Monday, March 16, 2015

Barbecue in England?

Yes, there sure is!  But we'll get to that later....

This post is about our visit to Leeds.  Or rather, visits.  Leeds has enough to do that we actually went there on two separate days, at the beginning and the end of my trip.

We'd stayed up most of the night before, laughing.  Laughing so hard my sides ached!  Have you ever watched Bane Cat on YouTube?  If not, and if you're a Batman fan, I highly recommend it.  After rolling over those videos, BB discovered that a glass in my room had the perfect resonance to do a Bane voice.  I couldn't do it, but he's brilliant at voice acting, so it was all kinds of awesome.  We had each other in stitches doing our own version of Bane lines into that glass.  It was one of those things that when you look back on it, you think...yeah, we're that geeky....  And you smile.  A lot!

The day of the first visit to Leeds started with a trip to the comic book store in Bradford. BB was texting with his friends to see if we could get together in Leeds.  One friend met us at the comic book store, and the other when we actually got to Leeds.

I have to say that I was quite happy that BB wanted to share his time with me with his friends.  That meant a lot to me, that he wanted me to get to know them, and them to get to know me.  He asked if it was all right, thinking I might object to having to spend some of our dedicated time together with others.  Quite the opposite!  To have him want to show off our relationship to others tickled me!

Our first stop in Leeds was to feed my book obsession: The Leeds Library.  I found some nice books in their shop (a library with a shop in it!  It was made for me!), but I was blown away by the architecture.  The photo to the left is of the staircases.  So medieval and beautiful, and surrounded by books.  I could have stared at it forever.  Loveliness everywhere I looked!  It's enough to make you wish for a library card, so you can linger and run your hands over all the shelves and make people wonder if you have a book fetish.

Of course you do.

As you know, dear Diary, I love interesting architecture.  Everywhere we went in England had the most beautiful old buildings.  The aura of history was in each town.  I longed to know more about the places I passed and shopped, but to explore each one would have been a massive  undertaking.  It's ALL like that!  I suppose, living there, you'd get used to it.  But this American is just not from places that are so old.  Hell, I lived in a house that was built in 1900.  That's new construction to these folks. I'm sure my gawking and picture-taking gave me away.  Blogget the Tourist.  Sorry, that makes me cringe a little!

The streets and shops of Leeds were no exception.  I particularly liked the mixture of the old with the new.  Leeds has a big, modern mall, but it's constructed around the historic buildings.  For instance:

This is Trinity Church.  To the immediate left of it and in the background, you see the mall.  It wraps around the old church.  The contrast of the old and the new is fascinating, and I'm overjoyed to see the preservation of the new.  I worry that those who live among history become accustomed to it and no longer value it.  But that is not the case here, thank goodness!

They also had the most brilliant Starbucks I've ever seen. Is this not beautiful, compared to the glass and wood modern construction we get?

Then there are the reminders that, no matter where you are, you never know what you're going to see:

You got it.  Someone piggy-backing a blowup doll.  I had to wonder, why not deflate it and carry her in a pocket?  But no...there she was, making her way down the street.  As I took this picture, I noticed that I was the only one looking at the blowup doll.  The rest of the passers-by were completely unfazed.

We had a spectacular day of shopping a seeing what's what, during both trips.  He's been telling me about Forbidden Planet for months, but I finally walked into one.

Nerdvana.  Absolute, unabashed nerdvana.  It was mecca for all randoms.  I combed through the store for my obsessions.  Star Wars, Doctor Who, Firefly, Pacific Rim, Deadpool.  I even bought a Big Bang Theory shirt.  SO MUCH WANT!  But only so much packing space, so I had to rein it in.  A bit.  And apparently not enough, from the way I tested the stitching on my suitcase, when it was time to go home!  We'd visit nerdvana...I mean, Forbidden London, as well, so I certainly wasn't done.

We found an incredible print store.  There, I picked up Doctor Who prints for Daughter. Those can be packed flat.  I found a wonderful print of a watercolor of the street where the shop is located.  It depicts the street at what I guess to be the 1920s or 1930s, in the rain.  Pretty cool, getting a print of the street where the print was bought, with the lovely old buildings.  I'm in love with it!

BB surprised me with a journal from that shop, with Wonder Woman on the cover.  You see, he calls me his Wonder Woman, and it makes me smile inside and out!  Who wouldn't want to be equated with a powerful, sexy superhero?

Before heading back to Bradford, we made a stop at the mall.  They have a Lego store! So much to see and play with!  BB visited the #1 item on his Lego wish list:

Yup, the Batman Tumbler.  In all its awesomeness!  He's obviously enamored of it!  My adorable partner in geekdom!

When we returned to Leeds a few days later, we headed out to see the Royal Armoury there.  It was late in the day, so we didn't get to shoot crossbows, which was disappointing.  We didn't have time to go see all of the exhibits, so I'm thinking a return trip is in order!  Blogget and crossbows is something that must happen.  Must.

Along the way there, we found this message on a building along the walkway by the river:

I'm in the UK, walking along a river, and there's Texas.  The place is awesomely all-encompassing.  Could someone have meant something else by the message?  Sure.  But that's what I'm going with.  Texans are everywhere.

The Armoury is a spectacular place.  All manner and history of weaponry, for sport and war.  This is a glimpse of what the inside of the central stairway looks like:

Medieval tenting and a peek inside at the suit of armor that awaits!

To my utter surprise, they also had an impressive display on the American Civil War.  Of all places to find this weaponry, I was intrigued that they had such an array of US historic firearms:

Leaving the cannons and the crossbows behind, we needed to feed our grumbling bellies.  BB had told me about a particular place, and I was anxious to try it.  The Texan in me was skeptical, but the foodie in me was curious.  It was a good ol' barbecue place, in the heart of Yorkshire.

Inside, it looked right.  It smelled right. Sauces on the table represented different barbecue regions...except Texas.  How could they forget Texas?  In the US, you have various styles, like dry or wet, hickory (Memphis) or mesquite (Texas).  Am I unfair to expect such nuances in the UK?  Well...most likely, I am!

We sat down and ordered drinks.  Sweet tea was on the menu!  Yee-Haw!  I couldn't wait for this meal.  Sweet tea and barbecue!

The barbecue was spot on.  Someone had done their homework before opening this temple to meat and sauce.  We stuffed ourselves on good ol' barbecue.  But the sweet tea....  It tasted like lemonade.  Back to the South for that one, my dears.

Heading back to Bradford, I got to experience a tad bit of a UK tradition: Bonfire Night.  It was the 5th of November.  

Going back, we saw bonfires and fireworks.  The air was hazy from all the smoke.  If you can make it out, this was the view from my room.  You can see a burst of fireworks and the smokiness, as I looked towards the City Centre:

"Remember, remember, the 5th of November...."

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