The monthly @Leedsbookclub: Summer is here, yay!

Howdy howdy!

The sun continues to shine which makes me Tigger bouncy and it looks as though August is going to be another beautiful month…if not quite as glorious as July. Even more exciting – there’s a lot to do around this fair city of ours!

Kirkstall Abbey is one of my favourite places in all of Leeds. I lived very close to the grounds as a student and still regard it peaceful haven in a bustling, loud and occasionally stressful world. This summer, there are daily free tours available to get a closer look at the 12th century ruin. The different aspects of life that took place in the remaining buildings – from the cloisters to the Infirmary to the kitchen to the Church – will be explored. Aside from its historical value, the Abbey has been situated perfectly on the banks of the River Aire and I know for a FACT that it’s the perfect place for a picnic, especially on warm days!  

As part of the Child Friendly Summer scheme, Leeds City Museum has started ‘Through the Magic Mirror – the World of Anthony Browne’ for visitors of all ages…but let’s face it, with an especial focus on younglings! Indeed, the goal is to ‘push the boundaries of exhibition design for children’. There will be original illustrations from over 30 of his picture books, as well as life size characters to interact with, charting the whole career of the 2009-2011 Children’s Laureate.

Course – it just occurs to me – you might not be a heat-inspired go-getter. Perhaps you’d prefer to spend your sunny days in front of a fan in a darkened room, muttering about flies, wondering what the summer time equivalent of bah humbug is and eagerly awaiting autumn and winter snow. Well, Spring Rain by Becky Beasley at the Leeds Art Gallery might be the event for you. Probably not though – it really has nothing to do with rain or cool weather at all – it’s more to do with meditating on the human experience but I needed an opening!

Also at Leeds City Museum, on the 10th and 11th of August is Leeds Hack – I tell you now, this has nothing to do with horses. A hack day is one where anyone with an interest (and presumably some skills) in coding and programming and so on get together and go creative crazy. Sadly my use of tech is fairly superficial so I’d love to pop in and see the geeky possibilities up close and personal, but I’m away that weekend. 😦 As the event is open to families (with a team of CRB-ers for the under 18’s), someone report back to me! Not. A. Request.

Are you a political animal? Then make the Leeds Gallery exhibition of ‘The Eyes of Caligula &  The Lips of Marilyn Monroe’ a must see. Currently running until the 31st of August, this show highlights political cartoons from the Thatcher era from both the tabloids and broadsheets. No subject is taboo – from the Poll Tax riots to miner’s strikes even to the last days of the Iron Lady. It’s history Jim, just not as we know it!

Deeply ashamed that I’ve only just found out about a monthly event in Headingley Enterprise and Arts Centre called Poetry by Heart. At each event, six poets have 15 minutes to perform and recite a selection of their work and I believe that there may be some second hand books for sale also. Seems like a wonderful way to experience poetry and meet kindred spirits!

The Thackray Medical Museum has gone potion crazy this year and is currently housing not one but two magical exhibitions. The Magic of Medicine examines the links between…well…magic and medicine, with an additional look at how both are portrayed in popular culture. So it makes sense that it has been joined by Harry Potter’s World – a travelling display from the National Library of Medicine in the USA. This show looks at the history behind the spells in the books – including their roots in Renaissance science, medicine and magic. As if that weren’t enough, on the 14th and 21st, there will be a Hogwarths End of Term tribute party – with activities that include broom riding, face painting and casting spells. Wait – broom riding?!? I’m THERE!

For the bank holiday, there are so many events to choose from, I don’t even know where to start – the Leeds West Indian Carnival* will be lighting up Chapeltown and Harehills, as it has every year since 1967 (making it the oldest West Indian Carnival in Europe).

There will also be the little known Leeds Festival that weekend, bringing its usual mix of understated punk, metal, rock and indie to those few who ever come to hear of it. Sticking with the music theme, the Corn Exchange Record Fair will be taking place on the 25th, so come one, come all, lets vinyl.

If you’re a sun worshipper who’d far rather bathe than bounce, then head down to Milennium Square where there will be a City Beach for all to enjoy! But no complaining if the sand gets everywhere!

Leeds Grand is offering up Hairspray – the extravagant, toe tapping yet socially-aware musical, while Harewood House continues on the retro theme with it’s Outdoor Theatre series. There’s a showing of Pirates of the Caribbean (The Curse of Black Pearl) on the 25th! Load up the car with snacks; blankets; chat away to your hearts content (as long as the person you’re with doesn’t mind) and feel free to use your smart phone without the shiny blue screen driving everyone else to distraction. I saw the Lion King at a Drive In as a sprogit and it’s the BEST THING EVER IN THE WORLD EVER.


For those of you with a literary bent, Leeds Book Club will be meeting up once or twice in August.

#WSwanLBC will gather at the White Swan on the 11th at 6pm to discuss Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.

#LBCPuffins – our ‘adults reading kids books’ group meet at the same place on the 13th to chat about Coraline by Neil Gaiman, from 6.30pm.

The very next day we head out to Medusa Bar in Horsforth for 7.30pm to discuss Stella Gibbons Westwood for #MedusaLBC

On the 18th at 5pm, Arcadia Bar hosts our discussion on Love and War in the Apennines by Eric Newby for #ArcadiaLBC.

Bringing the month to a close will be #LBCOutlaws, which will be discussing Artists in Crime by Ngaio Marsh at Outlaws Yacht Club from 6pm.

That’s probably enough to go on for now – see you in September!

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