It was my birthday last weekend - I finally arrived at the big '5-0' and I have to say it honestly feels a bit of an odd number to get my head around. 50. I'm the same age my dad was when he died and that in itself is slightly surreal.
I'm the third cousin to make the magical mark in the past 6 months, and there's one more to go this year, in December. So here we are. What did I think I'd be doing at 50? I honestly have no idea. I suppose I just assumed I'd have a house, maybe be married (but no kids, I knew that much at least), still be living in Toronto, have some kind of job, maybe a pet...
...aaaand that's about as far as I got.
Things really do change!
Instead, I've got a room in a (semi-)foreign country, no solid direction, a decent job doing something I can do well but don't love, and continue, really, to drift a bit aimlessly. The hyper-focus that got me here 3.5 years ago disappeared once I'd arrived and I'm left more or less in the same position I was before I left - a bit frustrated, feeling like I'm just spinning my wheels and not moving forward in anything except age.
I'm not complaining - I'm feeling more reflective now I've hit the half-century mark. I think it's impossible not to look back at where you've come from, where you are and the choices you made on the way; why you made them and where you've ended up because of them. The difference is that now I've got the wisdom (supposedly!) to be more conscious and aware of how I got here and what I need to do to make sure I don't just keep making the same choices that don't really move me forward.
Anyway, I have a few fun things planned this year, the first being a trip to York for a long weekend with my cousin! She took our cousin Sarah, who turned 50 in September, to Bath for a birthday present, and York was my choice. Neither of us had been before and I've heard nothing but good things about it. It's a very old city, being established initially by the Romans somewhere around 71AD (Eboracum), then being added to by the Vikings in the 9thC(Jorvik), Normans, and into the early medieval period.
It's an absolutely fascinating city - original walls still encircle the old city, with the new parts springing up around it. It's kept parts of its original medieval centre as well, the shopping area known as 'The Shambles'. Tiny cobblestone streets with overhanging buildings, low doorways - it's a pretty amazing place.
It's also the setting for 'Diagon Alley' in the Harry Potter films for all you HP aficionados.
We drove part way on Thursday night and stayed with my auntie in Hertfordshire and took the train from there the next day. It took a couple of hours and we arrived at noon - the first thing we did after checking in was find a place to eat. We found a nice cafe only a block from the guest house and they were kind enough to make me a breakfast sandwich at that time of day: sausage, bacon and egg! Delicious and that much protein helped me make it to 'cake' o'clock (which, in all honesty, is anytime after breakfast).
Our coffee shop wall.
Our coffee shop.
The gate where we climbed to the walls (stairs on rh side).
Walking along the walls, above the city.
Daffodils everywhere! It was a gorgeous spring weekend.
Monkgate. There was a Richard III exhibition here (which we didn't visit) in which you try to decide for yourself whether or not he was complicit in sending the Princes Edward and Richard to the Tower in London and ultimately to their deaths.
See the black cat? It's a statue and they're all over York's buildings. I think there are about 23 of them scattered around various parts of the old town. There's a cat trail to follow and a handy map to guide you.
Walmgate. This has been converted into a very cosy (read: small) cafe. There are a few seats inside, but the majority are out on the battlements.
I believe this is Bitchdaughter Tower. Someone wasn't very happy when it was named!
Clifford's Tower where, in 1190, 300 Jews and Jewesses committed suicide rather than die at the hands of soldiers.
The River Ouse.
The white rose of York.
That will have to do for today, photo-wise at least. I seem to be technoligically challenged today and nothing else will upload for me and I can't figure out why not. I have a cold and a very annoying cough so I'll have to wait until tomorrow or something to try again.
Enjoy your weekend!