Sunday, 16 June 2013

First week down, one to go. I'm genuinely surprised by how much I have loved this time spent in Sheffield...

York City Walls
..considering that I was going into this trip expecting the city to be quite run down, stagnant and depressing.
Clifford's Tower

I absolutely loved the visit to Chatsworth; it was the excursion I was hanging out for the most. I have found that because Planning students are the majority on this trip, Planning has obviously taken centre stage as the central focus of the study tour. I don't particularly mind this, as the tour is intended to be multi-disciplinary and I enjoy learning about other people's majors. However, it was a relief to be back in my 'English major' element when we visited Chatsworth. The building has been such an inspiration to so many literary settings, and has been the site of so many Austen film adaptations; it was lovely to see it in the flesh, so to speak. The ostentatious displays of wealth were not simply awe-inspiring, but also quite sobering, when one takes into account the fact that many English peasants were labouring for sixpence a day during its heyday.

The history of Sheffield is one of the aspects that I find most fascinating about the city. Coming from Bendigo, a town where a building established in the 19th century is considered astonishing, the rich and extensive cultural heritage behind Sheffield has been particularly delightful for me. I am an unashamed history nerd, so learning that Castle Market is built on the site of the old Sheffield Castle, or that the Old Queen's Head is the oldest building in the city, established in 1475, has been so exciting.

HOWEVER, Sheffield's history absolutely pales in comparison to the history buffet that York provided. Even though we are going to York on Monday, I wanted a chance to explore this absolutely incredible city at my own pace, so I went for the whole day on Saturday and it was almost indescribable. The Roman, Viking and Medieval history was so overwhelming. When I walked on the Roman built city walls (built circa 300 A.D), or visited the Jorvik Viking Centre built on top of a ninth century Viking village, or stood in the middle of the majesty of the 14th century York Minster, I honestly had to remind myself that it was really happening. That much history is just alien to me, coming from Australia. I spent the day getting lost in the snickelways, going through the York Dungeons and visiting Norman era fortresses, and it was the best day I've had so far on the tour.

York Minster - Gothic Cathedral
 York is so essentially different from Sheffield, it almost doesn't feel like they are in the same country, let alone just an hour apart. York has clearly embraced its rich tapestry of historical and cultural heritage, and has done nothing to reject or improve its confusing and impractical windy streets, snickelways or Roman paved cobbled paths. There is no real trace of industrialisation, at least in the city centre. So much of it feels authentically Medieval, like the city has made no tangible attempt to move away from its quaintness or its 'outdatedness'. Comparatively speaking, you can definitely see the way in which York maintained its historical identity, while Sheffield moved into industrialisation and 21st century modernisation. Sheffield feels very much like a city in the here and now (despite its long history) while York feels like a village straight out of a Grimms Brothers fairy tale.

The Shambles
I am looking forward to going back to York tomorrow. I actually miss it, I loved it so much. I am also eager for the visit to Haworth, as the Bronte sisters are some of my absolute favourite authors.
- Cloe Timperley (Bachelor of Arts)

P.S, I just wanted to let everyone know (because it's funny), when I visited York Castle, there was this family of geese at the foot of the stairs. Even though myself and at least thirty other people were standing in the presence of a Norman fortress commissioned by William the Conqueror in 1068, all any of us cared about were these stupid geese!!

Cute baby goslings trump over 2,000 years of York history any day.

Goslings stealing the show at York Castle


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