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I’ve spent a lot of time in Nottingham in recent years as I have family-based there, including my parents, though none are originally from the area. The more I visit, the more I like it. I mostly spend my time with family but whenever we venture out for food or shopping, I’m always impressed about what’s on offer. It’s a university city, which I think always keeps a place quite vibrant and fresh and means also that it isn’t crazy expensive, which in turn can lead to greater creativity and more interesting independent businesses. Everything hasn’t been pushed out of the centre of neighbourhoods by gentrification. The prices, being used to living in the south-east of England, always amaze me.
It has an obvious big hitter in the historic stakes with Robin Hood, but it also has some other notches on the history bedpost: lots of caves (in the city itself), arguably the oldest public house in the country and some gorgeous old buildings from the industrial era – particularly the old lace-making quarter. The aforementioned oldest pub Ye Olde Jerusalem (Ye just being a Ye Olde word for The) is pretty cool. It can get pretty busy lunchtimes, evening and weekends, so I suggest trotting in there of a mid-afternoon so you can pick a good seat. I like to go to the room upstairs and round the back. This pub is built into the rock and you can see down through into the dark recesses through various holes in the wall. They also do some decent beer and cider and a nice bite to eat.
You’re also just around the corner from the castle if you’re going to do the full tourist bit. Though the castle is a little disappointing as it’s quite modern (in European standards), as the one you would envisage from the days of Robin Hood, burnt down long ago. Frankly, you have no soul if you don’t want a picture taken with the bronze Robin Hood statue near the castle gates and I like the cobbled streeted surrounding area – it’s quite quiet with a few sweet places to grab a cup of tea.
If you go out to Sherwood Forest I believe it has been re-vamped from the rather lacklustre affair it was when I last went. Even when it wasn’t great it was still a nice setting and kids enjoyed the archery and the tat in the shop. I’m a bit sad that the extremely dodgy paper mache figures have most probably gone, along with the hawk guy hanging out next to his slightly string bird, cigarette hanging out of his mouth
A Fine Looking City
With a large, statue-clad square in the city centre and many lovely buildings, it reminds me of the centre of more well-known grand cities in European mainland – like Copenhagen. As with many cities – look up and you’ll be impressed.
The goose fair is a big deal in Nottingham, as is the arrival of the goose, who sits on the nearby roundabout for the duration. Seriously – its arrival is tracked. “The goose is coming!” I believe it’s the biggest fair in Europe and it’s a job to even walk around the whole thing. Along with the goose, the other, not unrelated Nottingham only tradition is Cock on a Stick. I kid you not.
Now I can’t say I’ve tried that many food or drink establishments in Nottingham, mostly due to the fact I am staying with my mum and dad and mostly eating them out of house and home, or if I’ve been abroad, getting takeaways of things I miss, like Fish and Chips or Indian but I have found it to be a good place for food, with a lot of independent places.
Bun Mii Cafe
This Vietnamese cafe in central Nottingham is only open in the daytime but for a Viet food lover despairing over the lack of options in the UK, it’s a real treat. Just as it should be – non-fussy, quirky – great food. The Pho and the vibe is spot on for me.
A cash-only Spanish bar-restaurant in Sherwood with a small but effective tapas menu with some classics and all-round great food and laid back feel.
The Pudding Pantry
With cafes in the city centre and Sherwood, this place gets busy with good reason. Top breakfast spot and for the sweet-toothed.
I love Hockley. In fact, I liked it so much I nearly bought an apartment there. If I were to live or stay long term anywhere in Nottingham, this is where I’d most like to be. Lots of quirky and vintage shops and cool bars and restaurants.
This is where my brother, sister-in-law and niece live and I’ve watched this area get better and better as the years go by and I’m mostly, of course, talking with my tummy. If you never left Sherwood you would eat and drink well, that is for sure.
Honourable Nottingham mentions
The Contemporary Art Gallery
This gallery is small but mighty. I love their Vegas-style sign and I love the fact that a small city like this has one.
Vincent Van Cod
This has to go to the fish van man who is available weekly at the farm shop. Not only is his fished darned good, but his business is really called Vincent Van Cod. Seriously. It doesn’t get better than that!