I often ramble on about hating London, the commute, the stress, the busy busy unfriendly people and the lack of chill time. I think one of the reasons I feel like that is because I’ve been stuck in the London bubble for a long time with no escape. I had allowed the negative aspects of London to annoy me on a daily basis because I hadn’t taken a break away from the busy city life.
This weekend I took the opportunity to go back to the city that holds my heart, Bristol. I always have this feeling when I’m driving into Bristol, like, a breath of relief. Like I’ve been holding my breath in some way the whole time I’ve been going about my London life, and then I arrive in Bristol and it’s welcoming and it’s happiness and quirkiness and me.
I think there are two sides to my happiness at a weekend away from London; on the one hand I’m just happy to have a change and I think any other city would give me that. It’s refreshing to leave your bubble of life and routine, get away from the standard places you go to and experience something different.
On the other hand, it’s being in Bristol specifically that makes me happy. I hadn’t been back in over six months – the longest since starting university! Bad Bristol lover. So returning to the city for a weekend of fun, rediscovering great Bristol hangouts, and catching up with friends, was always going to be pretty exciting.
The main purpose of my visit was to go to the Oxjam Bristol Takeover, which I was involved in organising last year. Oxjam is an annual music festival organised by volunteers in aid of Oxfam, raising money to fight poverty whilst discovering many great unsigned bands. Oxjam Bristol takes place in Stokes Croft, home to some of the most fabulous venues in the city.
My all-time fave new discovery of the weekend was the Chilli & Ginger Cider served at The Crofters Rights. I don’t usually love drinking cider on a night out because it’s fizzy and bloating, but Bristol just does cider so damn well that it’s not an issue. Plus the ginger in this bad boy has a settling effect on the belly (much needed after too many crisps and dips) which makes it even more ingenious.
We also had the good old favourite Lazy Jacks, and a lot of gin. A lot a lot. The Crofters Rights also provided my favourite dancing moment of the night, whilst watching The Rin Tins, a fabulous folky jazzy jive band (a music combination that you can’t NOT dance to). We had a hilarious time getting fully involved and I ended up being flung around the room by a randomly amazing swing dancer man. All the great feels.
Apparently when I go back to Bristol I take on a student state of mind and so thought it absolutely acceptable to purchase a large cheesy chips with lashings of garlic mayo and BBQ. It must have seemed scrumptious because the man next to me took one look and said ‘I’ll have that, please.’
Sunday gave me the opportunity for some Autumn walking around Bristol time with one of my faves. We had some Italian ‘al dente’ pasta foods from Aquila (not the best meal of my life, bad choices, always stick to what you know) and a wonderful afternoon tea experience at The Tea Birds.
Sitting outside drinking tea and eating cake in Autumn is actually a fabulous thing to do. The tea warms you, and there is much people watching to be done which is a favourite activity of ours. People also kept looking at our cake with jealousy so I’m pretty sure we created business for the cafe. They should hire us as permanent example-cake-eater-advertisers. OMG what a great job.
Having a weekend of rediscovering Bristol and my love for the city really made me realise that London isn’t me, I can’t find my place here. I’m living my life in London but it feels like I’m experiencing a city that I’m not really part of. I don’t belong in central London, I’m just a visitor who happens to work here, and as much as I LOVE my home town on the outskirts I don’t fully belong there either. In Bristol I feel a part of the city, part of the buildings and the people and the events and it’s just me. I made Bristol my home, it was the first place I lived independently and I embraced it in every way possible.
Everyone is different. Obviously, many many people love London, and enjoy it in a different way to me, and that’s great. I can see the appeal and there are so many fantastic things to do and opportunities here. But unfortunately for me personally there are too many bugbears and pet hates that I have about London that influence the way I see my life here, and that won’t change.
I don’t plan on leaving London any time soon, my life and my friends are here, but I won’t stay forever, and I need little trips away to remind me of that. London can suck you into a stress-inducing unhealthy way of living, and that’s what I don’t need. Bristol has given me a little taster of lushness, and I want more of that please.