Do any of these places spring to mind as the ideal location for a weekend break? Hull? Derry? South Shields? Croydon? Port Talbot? Slough? Norwich? Salford?, Milton Keynes?, Coventry? and uh..Hell? In his book, To Hull and Back , Tom Chesshyre, a writer on The Times, gives his account of what happened when he eschewed the likes of Bath, Edinburgh and Brighton, and visited the more unlikely choices listed above. Attempts to persuade his girlfriend to join him were mostly fruitless although, she more than once regretted her decision to stay at home. I have to say that I was jealous of some of the destinations - South Shields sounds particularly beautiful and interesting and I wouldn't be disappointed if I ended up in Derry or Salford on a magical mystery tour either.
I loved this book and heartily recommend that you dash down to your local library to unearth the secrets of the towns that it portrays. It gave me a fresh perspective on our colourful land. There is history and human interest to be found everywhere, not just the tourist hotspots. The country is a veritable treasure trove. Ask any visiting American!
So, here's my own list of towns that are far from the tourist track. Perhaps, if you read this, Mr Chesshyre, you might like to consider a sequel.
Grimsby, Derby, Bridgewater, Gravesend, Middlesbrough, Peterborough, Stevenage, Merthyr Tydfil, Grangemouth, Tilbury and Basingstoke.
Please don't take offense if you live in any of these places and think I'm extracting the Michael. They've only been chosen because I know so little about them. And perhaps one day when my child rearing work is done I can do a bit more exploring and discover our hidden land myself. No doubt I'd uncover some incredible surprises on my journey.
PS: I've been to Hell...and back as well! No, not it's fiery namesake or a metaphorical version thereof. This one's on the island of Bryher in the Scillies. It one of the most beautful spots that you could imagine.