I hate it when I hear the younger generation of this town saying that there is ‘nothing to do here’ or they are ‘bored’.
But I remember a time when I felt exactly the same. Growing up in Todmorden and living here all my life I had become accustomed to everything which I now realise is so special about this place.
When I was deciding where to go to university I knew that I wanted to go to one in a city centre. No more trekking across the moors to reach a bus that makes its circle every hour and a half, I would be free.
So three years ago, I packed up my belongings and moved to Chester to start my first year of city life… and I loved it. It was a two-minute walk from my accommodation to the city centre, at home it took me two minutes to even get to the bus stop. With shops, a multiplex, nightclubs and restaurants so close I struggled to think of a reason why anyone would choose the country over this.
My country upbringing provided my new friends with much amusement, if we would arrange to go to the cinema at 6 o’clock I would be ready to leave nearly an hour before forgetting that we could get there so quickly.
I was so used to planning at least a 30-minute journey time into anywhere I wanted to go, even three years later I am still always the first ready to leave. Life began to move so much quicker, I could fit so much more into my day.
I had access to whatever I wanted and finally the life which throughout the latter stages of my high school time I thought I had always wanted.
But I soon saw the cracks in the Emerald City.
As my final month of university comes ever increasingly closer I know without a doubt that I want to move back to the country, and not just back to the country, back to my Calder Valley.
It has taken a long journey, and three years of city living, to realise that the country is my home.
As I drove through Todmorden and up to the moors I rolled down my windows, smelled the country air and listened to the first sounds of spring. There were lambs skipping through the sunshine, daffodils lined the sides of the roads rather than fast food wrappers and my ears welcomed the sound of birds singing instead of the constant siren wailing of the city.
I’m not going to lie and pretend I didn’t love my life in the city. But I soon came to realise what a lonely place it could be.
I’ve moved between three student houses over the course of my time in Chester and I couldn’t tell you anything significant or interesting about any of the places I called my home.
I could go for a short walk around my home in the Calder Valley and pass a number of people I could stop and chat to.
There is a sense of community here that is simply non-existent in the city.
Living in the city offers a number of things, which to our younger generation may seem as spectacular as Oz did to Dorothy. But just as she did, at the end of this month I will be clicking the heels of my ruby slippers, closing my eyes and whispering the words “there’s no place like home”.