Thursday, 5 May 2011


I was in London at the start of the week (somehow changing jobs has not stopped me from having to attend all the same meetings at the IoP!), and found myself wishing that I could bring Nathaniel down to see all the bustling streets and exciting stations, many sorts of buses and awe-inspiring museums.

So I decided that, sickness or no sickness, we needed more adventures. Believe it or not, despite regular trips to the station and the National Railway Museum, Nathaniel has never been on a train! So he and I decided to have an adventure to Leeds.

In the last few months, he has become quite cautious of very loud noises, and shrunk back into the back of his buggy, almost shaking when the first train approached the platform:

But he was surprised at how quiet it was and started to look forward to the trains arriving. Actually being on a train was pretty exciting!

He enjoyed chatting to the ticket collector and examining the buttons that release the doors. And there was plenty to spot out of the windows - lots of stations to see as they whizzed by.

And then, another, albeit very different, station! With more trains!

Many "hours" were spent looking at the strangly small train wheels and discussing why the trains always left the platform in the same direction.

What I had forgotten about Leeds station is that there are only up escalators, so we were forced into the lift to go down. This did not go down well with Nathaniel who is not a big lift fan. After 5 minutes of patient reasoning, I had to carry him in, kicking and crying! It was rather sad. Fortunately he recovered very quickly once he realised that the doors were closed, and was all ready to feed our ticket into the barrier to get out of the station. The station staff were very sympathetic to his desire to crawl under the barrier to go back and do it again! And again!

Once in Leeds, we made use of a couple of shops that we don't have in York and then decided to give the museum a miss (we'd been to see the fossilised hippo before), and hit two extremes of Leeds. First the Victorian quarter with doormen in top hats outside Harvey Nichols (who won't let you try on their hats), incredibly elegant decoration and pretty fountains.

Then to the indoor market to hear market sellers shouting out their offers, pick up gold unitards off rails, and explore glittering sari material stalls. We bought some cherries from my favourite fruit seller and had great fun along the fishmonger aisle.

I always loved going to buy fish when I worked in Leeds - they have the most amazing range and the aisle is always full of asian ladies with bulging fabric shopping trolleys, picking over the sea food and bantering with the fishmongers. We went to my favourite fishmonger (who introduced us to pomfret), and he made whole mackerel swim around and talk to Nathaniel! N was very impressed and enjoyed picking out the fish and stroking their smooth sides. We ended up buying a great selection to freeze - after all, we're never likely to be able to get half of these (and never at such a good price) from York's paltry attempt at a fishmonger. While we were there, a couple of people from Opera North wandered past, and after what was clearly established banter with the lady fishmonger, proceeded to serenade her with Rossini! The quickly-gathered crowd and I were pretty impressed, but Nathaniel declared the singing to be "wobbly" and "too loud" and said that he prefered "One, two, buckle shoe".

As a special treat, we had lunch at the cornish pasty shop and I relented and allowed Nathaniel a special packaged kids meal which came in a box with crayons and other tat. In the end he was most excited by the inclusion of ketchup and the giant cup of milk with a straw!

Yes, we were tired when we got home (we even got the bus back from the station, much to Nathaniel's delight), but it was a mighty fine adventure!

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