Easy Pork & Chilli Gyoza

Easy Pork Gyoza

Do you know when you get an idea in your head, and you can’t rest until you see it through? These gyozas were one of those ideas, for me. I love gyozas of all flavours, but they always seemed like they would be tricky to make from scratch so I’d relegated them to a restaurant-only dish. However, after reading Lil’s post on them, I got it into my head that I needed to try it for myself and, after a trip to the Asian supermarket for wrappers (they were in the frozen section!) and a read of this recipe, I was armed and ready to go. And, you know what? They were easier than I thought. Almost therapeutic to make: a little like origami. 

Ever since, I’ve been making big batches of these, and freezing them for mid-week dinners. I serve them with a steaming hot bowl of noodles and stir-fried veg, with some sesame oil and soy sauce. A few sesame seeds never did any harm, either. They’re so satisfying and, after the initial time outlay, so quick and easy. It’s something a little bit different and, although my dumplings will never be as good as Dorshi’s, they’re pretty darn tasty, too. 

Easy Pork Gyoza

A word of warning: these will stick to the steamer! I used my standard metal steamer (the one I use for veggies), and the first time I had a bit of a disaster, with the wrappers all ripping open, leaving everything a bit of a mess. The next time I greased the steam with a little bit of olive oil before putting in the gyoza, and there were no problems! I’m sure there are more technical ways of doing it, or equipment you can buy (one of those bamboo ones, perhaps?!) but I was working with what I had!

Oh, you can also stick the steamed gyoza in a frying pan if you want a slightly crispier finish, but I like them just steamed. 

Easy Pork Gyoza

Easy Pork & Chilli Gyozas
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Ingredients
  1. 1 pack of gyoza wrappers (around 50)
  2. 500g pork mince
  3. 1 chilli, finely chopped
  4. 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  5. 2 spring onions, finely chopped
  6. 1 tsp. grated ginger
  7. 1 tsp. fish sauce
  8. 1 tbsp. soy sauce
  9. water
Instructions
  1. Mix together the mince, chilli, garlic, spring onions, ginger, fish sauce and soy sauce until well incorporated. You want an even mix of all the ingredients and flavours in each dumpling!
  2. Place around a tablespoon in the centre of each wrapper. Wet the edges and fold over until sealed.
  3. Wet the sealed edge and pleat gently all the way along.
  4. Set on a baking tray lined with baking parchment. Try not to place them too close together, as they'll stick together!
  5. Repeat until all the mixture or all the wrappers are used up.
  6. Steam for 12-14 minutes until the centres are piping hot.
Notes
  1. You can freeze the gyozas by placing the baking tray(s) in the freezer - make sure the gyozas aren't touching as they'll stick together and potentially rip when cooked. Once they're frozen, you can transfer to bags or tupperware. You can cook the gyoza from frozen - just steam for 15-17 minutes and make sure the insides are hot before eating.
Adapted from Persephone H
Adapted from Persephone H
Amy Elizabeth http://amyliz.co.uk/

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Pieminister Comes To Leeds

pieminister leeds 1

Sometimes restaurants just hit the nail on the head, giving the people exactly what they want. In Leeds, Reds True BBQ capitalised on a desire for barbecue which first arose a few years ago, and there were queues around the block. Trinity Kitchen fulfilled our love of street food and sitting indoors, and has been busy ever since. And now we have Pieminister, proving that all Yorkshire people really want is a good pie, some decent mash and plenty of gravy and they’ll be happy as Larry. It’s been heaving since opening a couple of weeks ago; partly due, no doubt, to the excellent opening deal they’ve been running, but also because the arrival of a pie restaurant was bound to cause a stir in the land of proper grub. 

pieminister leeds 2

Pieminister have built up quite the reputation, taking their pies to farmers markets, festivals and pubs across the land. And now they’ve brought their flagship restaurant to Leeds, rejuvenating a tired corner of the city centre with a fresh idea. Burger restaurants have become ten a penny, but this really is something new. 

