As Jane pointed out this week, it gets greyer and greyer (and colder and colder) as you go North. And it's a long way to go to discover that the art gallery is as good as closed. It did say on the website that the upper galleries were closed for refurbishment; it didn't make clear that this means the whole **@!** gallery, except for one small room of rather dull paintings (and hardly any Atkinson Grimshaws. But I did like this Walter Crane with the lovely blue tiles.)
Oh, dear ... this left rather too many hours to be filled in Leeds on a cold, rainy day. I had a cup of tea in the rather splendid Tiled Hall (stodgy wraps and dull cake - there's a more promising-looking tea-shop alongside the Town Hall, discovered too late). The Henry Moore Institute next door was filled with clanking and banging; a recording of blocks of marble being hammered and chiselled, so that means it's an Event not a bloody irritating noise from which there's no escape. (I'd left builders hammering floorboards at home. I really, really wasn't in the mood.)
In another room, a young couple was writhing self-consciously on the floor. This may have been Art. Or else they couldn't afford a room in a Travelodge. It was very banal and very boring so I left. The Henry Moore Institute had taken me all of ten minutes.
I spent rather longer in the splendid Central Library where I spent hours as a student many years ago without appreciating its Victorian magnificence. All I can remember is hunching over a microfiche reader, ploughing through 18th century newspapers ... head down, so many to get through before closing.
Five more hours to fill. I went to the museum. (Not a patch on Preston.) I dropped in at the Cathedral. I followed the Civic Owl Trail, keeping eyes peeled to spot golden owls and weatherbeaten stone owls and Art Deco silvery owls. I traipsed around the market where Mr Marks established his Penny Bazaar in 1884. (Not a patch on Grainger Market in Newcastle - but I did buy a sea bass for £1.50 because it isn't a proper day out unless you're worrying about something potentially smelly in your handbag.) I traipsed through posh shopping arcades ... lovely pomegranate tiles but the same shops you get everywhere.
Unfortunately, Leeds is sadly lacking in tearooms. (After a stand-up felafel lunch and a glass of mint tea on the market - cheap and tasty but not traditionally Yorkshire - I came across this one in the rather down-at-heel Grand Arcade. Too late again; by now, it was time to head back towards the station.)
No, to be honest, Leeds wasn't a Grand Day Out. It was a Long Aimless Day Out ... without any art.