Brian Holden: York sets stage for English culture

By Brian Holden

As you read this, we'll be making the most of our last few days in Yorkshire which has been our home for the last three weeks.

A stay in York is not complete until you visit the magnificent York Minster, England's largest gothic church and one of the largest medieval gothic cathedrals in the world which took more than 250 years to build. We clambered up 200 of the steps leading up to the tower and staggered up the remaining 75, to get a fantastic view over the city.

We thought we had struck gold when we heard the organ playing as we walked in the doors but, after hearing each note being played singly for 30 seconds on end, we became suspicious. We were told that the organ was having its monthly tuning which takes a day or two to do. Considering that the beast has 5300 pipes I can understand why.

You may be interested to know that the director in charge of music, including the organ is Robert Sharpe and the assistant director is David Pipe.

It's not surprising that when you arrive at your planned destination for the day, you quickly realise that you have a car in your possession that you don't want.

Immediately you see rows of double yellow lines on which you dare not park and dozens of immobility spaces which no one seems to use.

There are also temptingly available spaces in perfect spots that on a second look display the sign residents or card holders only.

Pay and display is the best option, which is usually just a block or two from the town or village centre.

If you have a penchant towards street sweeping machines, water blasters and rubbish trucks, Britain is the place to come.

The Brits have an obsession for restoration, renovation and rubbish removal; all requiring miniskips and dumpster bins. We visited one normally quiet little town which, on that particular day, was besieged by a team of deafening water blasters, dealing to the paving stones which were getting their two-yearly clean.

At one park as we sat down to eat our picnic lunch, we nearly had the bench removed from beneath us.

It was the day to unbolt and take away all benches for repair.

Great Britain is well known for its absurd political correctness. We've observed extensive unnecessary wearing of hi-viz jackets, like the group of adults out on an afternoon stroll along an open sandy beach in Scarborough.

The most ridiculous example though was on reading the cautionary label on a packet of sleeping pills "Warning - may cause drowsiness".

Can someone answer this? When you make a booking for a hotel, with the option to cancel within a certain time, your Visa account is instantly debited - whoosh - quicker than a vacuum cleaner sucking up a dead fly from the carpet. Yet, should you wish to cancel through a change of plans as we had to, it takes "up to 21 working days to be refunded", meaning the hotel has the use of our money for three weeks. While we appreciate having the option to cancel, the need to wait perhaps a day or two, this greedy delay process is downright extortion. I can't say that I feel compelled to book with that hotel chain again.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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