Did you know, I’m a fan of the wild open spaces in nature? If you didn’t then please do go and check out my blog a little more. My love of Dartmoor features quite heavily. I love the isolation of being out under the big skies, with not a trace of human habitation. Why then, I hear you ask, am I participating in Wicked Wednesday’s prompt “Favourite City”? Cities are a stark contrast to my natural habitat. Well, let me tell you…
That is fairly straightforward to answer.
I don’t wish to compare the two situations, more like appreciate the contrast between them. I like variety. Too much of one thing and I’m likely to switch off from it. Now, don’t get me wrong. I NEED the wide open spaces to maintain my equilibrium. But I also adore the hustle and bustle of city life. The busy-ness of the streets, the architecture and the smells. One of my favourite memories is stepping out of Manchester Piccadilly Station and inhaling the dirty, diesel tainted air, having left the fresh countryside of the south west some hours beforehand and sat in an airconditioned carriage for the interim. “Fart air” is the not-so-delicate term I took from that first experience of a big, dirty city, and I loved it.
Do you remember my travels last year? When I was wandering down the hot London streets during August last year I walked into a fug of this particular scent, nostalgia hit me for those visits North from all those years before.
Now, London is a fantastic city.
I would love to live there, though I’m not sure which part. Perhaps, the reality is that I’d rather live outside the M25, in the South Downs, close enough to visit when I need that fix of anonymity. I’ve been fortunate enough to visit a few times over recent years and I’ve taken to my feet to explore. Discovering sprawling green spaces and networks of quirky residential streets, just minutes away from the more obvious districts. What fascinates me is that the vast majority of people that trace the pavements seem to be looking down, or at their phone. Not noticing the world around them. I look up and out. This isn’t just something I do when exploring new places, I do exactly the same passing along the routes of the daily grind. But when I’m somewhere new I see different things.
I don’t tend to stick to the well trodden tourist tracks, instead exploring different neighbourhoods. I love mansion blocks, the way they are often built to the same, or at least very similar, templates. But the way they are maintained changes depending on area. And the way they are lived in too. Seeing the deprivation of some blocks, dirty brickwork and blankets pinned up for curtains, where two or three streets away the same building will sparkle with freshly washed walls and primly tucked back drapes.
It’s all about the contrast.
I have lived in two cities, and almost a third. I would consider Bristol my city home. It is big enough you can get lost, but small enough you can bump into someone you know quite unexpectedly. And the independent shops and cafes are easy to find, friendly establishments. Even the “rough” areas were safe havens for me when I lived there. While I’ve not been for some time, the draw is very real. It is a warm, comfortable place to be.
Southampton, on the other hand, felt quite the opposite. In spite of knowing vastly more people there I never bumped into anyone, never felt relaxed, couldn’t wait to leave. It’s been years since I’ve spent any time there, so who knows, the atmosphere may be different now, but I don’t feel like revisiting the cold place I lived in back then.
There are other cities I’ve enjoyed over the years, but the list I wish to visit and become acquainted with is ever growing. As a (mainly) country girl, I feel that I’ve not really experienced all that the sprawling expanses of Urban melting pots have to offer. Not only the contrast between the haves and have-nots, residential and business, busy and calm, but I wish to see how they balance out too.
I make no secret of the fact that I have immense wanderlust.
As my confidence builds I am starting to build plans for making this dream a reality. Covid has delayed matters somewhat, but I consider this an opportunity to explore more ideas while the world opens up again. Delayed gratification is, most definitely, one of my kinks. I see no reason that can’t be included in my vanilla world.
My adventures have been known to include some scavenger hunting on the way. This summer saw North Devon play host to some great locations on a trip with SWL. But where will I go next year? I do hope to pitch up in a new city, somewhere across the water perhaps, expand my scavenging hunt to the continent. So, going back to the question I could hear you asking at the top- Why is this country girl joining in with the favourite city prompt? Well, I want to know where my next favourite city should be? Which is yours? What locations are there which might serve for Scavenger hunt locations? And what local cafes and producers would you suggest? (Note: I require plenty of sustenance.) And, most importantly, where inspires you to look up and out?
I want to soak up the contrast of your most favourite city!
Contrast, Don’t Compare is my latest addition for Wicked Wednesday. Please go and click the badge above to check out what others are sharing this week.
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