Wining away the weekend may have been an understatement this weekend. Because, I think, wining away the weekend sounds quite light and airy doesn’t it? But this devilish dipsomaniac (me) hit Leeds like an elephant on performance enhancing drugs on Saturday and paid for it big time.
Despite fearsome travel news surrounding Storm Emma and The Beast From The East, I was determined to be reliable and stuck to the plan of travelling to Leeds by train. You may have read my blog post about being more sustainable throughout lent but I misjudged my preparation entirely. Note to self: don’t make a tuna sandwich if you’re travelling on a public service. Anyway, flustered sandwich eating aside, it was a picturesque journey and quite startling at how little snow there was outside of Rutland. Everywhere else looked rather bland in comparison and in made me realise how much of a mood-booster the bright white snow had actually been.
I arrived in Leeds to be met by my beautiful friend Taylor, who is Californian and somehow still a ray of sunshine in such a grey city. Leeds is pretty, the Edwardian shopping centres conjure up scenes along the streets of Diagon Alley and make even Zara feel original. The usual suspects were out shouting about Jesus, ‘He cannot die,’ a rather normal looking woman in a pink scarf screeched, ‘He can hear your thoughts,’ I had definitely left the countryside.
We went for brunch in what a well-respected restaurant critique would probably call ‘millennial and hipster’ and it kind of was. In Mrs Athas you’ll find lots of beards and checkered shirts, and the ‘I don’t really need your business but I’d love to help’ attitude. There’s no room for privacy, all sat together on a long table with communal water but no communal conversation ironically. The food was delicious, I had Eggs Royale and it was everything I wanted it to be. Taylor had some sort of vegan sandwich which she polished off so we can definitely agree the hipsters know what they’re doing in the kitchen. Taylor also said that the very cool dude behind the counter remembers her coffee order when she goes back, and that’s important!
Taylor and her husband Ben live right in the centre of the city and so it’s a remarkably short walk to all of the best places. We headed back via an independent wine shop and a bottle of Chablis to get ready for the night ahead. Outfits sorted and wine chilled to perfection we tucked in. This Louis Jadot Chablis had such a mineral base to it that it was like drinking tasty water, I don’t mean that in a bad way, it was just incredibly easy to drink. So we finished the bottle…and made our way to Friends of Ham where Taylor was excited to get me to try a Chardonnay ‘almost as good as Rombauer back home!’
The Chardonnay in question was: Enate Barrel Fermented Chardonnay and it’s a biggy. From Somontano in Spain, it was described as having ‘aromas of hazelnuts, freshly buttered toast, tropical fruits and smoke.’ After a little research, this wine boasts to be ‘the best selling Chardonnay in Spain,’ and I can believe that. We shared two Carafes (we only meant to have one but then we pushed the table reservation back…) and I could have happily stayed at Friends of Ham and devoured several more along with some cheese and more importantly ham but alas plans were in place.
Check out the colour of this Chardonnay:
Somontano means ‘under the mountain’ and is one of Spain’s newer wine regions, located at the foothills of the central Pyrenees in north-east Spain. It sounds quite green and wet, but with really high temperatures in the summer. Clearly an idyllic climate for our oaky Chardonnays.
Our next destination was for bottomless pizza and prosecco which is where it all went wrong. I should know better than to down prosecco, the hangovers I get from bubbles are some of the worst but girded by quite a large amount of chardonnay I muscled on through. Bottomless pizza seems like a great idea but when has anyone ever wanted a whole new pizza after a pizza? It’s literally the most carb-loaded, filling dish on the planet. I couldn’t really see by this point but I blindly ordered ham and pineapple with mushrooms and vaguely remember it being awesome.
I was guided like a blind-folded unsteady sheep to slaughter where I was introduced to Tequila Verdita in North Bar. I’m still not entirely sure what it is but you essentially have a shot of tequila like normal and then chase it with this green juice that tastes like acid. It’s actually a blend of coriander, mint, pineapple juice and jalapenos, practically healthy. We went to a few other places but I couldn’t tell you what I was drinking, and in true Georgie survival style I made it to bed at the very sociable hour of around 12am, don’t say I’m not hardcore.
Morning came and I woke up feeling absolutely fine, I had a slight headache but that was all. Taylor and I are massive foodies so we hurried to get changed so we could explore a new place for breakfast, Laynes Espresso, which is conveniently next to the train station. It was sleeting and Taylor actually announced that if she had to pick from rain, sleet or snow she’d pick sleet because it’s lighter than rain and doesn’t settle like snow, we were that sort of ‘brain is mush’ hungover that’s funny and tragic at the same time.
The walk there unfortunately woke up the rest of my body and that’s when it started, the heart palpitations, the shakes, the stomach knots and one big booming headache. ‘Not again,’ I thought, as this isn’t my first rodeo at almost not making it through a hangover. Heart palpitations have to be the worst as you know deep down it’s all self inflicted, but you’re still worried that you’re heart is not ok, this gives you anxiety resulting in stronger shakes and more frequent flutters, it’s a vicious circle.
I bravely ordered avocado on toast, it came with pickle and fermented foods are good for your gut aren’t they? Logic didn’t save me, after two mouthfuls the real stomach cramps settled and I started to panic that I might be that person who chunders on the train and becomes a ‘Goes to Leeds Once’ meme, life over.
After saying a resentful goodbye (luckily Taylor is used to hungover me) I clambered onto the train and sat opposite a beautiful middle-aged lady in leopard print trainers. She smiled at me, I smiled back and then I proceeded to sleep and moan the entire journey back to Peterborough. After deciding the most comfortable position to ease the pain was over the table on my hands, I ‘came to’ in Peterborough with an alarming fuzzy hairdo and a face ten shades paler to the one that departed only the previous day.
The avocado and me parted ways when I got home and in hindsight, it was for the best. I knew the only cure was my two legs and the countryside. As soon as I made it back to the farm, still with my frightening face and smelling like a service station, I started to feel better. And once I took all 6 dogs (which is probably illegal) out for a walk in the remains of the snow drifts I was just happy to still be alive and watch them work. You see, I love a trip to the city, but it’s always a joy to get home to the countryside.