July 8, 2011

Day 6: London to York and Biscuits

Today was supposed to be a "I'm not doing my hair today" so don't take a pic of me day.
As usual, I'm learning flexibility.  And to always do my hair.  
Kings Cross Station at Platform 9 3/4 was our departure station to York.  I call that fate.
We all got pictures.  If you don't know what Platform 9 3/4  is,
you have a very sad, sad life.  
Off to York!

We took the train to York, England today around noon.  You really have to admire the UK's efficient transportation system, I wish Houston were this easy to get around.  I spent much of the trip reading, while Daniel and Andrew ate Dark Chocolate Digestives.  And by ate, I mean they finished two packages of the cookies.. I mean biscuits.  (Andrew's Note: Biscuits!!)  Things get ugly if you call biscuits "cookies" here.  Andrew is obsessed with the whole biscuits thing.  He has this book called "Nice Cup of Tea and a Sit Down".  And no, I didn't make that up.  It gives all sorts of lovely biscuits to eat with your "cuppa" (cup of tea).  Oh, and there's a website.  He checks this weekly in case there's any pressing news on the biscuit front.... this is a whole new level of nerd folks.  (I haven't checked it weekly in about two years!  They've stopped posting :-(  I suppose there's not enough demand for biscuit knowledge.)
There's like a thousand calories in two biscuits, each package holds like 20,
and they ate two whole packages.
We got to York, five pounds heavier.  (And five times more awesome!)  I'll give more background on how awesome this town is on another post, I'm too tired from ... sitting... in the train.... and watching boys eat biscuits.  Needless to say, it's quaint and wonderful and perfectly English.  We have 9 days here so we're super excited to take it easy and explore the Roman ruins, the "Shambles" (the most picturesque streets in Europe), go hiking, and just relax.  And attend two Early Music concerts a day from the York Early Music Festival.  Can't say thank you enough to Fund for Teachers for this opportunity!!

We're staying at this awesome B&B, "The Lamb and Lion Inn".  Having never stayed in a B&B before, Andrew and I were pretty excited, especially about the towels in the bathroom!!  So plush and fuzzy!!  Our room is super cute, not expensive, free and fast wifi, and breakfast is included.  Love it!  The people in the pub downstairs just told us that it was rated by some travel magazine as one of the best places to stay in all of Europe for under one hundred pounds.  I wrote out 'one hundred pounds' because I can't find a pound sign in word on the computer.   Pounds.  The owner's name is Brian, he carried my bag up three floors to my room.  Andrew forgot to tip him but he seemed to still like us.  We like Brian.  And York.  (We chose this place on a whim, mostly for the location (about 500 feet from York Minster Cathedral) and the mid-range price...we had no idea it was going to be such a gem!)
So so cute!  Dahh!!!  Love it!  
So much space for a British loo!!!   And the towels!
Will have to get a picture in tomorrow of the towels!
The first concert of the York Early Music Festival was by the Gabrieli Consort!  The concert was held in York Minster Cathedral, more on that later.  Let's just say there's been a church there since around 630 AD. Yes.  That's not a typo.  Andrew can give you further details of the concert, he was salivating the entire time.  (Indeed.  The Gabrieli Consort is a group of about 25 professional singers started about 30 years ago and they are amazing.  They did a concert based around the 16th century composer William Byrd's Great Service - basically Anglican (Church of England) service music for morning and evening prayer.  William Byrd is interesting...usually composers in this time were either famous for writing music for the Catholic church or music for the Protestant church.  Depending on the religious preference of the King/Queen, you could look forward to either a comfy career or getting thrown out on the street (if not being burned at the stake!)  Byrd wrote music for the Catholic church and the Anglican (Protestant) church - it was all so good that he managed to keep his job (and his head) through the ebb and flow of religious persecution from both sides.  
Byrd's music was the majority of the concert, along with a couple of modern pieces:

*Gabriel Jackson (20th century) - To Morning
*William Byrd - Great Service - Venite, Te deum, Benedictus, Magnificat, Nunc dimitis
*Anonymous 14-15th century hymns - Iam lucris orto sidere, Rector potens, verax Deus, Te lucis ante terminum
*Jonathan Dove (20th century) - Full Many A Glorious Morning, Care-charmer Sleep
*Eric Whitacre (20th century) - Sleep (Possibly one of my and Allison's favorite all time pieces!!)
I liked the concert but was way too distracted by the amazing architecture.  (It is definitely hard in these places to not drift off into thinking about how the stone that your feet are sitting on has possibly been there for 1,400 years!)  One of my graduating band students, Taylor, is studying architecture... I expect my next band room to be built with a ceiling like this, Taylor:
The Gabrieli Consort in York Minster Cathedral.  WOW.
The last piece, "Sleep" is probably Eric Whitacre's most famous piece along with maybe "Lux Arumque" - look them up on iTunes, turn up your speakers, and just let the sounds lull you into a music coma.  It will.  His songs are like nothing out there.  He has written a few works for band, but most are for advanced groups.  There is one piece entitled "October" that I'm considering doing with my band this year... jury's still out on it though.  I'll have to see how strong my woodwinds are in the tuning department.  Keeping my finger's crossed though, I'd really like to attempt it!

Here is "Sleep" done by the St. Olaf Choir, conducted by Eric Whitacre himself.  Turn up your speakers really high... Do it.

 (And by the way, Grace Choir peeps - they ended the entire concert tonight with a similar arrangement of "Tallis' Canon" that we did on our Spring Concert last year!  How do you like that?!?)


  1. Tyler L7/08/2011

    "Architecture. yes, architecture. Taylor. hmmm... how to mention taylor in the blog??? well, Taylor is studying architecture...i think. oh, 'taylor, i liked the architecture'"
    seemed like a good way to shove her into the blog.

  2. Brandon7/09/2011

    Love me some digestives. I'm right there with you on that one! But hey, you're doing it for your health, right, since they are made with wheat flour.

  3. Anonymous7/09/2011

    Uh..I am super jealous of your B&B...cannot wait to hear all about it....this is Alex fyi