Thursday, 20 February 2014

List #8: The things that are good about my town

I ended up in Leicester by accident.  Or, to be more precise, I ended up in Leicester because I did sod all work during my A Levels.  My first choice university was Manchester (selected on the basis that every great band played there when they toured).  Leicester was my safety net, my second option.  A city I'd visited twice for open days and hadn't minded the look of.  A city which (at the time) still had a few good venues and therefore featured regularly enough in the NME gig guide for my liking. 

And then I got my grades, and they weren't good, and Manchester University wouldn't take me but the University of Leicester would (that right there should have been a warning sign: I ended up hating my degree here).  And so, at the end of September 1996, we packed up my parents cars and drove down the M1 from Bradford to Leicester, and to my great shame it is here I have pretty much stayed ever since.

Weird, really, because most people who know me would characterise me as being pretty adventurous and open to new experiences.  Just not, it turns out, new places to live (although I have moved sixteen times in my seventeen years in Leicester, so...).

And it's not that I actively dislike Leicester.  That's kind of the problem, really.  It's hard to leave somewhere so comfortable, somewhere that fits me like a boring/cosy/secure/dull* jumper.

All of which is a needlessly long introduction to my list!  And a weird way to introduce the things I love about Leicester, which - although not exactly legion - do very much exist.  I wrote a '10 things to love about Leicester' post last August, which focused more on actual places, so I'll try not to repeat myself too much and, this time around, will talk about the more ephemeral stuff...

1. My familiarity with the place.  The fact that, walking or driving or cycling, I know my way from A to B via X, Y and Z without even thinking.

2. The brilliant bars here.  I may be biased, but I'm convinced that Leicester has cooler, nicer places to drink than many bigger cities.  My favourites are all super chill and indie without being hipster.  If you're visiting Leicester, check out Firebug, The Orange Tree and The Lansdowne as your first ports of call.

3. The ease with which you can get great vegetarian and vegan food here, which is linked in large part to number 4...

4. ... The multi-culturalism of Leicester. 

5. Walking in Bradgate Park - a huge deer park, with actual hills (rare in Leicester), on the outskirts of the city - on a clear, sunny winter's day.

6. The fact that Leicester is a small place - it can feel like everyone under a certain age knows everyone else, by face if not by name.

7. Being called "m'duck" by random shopkeepers.

8. Visiting the amazing independent cinema/digital arts centre, Phoenix Arts.  I never used to go to see films until they reopened the Phoenix in a great new location, complete with cool cafe and bar.  Now we go at least twice a month to see everything from blockbusters like Gravity to more indie fare such as Inside Llewyn Davis

9. Having other bloggers nearby: in the past two weeks I have met two whole internet people IRL!  What is coming over me?  The Girl wrote a great post about our day together in Leicester, and then last night I met up with B from Make, Do & Spend at my book group, which was super cool.

* Delete as appropriate to my mood


  1. I need to visit Leicester too! Maybe one weekend in March. Maybe I could meet you and then walk to the National Space Centre?! I also want to hear how you got on on your day trip to Notts!

    1. Ooh good plan. I'll look at my diary and let you know when I'm free. Nottingham was so much fun! Thanks for the tips x

  2. I must visit Leicester. My hubby is always going to nice restaurants for work lunches.

    It's funny how seemingly random choices can define your life. I met my husband because i was randomly paired with a girl in nursing college.

    1. We have lots of lovely places to eat and drink and a whole area (The Lanes) of cool independent shops and businesses. It's definitely worth a visit!

  3. I obviously agree with every point! I particularly like point six - there's definitely something great about being in a city that's big enough for there to be plenty going on, but small enough to be able to rock up at certain artsy venues or bars and pretty much be certain to bump into someone you know. B x

    1. Yep, it might not suit everyone but I like the comfort of living in a place that's small enough to always find a familiar face.

  4. Ha! Being called m'duck still makes me laugh since I moved to the county.

  5. I've been to many places in the UK, but never Leicester! I've been through it a billion times because the train to/from London stops there - but just never got off. People say duck here, too :)