Saturday, 28 June 2014

10 Things to do in Nottingham

Friends celebrating in Nottingham's Old Market Square
Nottingham no more (these are a few of my favourite things)

After a long period of absence (turns out final year is quite time consuming, who knew?), I thought I would warm up my blog muscles again by dedicating a post to my beloved city of Nottingham! Having now lived three years of my life in this midland metropolis, with this time now sadly coming to an end, I would like to share my knowledge of its quirks and quaintnesses to all who are willing to explore it. Anyone who lives in Nottingham, plans on going, or will mistakenly end up there by boarding the wrong train from London St Pancras, this is for you:

1. Tea Rooms - Nottingham has a wonderful collection of rather lovely tea rooms scattered about the city, each with their own distinctive flavour (see what I did there?). My personal favourites are:
The (rather hidden) entrance to Thea Caffea
Lee Rosy's - a relaxed veggie place with a great indie atmosphere and an astonishing selection of loose leaf teas
White Rabbit - two adorably cute (and tiny!) cafés hidden away in the side streets of Nottingham, offering wonderful cream teas and my favourite windmill-tipped teaspoons
Thea Caffea - for when you really want a touch of class, a gorgeous (and surprisingly spacious) '30s-style tea room with the best eggs benedict I've tasted in a long time

2. Broadway Cinema - having intended to go to this place ever since I heard about it in first year, I finally made it three years later and it has to be, at present, pretty much my favourite cinema in the world. Not only are are the actual screens wonderfully spacious, with seats that - as my housemate claims - feel like clouds to sit in, but the independent cinema shows a fantastic variety of homegrown and European films that are any film enthusiast's dream. They run various film courses and festivals throughout the year and, just to add the icing to the cake, have a cafébar on the ground floor that is really rather lovely.

Jubilee Campus at sunset
3. University Park Campus (and Jubilee) - most people will be aware of the University of
Nottingham's stunning campus, in particular the lake towards the South entrance which certainly lends itself to a bit of a wander round. However, if you're looking for something a little more unusual, look no further than Jubilee Campus - a smaller, sister campus and my former home. With all the elements you would expect to find on a 'Uni of' campus - a lake, some nice trees etc. - plus some pretty space-age buildings that look like they've just landed from the other side of the galaxy. My favourite thing to do is to take a walk down the East side of campus at dusk, where the lights under the fountains in the middle of the path make the whole scene a bit magical.

4. Vintage Shopping - if you have ever visited the Hockley part of town, you will know that Nottingham hosts a great array of vintage shops - which some visiting friends of mine discovered to their peril, as I proceeded to spend the remainder of the afternoon rooting around rather than being sociable. But if vintage is your thing, try White Rose - a vintage-style charity shop, which is handily right next door to Wild Clothing, also vintage but less of the charity. You could also check out Hopkinson's Gallery down by the station if you are up for wandering a bit further afield, or, if you want to stick with the Hockley vibe, Oxfam is just down the street. Whatever you go for, enjoy!

Kurdish dancing at Globe Café
5. Globe Café - not strictly a Nottingham sight, since it only happens once a week and is targeted at international students, but Globe Café is one of my favourite places to hang out, learn about other cultures and discuss life in all its depth. Set up by Friends International, a Christian organisation intended to build links between internationals and local residents, the café takes place at several churches around the city, and provides a meeting place for those who are new to the country and those there to ease them in, using themed activities and theological and cultural discussions to build and cement friendships that can last for years. If you're at all interested, pop into one of these churches on the night specified and join in the discussion!

View from The Malt Cross' upper floor
6. The Malt Cross - this is a wonderful place! Hidden away in a side street off the Old Market Square, it was another discovery that came with time, but if you have someone to show you the way then why wait? A gorgeous Victorian music hall that has been transformed into a café bar with a great selection of ales, and live music every week on the minuscule stage perched at the end of the room. The home of Safe Space and the much-loved Street Pastors (a group of volunteers present on the most busy nights of the week providing aid for distressed merry-makers), all profits go to charity, and this Christian-run hub encourages community through its various arts events throughout the year. Also, the hot chocolates are to die for...
Stornoway at Rescue Rooms

7. Rescue Rooms - enough of the cosy cafés, this is indie central. I have been to many a great gig between these hallowed walls (including one where I fainted, but that's a story for another time) - it is a fairly small space, ideal for more intimate shows and getting to know lesser-spotted artists before they take to the stage in the larger Rock City next door. Do check out their gig guide, or if you just fancy a bit of an alternative night out, head over on a Tuesday for Pressure, their indie club night.

8. Bopp! - speaking of indie club nights, Bopp is the mother of all derivative dancing 'do's. Another of my 'oh-why-did-I-only-discover-this-in-final-year?' finds, Friday night at Pandora's Box is the place to be! With the likes of Oasis, Pulp and The Jam pumping on the top floor, move downstairs for a bit of '50s swinging (or, indeed, bopping) that promises to leave you sweaty, exhausted but entirely elated at the end of the night.

Me performing at Jam Café's Open Mic Night
9. Jam Café - back with the café vibe, but this time with a twist - this European-style café-bar can make a great night out all on its own, with live music most nights and tasty Belgian beers. My favourite was always Wednesday evening, their Open Mic Night (at which I have been known to perform), including an astounding variety of local talent that is always enjoyable. Their staff are pretty friendly, too.

10. Coco Tang - last but not least, this cocktail bar just has so much to offer! The 1920s prohibition theme lends a sense of mystery, as it is only the red lantern hanging above the door that gives away the entrance to the underground bar, and the intrigue only develops with their eclectic cocktail menu and the enigmatic 'hidden room' (ask for directions if you dare!). The drinks are delicious, the atmosphere electric, and the parties legendary.

So that's it, my homage to Nottingham complete. This is a city that will be much missed by myself and others who are graduating this year, I'm sure. Admittedly, I couldn't fit everything in here - Spanky Van Dykes is also well worth a visit, and if you're looking for interesting cuisine, Kayal is a good bet. Feel free to comment below if you think of any essentials that I've missed!

p.s. In case you're wondering where I'm going - I'm off to Colombia in about a months' time, so keep your eyes peeled for more posts soon =D

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