Posts Tagged ‘leeds’

Illallinen taivaan alla

Thursday, September 21st, 2017 | Events

Finland turns 100 this year. In celebration, events are taking place around the world. They’re called Illallinen taivaan alla or “Dinner under the sky”. Tiina organised a Leeds event which was a big success.

There was loads of Finnish food, including a selection of cake so big that I don’t think I managed to get around everything. Despite trying really hard.

Leeds Pride 2017

Tuesday, August 15th, 2017 | Events

Leeds Pride continues to get bigger every year. It used to be that you could rock up to The Headrow and have an entire traffic island to yourself to watch the parade go by. Now, as you can see, the crowds are much bigger.

We weren’t clear if we were supporting Pride, or insensitively flaunting our heterosexuality by waving a baby around…

Craig’s Pride-themed tuba was very impressive, but I didn’t manage to get a good photo…

Fearnville Leisure Centre review

Saturday, August 5th, 2017 | Reviews, Sport

Fresh from our trip to Kirkstall leisure centre, we decided to hit Fearnville this week.

It is also operated by Leeds City Council and as such as much the same facilities and pricing. It’s £4.90 for an adult and under 5s go free. There is a 25-metre pool at the same depth of 0.8 metres to 1.6 metres, making it almost deep enough for an adult in the deep end.

Their children’s pool was open and it was nice and warm. Venla enjoyed having a good splash.

The changing room setup is a little different. They split into men and women but then merge back together for family changing: with big cubicles, changing tables and lockers. This worked really well because we could double-team Venla.

The showers were back in the separate gender changing areas and there was still no plug socket for my hair dryer. The lockers required £1 and the keys were less fancy: it was literally a rubber band with a key attached to it.

Kirkstall Leisure Centre review

Wednesday, August 2nd, 2017 | Reviews

In Finland, things are simple: you throw your baby in a lake and either they swim, or they sink. Elina has become soft while over here though and wanted to give Venla a gentler introduction to swimming.

Our first trip was to Kirkstall Leisure Centre. Here is what I thought of it.

They have a 25-metre pool and learner pool. Unfortunately, when we turned up, the learner pool was closed. We did get a discount because of it, though.

The 25-metre pool is almost a learner pool in itself. It starts at 0.8 metres deep and only goes up to 1.6 metres deep, meaning both Elina and I could stand in the so-called deep end.

The water was warmer than I expected. We went at 10 am on Sunday morning, and it was quite busy.

They had a section of the pool roped off for lane swimming, and it was a generously wide lane, meaning that you could go around without kicking people coming the other way. It did mean you would get stuck behind slower traffic, though.

The changing rooms were okay. They were clean, and the showers were a reasonable temperature. No complimentary shower gel, but then I was not expecting any at a public pool. The lack of power sockets was a real problem, though: there was nowhere to plug my hair dryer in.

The locker keys were good: a solid rubber strap with a key that folds in. Difficult to operate with one hand, though.

Leeds 10k 2017

Sunday, July 23rd, 2017 | Sport

July means the Jane Tomlinson’s Run For All 10k in Leeds. It is usually boiling, making for difficult running conditions but is also a really fun event to be part of: you set off from the east side of town and loop all the way around before heading up Kirkstall Road.

Last year I set an awesome time: 59:59.

I wanted to beat the hour and did so: by one second!

Race Time
Abbey Dash 2016 56:45
Run For All 2016 59:59
Abbey Dash 2015 1:07:58
Abbey Dash 2014 1:07:36
Run For All 2014 1:06:14

This year was a mixed bag. I managed a time of 57:28. This is 43 seconds behind by Abbey Dash time, but 2:31 ahead of any time I have set in the heat.

Any hope of the run being good for me was quickly dashed. We went for brunch at Wetherspoon’s, followed by recovery ice cream at Baskin Robbins. That was Venla’s favourite part of the whole event.

The race was well organised. You get a colour coded number based on your expected finish time: blue (elite), red (not so elite), and green (everyone else). Previously, I have been held up by slower runners, so I put in a target time of 54 minutes.

This seems to have been the magic that moved me into the red zone. 55 minutes plus seems to have put you in the green zone. However, there were only two pens: all the blues and reds were in the same one. This meant that while I expected it to take 10-15 minutes to get to the start, I was actually through a couple of minutes after the gun.

Well done to everyone else who took part, what were your times?

London vs Leeds: what will £32m get you?

Friday, June 16th, 2017 | Life

The property price differences between London and anywhere that is not London have been well documented. A small garden shed in the capital will set you back far more than a three bedroomed house in Darlington. But what if you have some cash to splash?

This came to mind recently when I saw two properties for sale.

One was this £30,000,000 house in London.

What can you get in London?

