Published in The Boar 16th July 2013
Helen Cobby shares her tips on how to entertain your family on a quick Warwick university visit.
When ‘The Parents’ say they are coming to visit does that send you into a panic? How to keep them occupied all day? What to do with them? How to get them out of your hair? Well here is my guide on how to survive and ensure you all have a good and harmonious time in Leamington, whether you are going to be entertaining the family as a Fresher in October or during Graduation this summer.
There are many unique and unusual independent cafes in Leamington with the right ambience and high quality boosts of caffeine or sugar to put everyone in a good mood. If the weather behaves, Bar Angeli is my number one recommendation with its outdoor seating in the cobbled courtyard of Regent Court. Their hot chocolate is the best in town, and their pastries and muffins would be perfect for a morning snack or a late, indulgent breakfast. Bar Angeli is Italian run, making for a vibrant yet chilled atmosphere, complete with unique rustic décor. Keeping with the Italian theme, Café Corleone also does amazing hot chocolate and superb coffee, and is of the same high standard as Bar Angeli, being owned by the same people. Alternatively, Gusto Ricco can make for a fun experience. It has several higgledy-piggledy floors with odd furniture. Watch out for their delicious carrot cake. Lastly, Blueberry Hill Patisserie on Chandos Street is a cutesy option with a fresh feel to it due to the simple, open décor. I’ve yet to try any of their cakes, but they all look invitingly homemade.
To work off some of the early morning cake, a walk in one of Leamington’s beautiful parks would go down well. Jephson Gardens would be my preferred choice. It is immaculately maintained, with beautiful flowers and shrubbery pieces all year round. The fountains and indoor exotic botanical centre are also interesting features. You could always pop in to the Leamington Art Gallery on your way from here to Victoria Park, a more open and functional park with a playground for kids. The Leamington gallery is having a complete re-hang over the summer, yet there does not need to be massive changes for it to provide an interesting interlude or more serious contemplation of local and international art.
For lunch, my newfound favourite restaurant Le Bistrot Pierre would be a good contrast to the earlier Italian café stop. It is a relatively big place, yet the service is sensitive and efficient. The spacious feel and the high quality (but very reasonably priced food; note they often have offers, and discounts for students) will make for a special lunch out. Alternatively, for a lighter bite, Bar Angeli does exciting mezzi platters to share.
The presentation of this dish is fun, surprising and makes for a social lunch!
(Window) shopping in the afternoon would be a quick way to explore more of Leamington. Both sides of Regent Street are interesting; they comprise of many posh charity and vintage shops, such as Lilac Rose. The deli on Warwick Street is also worth looking into, though small and expensive. There are also top quality fashion chains, for example Noa Noa and Jagger, to ogle at through the window. Plus boutique outlets can be found all along Park Street.
Afternoon tea either at Vinteas café on Park Street or the new French Patisserie, Comme-ci Comme-ca, on Warwick Street are two top places. As the name indicates, Vinteas is steeped in vintage, providing odd but beautiful combinations of china in which are served the most exciting and exotic teas. The herbal tea, called Rhubarb Cream, is particularly magnificent. All teas are loose leafed and indulgent, especially when they come with the popular Cream teas. Check out the presentation of the hot chocolate (there are three flavours). Or Comme-ci Comme-ca offers pretty array of colourful French patisseries, florentines and macaroons. The portions are huge though so you do need to be hungry and with family or friends! The quirky setting and details (such as half a bath tub acting as some of the seating!) make it a refreshing option.
Rowing, canoeing or kayaking on the River Leam is an activity I would highly recommend. It will definitely make for a memorable holiday out in Leamington. The river is peaceful and pretty, though occasionally there are geese to dodge as well as family or friends who think it would be a good idea to make you capsize. The boat hire is in Jephson Gardens, on the south side of the river, near the children’s playground.
For those that prefer to stay on land, walking by the canal is a way to appreciate Leamington’s setting. You get to the canals by walking through Victoria Park. Following the canal to the right is the more scenic route. There is the option to turn off and follow the river instead, which will lead you to the sleepy town of Warwick (best to stay in Leamington I feel). This river walk takes about an hour and will lead you straight to Warwick Castle. However, if the weather doesn’t hold out, there is always the local cinema in Leamington for emergency entertainment.
I hope my ideas and list of favourite things to do in Leamington help to make a weekend with visitors fun. Leamington has lots of secrets; it’s nice to know they are being shared.