Late Spring/early Summer is to me, the best time to visit the United Kingdom. Weather is good (lots of sunshine), flowers are out and beautiful light that envelopes everything in sight! A great time then to spend it up north instead of the City of London. I’m glad we took that decision as there was just so much to see. Positioning ourselves in Leeds also proved to be the right choice for this visit. None of that long, long wait to clear customs at Heathrow and then another mad dash to get tickets onto the train into the city. Instead, we breezed through Manchester Airport….
and then hopped onto a train that whizzed over to Leeds in about an hour and a half (or there abouts). Just take a look at the very modern Leeds Train Station.
Yorkshire Dales together with the great historical sites of York and Saltaire and the village of Grassington proved to be a lovely way to understand the people, culture and history of this great nation. I’ll start with my visit with Leeds, a lovely compact city with a cosmopolitan community. What struck me the most about Leeds? The young, buzzy atmosphere that seemed to permeate the city and also this great ability to blend old with new and not turn the buildings into an architectural mess! So the best place to start our discovery tour was the Leeds City Market that showed great ‘bones’ and a myriad of food.
Interestingly enough, the north was the heart of the textile industry in the early 1700s and Leeds is testimony to this great era. Old warehouses and manufacturing sites abound along the River Aire.
These lovely buildings have been converted to beautiful housing, retail and office space, a clever blending of old with the new, modern with traditional. Just look at the exterior of the Corn Exchange below…
and it’s lovely interior….
All that walking around makes one hungry and Leeds offers some of the most delicious food you can find. Thanks to British chefs like Jaime Oliver and Heston Blumenthal (the Fat Duck), Britain is on the food radar of many a foodie making a trip to the British Isles. Despite having a tremendous variety of food to choose, we wanted to savour pure British so it was Pork pies, fish and chips, bangers and mash and Ploughmen’s plates – all made with fresh British produce which makes all the more delicious! In fact, good and reasonably priced food is available in the many cafes and bistros dotting the Leeds landscape. It was at the Crust and Crumb where I had a delicious brunch. Lucky that there were five of us so we could pinch from one another!
The bread is exceptionally good at the Crust and Crumb. Nicola, who owns this very lovely cafe makes all the bread here and also supplies some of the surrounding restaurants. I take my hat off to her as making bread is really a great labour of love – to get it just in time for your breakfast crowd, the baker must be up by 2.30 am to have the bread ready for baking at 5.30 am.
If you visit Leeds, do take some time out to visit the Crust and Crumb for some lovely coffee and a bite to eat. They’re in a place called Chapel Allerton..and a very short bus ride away is the picturesque place to visit is Roundhay. Roundhay in the 13th Century was a three square mile hunting park for the DeLacy family of Pontefract Castle. The City of Leeds purchased the entire estate in 1871 and turned it into a public park. Must say this was very generous of the City officials to do this. The park today is absolutely lovely – well kept and with loads of paths and open space to explore.
As usual, one must be prepared for inclement weather when in the UK. Short drizzles give way to sunshine. Spied this lovely old couple taking a walk in Roundhay Park. Ever the gentleman, the old gent opened up his brolly to shelter the Missus and their doggie when the rain came. What I like about them is that they decided to still sit outside and take in the view despite the sprinkling rain! Ah..but that’s the British, isn’t it?! The beautiful grounds of Roundhay Park reminded me of a by-gone Jane Austen era – expansive grounds and well kept gardens with a little ‘lake’ and lakehouse to boot.
The link provided above gives information, maps and directions concerning transportation, events and activities at Roundhay. I’m leaving this post with some British humour. Godloves Solicitors? Hm…
The next post will show my visit to Saltaire, Harrogate & York. Again, beautiful light and some very ‘daring’ photos to share!