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Global travel blog that features travel stories on living, traveling and growing up in cities, villages and towns around the world!
Wakefield is a small city in the county of West Yorkshire, with a population of approximately 330,000. However, growing up in Wakefield, it didn’t feel like there were that many people there. Everywhere you went you seemed to bump into someone you knew (or knew of). This was most apparent in the city centre; it was impossible to walk through the main shopping streets without seeing a familiar face.
This was both a blessing and a curse. There was a cute, community feel to the city, but that ex you never wanted to see again? You guessed it, they always seemed to pop up when you least expected it, like when doing your weekly supermarket shop at Sainbury’s.
There are friends that I have from school who actively avoid visiting the town centre nowadays, for that precise reason. They’re worried they might run into Janine from Science class who bullied them, or their best friend’s older brother Derek – who two-timed them with Julie from Year 9 – when we were in Year 13.
Wakefield is one of those cities that a lot of people who grew up in try to move away from so they can broaden their horizons, otherwise it’s quite easy to get comfortable and never leave.
If you’re like me and you did manage to move away, to explore what else the world has to offer, then you will look back and smile – like I do.
Wakefield is on the River Calder, at the eastern edge of the Pennines, and has some beautiful countryside in its outer suburbs. When I think of traditional English countryside, I picture Wakefield. The county of Yorkshire is nicknamed ‘God’s Own Country’ precisely for this reason – it is renowned for it.
Unfortunately, there weren’t many things to do in Wakefield when you were growing up. My evenings and weekends as a child were spent outdoors, playing in the street with the neighbor’s kids, or visiting Thornes Park with my family. The highlight of my days would be when my sister and I heard the ice-cream van drive into our street, and we would dash inside the house to collect our money so we could buy some, all the while screaming “THE ICE-CREAM MAN’S HERE!” My family and I would look forward to Sundays in particular; on Sundays we would have the most superb roast dinner (or “carvery”) with my grandparents at a local pub.
There were a few more activities available as a teenager. Wakefield city centre has a unique collection of shops, with a mixture of high street, vintage and independent stores. My Saturdays would usually be spent shopping and, when I came of age, drinking in the bars and clubs “uptown”.
Even though Wakefield didn’t always offer much variety, it wouldn’t take long to venture to more exciting places nearby. The city of Leeds is a half an hour drive away on the motorway. Leeds is much greater in size and has double the amount of people (and then some.) It was like an adventure to go to Leeds in the early days and we always felt super grown up heading to the “big city” (or “bigger city”, I’d call it now, as I’ve been to much bigger cities since!).
When I think of traditional English countryside, I picture Wakefield. The county of Yorkshire is nicknamed ‘God’s Own Country’ precisely for this reason – it is renowned for it.KD
For day trips, my family and I would head to the coast. Sometimes we headed to Scarborough or a nearby town (it was an hour and a half car journey to the east coast) or Blackpool (which was an hour and 45 minute car journey to the west coast). We tended to go east rather than west, as the eastern shores were prettier. As a child, I used to love walking on the beach, playing in the arcades and taking a stick of rock home to eat later.
In terms of holidays, we would always go to a sunny destination in Europe – usually somewhere in Spain. As teenagers, my sister and I accompanied our parents on a few cruises around the Mediterranean. This is where the travel bug first took a hold of me.
I left Wakefield eight years ago to go to university in Nottingham, a city of over 320,000 people. I have also lived in Milton Keynes with a population of 230,000. It’s funny that I used to complain about how small Wakefield felt when I continue to live in smaller towns. I now live in the tiny market town of Wetherby with a population of 20,000 (also in West Yorkshire).
I’m lucky in the sense that I’ve managed to travel all over the world from Australia to America. I do find it amusing, however, that I’m currently living in a small town. Especially one that’s only half an hour’s drive away from my original roots.
Sometimes I venture back to Wakefield, England. Driving around the city gives me an overwhelming sense of nostalgia. Even though I had both good and bad times there, I cannot help but look back at it all fondly. It’s true that you should never forget where you came from, and Wakefield has made sure that I certainly won’t.