Living in New Zealand has made me think differently about the UK and how it’s a great place to visit, possibly one of the best.
I’m from Yorkshire, that mighty county in the north of England and the home to all that is good in the world. They don’t call it God’s Own County for nothing. But seriously, it’s a great place. Yorkshire, the largest county in the Britain, covering 12,000 km², has such a variety of people and places; from the industrial cities of Sheffield and Bradford to the spa town of Harrogate and fantastic shopping of Leeds as well as plenty of wide open space and natural sites from coast to caves. Of the 15 National Parks in Britain, Yorkshire has three of them (more than Scotland); the North York Moors, the Yorkshire Dales and the Peak District. All three parks are easily accessible by road and train and the Yorkshire Dales are just outside Bradford and Leeds, rural bliss is on the doorstep to the cultural heart of the county.
Yorkshire was settled by the Celts, Romans and then Vikings, where York became the only Viking territory on mainland Britain. From there it grew in to a powerhouse of England, although had a colourful history along the way. In Yorkshire we’ve got (I’ll always say we no matter where I live, once a Yorkshireman always a Yorkshireman) a great heritage and as a result some of the finest architecture in Britain with Castle Howard and York Minster, the latter regarded as one of the finest cathedrals in the world. As an industrial powerhouse Lister’s Mill in Bradford was the largest silk mill in the world and Saltaire, part of the foundations of the wool industry, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I’m only scratching the surface of things to see and do but I suppose the point is there’s something for everyone.
If you want a bit of life to go with your scenery then visit Leeds. Home to great shopping, including Harvey Nichols, the first of the London department stores to open a branch out of the capital as well as many other shops filling the arcades of the city. There are great bars from North Bar with some of the best beers you’ll find anywhere to Mojo for the more rock’n’roll inclined and Oporto Bar on Call Lane for great alternative music and must have cocktails, there’s plenty to choose from. The Corn Exchange is not only a fabulous building, and one of the few of its type in Britain, but a great destination for food and shopping.
If you want one of the finest restaurants in the area go to Bibis, incredible food in a unique and extravagant setting. There’s also a wealth of fantastic Indian food in the region and Akbar’s or Aagrah are both worth a visit.
Leeds also has a great music scene whether you’re looking for live music at places like The Cockpit where you can find up and coming or established bands. If you’ want a late night then you’d be daft not to consider BacktoBasics at MyHouse in Leeds, a club night that’s been going, with some of the finest DJs in the world, since 1991.
So what are you waiting for? Let's all head to Yorkshire, but most importantly never forget what’s on your doorstep I’ll bet there’s more there than you remember.