My Yorkshire correspondent informed me of the fabulousness of Light Night Leeds so off I went in my trusty (rusty) fourteen year old Honda Civic to see what it was all about. The weather was less than fabulous with an evening of continuous drizzle and light rain but this did not dampen our enthusiasm for what turned out to be the best free light show I’ve seen in many a day. Light Night Leeds is one of the UK’s largest annual arts and light festivals, and over two special nights some of Leeds’ most recognisable indoor and outdoor spaces are transformed by spectacular artworks and creative performances by local, national and international artists.
The theme this year was of progress and innovation, kicking off with a vibrant illuminated parade celebrating 100 years of social change since (some) women got the vote. Over 60 artists created events across ten zones in the city centre; from large-scale light projections and interactive artworks, to music, dance and street performances.
There was a cool abstract digital projection on Leeds Civic Hall while elsewhere giant illuminated humanoids appeared on rooftops and public spaces around the city centre.We did see a giant humanoid in the middle of the main street but it was having a bit of a lie down – obviously exhausted from previous efforts.
The Leeds Library was the backdrop for a celebration of Leeds suffragettes, Leonora Cohen and Mary Gawthorpe, their story was told in photographs and images and was a great way to learn about this piece of history. The highlight for me was a huge and fearsome and fiery dragon stalking across the Queen’s Hotel near the station breathing illuminated fire at us and then real fire actually came out of the top of the building! Very Game of Thrones.
ENTER THE DRAGON!!!!!
My second Yorkshire visit was to Temple Newsam House, a Tudor -Jacobean country mansion famous as the birth place of Lord Darnley, notorious husband of Mary Queen of Scots. It is an impressive building. It has been beautifully restored and its rooms are filled with fine and decorative art treasures, Chippendale furniture, original Chinese lanterns, and some spectacular wallpaper which I was very taken with (reproduction)
We had an underground tour with the lovely Julie – a mine of information about the house – of the downstairs secrets of this great home and to see where the servants worked and ate, and where the cellars were, which held gargantuan amounts of beer wine, port and spirits.
There was the brushing room which allowed the gentlemen to get cleaned up when they came in from hunting or other country pursuits, before they joined the ladies in one of the many grand rooms upstairs. There was an impressive tunnel which crossed the entire courtyard underground where servants would have carried food, drinks and coal unseen to keep their masters warm and fed.
The bells which rang for servants in every room of the house were still there, as was the well where one of the young servant girls came to a sticky end after an encounter with an intoxicated footman. It is a grand and fascinating house with majestic grounds designed by Capability Brown. The landscape had been torn up by open cast mining at one point in its history, but the rolling green vista has now been carefully restored. The estate did have its own deep shaft mine though which provide coal for fuel and they even sold it to other local properties such as Harewood House.
The house was quite empty when we were there, so we did have lots of fun wandering through the amazing rooms and trying on various wigs and costumes which were probably meant for the youngsters – although why they should have all the larks, I don’t know.
After our turn at being upstairs, we went outside to the farm which is an extremely jolly sort of place, awash with baby piglets and other rare breed farm animals. Cobbled yards and a barn with a real fire give a lovely homely feel and there’s even a timber yard and sawmill. This is very much a working farm and it is important to try and conserve these rare breeds. For example, the belted Galloway, a black and white cow, looks like a firm Newcastle United supporter and has a fetching curly quiff.
A white faced woodland Ram took a bit of a shine to me and let me kiss him on the nose – not something you could do with any old sheep.
The Middle White piglets, just a few weeks old, were scooting about and were being quite adorable, and the silky chickens with their mad hair dos were scratching about in their pen. You could even buy one for a tenner. I’d have bought one but I don’t think my cat Sherbet would approve!
The grounds were full of beautiful trees laden with apples and berries and the leaves were turning to glorious golds and reds. It’s a great place for a day out and not that expensive – another Yorkshire bobby dazzler destination!