I am a country girl at heart. Born and bred in the South, with occasional forays to the beautiful Lake District, I am ashamed to say that I am ignorant of most of out major towns and cities north of London. Do I hear gasps of horror?
I am pleased to announce, though, that I have taken the first steps to remedy this and have now visited the lovely city of... Manchester.
My daughter is moving to the area and we were there for two days while she looked for accommodation for her first job. I wanted to immerse myself in the place that was taking her away from me and needed to know that she would be happy in this new city.
My expectations were based on the BBC drama North and South that we both love to watch.
'Margaret takes instant offence to the town and its people. She becomes terribly lonely and hates the dirt, noise and lack of civilisation.'
Yes, I know that this is the twenty first century and not Victorian, industrial Britain, but I still had visions of mills, chimneys and John Thornton striding out of the factory door.
What I encountered instead was a city of contrasts: China Town, the cosy gay area around Canal Street, small exclusive shopping streets and the vast Arndale Centre, the ulta modern, glass office blocks of Spinningfields and the intricate lacing of iron bridges crisscrossing the canal - all set to the continuous rattle of the delightful trams and within a manageable walking distance of each other
Did I like it: yes. Will I be happy for my daughter to live here: definitely.
All that was missing was a handsome mill owner!