Our train was at 8:35 from King’s Cross. We had everything organized: I got up at 6:30, Tigger at 7. We were at King’s Cross before 8. It was rather fun milling about with the crowds in the rain, pretending to be a commuter. “Or a courier,” said Tigger.
While I bought baguettes from Upper Crust, Tigger went to Smiths for a paper and then we both went to Nero for coffee. “Free coffee next time,” said the assistant, stamping my loyalty card.
When the platform was announced, we made our way to the train against the flood of disembarking commuters. We found our reserved seats in carriage G but as there were unreserved seats at a table we took these instead. I keep forgetting to tell the booking clerk that as we are tall and need plenty of leg room, we should have table seats where we can sit opposite each other and intertwine our legs.
The day was dull and grey. Where it was not raining, the view was closed in by mist.
The train arrived on time and we took a cab to the building where we were to deliver the package. Here we ran into a problem. Although the address label had been supplied by this company, the person named was not on the reception clerk’s list of personnel. We stood like lemons while phone calls were made, all to no avail. The person could not be found. Otherwise the address was correct, so we knew we were at the right place.
Finally, the reception clerk called his supervisor, a large gentleman in a Sikh turban who seemed grumpy at being disturbed. He peremptorily told us to take the package to the post room. (“Out of the door, left and left again, til you come to a shutter.”) Here we ran into another problem: the clerk would not admit us unless we signed in with a company name but, we explained, we could not do this as tenders must be delivered anonymously. Impasse.
In the end, the post room supervisor was summoned and he appeared to be au fait so we left the package in his – we hope, capable – hands. Tigger phoned her firm to apprise them that the package had been delivered well before the deadline despite the peculiar circumstances of the transaction. Then we were free!
We set out on foot for the city centre, via Clarence Dock and the Royal Armouries. We boarded a bus, buying day tickets. After a while we realized we were heading away from the centre, not towards it – oops! – so disembarked and stopped for a drink at a pub called the Crooked Billet before boarding a bus going in the opposite direction.
We followed Ian’s advice and explored the market and the shopping arcades around Briggate. The market, with covered and outdoor sections was well worth a visit and is a beautiful example of its kind.
Curiously, finding somewhere where we could have a meal turned out not to be easy. There is a paucity of restaurants in the centre. Perhaps the good citizens of Leeds don’t eat out much. We eventually had a pub lunch in the Horse and Trumpet, quite a famous venue in the Headrow. It was very good, as pub lunches go, and surprisingly cheap. Later in our wanders, we did find an area where there were some eatieries but by then it was too late.
We discovered that there is a free bus in Leeds. (How about one for London, Mayor Livingstone? In Manchester, they have three free routes.) We boarded it and did two circuits as this is a good way to see the city.
By now it was dark and very cold. This, together with the rain was making it unpleasant to walk the streets, so we did the only sensible thing: we went to Starbuck’s! We tarried a while there, reading the paper and doing the sudoku and crossword puzzles.
We wandered the streets a little more and then made our way to station because although we had about an hour and a half to wait for the 6:40 train, everything was closing – like the art gallery we briefly visited – and we could sit in the station cafe area and drink tea.
At last the train arrived. We found our reserved seats occupied but an apologetic announcement explained that there had been a cock-up and seats were not reserved on this journey. Fortunately we found good seats – better than the supposedly reserved ones – so all was well.
What was our impression of Leeds? Ian, enjoying the easy life in Florida 🙂 will probably be pleased to know we found it an interesting city with some impressive buildings and places worth visiting. We were obviously not able to do it justice in one dark winter afternoon and have put it on our list of places to explore properly at some future date.
With one more courier run under our belts, we are looking forward to the next one. We privately agreed that if we ran into the signing-in problem again, we would make up a plausible company name. SilverTiger Couriers might fill the bill.
Note added Jan 18th 2008
I have added two of Tigger’s Leeds photos, one of the market and one of the Horse & Trumpet. The latter is a little fuzzy because is was taken from the bus!