pieminister leeds 3

The restaurant has that slight industrial feel that’s so in right now, with light-up signs, old school chairs and plenty of dark wood. It’s becoming a cliche, for sure, but if it works, it works, right? My only comment would be that some of the tables were a little close together – we were a little too near to the couple enjoying their pies next to us, which feels a bit awkward. It was rammed to the rafters though, what with the new opening and it being a Friday night, so that might not always be such a problem. 

pieminister leeds 5

For a restaurant that is all about the pies, the menu is actually pretty extensive. You can view it online, so I won’t list everything out here, but there are so many options to customise your pie dinner that it’s a little mind-boggling. We had to send the over-eager waiter away a couple of times because we still hadn’t chosen! Suffice to say, the fact that all pies come with gravy included is a definitely welcome addition – and the gravy itself was plenty for one pie. There’s nothing worse than a stingy portion of gravy. 

pieminister leeds 6

The pies themselves were exactly what you’d expect – delicious pastry, generous fillings and so filling you’ll need a nap afterwards. My choice of chicken, ham, leek and thyme was very tasty, whilst Paul was extra impressed with his beef and Brewdog beer number. I opted out of mash and went for a slightly avant-garde choice of mac’n’cheese on the side of my pie. The extra carbs definitely weren’t needed, but it had an interesting garlicky taste alongside the cheesiness, which I enjoyed. 

pieminister leeds 4

You could certainly stuff yourself silly here, and at a very reasonable price. The pies themselves hit around the five pound mark, and even if you pile on the sides you’re looking at a feast for less than £15. I would skip the cocktails (there are far better places to have them in Leeds, and they felt a bit like an afterthought) and go for one of the many different beers instead, and get stuck into a hearty meal fit for a Yorkshireman (or woman!). Everyone I’ve told about Pieminister since our visit has been dead jealous – and I can tell this is going to be a welcome addition to the Leeds scene! 

Disclaimer: We received a discount off our meal from the lovely people at Pieminister, but a review on my blog wasn’t stipulated in exchange – I just wanted to tell you all about these pies! Just be warned: wear stretchy trousers! 

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May

wedding dance

[Photo by Jenna Woodward Photography

Marrying my favourite person in the whole world. 

Appreciating everyone’s generosity, well-wishes and slut-drops at the wedding. 

Feeling very lucky for all our friends and family. They are excellent. 

Exploring Copenhagen and already wanting to go back. 

Savouring the post-wedding glow. 

Eating everything at Leeds Indie Food Festival

Loving Chef and listening to the soundtrack ever since we watched it. 

Decluttering our entire house. It feels so good. Eight bags gone! 

Prancing in my new jumpsuit – so much fun to wear! 

Looking forward to so many trips and weekends away. 

Pairing coffee and cheese at Opposite. It’s a new thing. I’m into it. 

Drinking tequila with Emma on a Thursday night. The chaser was necessary. 

Painting Nick & Helena’s spare room in return for epic pulled pork. 

Loving life (and this city) at Leeds Feast. Did you go? 

Soaking it all up at Stu’s annual barbecue. My favourite day of the year, for sure. 

Reading the same book for weeks. It’s long and hard-going, but fascinating. 

Finishing my first crochet project and starting a new one immediately! 

Knowing that even though it’s been the greatest month ever, the best is yet to come. 

How about you?

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The Best Ever Salad

Spring Salad

I am a recent salad convert. The salads of my past were sad, uninspiring things, and as such I avoided them. Particularly in restaurants. Who orders a salad in a restaurant?! A fool, that’s who. Something has switched for me, though – and I think this salad might be the culprit. Far from forcing it down in the name of health, this salad makes me want to devour it daily. No limp lettuce or too-crunchy croutons. Now I’m craving salad regularly – the fresh flavours, the delicious dressings and, a little bit, the feeling of smug satisfaction.

Spring Salad

This salad is good for you. Boy, is it good for you. Body and soul. Using the very best of British springtime produce, there are plenty of crunchy green veggies in there, complimented by the saltiness of the parma ham, the slight punch of mustard and the zing of lemon. It’s all in the textures, too. Really crisp radishes, slightly charred tenderstem broccoli, creamy mozzarella. If this is starting to sound like a love letter, I guess that’s because it kind of is. I love this salad. I love it for lunch. I love it served on a giant platter as a starter for four. I love it for dinner, with crusty bread to mop up the dressing. I love it when I’m eating it, and I love it when I’m not. I want it everyday. This really is the best ever salad. 

