A Day Alone in a City

I accomplished what I thought was impossible today. I managed to survive an entire day with myself…

Brief Intermission: For those that aren’t familiar with my little quirks and traits, I will need to enlighten you to the fact that 1) I am a very sociable person and rarely do anything by myself and 2) I am from a small seaside town; I detest crowds. This will be important for the following story. 

I had realised around a month ago that I have lost a bit of my fire, that boldness that I had only a few years ago. I was that girl that would be up for any kind of adventure, I wasn’t afraid to do anything, however, I’ve become “busy” with rent and bills and “faking adulthood” that I have managed to actually become, well, boring. Now, it’s one thing to notice this in yourself but others have been commenting on my “lack of fire”, especially within the last two weeks. I decided that I wanted my fire back, and to get it back I needed an adventure.

Story Time: For about a week I have been planning a trip to York. I have lived in Manchester for a little while now and have never made it to one of the most historic cities in the North. I thought that this would be the perfect adventure. (Here is were quirk 1 comes into play) My instinct was to ask someone to come with me, unfortunately they had already arranged plans. Now, quirk 1 states that I rarely do anything by myself, yet, within moments I had decided that in order to “win back my fire” I had to go to York alone. This is going to be the adventure that I needed.

It wasn’t until Friday night that the anxiety and reality of the situation began to set in. (Quirk 2) I was going 2 hours outside of my comfort zone on a Saturday to a city that I do not know. All of these negative thoughts came rushing at me, I was going to get lost, I was going to get mugged, I was going to slowly deflate and cry in an alleyway… I’d really prepared myself well for this trip. Obviously I quickly realised that all of this was nonsense, I was a big girl and I was going to be fine.

I woke up this morning refreshed and ready for an adventure, I had already prepared everything I needed and had everything “planned to a tee”. I set off to my first stop, East Didsbury train station. I walked with excitement, I had no idea what to expect. I won’t bore you with the rest of the train details, you’re just going to have to trust that I made it there relatively easy. This is where I came across my first wave of anxiety, the railway station was packed (quirk 2). I looked around for a way out and starting breathing slightly heavier. I need to give it to York railway station they have clear sign posts. Within minutes I knew which direction I was headed and was out in the open air of York walking toward my first destination.

I crossed a beautiful bridge that covered a flowing brown river and found the Museum Gardens. At this moment the sun broke through the clouds creating a delicate light and a perfect spring afternoon. The light highlighted the beauty of the gardens, I walked through the cast iron gates and towards the observatory that outlined the history of Thomas Cooke, a man of many talents. The observatory really is a beautiful gem in the gardens and I would love to stargaze there in the future. The gardens contain a wealth of history and spectacular architecture. The most breathtaking piece being the ruins of St Mary’s Abbey. I looked across the lawn and saw the sand coloured ruins and gasped, they looked quite out of place in this tranquil setting. I immediately got out my camera and tried to capture every inch and angle; I found the ruins alluring and was able to walk through them. If there was a moment that my worries and fears about this trip melted away, it was in that moment. I stood under the archway of the Abbey and found my happy place; that smile didn’t leave my face for the rest of the day.


I carried on into the York Museum, learning more about this fantastic city. I walked to the Exhibition Square and found the Art Gallery, and then onto an open bus tour with a hilarious bus driver. On that tour I found out more about the culture of York. The city began to harmonise with me, I was able to navigate the side streets with ease and a general sense of direction. It was liberating. I made my way across the city wall and onto the cobble stone streets. I was met with the manic nature of a Saturday crowd and something that transported me back in time, a man playing the accordion. It really created an atmosphere, even more so as there were people walking around in Steam-Punk Victorian outfits. I laughed at the fact that I was so wrapped up in the atmosphere.

I made my way toward the Shambles and could see York Minster towering in the skyline. The Shambles is a special tiny place that is barely a street. It is lined with independent shops; one of which was a small wool shop, I needed to get materials for Mothering Sunday and took advantage of my luck. After getting what I needed I asked the elderly lady that served me, “as a local where would you suggest I go next?” She pointed to the small fudge shop directly across the street. I thanked her and went to the little fudge shop, again I asked the girl serving what she would recommend and she gave me the chocolate orange fudge and their own vanilla fudge, her personal favourites. I do not have a picture of when I tried the fudge…but boy was it glorious. If you are deciding on doing something similar I would highly recommend talking to the locals, I’m certainly glad I did.

I carried on through The Shambles and came to York Minster, this is a beautiful building, its bells can be heard echoing throughout the city. After the bell beckoned me closer I stepped inside the Gothic building and my mouth fell open in awe. What a majestic building, the high ceilings and stain glass windows created such an atmosphere. Well worth a visit if you have the chance.


After that I was getting a little hungry so I thought that I would have to try a local pub just to finish off the day. I’d heard of a pub called The Black Swan, this was by far one of the best experiences I had that day. After a little searching I found the pub. The outside was rather charming with its framed roof and hanging baskets, I couldn’t help but smile. Inside the pub was rustic and exactly what I had envisioned, it had paved stone floors with exposed wood beams. I sat down at a small varnished wooden table and immediately felt a sense of nostalgia. It felt like I was in a quaint little Irish pub on the coast, I imagined some live music playing softly in the corner and the sound of a drunken crowd full of laughter and light-hearted banter. I smiled and was greeted by the owner, who told me to look at the back of the menu that he had just handed me. Apparently The Black Swan is famous for being haunted (click here to read the story). As I was having an “adventure day” I decided to order something that I had never dared try before; pigeon pie. It was incredible. I thanked the chef and he told me a great story about how he cooks pigeon at home with his family.

Once I was finished, there was one more stop that I wanted to make, the University. I crossed through the streets and felt like a local, by this time I knew the city, I knew which direction I needed to be heading and I knew the back alleys that I could take. I stopped off briefly at the University noticing how the light was beginning to fade and felt like it was about time to head home. I strode once more through the Shambles and the Museum Gardens, I made my way across the river and over the bridge, I passed the National Railway Museum and took one last look at the beautiful city wall. I stepped back into the railway station renewed with a sense of adventure.

My time in York taught me that it is ok to venture out by myself, it wasn’t half as scary as I thought and it’s actually very therapeutic. I learnt that I can trust my instincts and that being in my own company is sometimes what I need. I needed time out, I had an adventure and I believe I am getting a little more of my fire back.


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