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{04/07/2012}   My unexpected love for Leeds

                I have no idea why but I love Leeds.  It does not seem to be a widely loved city, and to an extent I can understand why, but for me it works: manageable size, lots of friendly people, decent shopping area with some lovely Victorian arcades and market hall, one of my favourite restaurants (Hansa’s Gujarati restaurant), one of the best coffee vendors (Opposite, in the Victoria Quarter), every now and then a really striking and handsome building and a canal area that has potential.  There is also a lot of lovely countryside around Leeds.

                I have no family connections to Yorkshire (other than that an aunt and uncle live near Selby) but I feel an inexplicable tie to the area, and in particular Leeds.  I am not exaggerating when I say that as soon as I pull into Leeds station I feel a sense of familiarity and coming home.  I don’t get it.  I am a seaside person, dammit, and in the UK I have only ever lived in the southeast (something about which I’ve only recently realised and which I find disappointing.  I wish I had chosen a Scottish or at least northern university).

I have looked into jobs and housing in Leeds, but, unsurprisingly, the job aspect is what makes me think it wouldn’t be feasible to live there.  Who knows though.  Over the rest of the week up here I will probably do what I always do when I’m here and do a Leeds job search and a Leeds flat search!  Bit sad really but I find it oddly enjoyable creating an alternative life for myself.  But then I will pack my case and head back south to my area of familiarity.

Maybe I should do something really brave, a lifestyle gamble, and move somewhere new.  It would have to be Leeds really, to see if my odd attachment to the city is justified.  But for this week, I will just enjoy being here and going to my favourite places, namely the canal, Hansa’s (been once already, planning a second trip tomorrow!) and to Opposite every morning for a nourishing coffee.  There is also an Italian restaurant I want to go to, out of which Marco Pierre White appeared the last time I was there surrounded by an adoring group and with a miniscule, little-more-than-a-girl clinging to his waist.  I am convinced it will be Leeds’ best kept restaurant secret as from the outside it didn’t look anything special and on closer inspection yesterday I either mis-remembered its location or it was more of a pasta bar.  Appearances can be alarmingly deceptive though!

I have been to Leeds maybe ten times and the longest number of consecutive nights I’ve spent there is just under two weeks.  I feel I know the central area fairly well.  Any sense of point to this post has long gone, I just wanted to share that I think Leeds is a top city, despite the fact I can’t really explain why.  I’ve thought of a point, I will provide links to my two favourite places:

Guaranteed fantastic coffee, including decaff.  They also do proper tea.  It’s a fixed stand rather than a café but as it’s inside the covered shopping area there are seats: http://www.oppositecafe.co.uk/

One of my favourite restaurants in the world.  Beautifully presented, completely unfamiliar menu, delightful food (though a lot of dishes are a bit hotter than I can handle), vegetarian food that completely overthrows my no-meat-equal-inadequate-meal issue, exquisite and unusual desserts (you have to plan your first courses wisely/make sure your dining partner has a hearty share of your dishes- making way for the dessert tummy is far more worthwhile than you can imagine) and friendly service in a totally down-to-earth environment: http://www.hansasrestaurant.com/

There is also a really nice Pizza Express that we found three nights ago.  It’s next to the Corn Exchange and is a lovely building and eating environment: http://www.pizzaexpress.com/visit-a-restaurant/restaurant/leeds-corn-exchange/

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