Reviews of York

We were in York last weekend, so here are some quick reviews of some of the things we did. Only time to do half of them today. More tomorrow.

Galtres Lodge
The hotel we stayed in. It can’t really be beaten for location. It’s right in the centre of York less than five minutes walk from the Minster in one direction and the Shambles in the other. Location is about all it has going for it though. The room we had was very small and cramped. When we first arrived we thought it didn’t have a toilet. Then we found it hidden in a cupboard. Had it cost us £50 or so a night we’d have been quite happy, but it was double that and not really worth it.

The Olde Starre Inn
Pretty much the first pub we came across and as it is the oldest pub in York we though we’d try it out. Not very impressed to be honest. It was a bit dingy and there was a strange smell. The selection of drinks was ok and the staff were friendly enough, but it didn’t have much of an atmosphere. Of course that might be because we were there at about 5pm on a Thursday afternoon.

The Bengal Brasserie
We quite fancied an Indian on our first night. The sign in the window said that this place had been listed as one of the thirty best curry houses in the UK. The award was in 2005. Things have obviously changed a bit. It wasn’t the worst curry we’d ever had, but I’m sure there were far better places to go.

The Old White Swan
We thought we were going for a quite drink. Then we saw the band setting up in the corner. Turned out it was a jazz band. Not a bad jazz band all in all, but we left when they started getting their mates up out of the audience to sing. It felt a bit like we were intruding on a private party. The pub seemed nice though. And their sausage selection looked very impressive. We would have gone back to try some if we hadn’t discovered the Guy Fawkes Inn.

National Railway Museum
Does exactly what it says on the can. Lots and lots of railway engines in a couple of huge rooms. And it’s free to get in, so you can’t say you don’t get your money’s worth. We spent an enjoyable hour or so there. They have a “Yorkshire Eye” there too. We didn’t bother with that.

St William’s Restaurant
We had a very nice lunch in the restaurant at St William’s College, which is attached to York Minster. Had it been just a little warmer, we would have sat out in the courtyard, which looked like a really nice place to spend an hour or so.

Richard III Museum
This was one of the highlights of the weekend. The tiny museum is in one of the gatehouses in the city wall. It’s a really strange museum, mainly because it doesn’t have any exhibits. Mostly, it consists of a load of posters on the wall which explain why you shouldn’t believe a word you read in Shakespeare’s play. It’s obviously a passion of the chap who set it up. On the day we went, he was manning the shop and was very pleased when my wife bought most of the stock to use as material in English lessons.

York Minster
Of course, no visit to York would be complete without a visit to the Minster. We bought the “see everything” ticket, which was cheaper than usual as the Treasury was closed for maintenance. Our ticket included a visit to the tower which involved climbing 275 steps up a really narrow spiral staircase. I’m glad I did it, but I won’t bother again. By the time I got to the top I was too knackered to really appreciate the view.

Guy Fawkes Inn
I didn’t know that Guy Fawkes was born in York. Apparently this is the house where he was born. It’s right in front of the Minster and therefore only a few minutes walk from our hotel. Once we discovered this place we didn’t visit any other pubs. It had a really nice atmosphere, very friendly and helpful staff, a decent selection of drinks and great food. I can’t really think of any way it could have been improved. Oh, and it’s a hotel too. So you can actually stay in the room where Guy Fawkes was born. Room 10, I’m told.


Book Review: Google Analytics

I’ve written a review of Google Analytics by Mary E. Tyler & Jerri L. Ledford.

Executive summary – it really wasn’t what I was looking for.


Top 1000

Cool. I just discovered that I’m an Amazon UK Top 1000 reviewer.

Of course, I’m still not buying from them.


2002 – A Review

It’s not been a great year all in all. I’ve spent about half of it out of work. In January my contract finished and for the first time in seven years of freelancing, the client decided they didn’t want to renew. I then spent five months looking for work before finally accepting a permanent job with Bibliotech. In October they started having really bad financial difficulties and at the start of November they made me redundant. It then took me a month to find another job. On the plus side I’m back freelancing but my rates have been cut massively.

It’s not all been bad tho’. I’m almost a stone lighter that I was this time last year (I’ve discovered that it’s far easier to lose weight when you’re out of work). I had a good time speaking at a couple of conferences and it seems that my books review sideline is starting to take off (here’s a tip – if you can get a review published by Slashdot then publishers think you’re a reviewer and start to send you review copies of their books).

So, some good bits. But a lot of bad stuff.

Not a year I’d relish having to live through again.


Some Films

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve spent 20 or so hours on planes. A lot of that time was spent watching films. Here are some comments on the ones I watched:

Minority Report

It’s based on a Philip K Dick story so it gets a pretty good head start. I really enjoyed this – tho the airline showed a widescreen print on one of those tiny chair-back screens so it wasn’t particularly easy to watch. I certainly plan to watch it again at some point on a larger screen.


Not as good as Memento (very few films are) but an intresting film. A very strong cast, but I’m not sure about casting Robin Williams as the bad guy.

Men in Black II

I knew all I needed to know about this film before seeing it. I don’t know why I bothered. It’s just more of the same rubbish that we got so bored of in the first film.

Bend It Like Beckham

Small budget British films are generally of very high quality – and this is no exception. I just worry a little that the Billy Elliot “child is prevented from doing what he/she is good at by nasty parents who eventually change their mind” plot is getting a bit overuser.

Hollywood Ending

It’s a typical Woody Allen film. You’ll either love it or hate it. If you hate it then you probably don’t understand the first thing about what makes a good film.

Reign of Fire

I wanted so much to like this film. I love the idea of dragons coming back and destroying the modern world. But something went horribly wrong in the execution and we’ve ended up with a dreadful film.

One small glimpse of what the film could have been. I loved the scene where the adults are telling the children tales of the old days – and they’re acting out the “I am your father, Luke” scene from The Empire Strikes Back


I have no idea why I watched this. It was dreadful