Originally published 28 August 2013.
Today was a bit of a scary day. I went up to Leeds to “survey” the city and find a place to live for next year.
I was plagued by all the possible what-ifs: What if I can’t find a nice place? What if I don’t like the city? What if I don’t like the uni? What if – what if – what if.
Nevertheless, I insisted on beginning positively, to let confirmation bias do its work so I would like everything.
And I did.
So I got on the train at Leicester and found someone had taken my reserved seat – one of my pet peeves. Great start. But the Derby to Leeds train was good, so that helped. The train arrived at Leeds station and I disembarked.
It may sound silly, but I find the impressions stations make on me very important. If I don’t like the city’s station, I will view the city in a somewhat negative light. It’s the reason I like Rotterdam so much – I mean, Rotterdam’s a nice city to begin with, but I’m in awe of its new central station. But the station was good – big, multi-track (not Leicester’s rather sad 4 tracks), plenty of shops. It’s got a pub. So, good one there.
I had given myself 2 hours to wander about a bit, discover the centre, before my Unipol appointment, so I decided to explore Starbucks. Pretty building, good iced caramel macchiato.
The centre has plenty of chain shops, the big ones, and also a few small shops, nice arcades and parades. And relatively few closed sites, so I take it the local economy is – well, in a fairly healthy shape. More plus points. Negative point was that I only discovered a WH Smith’s, I do prefer Waterstones.
With half an hour left to kill, I looked at my map to see whether there were other places I could walk to that may be worth exploring. So I popped into the Art Gallery. And this more or less sealed the deal on the city for me.
I’m not a fan of modern art, not at all, so the first few rooms, with fairly non-sensical modern art sculptures were a bit disappointing. But there’s one room there with proper art. And it happens to hold two paintings I’ve always liked.
Tissot’s The Bridesmaid
and Leighton’s The Return of Persephone, which was either in my Latin or Ancient Cultures text book in secondary school and is always in my mind whenever someone mentions Persephone or pomegranate seeds.
So, I signed the contract (after a thorough read, of course!) and paid my deposit, and now I can pick up the key next week and move in. Pretty scary but also very very exciting.
I spent the remaining 2 hours before my trains would leave wandering about the uni campus, just to see whether I could like it. And by God, did I like it!