Staying in Leeds over summer?
With exams (almost) over and temperatures topping the 20s – Leeds is currently hotter than the south of Spain! – summer plans are 100% ready to be made. In my case, they NEED to be made. Not having concrete plans has resulted in much aimless wandering around town and subsequent pointless spending of a LOT of money – which of course I should be saving to pay off uni fees. Fail. Luckily, having to go to Primark twice in three days has put me off any further shopping-oriented excursions, and apparently I’m not the only one: one poor guy, clearly dragged there against his will by his girlfriend, had just given up and plonked himself in the middle of one of the aisles with a book. Nestled among the piles of clutter that had accumulated throughout the day, he seemed happy enough – perfect Primark survival technique. My perfect Primark survival technique is now, don’t go to Primark – and so with shopping no longer an option, I turned to sunbathing in Hyde Park. Glorious, but a few tips: 1) Take sunglasses, to shield your eyes from the alarming number of topless men who definitely should not be topless. 2) Don’t get settled too near the batting practice area. Being witness to embarrassing misses and flimsy bowls is funny. Being hit on the arm/leg/face is not. 3) Make sure to go to the right ice-cream van…or you could end up with more than just a sugar high.
With a burnt nose and neck and some unfortunate tan lines (I am going to exude elegance at the summer ball), I seem to have also failed at sunbathing. The one thing I haven’t ballsed up post-exams is my relationship with alcohol: after four bottles of wine shared between myself and a friend AND after my first tequila shot sesh ever (not sure how to interpret having managed to avoid this for four years, impressive/lame?), I spent the next day hangover-free. I should admit, however, that I woke up at 8am, a mere four hours after returning from (my last ever! Sob) Fruity, fully clothed and with my lenses still in, on the living room sofa, apparently incapable of walking the entire 30 seconds from the kitchen to my room. Despite my hangover victory, I do think the sun and alcohol has gone to my head slightly: the other day, some friends and I bought a barbecue, but forgot coal…and firelighters. Doh.
In spite of all this, I plan to hang around in Leeds for another few weeks. If you’re also not in any hurry to get home/not jetting off to the beach just yet, fear not – there is plenty to do here:
Be part of the Olympics. The Olympic Torch is coming to Leeds, and being one of just four city celebrations across the country, Leeds is celebrating in style! On Sunday 24 June, Temple Newsam Park is the place to be: headline bands, music, dance and poetry performances… And the best part? You can participate! If you’ve ever fancied being part of a mass dance, this is your chance (with rhyming skills like that, I should def be considered for the poetry). Leeds is on a mission to recruit 1962 people to join 50 dancers, resulting in what’s set to be an awesome mass dance with 2012 people (clever eh). Put simply: attend free workshop to learn easy dance = be a part of the Olympics + get a FREE ticket to the event. Tidy. For more info, see leedstakespart.co.uk.
Go all Jane Austen and visit some of the country houses around the area. Before you start yawning, Harewood House is a beaut and worth a visit fo sho – plus if you go by bus you get half the price knocked off your entry fee. The grounds are spectacular; so much so, in fact, that loads of programmes have been filmed there (A Touch of Frost, Lost in Austen and Emmerdale, to name a few). There’s always tons of events going on – beekeeping taster day, anyone? – but seriously, 100% one to do before leaving Leeds. Plus, they have penguins. Deal sealer!
Run Jane Tomlinson’s Leeds 10k. Challenging? Yes. But nice to give the hols some kind of purpose – after all, we can’t sit around drinking Pimms all summer. Plus, if you’re looking to get fit and in shape before hitting the beach in Marbs/Zante, what better motivator than signing up for a run? It goes without saying it’s for a great cause, and with six weeks to train it’s totally feasible.
Leeds Festival. The line-up looks AMAZING. Foo Fighters, Bullet for my Valentine, The Cure, Paramore, Florence and the Machine, Kaiser Chiefs… wowzers. Expensive but so worth it – and it’s not until the end of August so there’s plenty of time to save up! Summer holidays aren’t complete without a festival – what better than stuffy, insect-ridden tents, warm beer and substandard facilities? Student paradise.