A love letter to Leeds

Written about
10th May 2020

Another candy floss sky closes another day in lockdown. The traffic slowly subsides and lights flicker on in the flats around me. We're entering week eight (I think?) of social isolation and while city centre living has its perks of delicious food and drink on tap via delivery, it doesn't compare to being out there in person.

Leeds is where I call home and - if you haven't already guessed - I'm very proud to be in this city and shout about its accolades. While we face an indefinite future of home working and being separated from the bars and restaurants that usually fill our calendars, I'm taking to romanticising the best bits of my city and the little moments that I repeatedly get lost in.

While the city centre might be small, that skyline rises out of nowhere as you get the train in. From motorways and nameless factories, Bridgewater place comes into focus, surrounded by a historic-meets-current cityscape that tells you you're home. You become part of the skyline as the train pulls into the station and you navigate your way over the platforms to join the city.

I get the scenic commute of walking down the canal each morning. Joining the train commuters in parallel I get to walk through a city pocket of nature, recognising the same daily strangers and not speaking but sharing a knowing smile once in a while.

Alongside the people is the wildlife. The family of swans that I've followed since I've moved here, rooting for their cygnets born in groups each year and gradually thinning out. This year welcomed a flock of ducklings that my flat's group Facebook has taken to tracking - regular updates of the little fluff balls that are now adventuring the canal and mixing with their new neighbours.

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The little nooks of the city, in the centre and on the edges, are filled with small surprises. From seasonal street art to little families of wildlife, there's so much to track that even having that same 15 minute walk each day always has something to entertain.

In lockdown as in normality, I've continued to seek out the slivers of sun that I can find. I know the timings on our balconies and when to migrate from front to side of house, when to call it a day and when the golden hour hits our living room walls. It's the new version of flocking into the city to find a beer garden with a seat. Seeking out sunshine on rooftops and fenced in patios, beer in hand and head craned to make the most out of a finite amount of sunshine.

I'll never grow tired of the excitement that Leeds locals get once the sun comes out. The first signs of sunshine in March that have everyone stocking up their summer wardrobe and planning their day drinking around the city, to the heights of summer when long evenings make you strategise your seating to get the most of the weather. Most of the pavements seem empty until you stumble upon the sunshine spot with a bar attached, or head upstairs from the dark ground floor of Belgrave and are greeted with a rooftop garden with tiny spots free to try and set yourself up in.

I've already planned my first sunshine pint, fenced in with my favourites on the North Brewing tap patio. A cold pint of Sputnik in hand while I people watch and catch-up on the shape of people's lives over the past few months, still excited to hear the ins and outs of life in lockdown.

Beer garden pints, aimlessly wandering Briggate and the eagerness of getting to the newest opening might be a pipe dream at this stage, but it's something I can look forward to. It'll feel all the more special after months of getting my indie food fill from my sofa - I can't wait to have my little Leeds moments brought to life again, hopefully in the not too distant future.