Sunday 28 July 2013

More City Centre Walking

Leeds, Yorkshire, England. I'm in the Trinity Centre again, on the top deck. There's a bar called The Alchemist. I'm drawn in by these sofas, I really need to sit down, and I really want one... Just like this. Well, a bit of background. At about 4:30 this morning I wake, stretch, point my toes... SPANG! my calf muscle in my left leg goes into spasm, a huge cramp, I'm in as much pain as I can ever recall, oh my its bad, It hurts so bad that sweat is pouring out of me, within a minute I'm soaking wet. Gradually, gradually, it subsides. I want to get up, go pee, get a drink of water, but not a chance, because that spasm has torn things, I'm in continuing pain, my muscles still tight and bunched, but trying to massage it seems to do no good. And I can't stand, let alone walk..

Hence,  later in the morning, I'm hobbling around Leeds, having taken Ibuprofen, and massaged topical anaesthetic into my leg. by the time I get here, I'm crying out for a sit-down. Southern Comfort with ice. Lots of ice. Oh. And I really want the sofa, did I mention that?
So, I looked them up... Andrew Martin Design.... £4,195.00 This bar has £16,000 worth of sofas just inside the door.... So that means, by the size of the place, it probably cost a quarter of a million or so to fit out.

 I liked the place though, I was comfortable, popped another couple of painkillers, and hobbled on my way.

To the Turk's Head, alias Whitelocks.  It's been down this alley since 1715, and it seems like a good idea to revisit more of my youth, get some sandwiches and a pint of Timothy Taylor's Landlord.


As you see, time pretty much stands still in Whitelocks, An Edwardian gent time-travelling to 2013 might be pleasantly surprised by the electric lights, but otherwise it would feel just like home. The Burmantofts Tile works made those tiles around 1895, I'll bet people back then were shocked when the old Turk's Head unveiled this avant-garde ultra-modern bar!

Whitelocks, mirrors, polished copper, dark wood, tiles, good beer, and great sandwiches.

Look up!

Tempus Fugit

The new arms of a United Kingdom. 1603, accession of James I of England, who was already JamesVI of Scotland. For the first time, the scottish unicorn and the english lion both known as kings of the beasts, met on a shield. Neither the Scottish nor the English, felt particularly united.

"The lion and the unicorn were fighting for the crown
The lion beat the unicorn all around the town.
Some gave them white bread, and some gave them brown;
Some gave them plum cake and drummed them out of town."

Look down! This is one of Briggate's oldest 'yards'.

That's it, I'm done for a while, time to find something to eat.
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A Man About Town

Yesterday,I had to go into the city centre. It is about two, maybe 2.5 miles from my home, yet I rarely go there. Strange, is in not? I buy my groceries in suburbia, other stuff I buy at out of town shopping malls, or smaller towns further away. The city centre? Well, mostly it has stuff I don't want or need. I'm not a window-shopper, I do a targeted hit on stores to get what I want, I go in, head for my goal, and get out as soon as I can. But I broke my phone. As in, I dropped it and cracked the screen, and the whole thing became unresponsive, brain-dead. Let me warn you, the Google Nexus 4 is an awesome thing, but if you bust the glass, as I did, about a five-foot drop, smack, onto hard tarmac, then you''ll discover that it's a far more expensive repair than most, as the glass isn't a separate veneer, you need an expensive unit of screen, digitiser, and glass, all in one.
I'd decided to take it to a reputable manufacturer approved repairer, rather than risk a cheaper back street shop, where I'm paranoid they'll strip my passwords and other stuff out...
Hence the city centre trip. Truly, it's more than a couple of years since I've been on foot-safari here.

All sorts of things change. It has more of a vibe of a cosmopolitan euro-city than I remember, lots more pavement cafes and bars, more modern apartments in buildings old and new, and a new mall, or centre, as we call it, Trinity Centre. A redevelopment of an area that was always a bit of a shabby seventies construction. I liked it. Holy Trinity Church, on Boar Lane, stands at the edge of the centre to which it gives its name.

Holy Trinity, commenced 1722, known locally as The Wedding-Cake church, after its pillared spire.

