My family and I spent the end of 2017 with a large group of friends in a village near York, and we had the chance to visit that beautiful city to my heart’s content.
York is a magical place, and even more so at Christmas.
York Minster awes the visitor with its grandeur, and no less with the secrets it had revealed over the centuries, of times gone by, when a Roman fortress that had stood on its site, later replaced by a Norman cathedral, and then by more and more grandiose structures.
After decades of being used as a gentlemen’s club, a dance hall and an adjunct to a 1000-seat cinema (with part of the house demolished and the main bedrooms converted into toilets) an impressive conservation project has brought it back to its original glory.
Photography is not allowed, but the Fairfax House website will give you tantalising glimpses of the exquisite place.
I think it looks at its best at Christmas, when garlands of greenery and flowers adorn the columns, the bannisters, the portraits and mantelpieces, and the dining room is a delight.
The table is laid for the dessert course, with a large temple as the centrepiece, surrounded by a ‘parterre’ made of sugar paste, as well as by bowlfuls of sweetmeats and wonderfully realistic marzipan fruits, while an impressive Twelfth Night cake sits proudly on the dresser along with an array of drinks, and elaborate flower arrangements.
The breakfast table, set in the library, is no less impressive, with its array of ‘shred pies’, rolls, jam, tea, coffee, a vast Yorkshire Pie that seems to have come straight from the hands of Hannah Glasse, and a wheel of cheese that fills the air with its aroma because, as most of the food on display, it’s real, not just artfully decorated plaster and silicone. Again, I so wished I could take a photo (or hundreds) but you can get a very good idea here of what the Yorkshire Pie looked like.
I could have spent days in Fairfax House and still find intriguing and beautiful little details I missed, and I could have also spent days in the amazing treasure-chest that was this gorgeous bookshop on Minster Street, with several storeys full of hundreds of books and old prints.
As always, I find them everywhere I go, and I love to sit and scribble in some quiet corner and imagine them strolling along secluded paths or seeking refuge in some walled garden to steal a kiss or two.
It’s been a very long time since my last trip to Yorkshire - over twenty years, ever since my own season of courtship' 😉- but something tells me I’ll persuade my family to return very soon!