It has been 8 months since I headed out West, from London to Bristol.
In the last 4 weeks, life has pulled me to London, Greece, Turkey and Kenya (peripateticism still reigns).
However, despite being sat at a desk bundled in a scarf, with the rain lashing from the gloom onto my rattling windows, it’s good to be back…
I’ve ranted about my dislike of London. I’m perhaps overly negative about London, as to some extent I never really gave it a proper chance (despite almost 30 years of diving in and out). Yet I am more convinced than ever, now I’ve had time to reflect on this move, that London life is not one that is conducive to happiness, for me.
But rather than dwell on the negatives of London, let me examine some of the positives of the Brizzle:
– Not making plans to see people weeks ahead. In 8 months, I have a collection of many new (and old) friends here who I see almost every day. I see my friends who live down the road more often here than I did when I lived with them in London and we see each other when we want to, rather than over the breakfast table when my conversation is very simple. I don’t necessarily have to make plans to see them – we live close enough to one another and head regularly to places like the wonderful Lido (http://www.lidobristol.com/) meaning that random encounters are common (I bumped into two friends in the 3 minute walk to the cafe I’m sat in).
– Not only do I see lots of people, but there is a real bond – a community (finally) of people my age who hang out together and who have invited me into their ‘gang’ for adventures like underwater hockey (yet to play), climbing, ping-pong parties, dinners, talks, concerts, plays, gigs… etc.
– Bristol is, some claim, the graveyard of ambition. Or, put another way, people focus on (the wonderfully titled) ‘industrial leisure’. Although it sometimes challenges my discipline, it’s always welcome to have wonderful, creative and colourful opportunities ready to soak up non-work time. To date I’ve managed to maintain my discipline whilst being able to dip in and out of these opportunities when needed in a way that’s so much easier and less stressful than doing the same in London.
– The feeling, when leaping off the train, of being ‘back’. I take a deep breath every time I land at the train station and enjoy the feeling of calm that Bristol resonates.
– My house – which, for less than a 1 bedroom flat in London provides 4 bedrooms, 2 living rooms, fires, a front and back garden and a conservatory and is nestled in the nicest square in the town. I live in the center of town, yet it’s wonderfully quiet and peaceful.
– A feeling of progressiveness – with a newly elected independent mayor, a Bristolian currency, swathes of amazing graffiti that is encouraged coupled with street parties (www.seenoevilbristol.co.uk) and the rest…
– The Brecon Beacons for weekend romps, Clevedon for summer evening swims in the sea and BBQs, North Devon and Cornwall, the Gower peninsula, kiting opportunities.
– Everything towny is within a half-hour cycle.
– No commuting
Although I sometimes ponder on the lack of variety in comparison with bigger cities (concerts, clubs, theatre), I’ve barely scratched the surface here. It may be that London has the biggest and the best – if you want to go see a pianist play, like I did Behzod last week they’re less likely to do a concert here, aside from the ‘exclusive’ events, there’s a feeling that one can get one’s head around what’s on offer and yet never get bored.
The main challenge is not getting sucked back into London, especially as I’m running a tech startup, where most UK investors, lawyers and partners live and work. Yet for all the ‘advantages’, there’s also the distraction, cost, commute and other negatives that London enforces.
For now and, I hope, for the foreseeable future, I want the Westcountry to be my home.