I usually tell people I live in Saltaire. It's not strictly true because Saltaire proper is the World Heritage mill village built by Titus Salt in the 1850's to house his workforce.
I live one street away on an estate built by Shipley Corporation in the 1930's, also to house the local workforce.
No matter. Either way it's a beautiful place to live. Surrounded by woods and fields with the Leeds Liverpool canal and the river Aire running through the valley bottom you'd never think we are just a few miles from Bradford and Leeds. Our little station is crowded each morning with commuters travelling the 20 minutes or so into the cities by train and in the evenings with people setting off for nights out.
|Trinity Arcade, Leeds|
The other day I popped into Leeds for a pizza with a friend and we got talking about where we live, would like to live or might live in the future. I'm a country girl and I've often fantasised about moving to the back of beyond and living the rural dream. Recreating my childhood in fact. Work and friends and family prevented such a move for many years and now I'm in the position I could actually consider it I've changed my mind. An isolated life on a Dales farm is fantastic for kids. We had an idyllic childhood. It's not so great when you get older. Lack of public transport and shops and services that are increasingly located away from the villages mean that you are always dependant on a car.
What happens when your income, your health or your inclination means you want to stop driving? How do you get your prescription or buy a pair of shoes or visit the bank without asking for lifts? How do you continue a social or cultural life when a night at the theatre involves a round trip of 50 miles and most importantly how do you retain your independence into old age?
All these things struck me as I left our lovely green valley with its woods and its fields and its waterways and jumped on a train to enjoy a glass of wine amid the buzz of the big city. I think I'll stay put.