#InntravelCaptureYork

I was lucky enough to be invited along with a few other bloggers to an event two Sundays ago in York with well-known street photographer, Keith Moss. Although I had checked out Keith’s website full of his incredible work, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect on the day. I know I was hoping to learn more about effectively using my DSLR, and that certainly happened, but the whole day was so much more than that. It was about putting fear aside and putting yourself out there for something you are passionate about.

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It was extremely apparent that Keith was passionate about his photography before even meeting him. If you take one look at his black-and-white photos on his website, you immediately feel a connection between the photographer and the people he photographs. People he has never met before, but merely he has seen during his travels.

Because of his knowledge and passion, it was incredible learning from him. He taught us the basics of our cameras and how to best utilise the various settings on them, which was necessary knowledge to start off the day. After practicing those skills by snapping photos of each other, Keith encouraged us to set out into the city and find places we thought might be good to capture our own street photography.

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I will admit that this bit was nerve-wracking for me as we ventured out to capture people going about their days. The perfectionist in me definitely showed itself as I became frustrated when I couldn’t get a shot to look how I thought it should. When we met up again, I mentioned that I wasn’t overly impressed with any of the photos that I took. Keith said that was completely fine as this session wasn’t about getting the best shot as that will take loads of practice, but rather it was for obtaining the skills to give us confidence behind the camera taking a variety of different photos. It was a bit of a lightbulb moment for me and a good reminder to cut myself some slack and to not stop working for something you want to pursue and excel at. I also appreciated that he said that grittiness and imperfections in photos are sometimes what makes them, which were qualities in some of the photos that I took and happen to like from the day.

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It was a really great day of learning and meeting new people. And, I was pleasantly surprised once I got home and had another look at some of my photos that they weren’t all bad!

Big thanks to Keith for all of his teachings, to Inntravel for hosting the day, and to Zeal Buzz for inviting me along!

Stumbled upon my favorites having lunch when I was out practicing my street photography…

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Loved seeing these two and their smiles at the end of the day…

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To the dungeon….

Yesterday, I took the train to York to visit The York Dungeon. I’ve walked past The London Dungeon before, but even after a few visits to York, I did not know there was a similar experience there. Truthfully, I also had no idea what these dungeon experiences were even about, but now I know!

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When I arrived, I was greeted outside of the entrance by the Ringmaster of Carnivále, which is the current sideshow at The York Dungeon that runs until the 1st September. Before the tour begins, I had my photo taken holding a board declaring the crime I was convicted of (‘Being a Witch’) and another of me looking shocked. In the second photo, they make it out to seem you are looking at a body during an autopsy and you are not aware of that until you see your photos at the end of the tour. (You can purchase these photos in the gift shop.) Well, I looked like I was busting a move above the body – hilarious!

As my group waited for our tour to begin, we sat in a corridor to make us feel like we were in Clifford’s Tower listening to the talking head of Robert Aske, a Yorkshire lawyer during the reign of Henry VIII. He gave an introduction to the dungeon tour and warned us about Henry VIII. It’s quite cool as the ‘talking heads’ are images of the faces of actual actors that are projected on a faceless mannequin.

We were then introduced to a former washer of robes at St Mary’s Abbey in 1541. He lost his job when Henry VIII took over all of the churches. The man was attempting to pillage the room of its valuables before Henry VIII and his men caught us. This first show started off with a scream as the man came flying into the corridor, so I think most of us were on edge for a good portion of the 80ish-minute tour. I’m not a big fan of scary movies or haunted houses, so the prospect of something jumping out at me was slightly unnerving. This did definitely add to the atmosphere of the dungeon. I found some of us never wanted to be the first to enter a room or the last to leave a room. It was during these times when I wished I was there with a friend or Richard (also a scaredy cat like me!).

We then moved through a series of other rooms with the majority of the shows being done by live actors and only a couple being told by the talking heads or a recorded narration. There was actually quite a lot of historical information to absorb throughout the course of the tour. Some of the highlights for me included:  hearing a recording from ‘Guy Fawkes’ of his role in the plot against Westminster on the 5th November 1605 and his subsequent torture once caught, listening to the story of the Ghost of York from 1821 as told by the very animated pub landlord who witnessed the hanging and then the appearance of said person’s ghost in his pub, a demonstration on an unsuspecting tour member by the torturer of his various instruments, and the equivalent to a dark yet comedic stand up show involving the talking head of Eric Bloodaxe as he tells tales of the Vikings bloody invasion against the English complete with heckling by the talking head (on a stick!) of an Englishman he had beheaded.

