A to Z of Leicester 2011

The 2011 A to Z Blogging Challenge

In April 2011 I took part in my first A to Z Blogging Challenge. I chose my home City of Leicester, UK, to write about and I placed a word restriction on myself. Each post was exactly 40 words in length. I even created a new word to describe this. I called them quadragintal posts.

I have put all the posts together on this page but I haven't included all the photographs as there were so many. If you'd like to see them all then please feel free to browse my original posts which you will find listed in reverse order just here.

Clock Tower
A is for Abbey Park
I spent my teenage years hanging round the boating lake, wandering the paths, strolling over the bridge and walking by the river. I never thought about the name, never connected it to the ruins, never heard a single Abbots’ prayer.

B is for Belgrave Road - Leicester’s Gold Mile   
This once dreary street now shines and dazzles with window displays of sequined saris and golden jewellery. At Diwali time the celebrations are the biggest outside India and the amazing illuminations attract crowds from all over the country and beyond.

C is for The Clock Tower to Curve (without a The)
The Clock Tower used to be Leicester’s iconic image. Intricately carved with statues of respected City elders, it stood where all roads met. Now the road is traffic free and there are new icons like Curve, Leicester’s curvaceous new theatre.

D is for De Montfort Hall
I screamed at the Beatles, swooned at The Stones, danced and waved my arms to their music. Now I sit and sing at Solid Silver Sixties Shows. The place has been painted, extended, but it’s still my favourite concert hall.

E is for Everards beer
William Everard first brewed beer in 1849 in Leicester. Beer is not my drink but Everards must be good because Beacon Bitter just received an award at the Leicester Beer Festival and Tiger is on sale all round the world.

Foxton Locks
F is for Foxton Locks and Fosse Way - Two historic routes with a lesson in technological durability
Foxton Locks, the largest UK staircase lock, was precision built in 1900. No surprise that it’s still in regular use today. The Romans built Fosse Way in the 1st century. Guess what! Part of that road is still in use! 

G is for The Guildhall and its Ghosts
Five ghosts haunt Leicester’s ancient Guildhall. After Henry VIII banned guilds, the hall was used for council meetings, court hearings, police cells, lavish banquets, plays. They say that Shakespeare was a visitor. Could one of the ghosts be Hamlet’s father? 

H is for Highcross
We used to have to go to Nottingham for a good shopping expedition. Now we have our own fabulous shopping centre called Highcross, which is only a street away from the ancient Anglo-Saxon market also called Highcross. Nothing changes much.

I is for Indian restaurants
My first curry was in 1965 at the Taj Mahal (still there in Highfield Street). I had a korma. It almost set my mouth alight. Today Leicester has over 100 Indian restaurants and I’ve progressed to madras... but never vindaloo!

J is for Jewry Wall
The Jewry Wall stands beside the remains of Roman baths, unearthed in the 1930s when builders began work on new public baths. The Romans built that wall to last... and last it did! But those public baths never were built.

K is for Knighton Post Office – an Obituary
Knighton Post Office was special. Roger, the Postmaster, knew us all, joked with the kids, sorted my manuscripts and stamped addressed envelopes, looked out for the frail elderly. It was the centre of our community... until they shut it down.

L is for Leicester Comedy Festival
Europe’s longest running comedy festival happens in Leicester. 250 acts, including Lenny Henry and Michael Mcintyre, appeared this year. Make Me Happy groups were organised in the community. Leicester was laughing and it’s all thanks to the director Geoff Rowe. 
Cartoon my Mick Wright

M is for Market
When I was young, Mum and Dad sold jewellery on Leicester Market. I’d sit beneath their stall and watch the skip boys hauling laden containers, the lightbulb man fixing bulbs into swinging flexes and stilettos click clacking on the cobbles.

N is for New Walk
This traffic-free lane leads right into the centre of the city. It was created in 1785 and became a desirable place to both live and walk. Halfway down is New Walk museum featuring my childhood favourites: dinosaurs and Egyptian mummies.

O is for Old John
Bradgate Park was home to Lady Jane Grey. It’s now public parkland. Old John was built on a volcanic rock. It’s shaped like a jug in memory of a drunken retainer and it’s a great place for kids to play.

P is for Phoenix Arts Centre - Phoenix Square
I met my husband in the old Phoenix Arts in their friendly folk club. They’ve built a new Phoenix now, with all mod cons and facilities, but that old, dusty one will always have a special place in my heart.

Quorn Station
Q is for Quorn Steam Railway Station
Quorn Station on the Great Central Railway is the place to see steam trains. They run every weekend of the year with special events, a first class restaurant car and you can even have a go at driving an engine. 

R is for Radio Leicester
Another Leicester first! BBC Radio Leicester was Britain's first mainland local radio station. It was launched in 1967 in the days of VHF. These days you can listen to it online. I’ve been interviewed many times but it’s still terrifying. 

S is for Space Centre
Leicester is home to the amazing National Space Centre. There are over 150 interactive exhibits including simulated space flights. This month's Gagarin 50 Exhibition offers cosmonaut training and a chance to blast off in Vostok 1. How cool is that!

T is for Tigers Rugby Football Club
I’ve often seen the Tigers play. They’re brilliant. They’ve won the Guinness Premiership trophy nine times. They run coaching clinics and the Dynamite Club for youngsters and they’ve been called the Tigers since the 1880s because of their striped jerseys.

University buildings from Victoria Park
U is for University of Leicester
Richard and David Attenborough’s father, Frederick, was Principal for over 20 years. The boys lived in College House, growing up on campus. Much later I was a student there. I got a History degree and post-graduate teaching certificate. Happy times!

Carnival on Victoria Park
V is for Victoria Park
Victoria Park was once the Leicester Racecourse. Now it hosts open-air concerts like BBC Radio 1’s Summer Sundae, Caribbean Carnival and Leicester Pride, not to mention circuses, funfairs, games of football, family picnics and Remembrance Day Parades at the Cenotaph.

W is for Walkers Stadium
Leicester City Football used to play in Filbert Street. They still have Filbert Fox as their mascot but now they’re at the new Walkers Stadium. It has 10 function suites. I’ve been to charity luncheons there... Yes! Ladies who lunch!

X is for X-ray and Observational Astronomy Group
I don’t understand the science but XROA is a world leader in high energy and observational astrophysics founded by space science pioneer, Professor Ken Pounds. It’s based at Leicester University and researches such issues as the origin of gamma-ray bursts. 

Y is for Y Theatre
Today, Leicester’s Y theatre is a bustling, live performance venue. Long ago, when it was the old YMCA, I made my performing debut on its stage with the lead part in a play that won the Leicestershire Youth Drama Festival. 

Z is for Zen Leicester Great Heart Circle
I’m completing my A to Z of Leicester with the Zen Leicester Great Heart Circle. They meet on the first Thursday of every month and are a multi-faith community promoting happiness and peace. A lovely thought for a fabulous City!