Spring Salad

The Best Ever Salad
Serves 2
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Ingredients
  1. 1 ball of mozzarella
  2. 250g purple-sprouting or tenderstem broccoli, trimmed
  3. 1 small soft-leaved lettuce, washed & leaves removed
  4. 5-10 radishes, sliced
  5. 6-8 slices parma ham
  6. olive oil
  7. zest & juice of 1/2 lemon
  8. 1 big squidge honey
  9. 1 tsp. wholegrain mustard
  10. seasoning
Instructions
  1. Drain the mozzarella and leave to come to room temperature.
  2. Toss the broccoli with some olive oil and seasoning until lightly coated. Heat a large frying pan and gently fry the broccoli until warm and cooked through, but with a little bite - around 4-5 minutes.
  3. Arrange the lettuce leaves on a plate or platter and cover with the broccoli. Scatter over the slices radishes and tear over the mozzarella and parma ham.
  4. Mix together the lemon zest, juice, honey and mustard. Whisk in around 50ml of olive oil and season to taste - it should be sweet and sharp. If it gets too oily, add more lemon juice and mustard.
Notes
  1. Serve with crusty bread. There should be enough for 2 for a light meal, or 4 as a starter or snack.
Adapted from Delicious Magazine
Amy Elizabeth http://amyliz.co.uk/

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Weekend Link Love

blue flowers

(Photo by Shannon Richards)

This week has been wonderful. Tiring but wonderful. I don’t think I’ve stopped to breathe all week, but it’s been so full of fun things. On Tuesday, the girls and I went to watch Pitch Perfect 2. It was everything I wanted and more – Rebel Wilson is a total hero and the finale made my well up. On Thursday I was coffee and cheese tasting as part of Leeds Indie Food Festival with Emma, and then Friday saw me on a date night with Paul at the newly opened Pieminister.

Of course, that was nothing compared to the weekend. Yesterday we spent the afternoon at Leeds Feast, soaking up the sunshine and snacking on street food. It was one of the best events I’ve ever been to, and I was totally walking on air afterwards. I am so happy to live in a city where wonderful things like this happen regularly. There were so many happy faces, stuffed with delicious food, and it was just lovely. After a quick change at home, we were off to Stu’s birthday barbecue with all of my favourite people. More food, more drink, more happy people. It’s enough to get you drunk on contentment. 

Today I’m having lunch with my Dad, whose made the trip up to Yorkshire especially, and then vegging on the sofa with Paul and Tuna, catching up on telly and getting ready to do it all again! What have you got planned for your Sunday? 

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Book Club

book chair

I have a new reading chair. It’s comfy and yellow and just perfect for curling up in. I am trying to resist throwing all my clothes on it at the end of the day, so that it remains free when I have a spare minute for reading. That, I predict, will last all of a fortnight. 

I’ve not been sharing all the books I’m reading with you here, otherwise this would become a dedicated book blog and there are others doing the whole book-blog thing far better than I can. I am recording everything on Goodreads and it’s amazing how many of the books I’ve read since January that I have already forgotten about. There are a few that really stand out, that I have absolutely loved, but far more than fade into obscurity within a few months. You can’t really know how you’ll feel about a book until it’s over, right? You win some, you lose some, in all things. Books especially. 

My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga

This book has an intriguing premise, but a difficult one. Aysel is looking for a suicide partner online and finds Roman, who is determined that they should set a date for the deed in just a few weeks time. As they get closer to the date, and each other, one starts to get cold feet… I’m not sure how ‘realistic’ (for want of a better term) this book is in its portrayal of suicidal teens and the ending was perhaps a little predictable (not always a bad thing) but, for a book based around suicide, it was actually pretty sweet. 

