Sunday, December 25, 2011

Knightsbridge of the North

I kid you not. The semi-official nickname for Leeds is "Knightsbridge of the North". We're not entirely sure, but it is telling that we have virtually no photos of interest from our four day stay in Bradford. Which was very definitely not the Knightsbridge of the North.

Our extended stay in Bradford wasn't due to a strong desire to spend a lot of time there, it was really just to make the various dates line up - we knew that we wanted to:

1) spend a day at the Royal Armouries
2) catch Steeleye Span on the last night of their tour, on the 20th
3) visit Schola Gladiatoria on their training night
4) wind up in Edinburgh for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

All of which meant that, yeah, we spent an extended stay in Bradford - we thought it was easier to stay in Bradford than Leeds, since we were doing several things at night in Bradford.

Bradford was... odd. Not unpleasant, or at least the part we were in wasn't unpleasant, but it was definitely odd. The first thing we noticed when we did a stroll around was a startling number of buildings - apartments and offices - empty and looking for renters, and in some cases have obviously been empty for a good while. There were also a lot of apparently abandoned building projects around. It looked very much like there'd been a wave of redevelopment started, that collapsed when the economy went south. The local council is obviously keenly aware of this, and is building a bunch of galleries and a mirror pool/park in the centre of town to spruce the place up. Still, we enjoyed our stay.

The hall where Steeleye Span performed was fun - another huge lump of 19th century masonry, and apparently the oldest performance venue still in use. Steeleye Span rocked the place, and it was a good gig, although we thought they looked noticeably tired after a gruelling tour of the country.

We didn't wind up connecting with Schola Gladiatoria, and will have to go back sometime - they'd changed their training venue and not yet updated their contact address, so we spent an hour trawling around the wrong suburb looking for them. So it goes.

The other thing we saw in Bradford itself was the National Media Museum, featuring Wombles and a Dalek. Also televisions. It was an amusing few hours killed, and the photos are still on Bob's phone. If you find yourself in Bradford, it's worth visiting. Not that you are likely to find yourself in Bradford accidentally.

Of course the highlight of our time was the Royal Armouries. So many neat toys! All the swords! All the armour! Their web site is very good, and includes a catalogue search, so go and look at the pictures of the rapiers - better than shots Bob got on her phone. Possibly my favourite was a German hand-and-a-half, catalogue number IX.38, although the extending rapier was great, and there were some beautiful small swords. We were literally there all day, and will go back.

Next up... Eboracum. Where we took lots of photos.

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