The Axis of Awesome

I was born and raised in Scunthorpe. No, that's not near Newcastle. It's over 100 miles south of Newcastle, but it's still further north than Manchester.


It was always a bit odd growing up in a place that nobody calls the north-east, but which is due east of the area known as the north-west.

However, now I've moved to Manchester - where I went to university - I have a newfound respect for where I'm from, and for the talent that exists in this narrow band that spans the country - and which I've decided to call the Axis of Awesome.

Defining the Axis of Awesome

Like any good region - such as the M4 Corridor, for instance - the Axis of Awesome has its own strong transport links.

The Transpennine Express carries rail travellers across to Sheffield, Doncaster, Scunthorpe and Grimsby, as well as to Leeds and Hull north of the Humber.

Motorists can span the country on the M62, which also carries the honour of being the country's highest motorway as it scythes through the peaks.

This gives us big cities and even bigger views - from the train, at times, you could be forgiven for thinking there are no urban areas out there, yet minutes later you're ploughing through the heart of Sheffield or Manchester.

As you might expect, this gives our strip of the North a unique blend of big business and rural artistry - a combination of which I am particularly proud.

Occupying the Axis

My own contribution to this epically talented area of the country has covered both big-agency work and individual efforts since my graduation in 2006.

Particularly impressive, to my mind, is that I've done both from the same base of operations - Didsbury.

For five years, as many of you already know, I hopped on the bus every day and travelled from my leafy suburb to the lofty heights of Portland Tower in Manchester city centre, as a DirectNews Correspondent for Adfero.

That same leafy suburb is now the much more pleasing outlook for my daily freelance work, which - aside from the vagaries of rural broadband - I suppose I could do anywhere.

My Northern Allies

So what makes me love the North so much, if I could work anywhere? Well, it's full of my favourite people - and my favourite people to work with.

In sport, we have the truly awesome Jessica Ennis, born in Sheffield. In the world of entertainment, and born in Leeds, we have Debbie King - one of my absolute favourite people.

We have everything from have-a-go artists like Jane Thornber (who would probably be too modest to call herself an artist) to truly inspirational professional galleries - I was lucky enough to be invited to an exhibition of works by Darren Baker in Saltaire a few years ago.

These days I spend my days on Twitter chatting with the girls of Manchester's Smith & Smith PR and other creatives across the north of England (and elsewhere too - I do value my southern and international colleagues!).

Everything's cheaper up north, we're not too proud to eat bubble and squeak, and we don't whinge when it rains. Well, not much.

Big Cog, Little Cog

So London, although you may dominate the news - and despite the fact that you think you're the sole cog driving the nation's economy - don't forget that the North is the linchpin keeping you guys in place, and the Axis of Awesome is the area that dominates my heart.

To wandering Northerners everywhere - there's nothing wrong with going out to see the world. That's the spirit of exploration that has kept the North at the forefront of everything from steelmaking to textiles and the Industrial Revolution over the centuries.

When you're done, though, remember there'll be black pudding and bubble and squeak in the pan, an unbeatable cuppa in the pot, and the warmest of welcomes waiting to greet you. This place is Home - once and forever.

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