My favorite of all of the shows was one in which we met the doctor’s assistant during the time of plague in 1551. We heard about the symptoms of the plague and the methods they used to attempt to heal those with the plague. We even played witness to a bit of a ‘live autopsy’! The assistant was just a little mad, which was completely understandable seeing as she would have dealt with such doom each day. This actress played her part extremely well and her dry sense of humor really added to this portion of the tour. She used a member of the tour to really engage us and the moments of pitch black kept us all guessing as to what was going to come next.

From the first live show of the tour, I could tell the actors were knowledgable about their respective times in history and each of them really got into their parts, particularly the pub landlord and the doctor’s assistant. They use humor that appeals to all ages (There were even a few innuendos thrown in for the older crowd!) and great storytelling to provide a synopsis of the darker times in York’s history. There are little surprises along the way, but I don’t want to give too much away because I really do feel it adds to the drama and atmosphere that they set out to create during the dungeon tour.

There are typically 24 people in each tour group, and the group members ranged in age from about 8 to 60ish years old. Everyone, but me, was there with someone else. It wasn’t awkward being there on my own because you tend to chat to others as you connect over your shared desire not to be frightened! The York Dungeon experience is most definitely a tourist attraction, but it is well worth a visit if you don’t know much about the dark history of the city. I think it would be a neat place to take some of our U.S. visitors as York is typically one of the places we tend to take people on our tour of Yorkshire. I really did enjoy my visit to The York Dungeon and would certainly recommend it!

I was provided a ticket by The York Dungeon for purposes of review. All of the opinions are honest and all photos are my own. I promise to always share my honest perspective when doing reviews. Don’t hesitate to ask if you have any questions.

Our First Real Visitor from the U.S.

Do you have those friends that you might not see or speak to for months at a time, but you know that they are always there and they know the same about you? The friends that when you do see each other again it’s like no time has passed at all? I feel really lucky that I have a number of friends like this in my life, and at the beginning of May, one of those friends, Jeff, came to visit us! Jeff and I met when we worked at the same study abroad organization as recent college grads. I’m sure he (and the rest of those work friends) would agree that was a funny time because we were still young and figuring out where we wanted to go with our lives, but we all had a great time together – both inside and outside of work.

Jeff was one of the first to leave our office to move on to bigger and better things, like grad school in London! I’ve been pestering him since I moved to England about when his next visit back to the UK would be as he still has friends in the city and has a strong love for this country. Finally, the time had come for him to dish out the cash for a ticket across the pond, and he took the train up from London to spend a few days with us during his trip.

On Sunday, we picked him up from the station then headed to Hebden Bridge and showed him around the funky little village before stopping in for a drink to avoid some of the misty rain that had started. After a quick stop at our house to show him his room for the next three nights, we went to one of our favorite local pubs for a meal. I think Jeff would agree that the fish and chips up north really have something on the fish and chips of other parts of England – not that I am partial or anything!

The next day, we decided to take the train to York as he had never been before. Thankfully, we had pretty good weather to walk around and enjoy the city. First, we checked out York Minster. I had only admired it from the outside, so we paid the admission fee (your ticket is then good for a year) and spent awhile exploring the Minster and the various rooms inside it. There are many areas to explore and discover once inside that make the building so intriguing. It is extremely impressive, and I would definitely recommend paying the admission fee because there is so much more to it than the main cathedral section.

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Next up, we wandered around in search of some lunch, and we took care of making sure Jeff visited one of the restaurants he wanted to be sure he hit at while in the UK, Wagamama. Then, it was down to The Shambles. The Shambles is definitely one of the most unique streets that I have seen here in the UK and is worth a nosey. (Unfortunately, and I don’t claim to be a good photographer at all, my photos of The Shambles came out extremely poor.) We then walked over to the York Museum Gardens. The sun had come out by this point, so there were a lot of people milling around the gardens and lounging on the grass. The gardens are home to the ruins from St Mary’s Abbey, the Abbey Walls and Gateway, St Leonard’s Hospital, and the Roman Fortress as well the Hospitium (They book weddings!). It’s a beautiful area to walk through and snap some photos.

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Earlier in the day, Jeff had spotted the old walls that circle the city, so after our stroll through the gardens, we decided to explore the walls a bit. We got on near the train station and followed them the entire way to Clifford’s Tower. We walked to the top of the hill that is home to the tower, but decided against paying the admission fee to visit it. We took a few photos then headed back to the train station to return home.

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On the way, there was one spot with a great view of the York Minster from a distance, so Jeff asked another tourist to take our photo. That resulted in the most hilarious photo, as seen below. The best part of this is the man then asked Jeff to take a photo for him and he wasn’t happy with the first one, so he had Jeff take a second one yet he had no issue that there was a giant bus directly behind us in the photo he snapped! Ha!

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I just noticed the blur of his finger in the bottom left corner, too! Such a laughable photo!

It was a fab day with a fab friend! Thanks for visiting us, Jeff! I just wish you could have seen the new house, but we’ll save that for next time!