Fun and Frugal

Roundhay Park in the December sunshine...

Ah, January. That cold, sparse month when payday seems to linger on the horizon, never getting any closer no matter how many nights you spend in the pub making half a pint last two hours. I went to January’s free Bettakultcha the other night, and it got me thinking: are the best things in Leeds free?

Everything on this list costs less than a fiver, proving that fun can be frugal, and January doesn’t have to feel long and lonely.

The Royal Armouries

You could spend hours in this enormous museum, dedicated to war, armour and weapons. Ironically, my favourite section is ‘Farewell to Arms?’ a small gallery which examines peace movements and the art of conscientious objection, but the Hall of Steel is an absolute must see. Entrance is free, but if you’re feeling flush, £3 will buy you eight crossbow bolts that you can shoot at haystacks on the top floor. Brilliant fun! (Top tip: aim a lot higher than you think you need to.)

United Enemies

The Henry Moore Institute’s United Enemies Exhibition is packed with highlights of sculpture in the sixties and seventies, when the idea of what sculpture was, was being turned completely on its head. You can get in for free, and it’s right next to Leeds Art Gallery, also free: get two for one on your cultural edification.

Beautiful bacon butties

I feel completely justified in saying that I can tell you where to get the tastiest and best value bacon butty in Leeds– and it’s at The Greedy Pig. Greasy spoon from the outside, foodie heaven on the inside, this place is amazing. Last time I checked the bacon butties were a value-tastic £1.60 – the perfect Saturday morning treat. The bacon is thick, salty and crisp, the bread is fresh and soft, and the sauce is red, if you’ve got any sense. Why not sit in and browse one of the papers left out for customers? Find them a few doors away from the Reliance on North Street.

Bracing walks

We’re having a cold snap just now, but overall the winter’s been fairly mild. Leeds is teeming with gorgeous green spaces and this crisp, cold weather is perfect for a bracing stroll. Meander around the Lake at Roundhay Park (pictured above), take snaps of the Victorian statues in Hyde Park, or admire the exotic birds at Lotherton Hall. It won’t even feel like exercise.

Swapsies

Are you bored of your winter wardrobe, but reluctant to splash out on new threads? The answer comes in the form of Remade in Leeds and their monthly clothing swaps. For a £2 entry fee you can take up to twenty items that you’re tired of wearing, and swap them for something new and exciting. It’s good for the environment, it’s good for your bank balance and it’s good for your social life! The next clothes exchange is on the 28th January: details here.

Alternatively, why not donate some old books to the charity shop, and pick up some fresh new ones for under £1 (if you don’t go to Oxfam, who are brilliant but are also the Prada of charity shops, ie amazing but I can’t afford them. Hit up the hospices and the animal charities for the best prices).

Expand your mind

I don’t know about you but my brainbox is still quite chilled out from Christmas. It’s just floating around in my head on a sea of gravy and leftover cheese, idly wondering if there are any chocolate oranges left. (There aren’t. We scoffed them already.) At the Howard Assembly Room on Wednesday, 25th January there’s a free talk by Lucy Hughes-Hallett, entitled Cleopatra: Queen, Lover, Legend. Described as witty and insightful, it sounds just the thing to wake me from my festive slumber.

That should see you through to February, but if not, try visiting the library, popping along to a pub quiz or (if you’re feeling tough) window shopping in the covered Victoria Quarter…

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