Travel is wonderful and all, but what about our hometowns?
I used to hate my hometown. There I said it.
I’m not going to lie, I still don’t think it’s the greatest place in the world but that’s because it’s my hometown. I’ve spent too long here and have spent too long taking it for granted. Hey, I bet there’s some Romans who don’t like Rome, or some Venetians who don’t like Venice!
We (me included) spend so much time wishing we were somewhere else, booking trips to far away lands, that we often miss out on the good thing we’ve got going on at home. I think in the last few years, where I’ve moved away from the countryside where I grew up and into the city, I’ve started to see my hometown in a different light. Okay, it’s still a bit of a shithole, but I’ve also realised that it’s got an abundance of wonderful history and culture.
But this got me thinking, why are we so desperate to travel to far away places, see them and learn about their histories, but so few of us ever put that much effort into learning about our own hometowns?
I’m lucky enough to live in the UK where every major city has an abundance of history, and my hometown of Leicester, is no different. Recently we’ve become a bit of a big deal, both nationally and internationally, because our football team won the English Premier League at odds of 5000-1. However, before that we were catapulted onto the map because we dug up King Richard the Third from a car park we’d built on top of him hundreds of years before. I’m not going to lie, I’m a little sick of hearing about him because, as I went to the university who dug him up, I’ve heard his name mentioned approximately 2087 times per day for the last 3 years (there was an audible groan when he was mentioned at my graduation ceremony. No, really), but it’s a pretty major part of this country’s history.
Another piece of history in my hometown, that maybe not everyone knows about, is we have Cardinal Wolsey, aka the guy who failed to get King Henry V111 a divorce from his first wife and who then died on his way down to London to be tried for treason, buried in a local park (well, historians are 99% sure he’s here. He died here so it makes sense.)
My hometown clearly has a bit of a history of building stuff on top of dead famous people. Oops. That’s pretty darn cool though, isn’t it? I mean, yes it’s irresponsible but it’s awesome too…
The park he’s buried in is the old Leicester Abbey and still has the old ruins of the Abbey which you can walk around freely, and it’s old outer walls, which are very instagramable!
We also have the UK’s National Space Centre, a cathedral- now complete with a Tudor King, pretty little old lanes, a cultural quarter and the Golden Mile full of authentic curry houses and sari shops. In a local museum we have a chair belonging to Daniel Lambert, once the heaviest man in the UK, and a lake in a local park- which I frequently walk my dog around- dedicated to Joseph Merrick, the Elephant Man, who was born here.
All of this is taken for granted, by me, and by many people I know. And that’s a real shame.
I’m sure, though, that cities up and down the country- and across the world- are taken for granted and seriously under explored by their inhabitants. If you’re guilty of exploring other cities but not your own, it doesn’t matter; it’s never too late to get to know your home!
How to make the most out of your hometown:
-Visit a museum: If you were a tourist in the city, which museum would you be drawn to? More than one you want to explore? Visit them all!
-Visit an unusual attraction: Now, I don’t know where you live, but if it’s a big city, chances are there’s somewhere that not everywhere has. My hometown has the National Space Centre, which, as the word National suggests, no other city in the country has. It’s a pretty cool place, especially for kids; there’s rocket ships, games, audio guides telling you all about space missions, and there’s a planetarium whcih teaches you all about how the earth was formed. Find your city’s unusual attraction and pay it a visit.
-Walk around a local park: But, like, actually take notice of what’s around. Put down your phone (except if there’s a pikachu around obviously) and really look around you. If it’s a park that’s kind of a big deal then it should have signs telling you about its history, the flora and fauna in the area and other cool things to see nearby.
-Visit independent stores: Chances are your hometown will have a high street with some big named chains that you usually visit, right? Well, it’ll probably have some independent boutiques too (and if it’s quite a big town these will probably be down some cute little side streets). Have a wander around the stores, even if you don’t buy anything, just like you probably would if you were a visitor. And, if you do decided to buy something, give yourself a pat on the back for supporting local businesses!
-Go to a part of town you don’t usually visit: Not the dodgy areas because there’s probably a very good reason why you don’t visit them! I mean the part that you don’t usually rush through on your way to work/college/uni or the part that’s not near where you go shopping on a weekend. Go and explore new territory, I dare ya!
Just because I’m nosey, tell me a little fact about your hometown- what’s it famous for? What’s a cool thing no other city has? Any famous people from there?
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