like the name.

To the right on the picture you can see a door with flowers on the ledge, and hopefully you can make out the words The Hole in the Wall from the pub sign. Don't look for this sign if you're visiting, though. This picture is from 2009, they've put up a more eye-catching sign now.
When I finally had installed myself in Constantine House I went out to get some food, eager to taste some of what England had to offer and rather hungry for something warm. The first place I visited was a nice little locale on Bootham called The White Horse, but since they don't serve food the landlord adviced me to go to The Hole in the Wall, situated on High Petergate. The pub, built on the premises of a dungeon discovered in 1816, is rather large and it is a very nice place to go for a meal with friends. Alternatively you can, as I did the second time around, sit down with Archbishop Wulfstan's masterfully repetitive prose and a nice plate of ham, eggs and fries.

The Red Lion is one of the most popular pub names in Britain. This one is situated in Merchantgate, somewhat on the verge of York's more old-fashioned architecture and consequently an area of the city I rarely frequented. I never got around to visit the venue, but I've read favourable reviews and it is said to be connected to the late Dick Turpin, so I guess I'll have to render it a visit sooner or later.

I vaguely remember popping in on one of my walks round about the city looking for a good meal, and for some reason I remember leaving the locale shortly thereafter. Whether this was due to the prices or lack of a place to sit down I don't recall, but this is nonetheless a place I'd have to revisit if not for other reasons than its 15th century origin.

Come, fill the Cup, and in the fire of Spring
Your Winter-garment of Repentance fling:
The Bird of Time has but a little way
To flutter -and the Bird is on the Wing.
- Ruba 7, Omar Khayyam of Nishapur (Transl. by Edward Fitzwallace)

And maybe Natalie Portman will make an appearance?

This beautiful pub is situated on Peasholme Green, close to the junction of St. Saviour's Place and Stonebow. It is a somewhat expensive place, which kept me away this time around, but its timberwork is spectacular and the atmosphere historic, making it a great place to visit together with a few friends to share the experience.

The cat climbing on the wall is one of twenty cats scattered throughout the city. It was a project carried out by a late artist whose name has escaped me. In the pub I found a leaflet with a map over the two-hour cat tour, and I'd like to walk it when I get an opportunity.

Yt framed was of precious yuory,
That seemd a worke of admirable wit;
And therein all the famous history
Of Iason and Medæa was ywrit;
Her mighty charmes, her furious louing fit,
His goodly conquest of the golden fleece,
His falsed faith, and loue too lightly flit,
The wondred Argo, which in venturous peece
First through the Euxine seas bore all the flowr of Greece.
- The Faerie Queene, Edmund Spenser

This is another pub I visited on my quest for a quick, cheap and somewhat healthy lunch, yet also this I abandoned rather quickly, most likely because of the prices. Situated on Pavement it is in the vicinity of the Shambles, one of my favourite streets in York.

I say - the future is a serious matter -
And so - for God's sake - hock and soda-water!
- Don Juan, George Gordon Lord Byron

If you look closely at the upper right corner of the row of houses closest to the camera, you should be able to make out a blurred picture of a human figure. This figure is Richard III and the pub in question is Kings Arms, a small pub serving only cold drinks situated on King's Staith. As can be seen in this picture its proximity to the Ouse often proves a curse, and there is a marker on the inside where visitors can behold the flood levels of previous years. It is a good place to go if you want a short break from things and enjoy an orange juice and a good book in peace, or, as in my case, if you have some postcards to write. Although not particularly cosy, despite a certain intimacy due to its size, it might be a good place to sit down with friends if the purpose is to chat rather than to drink.

Situated by Lendal Street this venue has a certain ambiance because of its brick vaults and dim lighting. In the Middle Ages there was an Augustinian friary here, dismantled 25 November 1538. The Romans also built on this site, walls and a drain were unearthed in the 19th century. It is a good place to visit with friends, but its selection of foodstuffs is rather sparse compared to other, and cheaper, dining places. I tried the bangers and mash here in 2009, but last time I visited it appeared they had replaced this traditional English delicacy with a more foreign approach simultaneously sprawling across the Continent and the Atlantic.

This is the view when leaving Lendal Cellars: the beautiful St. Helen's  Church with its very decorative and impressive belfry.

Situated on North Street close to the wonderful All Saints Church, this pub has not yet had the pleasure of my presence.

Many a good hanging prevents a bad marriage, and, for turning away, let summer bear it out.
- Twelfth Night, William Shakespeare

A three-legged mare is a gallows of great efficiency as it allows for several simultanous hangings as illustrated by the pub sign above. Despite being named after one of the more cruel manifestations of mankind's quest for improvement, the Three-Legged Mare is a very nice little venue situated on High Petergate. They don't serve food, but, as I discovered, you are welcome to bring your own snack while having a drink. In a city like York with its numerous small food shops this is a great attribute.

I never visited this pub on Stonegate, but the sign is adorable.

In the tavern when we're drinking,
though the ground be cold and stinking,
down we get to join the action
with the dice-controlling faction
- Carmina Burana, translated by by David Parlett

Also situated on Stonegate this appeared to be a very popular place. I only visited once but although it was in early in the afternoon it was completely full. The atmosphere is very charming and from what I recall the menu was pleasantly British in scope.

Me and my associate
Like the clientele here get
The onions and the 'taters
Rib eyes on the grill
Toothpicks and luckies
And a coffee refill
- The Ragpicker's Dream, Mark Knopfler

I believe it was in this delightful pub I had my first real English pie, and I've gathered here with great friends for a meal and a chat, which is mainly why I hope to return in not too long. The entrance is found in Stonegate, but to get to the pub you have to pass through a little overbuilt snickleway which opens up to a little secluded place, adding to its charm.

These are of course just a selection of pubs I've visited. Some of these deserve an honourable mention, despite my failure to provide photographic material. First of all I'd like to mention York Arms on High Petergate, probably where I was introduced to orange and passion fruit juice, bless them. It is not as cosy as The Hole in the Wall, although quite similar in many respects. Its gammon and eggs is inferior to that of the former venue, but a nice place nonetheless. Secondly there is The Burton Stone Inn, situated on the junction of Burton Stone Lane and Clifton Moor, where I spent some delightful Friday evenings with friends, sometimes playing dart, sometimes singing karaoke. The final pub I'd like to mention this time around is the Evil Eye on Stonegate, a venue where I spent some time in the company of friends and which has a charmingly Eastern approach both when it comes to menu and decorations. It is a rather crammed place, but I still like it, despite the fact that I'm neither tall nor handsome enough to quickly get the attention of the barkeepers. There are of course numerous other pubs to explore in this wonderful city, and hopefully that's what I'll do next time I'm visiting.

2 kommentarer:

  1. Denne kommentaren har blitt fjernet av forfatteren.

  2. It most certainly did, and I remain grateful. I should, however, have acknowledged my debt to you for making me aware of it, and so I shall do once I find an elegant way of doing so.