from-the-horses-mouthYORK and JORVIK

Written Robert Williams

The return of a pair of ill-matched Timberland boots took me to York. I bought the boots blind for my girlfriend in Portsmouth, in the Deep South of the country, and when she tried them, despite liking the look, they were too narrow for her feet. The Timberland Outlet Store was outside of York, in the Deep North of the Country, so to make a day of it we decided to visit the Jorvik Viking Centre. It was very cold in York and not much warmer in the Viking centre, despite blue skies and sunshine the chill temperatures were a prelude to the approaching dark winter nights.

In the Jorvik centre we were greeted by a woman who sounded somewhat Scandinavian and was dressed in a replica costume of the day. The glass floor that covered the also replica remains troubled my partner. She said it made her feel uneasy. Mel has a strong sixth sense and I wondered if it was the 20cm or so gap in between the glass floor and replica remains or perhaps a stronger sense of the past that had gone before in this place that troubled her.

For some reason my over-riding sense was one of smelling coffee and cake, probably because I really wanted a coffee and had done all day. The somewhat addictive nature of coffee had made me stop drinking it some two or three months previously. The Viking experience at Jorvik was similar in nature to Ghost Trains at Fun fairs, with the exception of poorly crafted ghosts and ghouls being replaced by very life-like and authentic replicas of Viking folk that had been living and working in Jorvik. The smell of wood smoke was strong at the Blacksmith’s house and equally the smell of excrement was strong in the latrine area which was complimented by what was described as “a very rare find” of a whole human stool, which was proudly displayed in a cabinet further into the Viking experience. The solidity and size of the stool was a stark reminder of the large quantity of meat that was in the Vikings’ diet. The sights and sounds that I experienced on the Yorvik train were authentic to the Viking times 1000 years ago. Seeing a craftsman with a Thor Hammer pendant was a reminder of my ex-Danish girlfriend who seemed upset at not being able to buy me a similar pendant once. Not because she could not obtain one, but rather because I did not want to wear one.

We exited Jorvik to a bright sunlit street; blue skies preluded a cold evening. We decided to have lunch in Pizza Hut and later regretted it. Pizza did not agree with Mel or me. Although some aspects of the Pizza Hut buffet are very tasty, it was a direct reflection of the Viking age diet, a millennia before, that I had to wait 15 minutes to obtain a vegetarian pizza. The best thing to eat in the Pizza Hut buffet was the salad, which was also obviously the healthiest.

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