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Easter Holiday in York and Leeds

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We have now returned from our short break to York and Leeds and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Having booked the Travelodge rooms in mid February we are able to take advantage of several of their £19.00 per night offers and use them as an excuse to have a short break. Rather than try and park in York, we used one of the park and ride services from the south of town near the racecourse and had an interesting tour of the walls on our way in before journeying through The Shambles towards York Minster. We forgot that Easter might be a busy time for the Minster due to it being used for its original intended purpose and were thus unable to gain access to view the interior.....

We had a tour of the Jorvik Centre which was quite interesting, but could have been much more interesting if we had been allowed to walk through the mocked up Viking Village at our own speed, rather than being transported through in about 10 minutes on the moving carriages. As the visit lasted less time than we had expected it to, we were able to allocate more time to a traverse of the walls than we had expected, so the day wasn't a complete loss.

The following day's visit to the extensive (and FREE) National Railway Museum was absolutely superb even for those who are simply interested in History rather than in Railways per se. The information showing how the railways changed society in terms of the adoption of universal time zones, product distribution, civil and mechanical engineering and civic mobility was probably even more interesting than the size and power of the trains on display. Having arrived early in the morning before the majority of the Saturday tourists got there, we were able to see everything we wanted to see by the middle of the afternoon (ie Sam and the kids got bored) and thus had enough time to fit in a visit to one of the sprawling "Factory Outlet Villages" that seem to surround many of our big towns...

Leaving York, we travelled across to Leeds, because they had cheap rooms on the Saturday and Sunday nights and the York travelodge didn't. On Sunday morning we visited the slightly unpromisingly named National Mining Museum which is based at an old Coal Mine just outside Wakefield. This is a fantastic (and FREE) day out, though it is best to get there early if you want to go on one of the underground tours. That's right, you are allocated a hard hat, lamp and numbered tag and ushered into a mining cage and dropped several hundred feet underground to spend a fascinating hour with an ex-miner explaining the history of mining from the early 1800s to the present day and seeing how the mining techniques changed over that period. On your return to the surface you hand in your hat, lamp and the numbered tag that is used to ensure that everybody in the group has actually come back to the surface.... The rest of the museum is fascinating and shows how mining developed over the years and how mining, like the railways they helped to develop, played a fundamental part in the development of present day society.

On our way back from the NMM to Leeds we took a detour via the Bingley Five Rise Locks on the Leeds-Liverpool canal and then ventured into Leeds City Centre in a search for food. After a long and fruitless search for one of the usual chain eating establishments (I guess they are all positioned on out of town shopping developments), we eventually found a Crown Carveries pub where we had a full Sunday Roast for the four of us for a very reasonable price.

On Monday, on our way home, we broke the journey with a visit to Twycross Zoo which is more or less flat, has a superb gorilla house and the most amazing toilets in the new "Himalaya" unit. Twycross Zoo is a member of a group of zoos which have reciprocal agreements allowing free entry for Gold Card members of other zoos such as Bristol, Chester, Colchester, Edinburgh, Marwell and Rotterdam and, as we are members of Colchester Zoo, this visit was also Free. 

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