It's Friday, it's dark and miserable, and the weekend has finally arrived after a very long week.
What better way to celebrate than by heading off down the motorway to get to Leeds.
I'm visiting my friend Lucy, who I met in Brazil last year. She stays just outside Leeds. It takes me about four hours to get there in the heavy rain and wind but the red wine in my hand at the end of the journey went down a treat. We catch up and relive the holiday memories.
Saturday, we have a lazy morning and head into Leeds centre. We dump our overnight bags at the hotel, the ibis budget, nothing fancy here but to be fair it was all that was needed. Good location, beds were comfortable and the rate - well, budget as the name suggests.
We head into Trinity Centre and have a wee mooch around the shops in case anything takes our fancy. I happen to purchase something and actually love the look that's given when you hand over a Scottish note. The shop assistant wanted to check with a superior, she was advised, 'yes it's Scottish, it's real money' thus taking away the all time favourite line "I think you'll find that's legal tender" away from me and safely in the hands of the comedians who use it.
Our next port of call was a late lunch/early dinner. Lucy had booked a Brazilian restaurant in keeping with our theme for the weekend. It was called Fazenda and was located down by the quayside.
Having only experienced Brazilian restaurants in Brazil it had a lot to live up to. And it certainly didn't disappoint, the staff were very friendly and there was a nice atmosphere. We certainly felt very relaxed and did not feel rushed in any way.
In fact, we enjoyed the laid back dining experience. You are given a token, red on one side, green on the other. If you want the servers to bring meat, you keep it to green. But if you have had enough or need a rest, then flip it to red. They certainly could have done with these in Brazil, it was never ending the amount of food they tried to give you. Anyway much more refined are we in this country and the system worked well - that is until the colourblind server came up with some pork in honey ginger and lemon sauce. I was on red and in fact was positive I had finished eating, but I couldn't resist! The wee man giggled as he told us of his colour deficiency on his way back to the kitchen. I'm sure I only just missed out on meat sweats with the amount of food I ate!
We ended up making a new friend too, Pablo or 'Pabs' as he wanted to be called. He was our main server, lovely guy, friendly and chatty, and drink observant so that we didn't ever go dry, Now, my friends and people who know me will know that I love a random question, just something to get you thinking. Lucy and I were having such a random discussion when Pabs came over, so we asked him, how long do you think a canary lives for? We fully expected a strange look and a equally strange answer, but to our amazement he actually went into some detail about birds and of course a canary, eight to 10 years, he thought was the normal life span. We were actually dumbstruck and could hardly contain out laughter as he walked away. Who knew he would be able to answer our stupid question. Hilarious! Maybe you had to be there but it's one of the good memories of the day. We ended our meal with a holiday favourite- abacaxi, that is pineapple. This was served coated with cinnamon and syrup and some chocolate moose. Delicious! All in all, a fantastic few hours where we ate very well, enjoyed red wine, some Caipirinhas and got to speak in our very best Portuguese.
Back to hotel to shower and change for the evening. I'm getting organised and can't find my make-up bag. Lucy asks if it is the blue spotted one? I tell her that's the one and she informs me I had left it on her windowsill at her home.
Actually in shock! Cannot believe I left it, and what the hell was I going to do for make-up?! Lucy said I could use whatever I wanted of hers. The main problem is my skin tone, I'm so pale it could have been disastrous but with careful application of foundation and relying on the eyes as my focus I think we pulled it off! It was probably good it was me that forgot and not Lucy otherwise she would have looked ill with having to use my paling make-up! Anyway crisis averted and off out to Trinity Centre again and then a few bars in Call Lane.
Leeds was jumping. The bars were packed, from what I'm told it's always like that, and it was weekend before payday as well so hadn't expected it to be so busy. The atmosphere was really good and I liked all the bars as they were all slightly different. My favourite was the Alchemist though, in the shopping centre. The waiter that made our cocktails was mesmerising - always a bonus!
Now, on preparation for my trip to Leeds I had found out there is an owl trail around the city. There are 25 owls dotted about which shows you some highlights of Leeds. You see the owl is in their coat of arms. As the weather was so rubbish during the day we figured we would do it on the Sunday. But we woke up to the same hurricane like winds and having a slightly fuzzy head ended that plan! Luckily enough though we did spot one owl whilst on our day/night out. The one in the shopping centre. Well I'm happy enough with that, and at the end of the day it's my excuse to go back to visit.
Thank you to Lucy and Leeds. Second destination complete.