Staycation in Nottingham

Our staycation continues. I’ve already given you the round up of some of the exciting things we got up to in Leicestershire and now here are a few more ideas if you’re struggling to keep the family entertained in the last throes of the summer holidays! Of course if you are looking for inspiration, there is plenty more food for thought on my summer 2016 ideas post as well.

A day out in Nottingham is a cost effective way to do something different. When we visited a day return from Leicester on the train was just £10.80, although I hear rail fares are being put up once again so it’s probably about £10,000 now. Ah well, you can always get the coach, it only takes 50 minutes. For any newcomer to Nottingham the castle is the obvious stopping point – it’s a beautiful area, there are interesting galleries to see and the gardens are beautiful. When we visited there was a special exhibition of Leonarda Da Vinci sketches from the Royal Collection which is of course quite a treat.

When you’re done with the castle of course you must take the obligatory selfie with the Robin Hood statue. Robin Hood is of course Nottingham’s answer to Leicester’s Richard III – steeped in medieval history, intrigue and excitement. Except Robin Hood is fictional of course, but still, you can’t have everything can you Nottingham?

Keeping in your Crusades frame of mind, it’s then just a short walk down the hill to visit (possibly) the oldest pub in England – Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem, propped up against and occasionally carved into Castle Rock. As well as being jolly old and having lots of interesting little room to explore, you too can enjoy the wonders of the pregnancy chair and the Super Dusty Model Ship (it probably has an official title) which legend has it causes mysterious death in those who try to clean it. That’s my kind of antidote to housework. You can also take a tour around the caves under the pub which were previously used as a brewery. I love this pub and try to stop in at least for a pint whenever I’m in town, although the pub grub is always popular.

It must be time for something to eat and Nottingham is filled with great options. To be fair, on our visit we were all starving by the time we got off the train, so dived straight into the Canalhouse bar for some simple homecooked fare and nice view of the boats outside. It also has a boat inside which is a talking point at the very least. They have a great selection of real and international ales as well so it was a good choice for The Boy.

However, if you’re looking for something a bit more gastranomic, then I’d recommend trying out The Larder on Goosegate (with 15% off a la carte for Great Food Club members) or Yamas Meze while you’re there. If you really want to push the boat out and you’re willing to travel a little further, you can also try Restaurant Sat Bains in Lenton. I must confess I haven’t been there myself but the reviews are consistently good and the wine list is excellent if you have a spare hundred quid or so burning a hole in your pocket.

On to a spot more culture and it’s always nice to see what’s doing at Nottingham Contemporary. They boast free admission to a range of shows by internationally renowned contemporary artists. I’ll be honest, it can be a bit hit and miss as to whether you find something that suits your tastes, but you can guarantee you’ll definitely see something that provokes a reaction! 

While we were there the current shows were Yelena Popova, with seemingly blank canvases giving up eerie shadows and details the more you examined them and Michael Buetler’s ‘Pump House’ transforming the majority of gallery space into a living installation-cum-workshop crafted of different textures and colours of paper. Buetler’s work had immediate visual impact and was clearly a hit with younger visitors who enjoyed exploring the DIY space.

Time for a beverage and I was eager to get across to Veeno, an Italian wine bar and cafe just over the road from the Contemporary. I’ve heard a rumour that they may be coming to Leicester soon and as a good blogger I like to get the jump on such information. Born from an Italian family, the Veeno founders have created a relaxed and stylish venue where they promote the laidback ‘aperitivo’ culture of early evening nibbles and drinks with friends, serving wines from their family vineyard. The fresh food and produce we saw looked amazing, but I was only in it for the wine and I have to confess I was not blown away by the quality of the vino, or indeed the service we received. Fingers crossed they bring a slightly tighter ship to Leicester as I adore the concept and the visual statement of their brand.

If you’re still feeling thirsty, trying one of the ales from the many local breweries and even hopping on a brewery tour would be a great way to round off a day in the city. Sadly we didn’t have time, but look up Blue Monkey Brewery, Castle Rock or even head slightly further afield to Lincoln Green for an interesting mixture of breweries of all sizes and styles. Some have tours, some just shops, but all are worth a look.


Bestselling author and freelance drinks writer. Champion of pubs and breweries. Occasional printmaker.

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