Friday 6 September 2013

Headingley, Leeds

A fact of life living in the north of England is that when rain is predicted in Manchester, then odds on the weather will be better in Yorkshire.  So we decided to test this theory once again and travel over to Leeds as it’s a place we’ve rarely explored.
As Leeds is a city we thought it would be good to check out one of the suburbs first.  After a shout out on Facebook, Headingley was the top recommendation.
So off we trotted on the M62 to Leeds.  The awful roadworks that have plagued the M62 for the past year or so have finally finished - I punched the air with excitement!  Normally at this point I would give the directions to Headingley, however truth is we got there more by luck than design.  I never use a satnav, although on this occasion I would definitely recommend using it.  Headingley really isn’t that well signposted, although we eventually picked up signs to Headingley Cricket Ground. 

Parking in Headingley is really easy – on street parking, it’s free and without time limitations.  Yay!
All we knew about Headingley prior to the trip was that it had something to do with cricket and it has a student population.  The suburb itself is rather unassuming with modest Victorian built shops, a modern parade with a high rise building and some funky looking purpose built student bars.  The trick with this place is to have a good wander and then you begin to discover the interesting things this place has to offer.
As it was the first Saturday of the football season all the pubs were packed with people watching football.  We had fancied a pub lunch, however we didn’t want to jump out of our skins each time the bar cheered.  In the end we found Brett’s Fish Restaurant.  It looked like a normal house with a long garden.  We thought there would be no one in, however we were surprised as four tables were taken already.  There were two young Japanese women paying their bill; an American father with his two children teaching them manners; an older couple having a good cup of Yorkshire tea; and couple of middle aged ladies talking about a lodger who they think has a drugs problem.  We ordered fish and chips from the young chap who seemed to be running the restaurant singlehandedly.  The restaurant was a little old school in decor with some wooden panelling and magnolia walls.  There were some photos on the wall of a couple of actors from Emmerdale, Vera Duckworth from Corrie and some theatrical lady who I recognised but could not remember the name of.  The food itself was lovely and it was the best fish I’ve had in a long time.  It definitely lived up to the sign outside proclaiming it to serve the ‘Best Fish and Chips in Leeds’.
Headlingley is jammed packed full of interesting little independent shops, cafes and restaurants.  I liked classy wool shop housed in a lovely Yorkshire stone building.  If my hand wasn’t indisposed from my mammoth knitting project earlier this year, I would have bought loads of gorgeous Yorkshire made wool here.   There were lots of lovely looking cafes here selling artisan cakes and coffees.  I liked the look of the Bowery, which also doubled as an art gallery and did art classes.  The Caliente CafĂ© had a menu that seemed rather interesting with its Mexican and American South West food and had good reviews in the window.  I would definitely try this place if I came here again.  If you are a carbs fiend, then there are two bakeries that will cater for all your needs: Costello’s and the Artisan Bakery.
The best thing about Headingley are the charity shops.  There are loads and they have some interesting stuff.  Headlingley is a student area and charity shops are always a popular haunt with students.  The Sue Ryder’s here has a vintage section upstairs.  They do seem to be the pricey for a charity shop, but definitely an interesting shop especially for a size 10 lady.  I found a stack of old magazines such as Smash Hits and The Face from the 80s.  It was nice to flick through them, but I wasn’t going to pay £3 for an a Smash Hits with Neil from the Young Ones on the cover.  Maybe if it had been The Smiths on the cover I would have picked it up.  As Headingley is a University suburb the Oxfam books was ace.  It was a double shop jammed packed full of good books.  I could have spent hours in there.  The other Oxfam had vinyl records and I left Neil in there for ages to browse through the records.  Weirdly he actually found stuff here he had donated to the Swinton branch of Oxfam.  They must move stock around to the relevant branches where they know they will have a good chance of selling it.  Samaritans had a random Japanese album that Neil picked up for a £1 on the off chance it was something interesting.

We had no expectations of Headingley and we were genuinely surprised how fab it was.  We spent way more time than we anticipated here and probably could have spent another hour browsing.  I know Neil will definitely jump at the chance at coming back here.  Maybe in a few months, when the weather is bad in Manchester, we'll make a return trip here.

P.S. My theory was proved right - the weather was better in Headingley than in rain soaked Manchester.

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