Bradford, one of my favourite UK cities, is best known because of its very large “Asian” population (in fact, the “Asian” population of Bradford is overwhelmingly Pakistani in origin, even though the city is now home to over a hundred different ethnic groups). In this post I allude fleetingly to the “Asian” dimension of the city, but also reveal that, in common with all great cities, Bradford is multi-faceted (which is why I enjoy every visit I make).
We drove to the Great Victoria Hotel in Bradford’s city centre, a large mid-Victorian pile (the hotel was built in 1867, above all to meet the needs of railway passengers) opposite the crown court and next to the offices and the printing presses of the Telegraph and Argus newspaper. We were directed to a very good corner room with en suite facilities and an adjoining sitting room, which meant we had what was really a small suite (but the cost was only £45 a night without breakfast). The afternoon was spent in the National Media Museum (so recently threatened with closure), Bradford Cathedral and Little Germany, the latter an area of narrow streets just to the side of the cathedral with remarkable commercial and industrial buildings that somehow survived demolition in the 1960s and 1970s (the centre of Bradford is marred by wide through roads and large ugly office and commercial blocks dating from the 1960s to the 1980s). For our evening meal we drove to the Three Singhs about 2 miles south of the city centre for a very good Punjabi meal in pleasant modern surroundings (the mango lassi was the best mango lassi we have ever had in a restaurant). After dropping the car back at the hotel we walked about ten minutes to The Sparrow, a “bier cafe” that was the Campaign for Real Ale’s Bradford pub of the year in 2012. As you would expect, The Sparrow has a selection of very good beers and patrons of diverse age and ethnicity, but the facilities are not conducive to a prolonged drinking session.
The following morning we had coffee in our room and shared a banana and what remained of an excellent Yorkshire curd tart bought the day before in Saltaire. We then went to a shop called Living Islam so Hilary could buy some scarves and me some gifts for a Kurdish family in south-east Turkey that had looked after me one day in August. Next, we popped into a bakery run by a young Iraqi Kurd who had been in the UK for eight years. We bought eight plain nans (for £2) and a few other edible goodies, one being a jar of quince jam from Iran. We then spent about three hours with J. and N., a couple we have known for a number of years (J. is Afghan in origin and N. is Pakistani in origin). N. had, as usual, prepared a wonderful Pakistani meal, a meal which ended with warmed gulab jamun and pistachio ice cream. Our final ports of call were Bombay Stores (for Hilary’s seventh scarf of the day) and a nearby enormous halal supermarket. The supermarket was extremely busy, but we came away with over £60 of edible goodies (I can taste the kulfi, the pomegranates, the Turkish white cheese and the Saudi Arabian tahini as I write).