After years of feeling slightly displaced, beginning to read The Odyssey, a story of one man’s arduous journey home from war, has made me seriously contemplate where ‘home’ actually is. Whilst leaving Sheffield, my adopted home of ten years, to return to Wakefield, the city I grew up in, left me in mourning for the end of a glorious period in my life, it didn’t catalyse the crisis I thought it would. In fact, I’m actually enjoying the change! If, like Dorothy, I clicked my red shoes together and professed a profound desire to go home, however, would Wakefield be the place of my heart?
What I’ve started to realise is that, despite my love of each, neither Wakefield or Sheffield is actually the physical place I’d visualise in my hypothetical Dorothy moment. Instead, I’d think of somewhere bigger and altogether more diverse; a land encompassing rugged landscapes, charming coastlines, and (in my very biased opinion) the friendliest people you could meet…yes, I’d think of Yorkshire.
It’s been a fantastic couple of years for Yorkshire, with our epic Olympic successes and recent ranking as the third best place to visit in the world by Lonely Planet guide not only putting us on the international stage, but consolidating what locals have always known: Yorkshire’s chuffin’ wonderful! With more Michelin-starred restaurants than any other place (outside of London) in Britain; some of the most critically acclaimed art galleries, museums and theatres in the entire country; and a beautifully rich historical heritage, Yorkshire is the jewel of our nation.
What I really love about Yorkshire, however, is the sheer beauty of the outdoor world. Whether I’m in Scarborough or Saltaire, the dramatic vivacity of the landscape always threatens to overwhelm me in a way that nowhere else in the world quite can. There’s nothing like walking over the windy wilds of the moors in Haworth (imagining you’re Emily Bronte) or the Yorkshire Dales to make you feel truly invigorated. Yorkshire is so alive with natural wonder that it’s impossible not to be swept off your feet by it…sometimes literally if you happen to go walking in a hilly area on a particularly windy day!
It’s difficult to encapsulate the spirit of Yorkshire for those who have never visited; I don’t think it’s possible to express the magic of the place verbally or visually. Both natives and visitors alike often comment on its enduring magnetism and spirit, and the way in which it seems to cast an enchantment over you from the moment you step inside its borders.
If I had to compare it to something however, I’d probably liken it to a fictional character: Helen of Troy, of ‘Was this the face that launched a thousand ships?’ fame. Beautiful enough for all men to be in love with it, inspiring jealousy in the hearts of others, Yorkshire is a place that stirs the emotions; a place people would fight for. Perhaps that analogy makes me sound a little dramatic, but, by ‘eck, as someone who has finally decided where home truly is, I’m allowed to be!