Rediscovering LeedsĀ 

While Leeds is only a 40 minute train journey for me, I’m ashamed to say I haven’t actually been since graduating from the University of Leeds 4 years ago. With the start of the summer holidays, and no travelling booked for another week, I decided it was definitely time to return!

My first stop was the university just for nostalgia and boy did I get a pang to return to my student days! I also had to drop off some library books for the boyfriend who has just finished his teacher training course there, but took the time to revisit one of my old haunts- Opposite (opposite Parkinsonism Steps, obviously) for a quick cup of tea. I was quite impressed with my ability to remember the shortcuts through town to get to uni from the train station, proving 3 years is definitely enough to get a good homing pigeon sense developed!

I then headed back into town, past Dry Dock (another favourite, a pub in a boat) and the more scenic old buildings en route to Leeds City Museum for a quick nosey. I think I visited only once as a student  (what a bad historian!) but it was a pleasant enough half an hour reading about the history of Leeds and looking at the ancient collection- the mummy being a fascinating favourite. It’s small but it is free and has loads of stuff for kids to do, so definitely could be a whole afternoon’s worth for families.

The main appeal of Leeds however is of course the shopping! I love wandering around the old arcades and visiting the small boutiques, but being on a budget is stuck to one purchase- a tea strainer and some loose leaf Dream Time tea from Whittard’s which is so fragrant and relaxing as I’m writing this post now! I could totally buy so much of that shop it’s unreal, even now I’m still thinking of the mango and passionfruit flavour I loved but didn’t buy. This might become my latest indulgence habit…

After perusing several shops I made my way to the Trinity shopping centre to meet a friend for lunch. It wasn’t even complete when I left Leeds as a graduate so it was still new and exciting to me, and strangely easy to get lost in with the various exits! (My sense of direction is shocking) I still had a lovely browse of all the shops and some serious window shopping of all the designer brands.

We naturally went straight to Trinity Kitchen which I’d heard so much about online- we quickly decided on Pho for Pho Xao- Vietnamese chicken and prawn wok fried noodles, which were very tasty but very messy. I am hopeless with chopsticks and eventually snook over to get a fork and admit defeat. We contemplated the handmade ice cream or mini nutella pancakes for dessert but in the end we were just too full from the noodles to want much more, although they did look amazing.
I definitely should have revisited Leeds before now, and had a really lovely day out so hopefully I will be back again soon to keep exploring!

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The Royal Armouries, Leeds

On a day trip into Leeds to liven up the summer holidays a little, I decided to visit the Royal Armouries, which I haven’t done properly in a few years now. It’s free to get into which is always good, and has 4 floors of military history artifacts and exhibits, as you would expect from the name. Now, I’m not a huge military history fan and got round everything in about an hour and a half, but I imagine if you were really into this aspect of the past, or had children you could easily spend longer as there’s lots of extra activities for kids too.

There’s weaponry from across the globe which is really interesting to see- there’s a new oriental exhibit opened since last time I came which was very different to the European medieval type pieces that make up two floors worth of the museum. They also had a partnership with some local charity on the top floor for an exhibit about modern crime and violence which seemed a little out of place but they did have some good, more historical, parts of it such as a very rare Victorian lady’s purse gun. The main part of the museum, as I said, was the medieval knight style section which had some very impressive armour and is my favourite part simply because I like this time period the best.

The best part of the Armouries however are the displays- I watched the sword fighting this time, but there are lots of others spaced throughout the day, plus jousting and sometimes hawking outside in the summer holidays (watching the jousting does cost but I remember it to be amazing when I last came). The two men doing the sword fighting were clearly experts and talked about how to do the moves and their research into medieval fighting before having a good old fight. They also let you hold the sword and ask questions afterwards which is always fun.

It was an enjoyable visit but like I said, it really depends on how much of this style of history you like. They have tried to make it interactive and fun, but there’s only so many weapons you want to see before they start to look the same…. I was also a little disappointed by the Waterloo exhibition- it was heavily advertised but only had a small section of information etc. as the main focus was on a huge painting from the time. “The Art of Battle” was clearly more focused on the art than the war, which was a shame on the 200th anniversary of such an important event.

Waterloo cartoon by Daniel Maclise