I’m heading off on a girly trip to Marrakech with one of my best friends in a few weeks – since we don’t live anywhere near one another, we decided to meet up and do some planning in Leeds.
Now, I probably didn’t see the best of Leeds city centre. It was drizzling – not hard, but persistently – for almost the whole time that we were there, so mostly we stayed indoors, plotting camel treks and hammams and all sorts of warm things a million miles away from a wet Saturday in Leeds.
We did have a signal failure to contend with, so while I waited for my friend I had a little wander.
I popped into the Cornmarket, which is an amazing little space packed full of independent shops and cafes. There are a few nice vintage boutiques and jewellery shops, but my favourite was The Great Yorkshire Shop – you’ll be surprised to hear it was packed full of locally produced items! I absolutely loved these cards, they capture the Yorkshire vernacular beautifully.
After a mooch there I still had time to kill and I spotted the Leeds Indoor Market across the street. I didn’t realise I’d been to Leeds before, but as I looked at the market, a memory surfaced of getting the MegaBus to Oxford, via Leeds, as a teenager. I was only about 16 as I remember and despite having about 2 hours between buses, we were so scared of missing our connection that we didn’t dare venture far from the bus stop. The market was right opposite where we were waiting, so we popped in and out a few times for a wee, to find some food and to stretch our legs.
It’s a proper old-school indoor market, with lots of traditional butchers, fishmongers, veg stalls and cafes cheek by jowl with Romanian food stores, hair braiding salons and even a little pet shop. I also spotted the first ever Marks & Spencer outlet, which now sells coffees and some traditional M&S teas, coffees and preserves – very cute.
When my friend’s train finally arrived, we headed straight for Five Guys to sample the legendary burgers. It was a pretty transcendent experience, particularly because we’d both eaten an early breakfast and it was coming on three o’clock by this point.
I had a cheeseburger with pickles, relish and onions which had all the elements I love about a Big Mac, but without the overly processed taste. The skin-on fries were, as I’d been told, delicious, and my first Coke freestyle machine experience was exciting, if very confusing.
The final stop on our itinerary (after some planning time in Costa which is not exciting) was the BrewDog bar on Crown Street. I’ve been a Brewdog fan for quite a few years now, but I became an ‘Equity Punk’ after I was gifted some shares at Christmas. It means I get a discount at the bars, so naturally I was keen to give it a go! The bar had a lovely atmosphere and lots of exposed brickwork (always good) and we sunk a quick half of Punk IPA before we had to dash for trains.
I’m really keen to go back for a bit more of a mooch (maybe when the weather is better…) and my boyfriend reckons that the armouries are well worth a visit. There were lots of tasty looking cafes and restaurants we didn’t have time (or space) to sample too, so hopefully I’ll make it back soon!