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides 

This book is lauded is genius, and I can understand why, but I didn’t love it in the way that I wanted. Reading the blurb, it felt like something that would be right up my street but I found it clunky and although it was interesting to read a book which explored gender, it felt like something was missing in the portrayal of Callie. There was a disconnect between Callie as a narrator of the novel, and Callie as a character, about whom we learn little other than his/her hermaphroditic status (Eugenides has explained his use of the word hermaphrodite rather than the more accepted intersex as being part of the Greek classical tradition). I wanted it to be two stories – the story of Callie’s incestuous grandparents, and the story of Callie; although it was written in the Greek epic style (a little joke about Homer in the introduction did amuse the classicist in me) it felt too long and disconnected. There were moments of brilliance – the courtship with The Object and Callie’s relationship with Julie – but I wasn’t as wow-ed as I wanted to be. 

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

How has it taken me so long to read this book? Having had an interest in feminist literature (and simply feminism itself) for almost 10 years now (gosh…), numerous friends, teachers and articles have recommended this book to me but I have never gotten around to actually reading it. I think I was put off by the ‘science fiction’ description, and my previous experience of Atwood’s work, which as been mixed (loved The Penelopiad – again, the classicist in me was rejoicing – but wasn’t so enthused about The Blind Assassin). I’m admonishing myself now though, because I absolutely loved it. I loved the characters, the intrigue, the way it kept us guessing, the implications. I love how dystopian fiction like this throws into sharp relief issues that we are dealing with in the right here, right now. I wanted a little more closure at the end, and a little bit more explanation of how the world ended up like it is in the novel, but overall I was absolutely blown away. A total must-read. 

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou 

I’ve read this before, back when I was doing The Color Purple (my favourite book of all time) for A-Level coursework. Counting the years out, I realise how long ago that was, and I had actually forgotten a lot of what happens. This book documents the first part of Maya Angelou’s life, from some amazing, life-affirming moments to some heart-breaking ones, as well. As with all of Maya Angelou’s work it is wise and wonderful, and I loved it. 

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng 

If you’re looking for a real page-turning this Summer, then this is it. In the first sentence we learn that Lydia, beloved daughter and sister of the Lee family, is dead, but the whys and wherefores are kept a secret. Looking back over Lydia’s life, and the life of her parents, you watch how events lead up to her death with that car-crash horror that keeps you hooked until the end. Exploring family tension, racial difference and the power of secrets, this is an excellent read; although at times the author over-eggs the pudding a little bit (you’ll see what I mean) rather than working issues in subtly, I was left reeling at the end. 

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion 

This is the loveliest book I’ve read this year. It’s just so sweet, and funny and light. The perfect corollary to so much else that I’ve been reading recently. Following the story of socially-inept genetics professor Don as he attempts to find a wife, this book is full of mishaps, capers and misunderstandings, just like any good rom-com. If you’re looking for a book that will make you smile from ear to ear, this is it. 

What have you been reading recently? Share your recommendations with me! 

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A Trip to Kielder

Kielder Water Boat

Kielder Water in Spring

‘Little and often’ is the secret to my happiness at this stage of my life. Whilst I know many people experience ‘wedding come down’ in the weeks following their big days, I’m already excited about the next few things we’ve got planned. I choose weekends away and regular fun experiences over blowout two week holidays just once or twice a year. I am impatient by nature, so having to wait 6 months for the next big thing brings me down rather than buoys me up. It’s far better, for me, to have something to look forward to every couple of weeks. Our trip to Kielder was one such event – taking place just a couple of weeks before our wedding, which was perfect timing. You can’t stress about table decorations when you’re in the middle of the forest in the sunshine. In fact, you can’t really stress about anything. 

Kielder

The whole thing was Joe’s idea; he wanted to go to Kielder Observatory, and we decided to make a proper weekend of it, staying in the nearby Kielder Lodges. It’s a gorgeous part of the world, completely cut off from the rest of civilisation by virtue of winding roads (which wound through endless fields of baby lambs, much to my delight) and lack of phone signal.

Our trip to Kielder Observatory was first on the agenda so, just before 11pm, we dutifully put on hundreds of layers as instructed by the website and jumped in the car, winding our way up a seemingly endless track to the Observatory itself. It was pitch black and freezing cold. Dar from the big domes and scientific instruments that I was expecting, Kielder Observatory looks a lot like a high-tech shed. There was a wood-burning stove and mugs of hot chocolate, and blankets to curl up under on the viewing deck. It was really kind of magical. 

