|The berries are starting to swell at Welland Valley
First up we had a day of wine. We are fortunate to be able to access vineyards that aren’t normally open to the public. First up was Welland Valley, near Market Harborough. This is a beautiful vineyard on a good slope, tucked away in the Leicestershire countryside. I enjoyed getting to see some new varieties of vine that I haven’t seen before as well as to learning more about how a very long established English vineyard operates.
Of course we had to have a little taste too. I had enjoyed their red wine, Naseby, at the Mercian Vineyards Association Awards last summer so I was confident that I would enjoy their wines. We tried their sparkling wine, Steeplechase.
I must confess it was a little sweet for my taste, despite having just the right side of residual sugar to still count as a Brut. Bottle fermented, it had an excellent fizz and great texture in the mouth as well as a really interesting apple taste. Crisp and unusual.
We stopped for lunch at nearby Foxton Locks, which is beautiful and a great local resource. Lunch consisted of all the traditional pub favourites, from scampi and chips to a Ploughman’s for that first taste of Melton Mowbray pork pie and stilton cheese for my American friend. It’s nice to have our own food culture beyond ‘we have all the cuisines in the world represented in Leicester’, which is great, but sometimes it’s good to appreciate the home grown stuff as well.
Then it was back to Rothley Wine Estate to give my friend a tour as well as to catch up with 33 Cank Street who had also popped along for a tasting. As usual the wine was excellent and we benefitted from some stunning weather, so you couldn’t have asked for a nicer afternoon to sit out on the terrace.
After that it was time for a nice walk in Bradgate Park, to say hello to Old John, check in on the deer and have a look at Lady Jane Grey’s gaff. It’s such a gorgeous place and so close to our house, but we don’t seem to be able to find the time to get there as often as we used to. It’s so peaceful, just watching the deer sitting contentedly out in the long grass and children paddling in the stream. I think it’s incredible that we have it so close by.
In fact there are a lot of open spaces in and around the city that are great to hang out in. I really love the incredible diversity of bird populations at Watermead, and the quiet, unassuming beauty of the tumbling flower beds in Castle Gardens, so close to the heart of the city. I still think it’s a shame the statue of Richard III wasn’t kept there to encourage more people to visit that end of town.
After a day of nature and ambling, we went on to a bit of urban exploration, adding a bit of history and heritage to the experience. Fortified by a tasty lunch at Bistrot Pierre, we went on to do a good stab at the museums in the city, stopping off first to see the tomb of Richard III in Leicester Cathedral, followed by a good exploration of Jewry Wall Museum. Of course, I spend a lot of time in Leicester’s museums, but I’m always surprised how many people don’t realise that we have so many museums in the city and that they are all free!
As well as enjoying all the Roman archaeology, we also stopped in to see the medieval Guildhall with its galleries about medieval life in Leicester. Again this is a bit of a hidden gem, perhaps overlooked by some in favour of the Richard III Centre, but it is free and the Great Hall alone is worth the visit, dating back to 1390. It’s certainly a good thing to add to your itinerary!
Where would we be without the pub quiz directory? Nothing like rounding off a fun day with a nice bit of trivia, proving once again that we know nothing. Still a pretty good laugh though and it turns out that cartoon dogs is one of our specialist subjects. So it’s never too late to discover something new about yourself when you’re on a staycation!
Where are your favourite places to go in and around this area? Where have you never been and you’re not sure why, since it’s right on your doorstep? Let me know in the comments below.