Spent my birthday weekend with some schoolfriends in York, had such a good time! I've not explored York properly before (Jo's hen night and our two-hour visit on honeymoon don't count) so it was good to see the sights.
We spent ages (maybe a bit too long, sorry!) in the Minster, which is stunning but not as good as Durham of course. Those of us not hampered by pregnancy/dodgy hips made it up the 275 steps of the minster tower. It was a bit parky at the top but we could see the snow on the distant dales and moors. Christine also spotted a 32 carat diamond embedded in a chalice in the undercroft, but we couldn't create enough of a distraction to filch it sadly. My birthday cherry necklace made up for it though!
It was a freezing night for a ghost walk but we're northerners so we battled the elements, along with at least a hundred other hardy souls. Our guide, an incredibly hammy Victorian gent (well they are Equity qualified..), took us on a whistlestop tour of York's many gruesome sites (my favourite was the greedy orphan owner who slit the throats of his (weirdly Cockney) young charges in a drunken moment of madness; maybe favourite isn't the right word but never mind). Definitely worth doing but maybe wait for spring!
We warmed up in several of York's more reputable (for which read: cask ale serving) pubs, including the Yorkshire Terrier and The Last Drop Inn (both owned by York Brewery) and the Tap and Spile, which hosts a regular folk jam session on a Friday. The Yorkshire Terrier definitely gets my vote - good beers, tasty food and a lovely old pub decor.
I rather spoiled my birthday treat of afternoon tea by having two over the weekend, but neither of them came with clotted cream so Liberty's still had something to offer! And we managed to fit in a tasty curry too (not a neon waterfall in sight).
If you're thinking of visiting, I'd definitely recommend the Monkgate Guest House, just outside the city walls at Monk Bar. It was only about £40 a night based on two sharing, we all got our own beds and as long as you don't have a teddy bear phobia it's lovely.