As part of my plan to visit a new place every month this year, I went to visit a uni friend who lives in Leeds. That's cheating a bit as I've been to Leeds before, but only for daytrips when I lived in York, mainly zeroing in on Primark and the Christmas market, student priorities being what they were. Needless to say, I didn't see much of the cultural side of the city, so staying with someone who's lived in Leeds for three years was a handy way of being guided to lesser-known spots.
|Flashbacks to studying Tintern Abbey in sixth form|
A large part of my weekend in Leeds wasn't actually spent in Leeds. As soon as I stepped off the train, we headed about an hour north to Fountains Abbey, a National Trust property out in the wilds of Yorkshire. The Abbey itself is a ruin, but a substantial one, and it's on the same site as Studley Royal Water Garden, meaning plenty of ornamental lakes to wander among while we had a long overdue catch up (and a picnic of course, including Hummingbird Bakery cupcakes which I'd lovingly transported all the way from London).
From here, we darted through the back roads and country lanes over to Harrogate, somewhere I've never been before but always fancied visiting. Does this mean I can count this as two new places visited this weekend? I hope so, as I've got some making up to do for February and March.
|Harrogate town centre|
By the time we'd taken a convoluted trip around Harrogate's one way system and found somewhere to park, the sun was shining and the flowers were in full bloom. Like all self-respecting tourists, we started out tour of the town at Betty's Tea Rooms, opting for a quick peek in the shop rather than queuing for food.
After an hour or so of wandering the streets of Harrogate, and a cheeky milkshake to lift our flagging sugar levels, it was back in the car to Leeds.
Dinner came courtesy of Meat Liquor, sister restaurant of my beloved Meat Mission, where I finally got round to trying the Monkey Fingers - strips of chicken covered in that moreish buffalo sauce. They were decent, but not as crispy as my usual buffalo chicken burger.
I'm the sort of person who firmly believes - to adapt a line from How I Met Your Mother - that nothing good happens after 9pm (except sleep). In this case, Leeds proved me wrong. We found ourselves in a secret jazz bar hidden underneath what looks like a barber shop in one of the city's fancy arcades. As well as feeling clandestine, and quite classy, it also provided me with the cheapest round I ever bought. Between you and me, it's this place... but don't go telling everyone.
I'll be publishing part 2 of the Leeds Chronicles shortly. In the mean time, keep up with my antics on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.