Don Your Way column: Doncaster isn't perfect and never will be - but it doesn't mean I don't want it to be
More often than not, we're very quick to criticise the town we live in.
Doncaster gets its fair share of stick for numerous problems - and I’m not going to pretend that I haven’t highlighted many of them over the 23 years I’ve been a journalist in this town.
That can often be seen as a case of: “You’re always putting Doncaster down,” “why don’t you write about the positive stuff?” “Why do you hate the place so much?”
Let’s be clear. I’m not always putting the town down, I don’t hate it and I’ve written plenty celebrating Doncaster over the years.
But we can’t shy away from the fact that where we live isn’t always perfect and however negative it may be, sometimes those tricky issues need to be addressed and talked about.
That doesn’t mean I love Doncaster any the less. I’m a committed Doncaster Rovers fan, and have been since 1981, but that doesn’t mean that when things aren’t going right, I can’t stick the boot in.
If a building springs up that becomes a blot on the landscape, I’ll grumble. If the streets are dirty and litter strewn, I’ll have my say. If there’s drunks or beggars hanging around the town centre making life unpleasant, then we should face up to it. Doncaster isn’t perfect - and never will be.
But that doesn’t mean I don’t like it and don’t want it to be.
There’s plenty to celebrate in Doncaster - and recently my eyes have been opened up to new and unexplored parts I never even knew existed.
I’ve dipped a toe into the world of cycling in recent weeks and getting out and about on two wheels has introduced me to some glorious, hidden paths and stretches of beautiful countryside in and around this town of ours.
Regular walkers, joggers and cyclists will be all too familiar with the Don Gorge and Sprotbrough Falls, but it is only in the last few weeks I’ve bean able to enjoy their relaxing splendour, beautiful tranquillity and some of the most scenic and peaceful views in the whole of Doncaster.
This isn’t going to turn into an advert for the Sprotbrough Tourist Board, but the stretch from the Boat Inn and out along the River Don towards Conisbrough is something to revel in.
Dense, overhanging trees nestling alongside the sun-dappled, gently flowing river while narrow boats chug up and down - this could be a scene from the shires of Middle England, rather than what was once a polluted industrial waterway just a few miles from the soot and grime of Doncaster town centre.
A pint in the Boat Inn, watercolour artists setting up their easels to capture the picture postcard scenes of Sprotbrough Falls, the sound of children laughing, it truly is a corner of Doncaster to treasure.
So if you hear me bang on about the bad bits of Doncaster (of which there are many), let’s not forget there are also plenty of good bits too – and you’ll hear me talking about both in equal measure.