The York Insider: Being daffed on the walls

Twenty-two springs ago, my family and I came to York for Easter.  The main recollection that me and my brothers have is of Dad wanting to walk round the walls, and us being totally unimpressed by the idea.  For many years afterwards, if we were on a family trip and we saw a wall, one of us would ask Dad if he wanted to walk on that one too.


A couple of decades later, not only am I living in York, but the walls are at the back of my house, and I love wandering along them.  Much as it pains me to admit it, my dear father was right.  Dad, I am sorry I ever questioned your judgement.

And of wall the times of the year, my favourite one is now, when the daffodils begin to come out.  Spring means the start of the cricket season and the start of geology fieldtrips, and having countless yellow flowers swarming over the slopes of the walls hammers the message home.

Daffodils on the slopes beneath Bitchdaughter Tower, York Walls.

I was curious to know exactly when the first daffodils would pop up, so when the Friends of York Walls set up a daffodil-spotting competition on Twitter, I made it my mission to win.  Various speculations were made, not least that the first ones would appear between Bootham Bar and Monk Bar.  As those were north-facing slopes, I rejected that hypothesis, and decided it was much more likely the pioneers would appear somewhere between Bitchdaughter Tower and Walmgate Bar.

Map of York Walls, from Media Geographies website.

To test this, I went on a floral circumnavigation a couple of sunny Sundays ago, camera in hand.  Yellow flowers were in short supply, so I photographed other things of the same colour, but on the banks by the Barbican, my hypothesis seemed to be proven correct.  The first daffodil was about to come out:

February 17th 2013.

An almost-daff wouldn't be enough to win the competition, and I was going to be away for the next few days.  I resigned myself to losing out to someone else.  But a few days later, when I was finally back in York again during daylight hours, the prize was still unclaimed.

I went back to the Barbican, and the flower was a lot more daffodil-like, and I photographed it and tweeted the image to the York Walls people:

February 22nd 2013.

A short while later, they emailed me back to say:


Well spotted U Win!!!!!!!!


Are you OK for a picture with the Press if I can arrange it?



I said I didn't mind, but that I would be away again for a few days.  I secretly hoped that this would render my being photographed unnecessary, but sadly it didn't.  Which is why this afternoon, on St Daffod's Day, I was to be found perched on the Barbican banks, gurning among the flowers, being recorded for posterity by the York Press.

I will probably end up looking something like this, and attract endless mickey-taking from everyone who knows me, but that's a risk I will just have to take.  And to ease the pain of potential ridicule, my flower-hunting skills did win me two 2-day York passes, worth £96.  So, who's the daffed one now?

Yes, it's still me.



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