Leicester: Quaint Walks and Unique Shops

When you can reach your friend that lives a thousand miles away with the click of a video icon, in-person interaction becomes less and less of a priority. And in so, much more treasured. Starting these Tuesday Travels, I slowly began to see old friends all over the UK. Before meeting up, we had chatted about eventually meeting up, but never sorted out the details. But now, traveling all over once a week, it’d be a crime not to see them. This week, the trip to Leicester reunited me with a dear university friend.

Staying over at her place in Hinckley, just outside of Leicester, we began our Tuesday with a stroll. Hollycroft Park, decorated in the fashion of 1930s recreational spaces, was immaculately maintained. Exotic flowers, bats, and local wildlife reside in the sprawling space. A quaint amphitheater lay at the heart of the public space, a perfect location for summer performances. The sun played hide and seek with us as we wandered around, and a cool breeze kept our walking brisk.

Loving the rare English sun, we were in the mood for iced drinks and some more relaxed strolling. And so, we headed off into Leicester. Walking down New Walk, I was amazed by the wide widths of the paths and the simple yet elegant nature of the buildings on either side. Tall trees swayed in the wind, the branches rustling against each other for soothing background noise. Sunlight filtered through the leaves, students and teachers alike chatting happily as they went on their way. Though we were mere meters from the main road, all we heard were the sounds of nature and fellow walkers. Turning into the A6, we sought shelter in a cosy café.

6 Degrees Coffee House was quiet with the determination of hardworking students. Comfortable seating, wide tables, fast Wi-Fi, and many charger portals made it obvious why so many students flocked here. Not to mention the menu. Fitted with food and drink of the sweet and savory variety, my friend and I agonized over the menu for a good five minutes – much to the barista’s amusement. After much deliberation and back and forth, we finally placed our orders. On the agreement that we would share, my friend purchased a brie and bacon sandwich and a caramel frappe. I had the falafel and hummus sandwich and a blueberry smoothie. We shared our meals the way close friends do, offering each other the first bite and sip of our own purchases. The bacon and brie, brilliantly smooth from the cheese, also had a salty bite from the bacon. On the other hand, the falafel sandwich was surprisingly moist, in decent proportion with the hummus. With the sun giving us summer vibes in spring, we quickly finished our drinks to quench our thirst. The smoothie was the freshest I’ve ever tasted, and the caramel frappe was a subtly sweet drink so good that I ordered one to take away.

Plenty energized by our two walks, we headed into the city center with a mind to help the local economy. Heading away from the big brands lining High Street, we fell into the Royal Arcade. Here lay a number of unique shops, and one Irregular Choice. A lover of all things unique, our eyes poured over the quirky designs and the attention to detail each one contained. Much mental anguish occurred before I decided on a gorgeous pair of pink heels called “Good Karma”. A good sign, surely. After leaving the store, we headed further into the Royal Arcade. Both proud bibliophiles, an hour vanished in Maynard & Bradley. Stacked floor to ceiling with a plethora of secondhand and antique books, the store also boasted an impressive collection of prints, graphic novels, and autographed photos of celebrated people. We marveled over classic fairytale series we’d read as children, and the surprising volume of fantasy and sci-fi books they had in store. Leaving with a fantasy novel about the Norse Gods and a vintage print of a tiger, we turned into Silver Street in search of vintage love. We weren’t disappointed.

Vintage Space, chock full of the best of the nineties fashion, was a retro dream. The neon lights, throwback décor, and bright colour palette decorating the wall immediately lifted our already happy spirits. After trying on a few pieces and singing along to some old tunes, we continued on. Though nothing fit us there at the time, we both loved the atmosphere and promised to visit together again. Finishing at Very Bazaar, the bohemian aesthetic and sweet aroma of flowery incense had an immediate calming effect. Selling carved wooden boxes, intricately designed room screens, gemstones, jewellery, and so much more, if we had the time, we could’ve easily lost a day in the store. As it was, we spent fifteen minutes frantically rushing about and eagerly calling to each other, showing a new exciting find each time. We had to rush to make it to the train station on time. Laughing and barely able to catch our breath, we parted with a warm embrace, our friendship stronger than ever.

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