Your say: ‘Bristol is a part of me’

Stephanie Hall, April 17, 2017

We’ve had a lot of Bristol bashing recently so crap on this all you want in the comments but I just wanted to balance the scales a bit.

About 10 years or so I moved to Bristol by accident. I had been living in Edinburgh at the time and was offered the opportunity to pick up roots and experience something different. Also, England didn’t have to live under the smoking ban for another year so I packed my cigarettes and thought ‘why not?’.

At the time I knew nothing about Bristol or the South West or really just how transformative it would be for me.

I was pleased to find lager on tap but disappointed at the lack of draught Irn Bru (what on earth did these people have with their vodka?). And why was there cider everywhere?

Another observations was that those girls actually were not doing an impersonation of Vicky Pollard from Little Britain, those in fact were real accents.

And that’s not all of my discoveries. When I landed in the South West I couldn’t get over how healthy everyone looked, I’m not slating my Scottish countrymen but by god these people glowed with health in comparison to the peely-wally chain smoking throngs I was used to. I had stepped off the train and directly through the looking glass.

A decade on, I’ve tried (unsuccessfully) to leave. A brief stint in Reading only convinced me that I now belonged to Bristol and there was nothing I could do about it.

I’m now a confirmed card-carrying cider drinker who can’t even look at a beer, I seem to be ageing gracefully (if I do say so myself) and have remained healthier than the average Glaswegian. I now consider myself a Scottish Bristolian.

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Read more: ‘Seven reasons why I’m leaving Bristol’

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Now I know we’ve had articles about why people are leaving Bristol but I want to talk about why I stayed. This may come across as a puff piece but I assure you every city has its ups and downs its negatives and positives and our city is no different.

I think I stayed here because I was made to feel welcome first of all and I feel like that welcome would extend to anyone.

Bristol thrives on diversity. Whether it’s the hippies, the chavs or the hipsters, there is a group of people who will extend their friendship to you.

Bristol is a city where we can all belong those groups even merge into each other so we all find we have friends from other social diversities. We learn acceptance and tolerance in that way so how can it be a bad thing?

Why on earth would anyone complain about festivals? Don’t enjoy one, don’t go. How hard is that?

Bristol has such a wealth of social events and activities that again there is something for everyone. Whether you’re vegan, vegetarian, a BBQ enthusiast, gay, straight, human, alien there is somewhere for you to meet others like you and just generally hang out and have fun.

Secret places? 10 years and still exploring thanks! You meet new people and they share their secret spots in the city or something altogether new and fabulous pops up that NO ONE has seen or been to.

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Read more: ‘1000 reasons why I’m leaving Bristol’

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In the years I’ve been here I have boarded ships and touched history, played pirate, taken up and beaten numerous challenges, I’ve tried and tasted a million new things, met so many amazing people, slid down a hill on a water slide, learned about the cultures that live here, seen incredible works of art pop up and disappear back into the ether to be replaced by something entirely new and different.

I’ve laughed, I’ve cried, I’ve been enlightened by performances, I’ve fallen down stairs and into bushes, I’ve grown as a person in general in this city. I’ve had adventures.

Sure, it’s not all sunshine and lollipops. There’s homelessness and drugs and crime and last week some idiot stole my bay tree from my front door steps and if I find them I will kill them. But this is something all cities share and you’d be hard pressed to find one that’s perfect.

For me, just like the past ten years, my future is here in Bristol. I’m part of the fabric of the city and it’s a part of me.

If it’s not for you, just move on. Keep close the good memories you had here – I bet there are some – and go explore. But don’t be surprised if one day you find yourself returning.

The rest of us haven’t fallen out of love just yet perhaps we will at some point in our lives, but speaking for myself (and I know how saccharine and trite it sounds) my love is still going strong.

Less trite is my opinion that if you don’t like something you should probably just get stuffed and bog off any way you miserable complaining so and so. You’re the equivalent of that person who announces they’re leaving a social media group before doing so because you need the attention that badly.

Do us Bristol dwellers a favour will you? Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

I’m off to the Apple for a cider.

Stephanie Hall is a migrant Scot who now lives in Bristol. She works at JustCollecting and is @StephanieMPR on Twitter.

 

Main photo of Park Street water slide by Jon Craig

Read more: ‘Seven reasons why I’m staying in Bristol’

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