It was my birthday last weekend and while I am way past the age of celebrating getting another year older, it is nice to use it as an excuse to spend time with my two wonderful children. And to go out for as many birthday lunches as possible…
I was lucky that my daughter was able to come home for a week. She is in the last year of university in London now and she not only had reading week, she booked time off from her job as bartender at one of the Brown’s restaurants down there.
We had a great week. The weather was pretty grey, gloomy and wet so we had the perfect reason to stay cosy inside and enjoy loads of Netflix and NowTV snuggled by the fire. With lots of crochet thrown in for me, of course.
This is not the usual state of affairs for a Tuesday afternoon! I am usually in my office juggling day job and working on new projects and patterns. This week I was being much more laid back than I ever am normally! But I was giving some meandering attention to a new project. The square I am working on in this photo forms part of a new and exciting project that I hope to have ready before Christmas…
I’m using Deramores Vintage chunky yarn, which I absolutely love. Its 50% merino wool and comes in such gorgeous muted shades. I’ve just started to join some together, and these retro squares would make a brilliant scarf. But I’m not aiming for a scarf this time. I’ve just finished the Sammhain Scarf pattern and now I’m really challenging myself to make a proper, wearable garment.
So I did spend a bit of time working on that during the week and puzzling over the joining format and method but I suspect that I will now have to do a bit of frogging before I am totally happy with the way it works.
Even though the weather was dire – not really cold for this time of year, but really damp and grey – we decided to stay close to home most days. I got out for my regular walk early on one of the mornings and the canal shows the extent of the shades of grey situation…
Later that day it did dry up a bit and we decided to make our way to Glasshoughton to catch the train into Leeds. This was the first outing for my autumn scarf and I really enjoyed wearing it. Much better than the knitted ones in Urban Outfitters!
I haven’t been into Leeds shopping for a while. We were talking on the train and trying to remember the last time and it must be two years at least, if not longer. Its just too easy to shop online now and cheaper. No train fares or parking fees, and no snacks, lunches and coffee breaks at Starbucks 🙂 But I guess that is what makes shopping trips fun
Leeds was barely recognisable. The last few times I was there, many of the buildings were covered in scaffolding as the new Trinity Centre was still in progress. A lot of the shops had moved around and the new centre was very glitzy. The Christmas decorations were up, some of the lights were up and there was even a Christmas tree just outside…
The High Street and Arcades are still there but have transformed just a bit since I visited them as a child in the 1970s… but the market is pretty similar…
The Leeds arcades still look so wonderful but I must admit to finding it a bit of a shame they have been taken over by the mega brands now. The prices are astronomical, and this probably reflects the huge rents. When I was little the arcades were much darker with loads of independent shops selling wonderful things. We visited for a ‘day of shopping’ in most school holidays and set off on the bus from Pontefract to spend hours and hours walking miles and miles looking for that elusive ‘new winter coat’ or new footwear for that year. My mum insisted that me and my brother dress up warm so by the time we had been in a few shops we were hot and moaning. Leeds shopping back then didn’t involve going out for a nice lunch, or even a MacDonalds. We had hot sausage rolls from a bakery as we walked round.
The Leeds arcade clock
I’m sure it was this arcade that had the most fantastic pet shop and we would want to spend all our time in there but were bustled up to the shoe shop to spend ages trying on sensible school shoes. My mum and dad were very kind and never got very cross – they used the carrot of seeing the people in the clock when we had finished.
I’d completely forgotten this highpoint until the day of my shopping trip last week. It came back to me afterwards when I read the messages on Instagram after I posted one of the arcade pictures. A lovely lady called Karen asked if I remember the people that came out of the Leeds arcade clock. Oh yes! We went to see them every single time were went Leeds shopping and that memory was buried in some pocket of my brain until I read Karen’s comment.
My memories of exactly what the people were doing was vague so I did a bit of internet searching and found that the clock from the Grand Arcade hasn’t worked for years – but it was partially restored in 2013 and is now working again. It still needs more but the figures do now come out every hour.
I found a video on YouTube of the first chiming of the Leeds arcade clock in December 2013 after the first phase of the restoration. I find it absolutely amazing that the figures are actually life-size! I don’t think they are very politically correct now, but this is a clock made in 1898 when things were much different… Still an amazing piece of Leeds history. Next time I go I shall by standing by the clock and watching on the hour, thinking of my dear mum and dad and hoping they will be watching too 🙂
And on to Sheffield…
On Sunday, the day of my actual birthday we went down to Sheffield to catch up with my son and all had lunch out. I don’t know Sheffield that well as I’ve only been going since my son has been there. Its smaller than Leeds and doesn’t have quite the range of high street shops but there are some very pretty spots and it has a ruggedness about it, being on the edge of the Peak District.
The city also has some fabulous modern art, such as the huge wall of water sculpture just outside the railway station.
After lunch we walked back to my son’s student house through the Winter Gardens. Even on such a dull, wet blustery day, these great glasshouses were amazing.
After we had coffee with my son, our ways parted again and I came home after seeing my daughter off on the train back to London. A bit sad, but at least its nearly Christmas and we will all be together again at home for just over a week – strange that we are all working adults now with our own deadlines and work schedules. Time certainly does speed by and I thought this week, as I do quite often when its the time of my birthday, how it seems to go even faster the older I get.
Is it the same for you? And do any of you have memories of that wonderful Leeds clock? I’d love you to leave a comment and share it if you do xxxxxxx