Monthly Archives: April 2012

The local tourist. Part 1

When I get a day to myself I like to spend it either walking on the hills or mooching about town. I used to go to Leeds to fulfil my mooching needs but this time I decided to start at home and go into Bradford. There is something of a renaissance beginning in Bradford, still in an embryonic stage but extant nonetheless.

For those unfamiliar with the term ‘mooching’ -for me at least is to wander aimlessly doing as I choose. No fixed plans of activities or locations, only a vague idea such as lunch in a pub, visit a museum. That sort of thing.

This easter break I have been very lucky indeed and spent two days mooching. This then is an account of things to in Bradford city centre if you’ve some free time.

The main activity that I had planned for today was to visit the National Media Museum and see the rest of the “life online” exhibition (i had been in a couple of days earlier with my family but toddlers and 4 year olds don’t make it ready to read the info in the gallery!)
Life online is the first exhibition in the works to look at how the internet has shaped our lives.
The gallery has examples of the humongous, slow dial up modems and the computers where it began. Video clips and text about the people who got us here.
I’m reasonably knowledgeable about internet things but I found it fascinating. It is also evident that it was put together by people who ‘get’ the internet with subtle references and hat tips to rick rolling and other memes.
The media museum is free to enter and one of the most popular museums in the country.

To get back into the city ‘proper’ it is a short walk from the museum through the recently opened City Park with its mirror pool and urban garden.

It was getting on for lunch time by this point and time to find a cafe. (though the museum does have a good quality and reasonably priced cafe itself).
At the top end of town (Bradford is quite hilly!) is Northgate and my lunch destination “cafe bleu”. I hadn’t visited before but went there on a recommendation. The cafe is small and smart and has been awarded 5 stars by council inspectors. Lunch was a latte and a goat’s cheese and red onion chutney panini. (about £6) the coffee was good and the panini well filled, with melting cheese oozing out. Delicious. Even the salad was good, no limp iceberg here!

A short walk from cafe bleu is the Sparrow. A ‘ bier cafe’ which opened about a year shop and had already been awarded ‘Camra pub of the season’ and got a listing in the guardian.
Though Bradford had no shortage of good ‘ale pubs’ the sparrow is a little bit different and attracts write a diverse clientele. On my visit other than myself there were an older couple enjoying a light lunch of a plate of ‘morlinky’ (a cured sausage similar to kabanos) with pickles and relish (£2.20) with their pint, an English literature student who was photographing the city and assorted others on their lunch break from work in nearby offices.
Despite my delicious lunch I couldn’t resist a plate of cured meats and cheese (£3) to accompany my pint(s). What I hadn’t realized from my taster glass was that the IPA I’d ordered was 6%abv. Oh well. There went the afternoon.
Prices in the sparrow are surprisingly reasonable – Comparable to other city centre venues. A pint of real ale is about £2.70-£3.00
It looks ‘trendy’ with the walls bedecked with art from local artists and the foreign beers on draught and in bottles. But it is friendly and welcoming and not at all cliquey.
At any one time it has 4 real asked on traditional pumps with another 5 ‘quality beers’ on keg. None of your default John Smith’s/Tetley’s nonsense here!

After my light refreshment it was back to City Park and the Bradford 1 art gallery. The gallery is housed in the Centenary Square building, also home to Lloyds and sSarbucks. It is council owned and entry is free.
At the time of my visit there was an exhibition of street art including a couple of pieces by Banksy.
(I’m by no stretch an expert on art, really quite a thicky when it comes to things artistic. I’m quite happy to accept that I ‘just don’t get it’ as long as you accept a lot of it is pretentious scribbling.)
Anyway, the contents of this particular exhibition were attractive enough, interesting in places, odd in others. I can imagine that if you do ‘get’ art then it would be more than a ten minute visit. The impressions gallery was closed for setting up a new exhibition at the time of my visit.