look north

a celebration of seventeen years living in northern england

journey profile

Where: Leeds, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Manchester and surrounding regions. 
England, UK, Europe.
When: August 1999 - March 2016 
Highlights: Angel of the North, Tyne Bridge, Transporter Bridge, Tyne Tees TV, River Aire, Leeds Town Hall, Leeds City Hall, Leeds City Markets, CIS Tower, Granada TV, Coronation Street Tour, Palace Insurance Building, The Toastrack, Beetham Tower, Morecambe Bay, Blackpool Tower, Jodrell Bank Telescope, The Liver Building, Superlambananas, The Humber Bridge.
Illnesses or mishaps: Adjusting to northern honesty; Acclimatising to northern winters; Living with the grey skies of Manchester.

 

This page takes its name from the BBC local news programme serving Yorkshire - the county where my adventures in northern England began. This page is unique on this site because it kind of is, and kind of isn't, travel related. It's a relic of my older site before it became a travel focussed one. I'm keeping it on agmtraveller.com because I happen to like it and because it falls, technically, within the realms of travel; I'm not originally from the North and therefore living here will always feel like a tourist experience. Undoubtedly moving around nationally, including the Midlands beforehand, was a precursor to my more adventurous international travels which now comprise the bulk of this site's content. And so this page stays.

There are reminders throughout my days here that I do not belong - not really. My accent is an obvious barrier - reminding myself, and others, that I am 'not from around these parts'. I experience northern England's sights and sounds through London eyes and London ears. I take interest and pleasure in the things which differentiate this great region of England from where I grew up and, I suppose, that's the whole point of living here in the first place. My time here has also introduced me to a whole new language, some memorable examples of which I include below. I am a tourist in The North - whether I like it or not.

The stereotype of the 'The North' is that it's a region characterised by dark satanic mills, intractable unemployment, pollution and red brick back-to-back terraced housing. It's also commonly viewed as a place of refreshing honesty, friendliness and the type of community spirit which London could only dream about. Of course, whilst there are grains of truth in every stereotype, my time living in this region of England has taught me that the reality is somewhat different. Welcome to northern England - a region I have been travelling around for more than fifteen years and the place I have called home for nearly half of my life.

Update: In March 2016 I emigrated to Sydney, Australia. Check out my Australia Blog which charts the highs and lows of my move Down Under.

 

 

leeds & north

the heart of yorkshire becomes my home

Leeds became my home in 1999 - initially moving to a one bedroom apartment in Burley opposite Yorkshire Television. Soon I moved out to the plush district of Roundhay, the more gritty Kirkstall, and several places in the Headingley district (of cricket ground fame). Leeds was meant to be for one year only but plans changed. I am rather glad it turned out that way. Leeds holds lots of firsts for me which is why I'll always think fondly of it. But, after nine developmental years, it was time to cash in my chips and move on. Here are my favourite photographs from my time in Yorkshire's capital.

Local lingo: Ginnel (alley way), Nowt (nothing), Summat (something), Cadge (borrow), Gaffer (boss), Ey up (look out / hi).
Biggest claim to fame: The world's first ever moving image was filmed by Louis Le Prince on Leeds Bridge in 1888. He mysteriously vanished after.
Distinguishing marks: Home to back-to-back terraced housing and soot-stained church steeples.

 

The wonderful view of Calls Landing and across the River Aire to Leeds Parish Church as seen from Leeds Bridge.  This bridge was the location where the world's first ever moving images were filmed in 1888 (watch here).

 

Leeds Art: The Corn Exchange mural and Henry Moore statue outside Leeds Art Gallery.

 

The tallest building in Leeds: Bridgewater Place, Leeds Town Hall masked by branches, an owl outside City Hall and the symbol of the city.

 

A dark and imposing Leeds Town Hall looms above a passing bus at night. Taken on my mobile phone whilst waiting for my bus home. 

 

The very Victorian Leeds City Markets.

 

Overlooking Ilkley Moor in the Yorkshire Dales.

 

The snowy view of Bradford city centre featuring the clock tower of Bradford Town Hall.

 

At York's grand Minster.

The famous whalebone arch in Whitby, North Yorkshire.

 

The Humber Bridge in Hull in Yorkshire's East Riding.

 

 

 

newcastle-upon-tyne & north east

the fog on the tyne was all mine

Lured by its iconic bridges and strong regional identity, I took up home in a Tyneside flat (a terraced house split into ground and first floor separates) on Helmsley Road in Sandyford near Jesmond with two other students; Stuart and Ollie. Weekday mornings were spent getting the Metro across the Tyne and a connecting bus out to Sunderland where I had my first teaching placement. My second placement was at Walker Technology College, near Byker of 'Byker Grove' fame. Occasionally (and just occasionally) I was known to go jogging along the Tyne on a Saturday morning: wonderful views of beguiling bridges on sunny days.

