It’s all about overcoming prejudice. When it was suggested that I might like to spend a day in Leeds, my first reaction was close to “Great. What’s second prize? Two days in Leeds?”.
I was wrong. My two days in Leeds this month were entertaining, the weather was warm and sunny, the hotel was good and the food was excellent too. Can’t think where I got my anti-Leeds (or is it anti-Yorkshire) prejudice from.
I’ve been to Leeds, usually to visit the University, quite a few times over the years, but I think the most recent visit was close to 10 years ago. My overwhelming recollection is Bleak. I remember the place being cold and usually wet. It’s also an inconveniently long way North. I should clarify that things only qualify as being an inconveniently long way North – in my book – if they involve being in the North of England; Scotland, Shetland, Norway, Iceland fall in a different category. I’ve never claimed consistency on this point.
I wound up staying on the 14th floor of the Park Plaza in the centre of Leeds – with a splendid view of the railway station, and far enough above it to not notice any noise – and spent most of my two days around the University. I was trying to find ways to describe the University campus, and I’m pretty sure I recognise bits of it from late 60’s sci-fi films or TV programmes. There are huge concrete buildings, fountains, elevated walkways linking the huge buildings and, during the Easter vacation, very few people. All it was missing was the cast of Doctor Who (I’m picturing the folks from UNIT and Jon Pertwee) . In the sunlight and with blue skies the campus looks really dramatic – but I bet it’s bleak when there’s a strong north-easterly blowing with some horizontal rain to accompany it.
|Leeds April 2011|
I guess my conclusion is not to judge places based on distant memories. It’s always worth revisiting places, particularly if you can arrange to revisit them when it’s sunny. Next time a trip to Yorkshire gets suggested I’ll ask about the third prize – maybe I’ll get three days in Leeds that time.