Saturday, 2 June 2018

A weekend in Leeds, part 2

Catch up on my first day in Leeds.

After a busy day of walking, picnicking and hunting out secret bars, we began my second day in Leeds by... heading out for more food. My Leeds-based friend had offered several suggestions for somewhere to get breakfast, but as soon as she mentioned that one of them serves coffee from a lifesize VW Camper Van, I was sold.

Archie's is situated in the train arches right under Leeds station. Unlike London's much-lamented Archie's, it offers more than just cheese, including a cracking full English which set me up for the day splendidly.

Handily, the Leeds waterbus stop is almost right outside, leaving us not far too waddle. Part James Bond speedboat, part yellow New York taxi, the waterbus was set up to offer free rides to Leeds Docks, to encourage more people to visit the area.

You can see why. There's not much going on in the Docks - it's mainly luxury flats overlooking the water. The main attraction is Armouries, a free museum about war and armour from all over the world. Despite its historic subject matter, it's a thoroughly modern building, its light and airy nature making it feel more like an art gallery than a museum.

 You could spend hours there if you were so inclined but we had exploring to do, so we left the museum, and wandered back towards the town centre where, I discovered, Leeds has a wealth of street art.

We passed the rest of the afternoon wandering through the many grand arcades of Leeds, both the ornate, older ones and the sleek, modern ones. The Corn Exchange, now used as an indoor shopping centre full of interesting indy shops, is a stunning building, and worth popping into if you need to escape the rain. Unfortunately its vast ceiling makes it difficult to snap a decent picture, so you'll have to make do with this shot of another arcade instead.

I have to admit, I'd misjudged Leeds. I've always thought of it as a dull, metropolitan city, with plenty of shops, bars and restaurants, and not a lot else. In reality, I saw plenty of historical, architectural and cultural features that tell its story. More on that in a future blog post, but my camera was kept extremely busy.

Oh, yeah. Didn't think I'd finish the day without cake did you? Our final pitstop was a tea and cake break at Mrs Atha's Coffee House. It's not a huge place, the basement area crammed to bursting with eclectically mismatched tables and chairs, but it's cosy, and ideal for seeing out the rain.

My trip to Leeds was part of my mission to visit a new UK place every month this year. I'm documenting the mission on Twitter and Instagram. I'm open to suggestions - where else should I go?

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