Local lingo: H'way man (come  on / hurry up / watch out), Belter (excellent), Canny (pretty / good / clever), Pet (friend or dear).
Biggest claim to fame: The world's first demonstration of the electric lightbulb was given here and thus Newcastle is the first place in the world to have had a public building illuminated by electric light.
Distinguishing marks: A penchant for bridges, bridges and more bridges.

 

The glorious Angel of the North.

 

The Tyne's many bridges stack themselves silhouette fashion. 

 

The newest bridge on the Tyne: the Gateshead Millennium Bridge, known locally as the Blinking Eye Bridge.

 

Outside Tyne Tees Television's City Road studios - now demolished.

Newcastle's Georgian Grainger Town.

 

Yes, Newcastle-upon-Tyne does have its own underground, known locally as the "Me'ro" which, during my time, even had automatic door announcements in a Geordie accent: "Stan clear of tha doorz pliz." On a visit a few years later it was clear they had been replaced by ones with received pronuniciation. Shame.

 

The Chinese Arch of Newcastle's small Chinatown and, right, the new Sage concert hall along the Quayside.

 

In front of the iconic Transporter Bridge in Middlesbrough.

 

 

 

manchester & north west

living in granadaland

Manchester has an allure because of its size, its history and its music. It is a city of firsts: the world's first train station is here, Alan Turing, from the city, built the world's first ever computer, and it is also the home of the world's longest running soap-opera: Coronation Street. Think Manchester, and among the things which spring to mind are Granada TV, the Hacienda nightclub, Manchester United, rain and Oasis. Unbeknown to me at the time, we were to buy our house in the Manchester district where the band Oasis herald from. It was, without doubt, Manchester's  unique music sound which lured me to the city: The Stone Roses, The Charlatans and Joy Division to name but three. 

Local lingo: Keks (trousers), Snide (unfair / unkind), Scran (food), Buzzin' (extremely happy), Mither (to bother), 'Angin (disgusting), Barm cake (roll).
Biggest claims to fame: The world's first train station is in Manchester; Coronation Street, the country's most famous programme, is filmed here.
Distinguishing marks: Rain and grey skies and a Madchester swagger.

 

The gloriously modernist CIS Co-operative Tower flanked by trees.

 

Manchester Modernism: City Tower, The Toastrack, The Express Building.

 

 A Manchester Icon: the iconic red lettering of the Granada TV studios on Quay Street before their removal. Such an innocuous exterior belies the importance that came from within. Soon to be demolished. 

 

The world's longest-running soap opera: a tour of the original Coronation Street set at Granada TV which helped, in popular culture terms anyway, to put Manchester on the map. It is now widely regarded as England's second city.

 

The wonderful red brick of Manchester's Palace Hotel - probably my most favourite building in the city and which many regard as the most likely Manchester landmark.

 

Two examples of Manchester's Victorian-era, red brick mill buildings which have come to define the North in the popular mind. First, a converted mill building and, right, the abandoned dark satanic 'Hope Mill'. Both are along the Ashton Canal in the Ancoats area of the city.

 

Manchester's Albert Square with Chinese New Year lanterns.

 

The night time lights of Salford Quays. First, apartment blocks along the quayside and, right, the Lowry Theatre.

 

The distinctive postmodern 'Chips' building along the Ashton Canal in the Ancoats area of the city.

 

Inside the BBC North news studio from where BBC North West Tonight was broadcast and, right, the Beetham Tower reflects in the waters of the Rochdale Canal with characteristic red brick buildings from the Victorian era.

 

The Castlefield bike foregrounds the Beetham Tower, The Jodrell Bank telescope in Cheshire and, right, doing an Eric Morecambe in Morecambe. 

 

The red post box famous for withstanding the huge IRA bomb of 1996 which destroyed much of the Arndale shopping district in central Manchester. A plaque now commemorates its significance.

 

Urbis, now the National Football Museum, the skeleton of the Manchester Wheel reflects inthe glass frontage of the Manchester Arndale and, right, the dramatic shapes of the Imperial War Museum North.

 

Blackpool Tower and beach scene.

 

The iconic Liver Building along the banks of the River Mersey featuring the mythical Liver Bird at its top foregrounded by the new Beatles bronze.

 

Merseyside art: Gormley's Another Place at Crosby beach, the large yellow Lambanana in Liverpool, and Dream at St Helens.

 

 

videos

Photographs are great but sometimes you need a little sound and movement. I film anything which I feel captures a sense of place. My videos are raw and unedited with no cropping, no editing, no colouring and the only soundtrack you'll hear are the authentic sounds of the places themselves. 

Fireworks from the top of the Arndale tower bring in 2010.

The blizzard seen from my city centre apartment balcony in Manchester.

 

 

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