So – this is the place; the place I lived last year, the one I’ve alluded to in previous posts. The place I moved to, to live with my boyfriend, the place we made a home together, bought our kittens together, the place I got started on a new career and secured a reliable contract only a week before we broke up. This is the place I now commute to sometimes (as well as working remotely) for my job.
For those not from the UK, Leeds is a large city in the north of England in ‘Gods own county’ Yorkshire (where the tea comes from :)). I love Leeds, and have lived here before as a student – I loved it then too. It’s hilly, friendly, easy-going, beautiful, is a hotbed for amazing new (and old) music, and its next to one of the most beautiful places on earth – the Yorkshire Dales. It also happens to be home to several good friends of mine, so yes, I have many reasons to visit.
But possibly the highlight of my trip this time was….YES! I saw my cats!! (see my last blog post to understand how hard it was for me to leave them in the first place: Advice please; should I see my cats?)
Me, giddy to be holding one of my little kitties again!
How they had grown. I was overwhelmed – going to the house Tom and I had shared, partly (his house) – but I got over that quite fast. But seeing my kittens, all big and grown up – I was right (thank goodness) to suspect it would be good for me to see them, because it was (but a genuine thank you to everyone for your advice on the last post, it helped me work it through). It brought me such joy, such happiness to see them – I was crying that I hadn’t seen them in so long and how much I had missed them, not because seeing them distressed me. It was wonderful!
This time I was in Leeds this time more as a visitor; I wanted to create new experiences, meet new people and doing this had an unexpected advantage – it brought me fresh eyes to parts of a city I had thought I knew pretty well.
I stayed with a Couchsurfer (my first!) – 71 years old, youthful in spirit and a very affectionate man (a bit too familiar for me at times! But generally just nice bear hugs) called Morris. He hosts people all the time – literally, there could be 3 different couch surfers in his house in any one week. He is very generous and interesting, and he showed me some parts of Leeds I would not have otherwise seen. Firstly I accompanied him to a choir based at Slung Low – a small theatre company hidden away under the arches behind the train station in a place called Holbeck – nowehere I would have ever visited otherwise. Such a gem of a find.
Slung Low Theatre Company, Leeds, under the arches behind the train station
Then he showed me a way to walk to the city from his house through a series of (slightly unbelievably) long ‘ginnels’ – basically very narrow pathways with walls either side. I had lived quite nearby and done the journey by street many times when walking to work – little did I know there were these ginnels running alongside pretty much the whole way! So fun to discover these old passageways of old Yorkshire stone, that I would have walked past 100 times never knowing were there.
One of many long ‘ginnels’ joining parts of the city
Something lovely about Leeds is how small it can feel compared to somewhere like London (this of course has its down side too but vice versa with London!). It turns out I know Morris’s neighbour from when I lived there before, so he came over and we had chats and wine – which I never would have done with him in my previous life in Leeds. Also, the choir master it turns out was an acquaintance of mine through dancing, and a wonderful singer herself (I had heard her sing at dancing events with her band). We had really lovely chats – I never knew how delightful, funny and quirky she was before that.
I went for dinner one night to a Moroccan/middle eastern restaurant just round the corner from where I lived in Leeds. Talk about hidden treasures, as I climbed the stairs this is what presented itself before me!
L’Oranaise Cafe, Leeds
And the food was delicious, not to mention the 9 enormous cakes they had in the fridge window. I made the lovely waiter talk me through each one (not that I had room, and not that lemon meringue pie is particularly Moroccan!!).
In fact I was there with my ex and a couple of mutual friends.
Me and ex got on so well, and he looked gorgeous (he is gorgeous :)) – anyone watching would probably wonder why we had split up. But its OK, I didn’t wonder. Having been in his house earlier, and it looking the way it did (in need of a good clean) it still just made complete sense to me that we could never live together, be together even. He has been poorly so that’s one of the reasons why but still, the dirt just said more to me about how there was more going on behind the surface than it seemed in terms of our relationship. So I understood; its OK we’re not together. I can have him as a friend and enjoy that – that’s the best of him, and he offers it gladly and he does it so well.
And walking to the station to head back yesterday, I saw this;
My friend Karen who used to live here too always says she remembers Leeds as a place of rainbows.
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