Always one for a bargain I took advantage of the National Express Funfare offer of a trip to Leeds for £1 each way. It costs more than that to get to the coach station.
It's a few years since I've been to Leeds and whilst - like many cities - there are tall apartment and office buildings beginning to dominate the skyline, they haven't totally detracted from the style of the city centre. The pubs are excellent too. I only remember the Duck and Drake from previous visits but there are enough in the centre to have made Brian Clough's 44 days a lot more bearable.
So, a few photos methinks.
1. Town Hall Tavern
Not a traditional Ratskeller establishment but a pub across the road from the Town Hall. Had a very rare outing for Timothy Taylor Ram Tam as well as the more usual Landlord, Golden and Best Bitter. The brewery was having a week long celebration of cask ale with 5 pint purchase (over the week in Taylor's pubs) earning a free one.
Did not try the food but the portions looked substantial. A bizarre incident was a man coming into the pub with his own fish fingers asking for them to be heated up!
The clientele (sans Birds Eye produce) seemed to be a fair mix of people. The Law courts are also nearby so lawyers and council workers are regulars. Mein Host is very welcoming to 'foreigners' like myself.
2. Victoria Family and Commercial Hotel
Great George Street
A large range of beers in an ornate, if dark pub with individual alcoves to discuss civic secrets and conduct illicit trysts (perhaps). Plumped for a Batemans brew but it was less than perfect.
UPDATE: an intrepid adventurer using this post as a pub crawl guide found the beer to be in good order so don't rely on my single dealing with the pub.
3. Mr Foley's Cask Ale Bar
Chanced upon this on the way back from the Town Hall on The Headrow. It is also known as Dr Okells so this caused some confusion. Has an upstairs area and separate room for hire. Decent range of beers and Belgian bottles. Had a quick pint of Black Bess Stout. The toilet area displays pump clips from previous guest beers.
The pub is off Briggate in Turk's Head Yard. Well worth a visit.
5. The North Bar
Couldn't find this one in spite of the directions given in Whitelocks so rather than ask a policeman I grabbed a couple of nuns. They knew exactly where this was; the Trappist beers on offer here may be popular in convent circles.
This is not a place for the softened drinker. It has some of the strongest Belgian beers on offer (Delirium Tremens at 9%, Rochefort 10 at 11.3% and Stouts at 9%). The bar warns patrons to know their limits so I went for a Wallonian Saison Silly at a mere 5%.
Mainly frequented by younger people when I popped in and it was pleasing to see so many women who appreciated strong, decent beer without the need to end up vomiting in a skip afterwards. (A reader writes: Takes one to know one, Eric).
Certainly worth a trip to Leeds by itself. Interestingly, it has taster size glasses so punters can avail themselves of a variety without developing an irrational urge to buy a kebab.
A decent day out for £2. Coupled with the fact that I availed myself of McDonalds' toilets without buying anything (on principle), I was quite pleased with the outing.