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Aires and Graces - Beau Romer - Narrowboat Life

Aires and Graces

It wouldn’t be one of my blogs if I didn’t start with the latest mishap. Mooring up in Leeds in the rain (after bossing a rather tricky manoeuvre where I turned the boat 90 degrees and reversed into a berth behind another boat and between a pontoon and the wharfside), I dropped my phone in the water. There was much wailing, and of course, it was all Martyn’s fault because if he’d been there to catch my rope, it wouldn’t have happened. I love that he was helping another boat through the lock, but I couldn’t see him, he wasn’t answering his phone (it was on the boat) or the walkie talkie (the battery was flat), and so I panicked. In my imagination he might be floating in the said lock. In haste I didn’t zip my pocket up when I put the phone away and – splash!

Cruising under Leeds Bridge. The owls on the crest are the emblem of the city, it’s motto Pro Rege et Lege (For king and law)

At least we were in Leeds, which is lovely, a joy and an unexpected delight. And Leeds has an Apple store, so even though we could have done without the cost, I was sorted quickly with a new phone.

The Royal Armouries is full of guns and swords, most of which leave me cold, but seeing the Walther PPK made this Bond fan very happy

Somehow I thought Leeds was going to be dour, grim and gritty, but not a bit of it. We moored in Leeds Basin squeezed in between the Candle building, the Hilton Doubletree and the railway arches and there we stayed while we explored the city for a few days.

A selection of my impressions of Leeds. Martyn’s standing in front of an aerial photo of Chesil Beach!

Leeds has some beautiful architecture, good shopping and a nice atmosphere. We enjoyed an outdoor photography exhibition, the Leeds Museum and the Royal Armouries. Living on a boat with limited space, we didn’t really take advantage of the shops. I told Martyn I’d buy him a Leeds United mug, but for some inexplicable reason he repeatedly declined! It was nice to see the city centre appears to be thriving post-Covid, with very few closed and empty shops.

Some of the buildings I snapped, including the Town Hall, Civic Centre, Old Post Office, Kirkgate Market and the Corn Exchange

One of my favourite sites was St Paul’s House. We found it by accident. A local gent eating his lunch outside the very grand Victorian Town Hall (which sports picnic tables and astroturf) told us about it. It was built as a warehouse and cloth cutting works, and it’s very ornate. If you want to read more about this magnificent building, there’s a really interesting blog about it here.

St Paul’s House

Rather reluctantly, we left on Tuesday. We’d met a nice couple, Michael and John, on nb Iron Butterfly, moored next to us in the basin (they lent us a net to fish for the lost phone) and arranged to share the locks on the River Aire with them. When we got on the River it was another unexpected delight. It’s pretty, wide, and all the locks are automatic, so operating them is only a matter of pressing a few buttons – no hard manual labour. Because the Aire and Calder is also a navigation that takes much larger vessels than us, they are also massive, and most of them have lock keepers, so no one even has to get off the boat. Sadly the Aire and Calder is all too short. We cruised most of it in two days, arriving at Stanley Ferry in the rain and drenched again, but all good things must, I suppose, come to an end.

About to cruise under a dismantled railway, with Stephenson’s Bridge in the background

10 Replies to “Aires and Graces”

  1. Sorry to hear about your latest mishap. We think Leeds is an amazing and interesting city. We were wowed by the Royal Armouries Museum and loved wandering around the canal basin. Also loved the old Victorian shopping arcades and their posh shops. One of the lovliest buildings is the old Corn Exchange now full of quaint shops and cafes. We shall miss visiting now the family have moved westward. Hopefully your next post will be mishap free although they make for interesting reading! Happy boating.

  2. Oh no another mishap, can you claim on any insurance?
    Architectural splendour in Leeds wow what building. I wonder if Barran bought his cloth from the Lancashire mills ? Suit you sir!

    1. Sadly the one thing excluded from our insurance is phones. Typical.

      Are you still fighting the Wars of the Roses down there? 🤣 Don’t worry, we’ll be Lancashire-bound soon! X

  3. Really sorry to hear about the phone. So easily done. Glad you were in Leeds and Apple shop, and not I’m the countryside. Pleased you enjoyed Leeds so much- I did my librarian training there. They’ve managed to save the Victorian buildings and they are such a feature. I like the shopping arcades- there’s one with a clock which has figures that pop out on the hour! I also liked the indoor Market- not many of those left.
    Do hope you’ve managed to save your photos, Mandella.
    Will look at Stanley Dock, I presume its east.
    Glad you’re having such a fascinating time and without more mishaps!

    1. We saw the clock Mary. If I’d had a little longer in Leeds we would have spent more time in the arcades and Kirkgate. As you can tell, we loved the buildings.

      We walked past the library with the owls in the railings, but it was all shut up with a big iron gate – not terribly inviting! 😂 x

  4. Good to hear Leeds was safe to moor in. We were told not to moor there. Sounds like you had an awesome time (apart from the phone) and the photos are great.

    1. Jim and Diana recommended Leeds Basin/Granary Wharf as a good place to moor, and we agree. It’s very popular with lots of boats, and the bars and cafes close early. I guess we can all have a bad experience in an unlikely place though.

      We could have stayed a lot longer!

      The lock keeper at Bingley advised we didn’t moor between Rodley and Leeds.

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