May. 2nd, 2017 09:09 pm
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[personal profile] lupestripe
Saturday was the Leeds Meet, partially moved from its usual weekend due to JFTW but also because we have traditionally held a meet in Leeds on the last Saturday of the month for something like the last fifteen years. We normally hold them in a venue different to that of the regular meets and so it proved again as we congregated in Atlas for 12 noon.

If I was being honest, we were using this meet as a testing ground for a new venue, with us having outgrown The White Rabbit somewhat. With an unfortunate clash with the Sheffield Meet, we thought we might be quite low on numbers but there were around sixty furs in attendance, along with the usual Cosplay group with whom we have become quite friendly. The greater amount of space afforded to us by the venue proved to be incredibly popular and I think the vast majority of people had a good time. There were a few teething issues to iron out, but with pool tables arriving this week and the bar staff delighted with how busy the venue became, we are hoping that this will become our new permanent home. It will be a shame to leave The White Rabbit but fursuit changing has become limited and with the owner reportedly moving to Copenhagen, we may have to have found a new venue anyway. I am glad that our first foray at Atlas went well, particularly regarding the improved facilities for fursuits.

Speaking of which, I went on the fursuit walk, which went a different way to usual due to a protest on the Headrow. Due to our closer proximity to the train station, this saw us go down Duncan Street and up Briggate, where there was live music on as part of the Live at Leeds Festival. The band we saw were called Luna Blind and they were quite surprised when an army of fursuits turned up and started dancing in the front row. We stayed for about four songs, which I particularly enjoyed, with the lead singer admitting his incredulity at the scene before him. It may have been distracting, and he said the gig was one of the more difficult he had done, but they performed very well and I hope that the local furs can support this local band.

The other highlight of Saturday was meeting Widontknow, Avon's orca friend from Ottowa, who is in the UK on business for three weeks. The duo had gone to York earlier in the day so it was a surprise to see them turn up at the meet, but we got talking and they ended up staying deep into the night, going to Trinity Kitchen (where I had a disappointing Philly Cheese sandwich and parmesan flavoured fries) before ending up in the bar above Tall Boys Beer Market, a cosy place I had always wanted to try but where we had never been for some reason. I wanted to go to highlight some good beers for our Canadian friend, and he bought seven to take back to Warwick with him, which is where he is staying. It was great chatting and we hope to see him soon, while the meet in general was very good for meeting some new people.

Sunday was a largely quiet day, with little going on aside from recovery from the previous day's excesses. We had ended up in Foley's late on with Marcus, Luna and Stray, catching the last bus home. Fearing the calories, I had a mammoth gym session before it closed early for the Bank Holiday, while afterwards we tidied the garden and did a load of outdoor chores that the onset of lighter nights and better weather necessitates. After this, we decided to go into Leeds as there were a few bars we wanted to try, as well as an Indian street food restaurant called The Cat's Pyjamas. We managed to get here shortly after 8pm and was surprised just how busy it was, with the manager telling us that there were no tables for an hour. This was okay as it meant we could visit one of our target bars early, so we booked a table for 9pm and headed off.

Our destination was Ham and Friends, the new venture from Friends of Ham, which had opened the preceding Friday about four months behind scheduled. Billed as a wine bar, it was a place we wanted to try, so we were quite surprised when we got there and discovered it closed at 7pm. This was particularly surprising considering the Merrion Street Carnival was on, with live bands and tables outside each bar absolutely rammed. I wrote a point about this on Twitter and got a bit of a sniffy response from the bar back, which was a shame, although it closing early on a Sunday does severely limit the opportunity to go. This meant we had to try another bar, with Ten being the destination. This is down on Duncan Street and opened about five months ago, to negative reviews from Si The Beer Wolf, a craft beer officinado I follow on Twitter. He was quite right - styled on having ten of everything (cocktails, craft beer, wine etc) - it really focuses on the cocktails, serving your standard craft beers. While this is an improvement on the mid-2000s, the ambience was not, with its pounding dance music and trendy young things slurping cocktails. We grabbed the table overlooking the main road, feeling like glamorous mannequins in a shop window as we drank our Yakima Red Ale, finishing them rather quickly before buggering off back to The Cat's Pyjamas for our food.

We were still quite early so we had a little wander around the surprisingly busy streets before ducking into the restaurant at about ten minutes to nine. The manager was there to meet us and we were soon sat down, with the waitress soon starting a conversation with me concerning craft beer. Initially she asked if I had tried Punk IPA, which of course I had, before she extolled its virtues. She was quite knowledgeable and recommended a number of the bottles to us. There were only two in which I was interested though - the two we hadn't yet had - which we ordered along with a medu veda starter, fried lentil donuts with coconut chutney. These were very light and delicious, although perhaps could have been spicier, while the coconut too could have had a deeper flavour. The poppadom shards and pickle tray was a delight though and the main courses were exquisite, particularly Wolfie's saag paneer, which was creamy and unctuous without the harsh iron flavour of the spinach. I had the railway potato curry, a mild dish but no less flavourful, while the waitress spent quite a while chatting to us about her homeland of India, which is home to the vast majority of the staff too. This did give the place a greater authenticity, as did the random Hindi on the toilet walls, which was somewhat confusing, and although they got my order wrong initially, bringing a chickpea dish instead of the potato one, they rectified it very quickly and we were delighted with the quality of the food. A definite place to return.

Our final port of call, with about an hour to go until our final bus, was Shuffledog, where our friend Lou was working. This was incredibly busy, surprisingly so, and I got the impression they were a little understaffed so we grabbed a couple of beers to sample before heading off with plenty of time to get home, doing the responsible thing for once and not drinking too much. Indeed, because we had only had a small amount of beer, we stayed up for a good three hours once we got home, a rarity for Wolfie in particular, meaning we got to enjoy one of our staying up late and pissing about on the computer evenings that we do so enjoy.

Monday was a work day for me, but having done a load of overtime during March and April, I opted only to do the necessities, with the weather improving as the day progressed. With work completed by 2:30pm but with me expecting more later in the day, we decided to head out for a while, driving to Lotherton Hall near Aberford, the other side of Leeds. I had never heard of the place before, and neither had Wolfie, but it was definitely a worthwhile visit, if not for the food and drink festival taking place within the grounds of the estate. This was a pleasant surprise to us as we do love a good gastronomic fayre, and we bought a range of different things including artisnal cheeses, 'the best toasties in Yorkshire' which were decidedly average and half pints of some new Rudgate Brewery ale. The atmopshere was rather relaxed and we enjoyed walking around the eateries, even sampling some Mason's Yorkshire Gin and a delicious pork and black pudding pie.

After this, we decided to walk around the grounds of the house, with its little rockery, summer gardens and brick tennis courts, built for Mrs Gascoigne, the lady of the family whose estate it was. In the immediate gardens outside the rather imposing grey concrete building were a number of hedgerows with a large chess and draughts set in the garden. We also got to go inside the house, which was one of the first in the country to be electrified, where we saw a range of pottery collected from both Yorkshire and across the world, which were picked up on the family's travels. The stables were also of interest outdoors while we spent a while searching for the rather small orchard upon discovering the aviary was closed due to the construction of a new mammal park.

All in all, we spent about three hours at Lotherton Hall, marking an enjoyable end to what has been a fantastic Bank Holiday weekend.

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