The Friday Comment is a new section on BGL which gives people the space to talk about their lives in Leeds, occasionally posted at 2pm on Fridays; if you would like to have your say then please get in touch by emailing us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Living in Leeds
Neil Walker (@EisntCNeil)
I initially came to Leeds to attend University, and during those first few years was excited to be living in a City at the centre of a mini musical revolution, a place that had been somewhat clumsily dubbed ‘New Yorkshire’ by the NME.
It was all thanks to a seemingly endless stream of new indie bands who were dominating the charts. Bands like the Kaiser Chiefs and The Sunshine Underground were proudly Leeds lads, and for a while it felt like Leeds was the new Manchester, and that the whole of the UK indie music scene was looking to Leeds for inspiration and innovation.
I think in many ways Leeds needed a badge to pin on its lapel. Leeds has always had something of an inferiority complex when compared to the instantly recognisable faces of its dominant bigger brothers, Manchester and Liverpool, and as such it was the music scene which seemed to be driving Leeds’ new identity.
In the 8 years I’ve lived here since then, Leeds has continued to be a centre for new music, and in recent years I’ve seen this spread to art, food, and even a personal passion of mine, craft beer. There’s a really healthy scene for food and drinks bloggers in Leeds which is easy to forget when you’re a part of it, but which hasn’t gone unnoticed further afield.
It’s by no accident that the recent European Beer Bloggers Conference, which was a huge event pulling in attendees and sponsors from all over Europe, was held in its entirety in our little City of Leeds. Maybe it’s time that our British modesty needs to slip away when we talk about Leeds.
In many ways the lack of an immediately obvious identity is one of Leeds’ most positive attributes, it’s that diversity, that patchwork quilt of sub-cultures which makes Leeds so exciting. People sometimes forget that much like London, Leeds has a small nucleus of a City Centre surrounded by a cluster of smaller towns and villages that have, over time, spread and merged to become what we now think of as one large city.
It’s one of the reason that different parts of Leeds have such a unique look and feel; whether it’s the bohemian hodge podge of Hyde Park,or the yuppy-cool of the city centre riverside, you can walk from one area to another and feel like you’ve left the City you were in and been transported to a new place altogether.
It’s the thing I like most about Leeds though, that feeling of variety and accessibility, of being able to access areas of the City in minutes. Even without venturing further than the City Centre there is so much to see and so many little areas to discover.
Walking from the industrial-chic of Holbeck Urban Village you can skirt the expansive walls of the old Tetley brewery – reminisce of that distinctive Horlicksy malt aroma – then head down the cobbled path of Dock St and into Brewery Wharf – all oversized sunglasses and Prosecco by the river – over the foot bridge and into The Calls – awkward, tight, buzzing with people – past the imposing expanse of the Corn exchange and past the stunning shopping arcades with their marble fountains and designer window – carry on up onto Vicar Lane – Chinese, Thai, Organic and Asian supermarkets, restaurants – before turning left and cutting through to North St for international beer, cocktails, shopping.
I can take in all of this in a few minutes stroll.
And it’s exactly that which I like the most about living in Leeds – we might be smaller than some of our neighbours, but we’ve definitely crammed a lot in.