The weather was hot, and outside our flat rainbow flags were hanging triumphantly. It was Sunday and Pride fever had well and truly hit Leeds.
My friend Steph had come to visit from Canada, en route to Edinburgh where her family are staying for the summer. We hadn't seen each other in three years, which was both wild and magical at the same time. Our last encounter had been on the pebbly shores of Brighton, when we leisurely got up and ran over to the Seven Sisters cliffs without factoring in winter's 4pm blackout -- this led to us sprinting to the coastline, taking some grey photographs, and tottering back in the dark. I remember how we stopped off in Lewes for some mulled ginger beer on our way home, with the overhead lights guiding us to the train.
Seeing Steph again, in the crisp warm air of a British summer, made me so happy. It's funny how with certain friends, you can go without speaking for months and yet everything's still exactly the same. It will always be the same. She arrived on Friday, and I sought out to find her after work, which proved difficult when she told me she was 'in Caffe Nero.' Three Neros later, and we were reunited! It was all fun and games after that, starting by taking a jetlagged Steph to Roland's to try Aperol Spritzes, and then ending at Headrow House dancing to Greg Wilson with all our friends, before a few of us rumbled back to ours, ate cheesy chips, drank wine and pranced around.
Saturday we grabbed some brunch at Sheaf's Cafeteria, which is where The Big Disco was held! Poached eggs on toast, with a mug of coffee. Always a winner. After this, we headed briefly to The Tetley and saw the new exhibitions by Jem Finer and Jonathan Trayte. Very impressive, if not a little phallic. Then it was time for home, the Olympics, some lovely gin, and feast of fried foods made in the deep fat fryer we found in one of our cupboards. Thanks old tenants!
We awoke on Sunday to the sounds of hubbub from the city centre, echoing from the rainbow lined walls of the Calls. We poured ourselves some drinks, and went downstairs to watch the parade go past our street. It was a beautiful thing to watch, and the sense of community radiated right through the city. On Lower Briggate, they'd assembled a stage on which a number of musicians played. There was also a drag re-telling of Mary Poppins. Loved it!
Looking for somewhere to eat, we stumbled across Trader Dan's Surf Shack -- the new incarnation of the Hedonist Project, the giants of Leeds' pop-up scene. Before TD, this building housed The Rum Kitchen, The Whisky Parlour, and more recently Old Tom's Gin Kitchen. Trader Dan's encapsulates a tropical meeting of West Yorkshire and the West Coast. Quiksilver surfboards adorn the walls, and there's red cups! Woo! We got a couple of sharing platters between us, that came served with coconut polenta, sweet potato fries, gorgeous fried prawns, kale slaw, and fish tacos, to name but a few food stuffs. Everything was really tasty, and really casual. After the meal, we sipped Sols, played dominoes and listened to the sounds of Pride from inside the California cocoon.
All in all, it was a lovely weekend - one of old friends and new places. Showing Steph around the city of Leeds made me realise how much great stuff we have here, as having visitors always does. I feel proud to live here.