Columnists / Rachel Hawkins

‘My unwavering fit to burst pride for Bristol, our incredible city’

By rachel hawkins, Tuesday Feb 12, 2019

Aside from my family and friends, there’s something else that will likely always keep me a Bristol resident: my unwavering, fit to burst pride for this incredible city that we call home.

Because it is incredible.  Argue it with me if you want. You won’t win.

It was absolutely no surprise to me to recently discover that it’s been named the happiest city in Britain.

Rarely have I spoken to a non-Bristolian who has been less than impressed with their experience of the utopia of the South West.

It’s got something for everyone: a bursting-at-the-seams food scene which is praised by national press on the regular, jaw-droppingly beautiful scenery and views that leave your eyes desperate to take in more, friendly people (apart from me, I won’t pretend I don’t have Resting Bitch Face 95 per cent of the time) and an amazing football team.  Yes, I’m on about Bristol City, obviously.

I’ve never lived anywhere other than Bristol.

I’ve moved about the city a little bit. Starting in Hanham, moving to Brislington for a year, back to Hanham, up to Kingswood, back to Hanham then back up to Kingswood, where I’ve settled since 2012. I’d probably sell a kidney to move back to Hanham, not that anyone would want that rancid old thing mind you.

Over the years, particularly when I was in my early twenties, I’ve toyed with the idea of living elsewhere.  For a long time, London was a city that had a little piece of my heart. Whenever I’d venture up for work my interest in the capital would increase somewhat, however I never had the balls to actually do it.  I’m a brilliant excuse maker, you see.

Then, in my mid-twenties, I met someone who wasn’t from Bristol and contemplated leaving my Bristolian roots behind me and making the relatively short move to Wiltshire. But I didn’t. I’m a brilliant excuse maker, you see.

Whenever I’ve been asked where I’m from (I can’t understand how the Vicky Pollard-like accent doesn’t give the game away the second I open my gob, mind) and I answer with Bristol, I’m almost always met with a, “Oh, I just love Bristol, whenever I’ve visited I’ve had the best time,” or, “I love Bristolians”.  Or, “Sorry, can you repeat that please?”

Recently, I put to my Twitter followers a very simple question: Fellow Bristolians, indulge me with summat a minute. What do you love about living in Bristol? What keeps you living here?

Of course, this is Twitter, so everyone regardless of their nativity piles in with some smart-arse response.

“Definitely not the accent,” chimes in one.

“I was expecting the comments section on this to remain blank,” chimes another.  Well it didn’t did it, mouth?  As we’re about to find out:

“St Nick’s Market, the parks and open spaces.  The independent shops.”  You see, this is something I love about Bristol. One minute you can be drinking in the hustle and bustle of Cabot Circus, desperate for some tranquility and then (almost) the next you can be wandering around the green space of Ashton Court, making friends with deer (sort of).

“The Mem.”  Don’t worry.  I corrected him.

“As a Londoner who went to uni in Bristol, what I loved most was that it was like a condensed London. Everything was in walking distance. And it had such lovely green areas and a lot of history behind it. That and its close to other cities.” Steeped in history, aren’t we.  And I totally get that “condensed London” reference.  I spent some time in Westminster recently and could definitely see some architectural similarities.  Ark at me.

“I’m a Bristolian in exile but every time I come home and feel it’s where I’m meant to be.” I’ll tell you a feeling I love: approaching Temple Meads train station when you’ve spent the day in another city. Home.

“The Cat and Wheel. Everything a pub needs.” Never been myself. Remedying this immediately.

“Chasers.” Iconic.

“I used to do lots of work in Clifton. Very posh but cool atmosphere.” Visiting Clifton on a Sunday is one of my most favourite things to do.

“Travelled all round the country and can honestly say I haven’t seen anywhere else where I thought, ‘I could move here’.”  New tagline for Visit Bristol perhaps?

“North Street, harbourside, Wapping Wharf, Ashton Court, beer, food and vibes.”  ALL. OF. THIS.  Wapping Wharf in the summer. Just brilliant.

“There’s always something fun, unusual or straight up weird going on. I love that. And also the food is just bloody amazing, along with the foodie community. Also it’s pretty, walkable and inclusive.” Pretty and inclusive. Love that.

Trust me when I say I could go on.  There were a fair few comments (check out @ourrachblogs if you want to see some more), so many I agreed with and it also provided me with new places to check out. You can never be bored with the choice of eateries. I swear there’s something new popping up twice per week at the moment.

Bristol, despite your somewhat terrible traffic jams (I couldn’t not mention it could I?) and the fact we’ve never had a soap opera based here (it bothers me, okay?), I love you me babber. It’s gert lush that it’s not just your proud residents who appreciate your wonderfulness but so many other people the world over.

Bristol24/7’s newest columnist Rachel Hawkins lives in Kingswood. She recently made the pages of the Daily Mail after sharing a keyboard shortcut on Twitter.

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