Walligans UK & Ireland Tour November 2017 – Part 2. Stratford Upon Avon and Leeds

Leaving beautiful Stroud and the even more beautiful Ian and Shelley was a wrench but we had a lot more to see. On our drive to Leeds, our next overnight stop, we detoured a little bit and stopped by Stratford upon Avon for a bit of Shakespearean culture.

We hadn’t a lot of time so it was a short stop, we just took in the Shakespeare exhibit in the town centre. Shakespeare’s Birthplace Trust runs the exhibit and it is based around his family home.

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Shakespeare’s Birthplace Exhibit

This delightful, and perpetually happy, lady informed us that this is where he was born, how the house had been modified, that his family were glove makers and quite wealthy and that because it was off season we had the house to ourselves. Normally we would be queuing for 15-20 mins just to get through the first part, she told us. Glad we didn’t come on that day.

It was very interesting and quite moving, very well preserved.

Shakespeare's House
Shakespeare’s House

Leeds was next on our overnight stops, we were to stay there two nights. I used to work in Bradford and lived in Leeds and wanted to show Jenni around one of my old UK  locations. After checking in at a delightful, but bloody hard to find and park at and carry bags into and check into, hotel called Quebecs, we of course, went for something to eat and have a drink.

Quebecs in Leeds
Quebecs in Leeds

As one of the theme’s of the trip seemed to be old pubs we tracked down Whitelock’s the oldest pub in Leeds nestled quaintly down an narrow alleyway between Marks and Spencer super store and Virgin Mobile.

Whitelocks
Whitelocks

Whitelock’s is a relatively new place, after Ye Old Mitre in London, established in 1546, this recent establishment was opened in 1715, so was only 300 years old. It looked good for its age. Beer was excellent and the food good too, best chips I’ve had in a very long time. They have a large outdoor beer ‘garden’ (yard), free WiFi, a real log fire in the winter, Sunday newspapers and  are child and dog friendly. Having neither child nor dog I can vouch for the fact they are friendly to normal humans also.

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The next day we went for an explore around Leeds centre. Leeds is in West Yorkshire and is  the largest financial hub next to London. It’s a prosperous, thriving, vibrant city. A shoppers dream, Leeds city centre seems to have been created specifically to extract money from people.

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There are so many ways you can spend money here. Jenni and I had packed badly, so were on the market for some new items of clothing. We were planning a night out tonight with some of my old work colleagues and neither of us had brought anything dressy to wear. As we follow an ethos of low or no consumerism we only purchase used items if possible, usually from charity shops but occasionally from vintage stores so it was with great delight we found the biggest vintage clothes store we’d seen.

Blue Rinse Vintage
Blue Rinse Vintage

Blue Rinse Vintage had 3 floors of eclectic vintage gear. It was hard for me to only purchase one item. Jenni got the most amazing pair of trousers (pants) and I got a unique reversible vintage shirt. It will probably feature in a picture or two later on as I wore it almost all the time for the rest of the trip.

That night we had arranged to start the frivolities in the Scarborough Hotel, or ‘Scabby Taps’ as its locally known. This is another local gem, a beautiful old pub with real ale on tap. When I got there a few of the team had already started, then one by one more arrived.  The ‘team’ referred to was my old work buddies from the time I worked in Bradford Council. I hadn’t seen them since I left 8-9 years ago but again, it was like we’d just left work half an hour ago. After the short, ‘well what have you been up to” section of the conversation the banter started up as normal. I laughed so much my cheeks were sore.

When everyone arrived we walked across the road to the nearest Indian restaurant. Indian meals in this part are the best in the UK and I have tried them everywhere.

The Bradford Crew
The Bradford Crew

This was no exception, fantastic meal, look at the size of that nan bread? Its called a Family Nan and this started someone singing Family Man. Which then started the debate over who wrote it and sung it first. Mike Oldfield is the answer and not Hall & Oates as I thought. And yes, this is the aforementioned shirt, nice isn’t it? Thank you all who turned up for the night, to Simon, Vinny, Caroline, Phil, Bill and Lawrie (pictured) and also Alison, Colum and Jo who couldn’t stay for the meal. Hope I haven’t forgotten anyone, always a risk when putting a list together of who was there during a night of significant imbibement. There were a few others who have contacted me to say sorry they couldn’t make it, Jill, Matthew, George and Iain and to all I’ve missed we’ll catch up next time.

Next day we left and drove farther north. Leeds is near York, York is nice so we stopped there.

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York is famous for its cathedral, walls an its narrow cobbled streets and alleyways. Its a tourist trap but very interesting with some quirky shops.

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It’s also very old and beautiful. We had a lovely time exploring York. After York, our next stop was Seahouses in Northumbria, but before we go there I had to do a drive by of a UK icon. The Angel of the North.

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This Anthony Gormley sculpture is 20 metres tall and looks over the A1 that heads north past Newcastle. Its an imposing structure, the wingspan is 54 metres across and I love it. I have seen it many times driving north but never stopped. I am glad I did.

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It is built to withstand winds of 100 mph and its foundations are 70 feet deep and weigh 660 tonnes. A thing of rare beauty. A fitting vision to leave England with and to enter Bonnie Scotland but all that in Part 3.

Next stop Seahouses and Scotland…

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