Six different trains, and four friends helped celebrate old memories and create new ones during a day trip to Leeds last week.
The trip to Leeds was made for lunch with two friends I had ‘met’ through blogging: Vicki (Honest Mum) and Katie (Pouting in Heels), and to meet for hot chocolate with Lea, my old boss and good friend.
Vicki, Katie and I have bonded through our blogs and on social media, and had been trying for a while to arrange to meet up in person. Vicki lives in Leeds, and Katie in south Yorkshire; I was a student in Leeds during the 1990s (International History and Politics, 1998). I hadn’t visited the city in years, and wanted to take a nostalgic trip down memory lane. Lea moved to Yorkshire for a fabulous new job last year, and I was delighted that we were able to meet up too.
The day began bright and early, with three trains to get me to Leeds. Katie and I had planned to meet at Leeds train station, but we met sooner than expected because my train stopped in her home town. We had some rather strange looks from fellow passengers as we greeted each other with an excited hug, and proceeded to natter non-stop until we reached our destination (in fact, we chatted non-stop until we parted again a few hours later!).
During my student days I lived in Headingley, so we headed up there to see what it is like now. Visiting Headingley again after so many years was good but strange: it’s the same, yet so very different. Some of the shops in the local parade are the same, but feels much more upmarket than my student days with more coffee shops and gastropubs (the same in most places, I expect!).
We wandered around the corner to visit Tetley Hall, which is the halls of residence I was fortunate to live in during the duration of my degree. Tetley Hall is set in beautiful surroundings: six Victorian houses (built originally by the Tetley brewery family) and a modern main block. The halls were closed and the land sold off in the mid 2000s.
From the photos I’ve seen on the university’s website, it seems today’s students prefer snazzier accommodation (with brand spanking new facilities, and en-suite shower rooms)! Tetley had great character, a friendly atmosphere, fabulous social activities, and a wonderful community spirit – I wouldn’t have changed it for the world.
At one point the properties on the Tetley site were planned to be demolished and new houses built instead. Luckily the local residents successfully opposed such destruction, and it all still stands, although in various stages of repair. The grounds in general are not as well-maintained as they once were, the main block seems to be boarded up, and the houses are being used for various purposes, with some of them undergoing renovations. I understand some of it is now being used as a hostel for asylum seekers.
While wandering around, I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw this sign in a window: Hugo was nicknamed Hugo Boss by his nurses for his feisty behaviour. How remarkable that such a sign was there, in my old home, and facing outwards too. It gave Katie and I the chills, in a good way.
Lunch was booked at the Olive Tree, one of Vicki’s parents’ restaurants in Headingley – just around the corner from my old halls. Vicki and I had met the previous Saturday at BlogCamp; seeing her twice in one week was lovely.
Vicki and Katie are wonderful, inspiring women full of energy and ideas. We had a fabulous time, eating, chatting and laughing. The time went in a flash.
If you live in Leeds and have never been to an Olive Tree restaurant – go! Now! Oh my goodness, the food is AMAZING! I love Greek food, but don’t get to eat it very often. We had mezze (shared dishes of all sorts of food) that was absolutely incredible. The waitress kept bringing out plate after plate of the most delicious dishes – some of which I’d never tried before. After several plates, the look on the faces of Kate and me when the waitress asked if we were now ready for the main course was a picture – we thought we’d already eaten it! We were absolutely stuffed, and happy.
We were sad to leave Vicki, and Katie and I headed back to the train station. She to catch her train home, and me to meet Lea.
Lea and I hadn’t seen each other in nearly a year, and so had a lot to catch up on. She is a lovely lady; I am glad she is my friend, and not just a former boss. We share so much in common (besides our names!), and we chatted for more than four hours without noticing the time. I was so glad to be able to see Lea on my trip up north.
It had started to rain when we left the train station, so Lea and I had ducked in to the first café that looked inviting – it turned out to be a Hotel Chocolat café. Very nice it is too! We both had cake, and hot chocolates (mine was a salted caramel one), and I am happy to report it was excellent, so there is another place on the list in the quest for the perfect hot chocolate.
The day was long, but wonderful. Social media is fantastic for keeping in touch with friends, and making new ones, but there is nothing quite like meeting up in person.