John was off in the US for the better part of two weeks, meaning I caught up on my own tv shows and played a lot of Fallout 4. He got back just in time for me to join him in London and us to take the train together to Leicester in order to attend his friend Lianne’s 30th birthday.
For a change we stayed at a hotel, a little place called the Castle Park Hotel right in the middle of town. A well located, reasonably priced, and friendly place that has clearly seen better days but had a nice big room and a pretty good continental breakfast. There was no elevator and we were up on the third floor, but that also meant we had a little extra distance from the sounds of the street and Firebug next door.
We arrived in Leicester around lunchtime and after getting settled in he went off to touch base with University people and I wandered around town checking out what has changed since our last visit. Most obviously the site of the old indoor market is now an open plaza, which looks like it will end up being an interesting zone as the businesses around it adapt. There seems to be a lot of redevelopment going on and the effects of the Richard III center on the city’s approach to tourism definitely seem beneficial.
I found a place that does pizza by the slice (a thing I miss) and had lunch there, then in the evening met up with John again on London Road and had some very nice Nepalese food at Mumbai Spice, a place we visited during the reception last year based on someone’s recommendation.
Saturday we got up in time to have the continental breakfast at the hotel, which is always a crapshoot as to whether it will be enough food. This one was a pleasant surprise, nothing fancy but just what we needed. The birthday tea was at 2pm at the City Rooms, a place I have been curious about as you often see dressed up people filing in for some event or other. It’s a pretty venue, obviously very well located, and they did a very nice cream tea. I also got to meet a couple of people from John’s old gang who I had only previously heard about.
Afterwards we went back to Alex & Lianne’s for the rest of the evening, drinking g&t’s and tinto de verano in the back yard and eventually ordering some much needed curry in order to not fall over on the spot. We got back to the hotel around midnight and had no trouble getting to sleep regardless of club noises.
Sunday was for breakfast at the incomparable Bar Dos Hermanos – the full monty is still the best breakfast in Leicester, maybe in the entire of the UK. Then a long and exhaustingly hot train ride home almost did us in but we rallied after getting into the nice cool flat and finally checked out the beer garden in the Blue Keys hotel down the road from us. It was friendly and tasty and we will definitely be back.