Look at this! Two ‘Home Tourist’ days in one week – Aren’t I a lucky girl!
The (ever growing) list currently looks as follows:
* Ice skating on Millenium Square (Roll on december 😉 )
* Lotherton Hall
* Temple Newsam House
* Abbey House Museum
* Walk the Meanwood Valley Trail (and visit Eccup Reservoir)
* Middleton Railway (as recommended by Alex)
* Thwaite Mills (also, as recommended by Alex)
(* … I’m pretty certain there are others! – suggestions taken in ‘Comments’ below!)
Today was the turn of Abbey House Museum, with a proposed walk back along the canal into town. Although the weather was a bit dreary, I knew that – with the help of my trusty (and awesome) cupcake umbrella – it wouldn’t pose too much of a problem, so I pulled on my boots, wrapped a scarf around my neck and rediscovered my coat after it’s little spring-holiday.
With today’s Home Tourist Companion living in town and having a car, I was determined to get him on a bus – not least as then we could walk back along the tow path without worrying about picking up a car later etc. So I headed into town on the 16 and back out, friend-in-tow, on the 33. I shall refrain from making any comments here about how much bus fares have risen in recent times – I’m sure you all feel similar annoyances!
So, we arrived at the Abbey House Museum at about 2:30 and promptly ignored all the tempting bits and pieces in the gift shop, bought our tickets (£3.80 each) and rounded the corner with no real idea what to expect.
Now, here I should explain something. As a child, I used to get taken on the School Trips my dad used to take to Italy and Greece and since then have never been able to see old stone ruins without turning back into a child and wanting to climb all over them (Such is the temptation at Kirkstall Abbey). I also get very excited and childish on occasions where I have felt I’ve been acting rather grown-up for a period of time. I have been quite grown up this week for various reasons, and the prospect of the Abbey, along with the idea of going back to Victorian Times at the museum itself made me rather excitable..
So, as we rounded the corner and began to be greeted by the staff who were working in the Victorian Street (Bryan and Anna), I went a little bit loopy. This included asking whether I was going to get a ‘Welcome to the Past!’ spiel and showing my enthusiasm by generally being wordy and silly and bouncing excitedly about the cobbles..
Should I have been embarrassed? Well, I was just considering that, and thinking of toning it down, when Bryan totally played along and told us exciting things about where we were, both in Victorian Leeds and a little about the museum itself. It was wonderful!
We started off looking through the Chemist’s window, where I saw an advert for Andrew’s Liver Salts (there’s a Smith-family link here, which I can’t fully recall, but it still made me smile some more)
Then we carried on around the street, and into the pub. There are some incredible antiques to see all round the museum, but I was most fascinated by the musical instruments. Unfortunately, the piano was locked shut, and I was also unable to go behind the bar and play land-lady. As we came back out onto the cobbles I expressed these things to Bryan, who had just turned on the lighting and sounds for us so it felt like the sun was just rising and Leeds was starting to bustle into life.
As we went through one of the old shops into the back street to nosey at some peoples’ houses we were caught up again by the wonderful Bryan who said unfortunately he couldn’t find the piano key, but that he’d had the alarms turned off in the pub so I could go behind the bar and pull a pint! 🙂
Carrying on our adventures around the Victorian Street, we saw the pawnbrokers, the undertakers, the Sunday School, whose (invisible) choir burst into a wonderful rendition of ‘Jerusalem’ which would have done Buns and Roses proud, and many other sights before heading upstairs to discover more. There, Anna gave us some old pennies to play the old ‘slot-machines’ with and I discovered that I would only ever have £15 to my name, but would live into my 70s and have 4 kids. Ha!
There was much fun to be had upstairs too. It really is a fantastic museum, and (having met and chatted to a little girl who was creating ‘the worlds worst sandwich’ in the Children’s area) a great day out for kids – even 25-year-old ones – on a dreary day.
As we said goodbye to the lovely Bryan (who said I’d been a breath of fresh air and brightened his day – *Blush* 🙂 ) and crossed the road to the Abbey, we were joined by Anna – the other Abbey House staff member we had met – and, although last admissions had already happened at the Abbey ( – this happens at 4pm, I believe it was about 4:15 at this point..) she and a lovely gent called Steve let us through the gates quickly to have a quick wander around the ruins. I can not compliment the fantastic staff members we met at the Museum enough – they really made our visit even more special. 🙂
Then it was time to walk back to town. Starting (possibly a bit naughtily..) by following a mini-railway line.
There was a game of pooh-sticks (obligatory, if one crosses a bridge over a stream) and lots of lovely nature to view, before we joined the Leeds-Liverpool canal and made our way towards town.
The walk took perhaps an hour and a half, though we were not walking at a particularly quick pace, and my feet started to ache by the time we reached my current-favourite lock – Oddy Locks – just before City Island. (I like the querky little cottage on it – I think it’s cute!)
Food and Lindy Fridays followed, and then something to round off a wonderful Home Tourist day exceptionally well. A large group of the LF dancers headed to The Wardrobe having heard a small swing band were playing.
The audience cleared a dance floor, the band were indeed swinging, my favourite Wardrobe-barman was on Mai-Tai duty, and if I had seen dancing like that when I was at LCM I would have started it much sooner! It was a great atmosphere and a wonderful end to a fabulous day.
And, bearing in mind my penny-machine fortune of having 4 kids, I took this Abbey House Museum advice, and only had a couple of drinks: