Contributed by John
A Day in Early July 2016:
Wake up 7am, downstairs to make tea for self and Carol, return to bed. Check emails on tablet. Shower, dress, prepare breakfast. Pleasant morning so we eat in the summerhouse. Newspaper delivered and we do the crossword.
Meeting in town, 10am, with a solicitor about property owned by a charity of which I’m a trustee. Cycle there via, mostly, back-streets using 4 cut-throughs for bikes and pedestrians only. Most dangerous section Castle Mills Bridge – fast traffic and no bike lane. No bike parking at the office I’m visiting so I lean bike on a planter. Face to face meeting. Takes longer but more productive than email or Skype.
Cycle back through city centre stopping to visit stationers for printer ink. Bike racks on Parliament Street full so I hitch bike to railings. Cycle to Bishopthorpe Road shops using 3 bike/pedestrian short-cuts. Sufficient bike parking but the usual unseemly scrummage from the cars trying to park in the Bishy Road car park.
Puchase all my current needs from Bishy Road shops: ironmonger, deli, bike shop, butcher, greengrocer, baker, convenience stores. Chat to several friends and acquaintances. Cycle home. Streets round here can hardly take any more car parking.
Read newspaper, check emails. Collect milk from doorstep.
12.30 by bike to collect grandchild from kindergarten beyond Millennium Bridge. On way call in at GP practice to collect new supply of hearing aid batteries (free). Collect grandchild and his bike and cycle home via Rowntree Park and back roads.
Lunch then entertain grandchild by reading stories from books, a little light gardening and watering together, then “football”. Grandchild collected at 3.45 by parent who works part time. Recover from grandchild by finishing newspaper then catch up with various paperwork.
Invited to nearby home of other child/grandchildren for early tea/dinner. Homemade pizza – delicious ! Leave as grandchildren taken off to bed. Cycle along riverside, Skeldergate, North Street and Lendal Bridge to pub for poetry open mic night at 7. Good age range – teens to over 70s. Pint of York Brewery Guzzler.
Cycle home, no bike short-cuts but pass York Brewery and enjoy the smell of brewing within the city walls. Appreciate the wide cycle lane on Blossom Street as cars park and swing their doors open outside the take-aways. Home, listen to news. Bed by 11.
Contemplate how much has changed, or stayed unchanged, in York over last 40 years.
A Day in Early July 2026
Up about 5am, sleeping downstairs because it’s cooler. Tea in bed – check messages and download newspaper as the print edition ceased a few years ago. It’s light out and already warming up to another too hot day in a too hot summer, a too hot year. Shower, dress. Have breakfast in summerhouse while it’s still cool. Garden still green thanks to torrential rain and thunderstorms in June. Do crossword online.
About 7 Carol and I walk into town to see solicitor about updating our Will. We find face to face still best. Find the walk up Micklegate on the way back a little warm. Use my bike to do the shopping 8ish. Shops and offices tend to open at 6.30am in these hot summers and close by 3 unless they have a long lunch closure and then they open late afternoon and early evening.
The independent shops on Bishopthorpe Road are still all there, solar powered fans keeping things cool. The dry cleaners is now community owned and the former betting shop is the offices for the local community association. Fill in survey about whether the community association should sponsor an early morning milk, eggs etc house to house delivery. They are also arranging special collections for the few types of plastic that the Council still doesn’t collect – plastic bags, film, yogurt pots etc so I call in for a container. Fruit and veg is increasingly local and organic, as is the meat in the butchers. Hardly any traffic, except bikes and buses, so plenty of incentive to stop for a coffee or ice-cream and chat. Remember to buy milk.
Back to my bike, parked opposite the affordable housing on the former car-park. A community initiative initiated by the Bishy Road Traders Association once the free local circular route electric bus service was brought in and the use of park and ride from outside the area became compulsory to improve air quality. There’s so much less parking in the area as car use and ownership reduces.
Around 10.30 I call in at the GP surgery for hearing aid batteries – still free and more efficient. They check my blood pressure at the same time – part of their preventative work, though generally they follow the new less interventionist policies. Cycle across the Millennium Bridge to collect a grandchild (last of 7) from kindergarten. Notice that the river is quite low in spite of the flash flooding in June.
It’s getting really hot now so lunch is inside the house with the solar powered fan on. (Panels installed recently following reintroduction of grants for installation. Then stories from the well-loved books, many of which we’ve had for 40 years, followed by the paddling pool in the shade outside. We fill it from one of the 4 water butts as there is a hosepipe restriction in anticipation of the usual August drought.
Grandchild collected at 1.45 by parent. They, like us, will probably take a siesta. We sleep for a couple of hours and get up again at 4. Read for a while then bike into town to the independent bookshop on High Petergate – the print book refuses to die. So much less traffic in town that some of the bike lanes almost seem unnecessary. Lots more through routes and rat-runs closed to cars. Electric bikes and trikes etc. are allowed to use the bike lanes and have become very popular.
City centre is busy. Many visitors though York itself is much more cosmopolitan than 10 years ago – one of the unexpected results of Brexit. Improvements to the East Coast Main Line, adopted after the abandonment of HS 2 mean that there’s a train up or down to London or Edinburgh every 15 minutes, as well as an improved cross-country and transpennine service. Local services to Harrogate and Scarborough are now half-hourly.
Home to dinner then back by bike to the pub for the poetry open mic at 9, still going after more than 20 years. Guzzler on tap. Home by midnight, passing the York Brewery on the way.