Way Out West Leeds

Our local pub, The Beulah, has been closed for many, many months. I suspect it became a casualty of people staying at home to drink, the trend for people not wanting to drive too far and increased competition across the food and drink sector. In truth, the previous owners juts didn’t get it right – the food was so-so and even the beer and wine wasn’t even worth writing home (or even a blog) about. In this day and age if you don’t get the basics right, it’s game over.

So we were pleased to see it had re-opened, under brave new management, a few weeks ago. I say brave because I believe the hospitality trade is one of the hardest industries to make a living in these days. It’s always been tough and it’s even tougher these days. We’d heard good reports from other members of the Troffers (‘keeping it simple’ ‘generous portions’ etc) so we thought we’d have a wander on and were very pleasantly surprised.

Little cash had been spent on the fabric of the pub, although it was tidy and presentable. We know from Kendell’s that you don’t need to pour cash into the building initially, just get the food, drink and service right. First up was a very well-kept pint of Landlord and those of you who are beer drinkers will know that’s no mean feat in itself. Secondly we ordered a couple of simple midweek dinners: I had a ribeye steak and J had a burger. Both arrived reasonably promptly on plates bursting with food – big salads and twice fried chips (oh yes) completed the picture. I have to say it was very agreeable and great value. The menu is entrepreneurially priced with offers like 2 for £10 Sunday lunch deals and a free bottle of wine with 2 steak meals.

A second pint of Landlord had me thinking we should do this every week and no doubt by the third I’d have been coming every other night! Seriously, I think it’s well worth all West Leeds dwellers supporting this pub what with excellent prices and good, solid pub grub on offer.

I look forward to many repeat visits.


This post also appears on http://theglobetroffers.com/ with other foodie related content…

A tale of two brands

I’ve been quite taken with two new brands in past week or two.

The first is an unashamedly commercial brand that is all about the commercial imperative that all business brands know well. The second is a gloriously arty brand, almost part of a bygone era. I though it would be fun to see them together and talk about them in the context of them being diametrically opposed to each other – or are they?

First up is the Little Chef rebrand. This is the outward facing element of the Heston fuelled revamp that is seeking to change the fortunes of the much-loved (or hated) highway food brand. This is a brand that’s all about the practicalities of delivering a clear message to consumers – we have changed and we want you to know this. This is a beautiful example of brand as a business asset in my opinion and the work we see is the result of lots of care and attention in the strategy phases of the brand and a fair amount of OCD in the application phase to make sure that none of the great thinking has been lost along the way.

It’s a great piece of branding in my opinion and the key to the success of this project is the product. As with any rebrand if the consumer sniffs spin or smoke and mirrors, then it’s game over. This brand will ultimately be all about whether the promise of the messaging and graphics can be delivered on the A64 just outside Scarborough.

Next up is the new identity for the Hepworth Gallery in Wakefield. The first brand new gallery to be opened in the Uk for 30 years (I think), the Hepworth has a lot to live up to. In some ways this is a gloriously old fashioned ‘corporate identity’ – a graphic design exercise that is a throwback to a purer, less commercial age when brands didn’t really have to do lots of work, but just be there.

I’ve worked on plenty of cultural identities and they are as desperate as any business to make sure the ROI is visible and the value of the brand is maximised. In some ways the purity of the Hepworth identity is at odds with this and I think it can be viewed in two ways: a huge opportunity missed and a visual identity that just is. Either way. I’m happy.

Sing ye from the hillsides

Sing ye from the hillsides

Sweeping moorland, three counties on view

Insistent wind from the North.

Generator turning, turning.

Keeping the lights on

And the beer flowing.

Cosy tent, in the lee of a rock

Out of the way.

Hand made egg mayonnaise, salty capers,

You definitely need two layers,

Sea Power sound check.

Warm in the pub, fire lit

Summer hasn’t arrived up here,

No matter what the BBC says.

Signal high up, none among the outcrop

Flimsy perimeter fence dances,

Plastic ribbons, waving flags,

Waving goodbye.

Cool bag gets colder,

Transistor music seeps across the moor.

Content to be still, quiet

No wristwatch, no time

Who cares?

Barman says its it’s going to blow tonight,

Taps the barometer authoritatively,

See 20 mph already, he says laughing.

Tent pitched in a scooped out hollow,

Sheltering from the sky

Close the flap, respite from

The landscape, never ending.

Typeface Quiz

The last few posts that included an element of quiz activity proved rather popular, so I thought it would be interesting to put out  a rather specialist typography quiz.

Can you name all of the fonts on the poster below?

Only the purest type geeks need apply!

The great toilet roll debate – where do you stand?

This is absolutely brilliant and will divide opinion across the blogosphere I’m sure…


I’ve been quite taken with seeing things differently over the last few weeks.

Everyday objects or scenery viewed in a different way has caught my attention and inspired me to see and do things differently. A walk from the centre of Leeds along the towpath towards Liverpool turned into a fascinating insight into the city I live in and helped me to get a handle on the way the city had developed over the centuries, in a way I’d not expected.

A rather splendid lunch at the Cross Keys was the starting point for the journey, a warm spring day was the backdrop for a mini journey of discovery. I am aware that hundreds of people make this journey all the time, day in day out and if you are on of these people, I apologise. But if, like me, you’ve never taken this journey by foot along the canal then it’s definitely worth a few hours.You won’t regret it, unless you get accosted by booze-fuelled students or track suited numpties on stolen bikes.

A walk along the canal really is a glimpse into the story of Leeds and how water was crucial to the growth and success of the city in the muscular industrial revolution. The banks of the canal are full of mills and warehouses all jostling for prime position and starting in the centre of the city, the wall of brick is testament to the importance of water in Leeds’ history. Next to the canal is the Aire of course and that tells another, earlier story.

But the canal is impressive.

Much of the original canal furniture still sits there, working. Implacably doing its job and hugely over engineered for today’s leisure users, the locks were built to last continue to do their jobs to this day, simple and effective engineering that will never wear out. Wood blocks hewn from gigantic oak trees are pushed in time-honoured fashion by the arse of a narrow boat captain whilst his wife asks him about a sofa he needs to take to the tip.

Snapshots of life on the canal. A world most of us don’t even know exists.

What impressed me the most was the journey I took underneath the main arterial routes I traverse every day in my car. Wellington Road to the Armley gyratory is a road I must have taken thousands of time in my lifetime, but underneath it is the die-straight canal heading west out to Kirkstall and beyond to the infamous Bingley five rise locks and beyond. Travelling by road you miss all the timeless scenery of the canal banks – even in the centre of the city, there is peace and beauty to be had alongside the harsh industrial landscape of the thrusting Victorian powerhouse of Leeds.

After a few miles, the journey settles and becomes quite beautiful. Fellow travellers include walkers, runners, cyclists, families, foreigners, students,  eccentrics – it seems that the canal attracts them all. The remarkably direct design of the waterway soon delivers the traveller to Kirkstall and oddly there’s something quite poetic about walking alongside a canal. It’s fit for purpose and miles are soon consumed, but it’s more than a motorway designed to destroy distance. Travellers stay in touch with both the journey and the place and that’s unique to walking I think.

Perhaps all of this has a lot to do with the last book we read in book club ‘As I walked out one midsummer morning‘ by Laurie Lee. A tale of random walking from Wiltshire to Southern Spain readily inspired me to shake off the ordered world and walk, see things differently.

I know that walking along the canal from Leeds is hardly that, but it certainly felt like the first steps.