Mum and Dad organized a surprise day-out for me last Sunday, as a birthday treat. They managed to keep the destination secret until we were about 10 miles out – a visit to York, somewhere I haven’t been in about 15 years.
We started out with, no real prizes for guessing this one, a visit to the National Railway Museum. This, along with the Jorvik Viking Museum, is the only place I remember from childhood visits, although only vaguely.
The museum is vast, with a large collection of steam, diesel and electric engines, as well as complete carriage sets. One of the most interesting exhibitions was a steam engine that looked like it was undergoing open-boiler surgery, allowing you to see how it worked internally.
My other favourite exhibit was the live replica of the signalling control system at York railway station. This gave live images of the state of the signals at the station and nearby junctions, in conjunction with feed from a video camera at Skelton Junction. The system was set up at a window, so that you watch a train coming out of the station at the same time as following its progress on the screens.
The second part to our day in York, was to attend choral evensong at the Minster.
The music list for the service was:
Nunc Dimittis: Wood in Bb
Anthem: If the Lord had not helped me, Bairstow
Aside from the Rose responses, which I have sung, all the music was new to me. Both the Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis settings were in Latin, which is fairly unusual. Despite the impression that might give you, though, the Swayne was a very modern setting, and sounded like quite a challenge to sing.
Also interesting to me was that the musical director, Philip Moore, is the composer of one of the settings I sung last summer with the European Cathedral Singers, in Southwell Minster.
After the service we were able to wander around the Minster for a little while. There is an astronomical clock which is well worth seeing, and also a lovely Chapter House, with a beautiful ceiling, and great acoustics (I tried them out).