Technically, it is detached. But, if you look at how close the next building is to it, you could be forgiven for not realising this. And there is no doubt that it is a nice house. But if we look at the description…

Today this Grade II listed building currently extends to circa 9490 square feet (881 square metres).The property is in need of full modernisation but retains a number of period features.

…it turns out it is a fixer-upper.

What can you get in Leeds?

Compare this to the £32,000,000 property you can get in Leeds. It is two million pounds more, of course, so you are expecting something a little better.

That’s right, it’s Leeds Dock. It is a 1,200,000 square foot site complete with 1,100 apartments. And loads of office space. And a bar. And a restaurant (but it’s only a Pizza Express). And a casino (now closed). And the Royal Armouries Museum.

Recently put up to sale for £32,000,000 by its owners Allied London. Which is significantly more than the £1.5 million they paid for it just five years ago.

Baskin Robbins: a review

Friday, May 26th, 2017 | Food

Baskin Robbins have a store in the Merrion Centre. We went in to try their wares: it would have been rude not to, really. I love Joe Deluccio’s in Trinity, so that was our main basis for comparison.

I had the chocolate mud and the mint chocolate chip. It’s not quite as smooth as Deluccio’s, but is still tasted great. The cone was a mixed bag: it was big, so contained the ice cream very well. However, it was a bit difficult to get to the ice cream and it collapsed towards the end.

On our second visit, they had no chocolate ice cream. No regular chocolate, no Mississippi mud, not even a mint chocolate chip.

The staff were surly both times. In fairness, they weren’t overly unfriendly, but they definitely are not pleased to see you. Which seems strange given they have so few other customers. Service at Joe Deluccio’s is also unfriendly, though.

The last holdout of Chinatown has fallen

Monday, May 22nd, 2017 | News

I’m sad to report that the last remaining restaurant of Leeds’s Chinatown has closed down.

Not that it was ever that big: a total of three restaurants. Hometown, Tong Palace and Ho’s. Plus the international supermarket remains, and Crown Buffet and Oriental City are nearby (though Mulan has also closed).

Luckily, the area booms with great food. Thai A Roy Dee, Zaap Thai and Bar Soba all provide Asian cuisine. But given Hometown and Ho’s were such enjoyable restaurants to visit, it is a shame that the street is now bereft of Chinese restaurants.

Sadly, restaurants live or die for a variety of reasons that you may not expect. Which is why I wrote a book about it.

This is how I did in the Leeds Half Marathon 2017

Wednesday, May 17th, 2017 | Sport

Sometimes, I think it would be fun to run a marathon. Then there are other times. Times such as this, when I have just run a half marathon, and still remember just how painful it was. To do the easy half of a full one.

I completed my first half marathon last year and managed to complete it in 2:28:00. This year I had set myself a base target of 2:15:00 and a stretch target of 58 minutes. It’s quite a range, but I thought if I really want to push myself, I might as well go for a world record.

Favourable conditions

The temperature was a lot kinder this year. Gone was the 25-degree heat. Sunday gave us 17 degrees and some cloud cover.

The other thing I changed this year was the amount of sustenance I took on. Last year I stopped at every water station (I stay stopped, you don’t really slow down as you grab a bottle on the way past) and took on some food as well.

I don’t take anything on on my training runs: I just go out and run for two hours. My training runs are always faster. I also skipped the water station in last year’s Abbey Dash and set a personal best 10k time. So, this year, I avoided all food and skipped one of the water stations.

The result

Drum roll, please… This year I managed it in 2:03:42. That’s the official chip timing, I didn’t get my GPS quite perfect.

Notice how it condescendingly marks the whole thing as a “walk” (I ran the whole thing).

I managed to take a good line: you always end up running further than the actual distance because you are dodging around people. So an extra 150m over 21.1km is pretty small.

Most importantly, I took 24 minutes off last year’s time and beat my target by 11 minutes.

How did I feel about it?

I should be chuffed. But, if I had that ability, I would probably spend far less time stressing and enjoy life a lot more. It was a great time: but if I could just found an extra 4 minutes, I could have broken 2.

I did try. My pace was pretty erratic because of how hilly the course is. However, I did enough to give myself a chance in the first half the race and spent the 3rd quarter chasing down the gap.

But, towards the end, I ran out of steam. For the last 4 km, I was running on empty. I didn’t even notice the people cheering me on the finishing straight.

I’ll get it next year. It’s a race between me and Kipchoge. Who can break 2 first…

Christmas at the Crowne Plaza

Thursday, March 16th, 2017 | Photos

I took this photo in February.

Still, maybe the Crowne Plaza is just so popular that you have to book your Christmas do in February. Not that any Toastmasters will be eating there after what happened last time.