The night was unfortunately cloudy for the most part, but we learnt all sorts and got to hold some crazy space dust that had landed on earth (it was metallic and so awesome!). I fell a little bit in love with the incredibly enthusiastic Geordie astronomer – it is my favourite thing when people are passionate about something niche – and we had a thoroughly good time. The clouds parted briefly so we did get to have a look at the stars through a fancy telescope, which was pretty incredible. When you live in a city, you see a couple in the night sky on a good night but there are thousands – and the pitch black at Kielder meant you could see it all! When we left at 2am I was exhausted but totally buzzing. 

bird of prey at kielder

birds of prey at kielder

The excitement of the weekend wasn’t over yet, of course, and after a massive lie in and a bumper breakfast we set to exploring. Nick and Helena found their happy place at the Birds of Prey display, and we investigated Kielder Castle (which wasn’t much to look at but had a cute cafe. And then it was time for my favourite part of the weekend – the walk around Kielder Water!

kielder water 2  

Most people will tell you that I am not outdoorsy, and they would be right. But when the conditions are right I am more than happy to pull on my walking boots – and this was perfect. The sun was shining, the scenery was beautiful and I was with some of my favourite people in the whole world. What a dream. Of course, you can’t walk around the entire thing (or you could, but it would take you hours!) so we planned a short little jaunt. I practically skipped the entire way, beaming. It was so gorgeous and life feels so magical when you’re walking in such a beautiful place. I am grateful that I get to do things like this, and that we live in Britain which is chock-full of surprising, stunning places like Kielder. I could have walked twice as far as we did, giddy as I was, but I was over-ruled by the group who wanted to get to the pub (fair enough) so we took a shortcut back. 

kielder water 6

The rest of the weekend was for eating large amounts of delicious food, drinking wine and playing Cards Against Humanity. It was truly perfect – and I would recommend it highly for a bit of rest and relaxation! 

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Weekend Link Love

New York

[Photo by Alyssa Smith]

Hey friends! It feels like forever since we’ve had a little catch-up and shared some link love, but I am back with a vengeance (and with a bumper set of links for you, grab your cuppa now!). Obviously it’s been a very hectic few weeks for me – I got married! That was pretty ace. It was a super fun day and I got to wear a sparkly dress and marry Paul and eat cake. Can I tell you a secret though? As fun as it, and our subsequent mini-honeymoon in Copenhagen, was – I am quite glad to get back to normal. I thrive on routine and structure. I am already a boring married lady, and I am totally fine with it. In fact, the afternoon after we got back from Copenhagen, we went to IKEA and bought a chair. And then the next day I decluttered our whole bedroom, which brought me almost as much joy as sipping cocktails at Sticks n Sushi. Almost. 

This week has been a return to Leeds life, and I’ve basically been skipping around I’m so happy. It is a true joy for my everyday life to feel like a treat, and I hope this feeling lasts forever. I’ve been making some plans for fun things in the future, getting back into running and giving Tuna lots of scruffles to make up for leaving her with a stranger for a week. A stranger to her, not to us, I might add! On Thursday Emma and I went to the opening of The Liquorist on Greek Street; it’s a replacement for and an improvement on The Living Room with some lovely design touches – it’s worth popping in if you’re after a happy hour cocktail or two. We also gorged ourselves silly at Cielo Blanco, which was a great way to spend a Thursday evening! 

What have you all been up to, then? Tell me about your lives! 

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Crochet Workshop at Baa Ram Ewe, Leeds

Baa Ram Ewe Leeds

One of my goals for this year was to learn how to crochet. Being a child of the Internet era, I dutifully took to YouTube to find some tutorials – and found myself completely stumped. I knew that I’d need a teacher’s gentle guidance to help me stumble through the first few clumsy stitches at least, so it was with great fortune that the wonderful wool shop Baa Ram Ewe moved in just across the road from me a couple of months ago. Was it fate? I like to think so. 