I really like this giant pack-horse sculpture, made of small pieces of welded and galvanised steel, to make perforated form,through which the light penetrates, the sculptor was Andy Scott. This shopping centre is near the conjunction of two of the oldest roads in the city, Briggate, which runs north south, and Boar Lane, east west. Back in the past, before railways, pack-horses were the major transporters of freight, and just north of Leeds Bridge, on Briggate, was where traders set up their stalls. The woolpacks and the woven cloth from the Pennine hills came here, were traded in the cloth halls, loaded onto fresh packhorses for the long journey south, to London. Not far away, also off Briggate, is the Pack-Horse pub, first mentioned, selling food, ale, and beds for weary travellers in 1615.
So it's fitting that a pack-horse be remembered here. Nimble footed, hardy traveller.

The old Pack-Horse Inn. Still there 400 years later.

Close by, the Corn Exchange, a hall built specifically for the trade of corn. Not the corn Americans think of, nothing to do with maize, this hall was where wheat, oats, and barley were traded, farmers selling their harvests to the corn merchants, the merchants selling to flour mills, breweries, and  export trade.

This is my favourite building in the city, because its elliptical form on the outside is so unusual, but more so the wonderful arched zeppelin of the roof, enclosing a bright, airy space with no intruding pillars.
The coat of arms of the city, "Pro Rege et Lege" , for King and parliament. After the 17th century bloodbath of the civil war, the city came up with this motto to declare allegiance to both sides, also, clearly, to remind both that together, not separately, they rule, checks and balances. Owls, well, they're supposed to be wise, and the centre is a woolen fleece, from which the city made its wealth.

Where traders stood, now we sit and drink coffee.
Memories remain. John Smiths Brewery is still active, in Tadcaster, about twelve or so miles to the north-east. I've bought their beers in Texas!

The packhorses would have been here in great numbers.

 The building on the right of the entryway to the city markets was, when I was a kid, the horse-butchers. There was a big slaughterhouse behind these buildings, stockyards of lowing cattle, just on the edge of the city centre.  In the 1970s there was a huge fire, and all the slaughterhouse and much of the old market were destroyed.

Butcher's Row in the market. Keen pricing. My dad used to know all the old butchers, and get the sunday roast from here. Of course, he loved to haggle, and knew that the best prices were to be had in the half-hour before closing on a saturday.

RDG loves dragons and wyverns, (these are wyverns) And these are for her. A few years ago, we were in the market together, sought permission from the manager to go up onto the balconies to take photographs. And of course, as I took these photographs, I was missing her.
Not for much longer, all being well.

More pics later.

  I'm allergic to fish, but that doesn't lessen my interest in the arts of the fishmonger.

 Up the fish aisle, then out of the market, and across Vicar Lane.
 Town planning from 1900. Queen Victoria street and King Edward street, this whole area, now known as The Victoria Quarter. I used to park on these streets, but they've undergone a transformation, pedestrianised, and QV street enclosed with a glass roof. Interestingly we see a social divide here. The market is a place where all go, in search of value, bargains, fresh produce, market folk shouting their wares, interacting with the customer. Cross the road and it's all more subdued, upmarket stores targeting upmarket custom. You notice the shouty beer-belly guys, the foul-mouthed women and the gaggles of brats with adhd just aren't there. Maybe it's too quiet, and they need the barrage of noise and bustle to survive. The tough pubs used to be around the market too. The Scotsman, ha, that used to be the place for the serious all-day drunks, and the Market Tavern, well, that was pretty basic, dare I say smelly? And was also full of all-day drunks. When I was a teenager, it was a pub of choice, on the grounds that it never asked for i.d., hell if you had money, of course it would serve you. Sometimes you had to be nimble to get out of the way of fights though.
 I like cupolas, and turrets. Always wanted to have my bedroom in a pointy topped turret.

 Arcades were what came before malls, covered streets.

 I was fascinated by a window full of vintage sewing machines

 The Horse and Trumpet. Had a few pints in here too, in my youth.
 There's a chocolateier in this arcade, Ladies.

And a mechanical clock. The Ivanhoe Clock. On the hour, the knight and the bowman take turns to strike the bell, the figures move. Wait, maybe it's on YouTube?
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