Hi, friends! I guess it took a pandemic and ensuing quarantine to get me back to blogging, but here we are! I may be a regular here again, and I may not, but I wanted to do a series of a posts on the fabulous England/France trip DW and I took in early March. I find that I’m forgetting a lot about it and I don’t want to forget a THING so, here is post 1, which covers Feb 29 – Mar 1. I’m including our travel day because 1) It was eventful and 2) I want to let y’all know what a pain in the ass it is to get to Halifax, England. I mean, it’s worth it, but OMG.
A friend dropped us off at the airport and we had lunch and a celebratory cocktail (our usual travel beverage, a spicy Bloody Mary). We flew into Atlanta and discovered that our flight was delayed by hours. HOURS. I wasn’t that sad about it because I knew we’d spend it day drinking at the airport with no kids – pretty much heaven. We parked ourselves at a bar in the international terminal (which was quite empty, thank you very much Ms. Rona). By the time we got on our flight HOURS later, we were tired and just ready to be on our way.
We took some Tylenol.PM for the red eye and waited to conk out. I fell asleep maybe an hour in, but poor DW had some trouble. I’d wake up occasionally and see her watching a movie or reading and think, “Oh no.” Then back to sleep for me.
We landed in Manchester, England, at around 8:30AM (which was 2:30AM by our body clock). It wasn’t as rough as you might think as we were so excited to be there and get to the hometown of our Lord and Savior, Ms. Anne “220 pounds, 17 shillings, and 6 pence” Lister of Shibden Hall, Halifax, Yorkshire, England. (If you didn’t get that reference, then 1) you are not a lesbian and/or 2) you haven’t watched the greatest show in history, Gentleman Jack. Get on that. NOW.)
Ahem. We picked up our bags and made our way to the train station to begin the LONG ASS HAUL to Halifax. Since it was a Sunday, the train from the airport to Manchester Picadilly station wasn’t running, so we queued up to take a bus there. When we arrived at the station, DW went to get our bags from under the bus when the DOOR STARTED TO CLOSE, TRAPPING HER BY THE SHOULDER! It took me a second to realize what was happening and I went to yell out to a woman standing nearby, “HELP HER!” But it came out as a garbled “L****!!!!” To which she replied, “I KNOW!” And then the door started to lift up again. We were so tired and it was so strange that we were LOLing even though it could have been really bad!
So, we haul our big ass bags into the train station and figure out how to get tickets to the next station (Huddersfield) and then on to Halifax. Got on the train, which was pretty crowded, and DW tried to fit our giant duffle bags in the overhead bin – they were way too big. A guy ended up putting them in a seat next to him. We get to Huddersfield, pull our bags out, and start hunting for the next train to Halifax. We get on and this train is far less crowded and had a large area for baggage. Then we arrive at Halifax station!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Let me recap: To get to Halifax, we flew into Manchester, took a bus, and then took two trains. It was almost 24 hours of travel in all.
Halifax station is tiny and cute. We pull our bags out and map to our hotel (The White Swan). It’s a 10 minute walk, so we decide to walk it instead of getting a cab. It was COLD. We looked a mess, I’m sure, dragging all of our crap through the cobblestone streets to the hotel. We did enjoy seeing all of the historic buildings and the charm of Halifax, though to be honest, it was a little depressing as well. Very small and a lot of unoccupied businesses.
We make it to our hotel and check in. Drop our bags in our room and drop ourselves on the bed for maybe 20 minutes. We are starving and noticed a restaurant attached to the hotel (an Italian restaurant called Julio’s [not “Hoo-lio’s” but “Joo-lios,” which was hysterical to us after a full day of travel). We go down and they are not opened yet, though the door was unlocked. We walked in to staff eating and looking at us like we had 2 heads. After telling them we were there for lunch or dinner (it was around 3), they informed us they opened at 4:30. Sigh.
I wanted to check out The Piece Hall and saw that there were restaurants there, so we walked over. What a cool place!
The Piece Hall, which was quite empty thanks to the coronavirus.
The restaurants weren’t really our type of thing, so we decided to just walk around a bit. Went into an adorable Christmas shop and purchased a few ornaments. (That’s a thing we always do – buy ornaments on trips so we remember them when we decorate our tree. I love it! These are just cute ornaments that we like, not touristy labeled ornaments as again, not our thing.) While checking out, I mention Anne Lister and the shop keeper (an older woman) lights up and starts talking about how much Halifax has been impacted by the popularity of Gentleman Jack and how great it is. Then she launches into a story about her friend who started studying the diaries years back and I’m thinking, “Is she talking about Helena Whitbread???” Why yes, YES SHE WAS! It was so freaking amazing to be in Halifax, talking Anne Lister with a Halifax resident.
We then went into a bookstore as I wanted to buy the Anne Lister walking tour map. I got that and another AL book and the woman who checked us out asked if we’d been to the Halifax Minster yet. She told us it was a 2 minute walk away so we headed over! Never underestimate the power of Anne Lister to fortify two hungry lesbians enough to forgo a much-needed meal in order to see the church where Anne Lister was baptized and buried!
Halifax Minster was just incredible. A woman gave us a brief talk about the church and the Listers before setting us loose to look around. W.O.W. The church dates back to the 1400s! We saw the baptismal font where Anne Lister was baptized, as well as the area of the church where she and her family are interred. (Poor Ann Walker is buried in Lightcliffe with her family. We had planned to visit her grave and leave flowers, but our time was so limited, we didn’t end up being able to. I’m sorry, Ann! You have a special place in my heart!)
Exterior of Halifax Minster
Interior of Halifax Minster
Looking from rear of church to front (behind the baptismal font)
Anne was all over this church. They even had a little shop filled with Anne Lister merch! It was so incredible to see a lesbian celebrated like this in a church.
Facing the area of the church where Anne and the other Listers are interred. You can see an enlarged image of Anne if you look closely on the right.
I can’t explain how it felt to be in this church, celebrating Anne Lister. Life-affirming, our own LGBTQ connection to history all because Anne Lister wrote those diaries. It still blows my mind, y’all.
We trekked back to the hotel and ate at Julio’s, which was another strange experience. “Do you have a reservation?” Us: Look around at a mostly empty restaurant, “No….” To be fair, I’m sure we looked a fright, but still – our money spends just as good as anyone else’s! We had our dinner, called our boys, and called it a night. After all, we had to be up early for our trip to York…