Baa Ram Ewe Leeds

I roped along my friend Tash who, as a member of a sewing circle is far more crafty than me, and pottered along to the shop on a sunny Saturday ready to learn everything I could about crochet. If you like to knit or crochet, then Baa Ram Ewe is total heaven. It’s a dreamy place, stacked high with every colour yarn you could imagine and I could happily browse for hours, but on this occasion I had my mission. We were ushered into their back room, given our name tags and waited happily for tuition! 

Crochet Books at Baa Ram Ewe Leeds

It turns out that Tash and I were the only real novices of the group, having never picked up a crochet hook in our lives. The others, most of whom identified themselves as grandmothers who wanted to pass on the craft to their grandchildren (#lifegoals), were there to refresh their skills rather than learn from scratch – with one lady crocheting almost a whole glove whilst we struggled with the basic stitches. We were not disheartened, though, and the teacher was very patient as we tied ourselves in knots. Although we were pretty much the only true beginners, she took us through everything – from different yarn types, to how to hold the hook and the first few basic stitches. 

Learning to Crochet at Baa Ram Ewe Leeds

It was a long day, and it was tough to concentrate the whole time. 6 hours of crochet is enough for anyone, but I am proud to say that I walked out having learnt enough to continue on my own at home, which is exactly what I was aiming for. The workshop definitely equipped me with the basic skills and knowledge, and I’ve since been using this delightful book to improve on what I’ve learnt. If anything, I’m slightly addicted and have temporarily abandoned my knitting needles to get stuck into some crochet projects. My first, dishcloths, was not adventurous but I surprised myself by making them extra neat (which, in knitting, took me years!) and I’m planning on a cushion next. 

Baa Ram Ewe Leeds

Baa Ram Ewe Leeds

If you’re a Leeds resident and into a bit of crafting, I would definitely recommend checking out Baa Ram Ewe’s workshops. The ‘How to Crochet’ class cost me just £40 for a whole day, including all the materials needed and a lovely little tote bag, which feels like a bargain to learn a new skill. They’ve actually got tonnes of options, and I’m tempted by their ‘Beyond the Basics’ knitting course, as well. Maybe one day I’ll be able to knit something that isn’t a square. A girl can dream… 

Knitted Elephant Tea Cosy at Baa Ram Ewe Leeds

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The Best Pub Gardens in Leeds

Bunting at The Mustard Pot

It’s almost pub garden season! I don’t want to get too optimistic here, but the sun is starting to make some appearances so it’s time to plan your pub trips. There’s nothing better than a British summer afternoon spent sipping cider in a sunny pub garden. It’s an institution for a reason. Here’s my pick of the best pub gardens in Leeds…

Belgrave Music Hall & Canteen

The roof terrace at Belgrave has to be seen to be believed. It’s uber-cool, with graffiti, beach huts and re-purposed seating. On busy afternoons, they pop on some tunes and open the rooftop bar (no more climbing stairs!) but get there quick because everyone who’s anyone is there.

The Mustard Pot

My favourite place for a summer afternoon – The Mustard Pot is a traditional pub garden in all the best senses. It’s picturesque, there’s usually bunting and Pimms, and plenty of dog-watching opportunities. I don’t think there’s anywhere else I would rather be on a sunny, lazy Sunday.

RARE

Like most other things about RARE, their beer garden bit of a surprising gem situated right in the city centre. It’s a little bit of escapism, where you can enjoy their innovative cocktails. Just don’t tell anyone else about it – it’s the worst best kept secret in Leeds!

Stew & Oyster

Right on the river, the outside space at Calls Landing gets full very quickly as soon as a hint of sunshine is seen. For a good reason – it’s a relaxing place to while away the time as you sip on a large glass of wine.

The Original Oak

Slap-bang in the centre of student central, The Original Oak has a sizeable garden where you can drink cheap beer and put the world to rights. The place to recapture your youth.

Nation of Shopkeepers

More of a courtyard than a garden, this little enclave at Nation in the heart of town is a cute place to while away a couple of hours in the sunshine. Pro tip: It’s also a pretty good vantage spot for Leeds Pride, when that comes around.

Angelica

Again, not strictly a garden – but the roof terrace at Angelica is one of the most perfect places to go on a sunny afternoon. Dress up, wear your biggest sunglasses and take advantage of the glam vibes with a fancy cocktail.

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