Leeds today: walking and running, trains and buses, art, China and connectedness.

All rested after the weekend? Good-oh. Let’s see what’s been going on, then!

Tomorrow there will be a demonstration against rail fare rises at Waterloo, reports the Yorkshire Post. Yorkshire has been at the front of the “Fair Fares” campaign, especially after recent news about how overcrowding on Leeds and West Yorkshire trains is the worst outside of London. The problem will be partially alleviated by an additional 22 carriages provided by the Department of Transport (note: not “new”), however plans to electrify the line between Leeds and York will also help. Of course, when the line is electrified it won’t be using new trains there, either, but “cast offs from the London Underground”. Hm.

We love exercise here at BGL. We love it so much we could watch it all day… The 199th 5km parkrun around Leeds Hyde Park was marked on Saturday with a run (of course) and cake (a special treat). Runners were joined by Paul Sinton-Hewitt (left, photo from Anne Akers), who founded parkrun in London in 2004, and who happened to be celebrating his 51st birthday that day. Each Saturday at 9am more than 200 runners/walkers/joggers complete two-and-a-half laps of the park. There are also runs at Roundhay Park and in neighbouring towns and cities.

It was the Jane Tomlinson Walk for All yesterday, a 14 or 26-mile hike through the dales. Northern Rail put on a special train for the event at 5:30 in the morning; the Yorkshire Post put someone on it to ask walkers why they were putting themselves through this. Over 2000 people (and dogs) took part and although it wasn’t a race, congratulations are in order to Paul Denison who finished in a blistering 5h45m. There are plenty of heartwarming stories to be told about the participants, too. Worth reading, and next year BGL shall be there.

China has chosen Leeds to be its base for the 2012 Olympics, reports the YEP (amongst many others). Around 300 athletes and support staff from 11 disciplines will be based in Leeds, with potentially more to come as the city will become the official pre-Games HQ for China. The majority of athletes will be housed in University of Leeds accommodation, and will train at facilities held by both Universities as well as the John Charles and other locations further afield. Well done, LCC, for negotiating this one.

Yorkshire’s Favourite Paintings is getting more coverage; this time in Hull, where Hockney’s Bigger Trees Near Warter is being exhibited alongside Draper’s Ulysses and the Sirens. Management consultant Rachael Mather wrote an account of her first date with her partner attempting to meet at Ulysses in the Ferens in Hull, as her nomination for Yorkshire’s Favourite Painting and won a print of the painting to hang in her home. The final 100 paintings are now on display in galleries across the region, including in Leeds Art Gallery, and are worth taking a look at.

Talking of Leeds Art Gallery the Independent has a scathing comment from one of Damien Hirst’s former tutors at Leeds College of Art. Gloria Simons, a former lecturer in fine art at the college, said:

“Although financially the richest artist in Britain, he appears the most spiritually bankrupt. As he metaphorically dances on the graves of helpless animals and humans alike, the cash gushes like a tsunami. How far will Mr Hirst go to cause controversy? Isn’t it about time that he realised that death is not sexy?”

Having been to see the exhibition there is a slight feel that the mock up of Pharmacy is a bit like a showroom; all of the work on display in that part of the exhibit is available through Hirst’s Science company, including water glasses, ampoules of salt and pepper and £700/roll wallpaper. However there is one stunning work in the main gallery that (in BGL’s opinion) everybody should see – the alabaster Anatomy of an Angel is an incredible piece of work and has been in private hands since 2008.

The BBC reports 22 new hybrid buses are coming to Leeds, as First reduces its carbon footprint on the 7, 7A and 7S services. The A61 is one of the most congested roads in the city at peak time and the newer buses will help reduce the haze of diesel fumes that sits over the road as car drivers try to get home (one person to a car, of course) between 4:30 and 6pm. Funding for the new buses came from the DoT’s Green Bus Fund; we can only hope that the obvious reduction in fuel costs will mean that fares will stay the same or drop…

Leeds Grub has been to Wasabi Tappanyaki in Granary Wharf. It’s been there for a very long time, and is certainly more of a showground than anything else; the chefs cook everything in front of you and love performing to the crowd, especially if there are children in the party. Katie seems to have enjoyed the show – it’s a very interesting review! In other foodie review news, Darren Cronian from My Life in Leeds has been to Laynes Espresso on New Station St. BGL loves Laynes and is regularly in there for piccolinos and americanos, and it’s nice to see indie coffee shops getting recognition. Laynes recently collaborated with next-door-neighbours The Brewery Tap to produce a coffee beer – if it’s still available then it’s worth a try, but at quite a high ABV it’s a beer to linger over.

Heritage Open Days are on their way – we recently mentioned High Royds – so people are starting to write about local events. South Leeds Life has come up with a list of venues taking part including the Garden Gate pub in Hunslet through to Morley Town Hall, with many points in between.

Finally today… Mark O’Brien’s Hometourist experiment continues apace; on Friday he was on BBC Radio Leeds talking about the Challenge Mark programme, but he also wonders:

Some of the events I’ve reported on have gone unnoticed by many until they’ve already happened: Huddersfield Food Festival and Leeds Pride for instance only got a mention on Look North, to my knowledge, when they’d already arrived. The regional newspapers and television are too preoccupied with bad news, and cyberspace too scattered and dispersed, for many normal unconnected people to find out some of the great work being done around their area.
We complain about the lack of air-time given by national press to the north, and only know which local magazines or websites are worth our time if we go out searching for them. Maybe we have to do more for ourselves: developing more and better media for local stories and events to reach a wider audience, and for that wider audience beyond the well-connected Twitterati to get more involved in the first place.

BGL is one of those things which is trying to reach out more; to bridge the gap between the tech-savvy twitterati and those who read newspapers online, and those who don’t understand what a computer is other than a way of getting information via the Web. We want to do more to get out there and tell people what’s going on, and get people to tell us what is going on too. If you feel that you can help, or know of anybody who might be interested in telling us things or wanting to be told things, then please get in touch.

Thanks for reading! See you tomorrow.

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One Response to Leeds today: walking and running, trains and buses, art, China and connectedness.

  1. RJ says:

    A lot of the work in the Hirst exhibition looks like it would be more at home in an Athena shop from the eighties. The parallel exhibition running at the art gallery is far more interesting.

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