8 Things You Notice When You Live In Bristol

It has been two and a half years since I moved to Bristol. It wasn’t all smooth sailing, I lost some sanity somewhere near the beginning, but it’s vaguely come back now.

At first it was just a place I was living in, now it truly is a place I’m living in. (Same word I know, tricky, just think about it again… it took me a while and I wrote the damn thing!)

Anywhere new is always a daunting challenge, there’s so much that is different. After a while though, you realise that those differences are both good, and bad. It’s never quite like the home you knew, but that isn’t actually a bad thing.

Bristol in my opinion is London-Lite. It’s a bustling place with lots going on but without the hassle of London. Yes you still get the people in a rush, and the slow walking tourists, but everything is just a little bit more laid back than Londoners are used to. Part of me thinks that it’s because you can’t go anywhere in Bristol without hearing music, or smelling amazing food… and who could be stressed in a place like that?!

But lets hit the main things shall we? The things that everyone talks about in Bristol…

Buses

“Grr First, grr terrible!”

Okay, I’m paraphrasing there, but locals hate the buses. And to be fair, occasionally so do I. But most of the time I want to tell people to take a breath and be thankful they don’t have to bus it in Central London and the surrounding areas.

When I moved here I was amazed that no one got angry about buses standing at bus stops for ages giving people tickets. Out of habit I went to my corner shop and brought a monthly pass which you get on a paper ticket and stuck on an old fashioned bit of card with sticky backed plastic. But, you could buy them on the bus too… so every Monday a trip to town first thing in the morning would take twice as long because everyone was buying their weekly ticket… AND NO ONE MOANED. I know, strange right!?

More recently, and to my horror, they have put the price up on single tickets to encourage people to use their app… which works maybe 75% of the time, so people are more angry now than they were before. And they’re “looking into the possibility of contact less payment” with your debit cards… it’s not that hard, TfL have done it, give them a ring, I’m sure they’ll tell you how!

Traffic

Yes it’s occasionally bad. But it’s not that bad if you drive sensibly… the same as everywhere else! The only thing you really have to worry about is people being in the wrong lanes. Everyone knows what lane they have to be, but no one seems to want to actually drive in them until about two seconds before then need to be to turn off. I would hope that this is something that only happens during the main commuting times, but cab drivers are around all the time and are particularly bad offenders.

The Accent

I have terrible hearing, so put me in front of someone with a really thick accent and I’m going to be completely lost. It has led to some very awkward moments.

We joke about when I’m going to start sounding like a local, but I honestly think that my accent is too deeply rooted. Plus, I’ve tried being local, and I sound ridiculous. The easiest place to try and sound local is on a bus. When departing a bus it is customary to say “cheers drive”, and it is particularly easy to say it in a Bristolian accent. So I tried it a couple of times… and I sound like an idiot, so I have just reverted back to saying “thank you”.

Oh, and contrary to popular belief, and an article I read recently… saying thank you on a bus is not something that escapes people in London, we do it there too. It’s just not as easy because you get off the bus in the middle, so it’s normally muffled by chavs or a friendly wave in busy times.

Graffiti

I knew that graffiti could be pretty, but it’s not something I really realised until I came to Bristol. Banksy obviously made it public knowledge, but all around Bristol you see some wonderful examples of local talent. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still the crap tags, but most of the stuff is actually nice to look at… although the whale on Park Row looks really odd to me, but does have meaning behind it.

There are some beautiful pieces that have just appeared by my office, and I’ll try and add some pictures of them on here.

Property

Renting honestly isn’t that much better than living back home, but buying is a bit of an eye opener. Now I will have to admit that I got very lucky, I brought my house just before the prices started going up.

Looking at my area now you can get 3+ bedroom house for between £180 and £450. Back home it’s currently £350 to £2.25 million… just wow. Even the most expensive “normal” house was just under £1 million. That was basically the same search in the two areas and that’s what came back on Rightmove. The expensive end in my area are very nice places. It just goes to show you what a Surrey address and a 20 minute train journey to London will cost you these days!

The value for money you’re getting in Bristol is amazing. I’m an 8–10 minute bus ride from the station here, not much different from back home and I have the same amenities… well, apart from a decent local, but you can’t have everything!

Weather

Back in London it rain, you put up an umbrella, and the most you have to deal with is trying to avoid blinding people with it when you’re walking (although I’m not sure many people are too bothered by that last bit). Here in Bristol quite possibly only tourists bother with umbrellas.

The wind in Bristol is unlike any place I’ve ever visited. When you drive in to town there should be a sign that says “Welcome to Bristol, where umbrellas come to die”. On one outing with a friend, we were wandering around Park Street dodging in and out of rain clouds and found a bin that had eight umbrellas poking out of it… EIGHT! And those were just the ones we could see. There was even a “wind resistant” one. Ha! We laugh in the face of your preposterous claims!

Shopping

When I moved here everyone said to me “oh Cribbs is amazing you have to go there!”

I went. It’s not.

For those of you back home it’s like a really bad Whitgift Centre next to the Purley Way. Honestly, you don’t need to leave the centre to have good shopping. Cabot and Broadmead have a much better selection of places… although how it has such a tiny Marks and Spencers I don’t know, get your act together! You’ve got the posh quarter too, although it’s technically part of Cabot Circus I think.

If you’re looking for other chain places there’s Imperial Retail Park, Brislington Retail Park, and Longwell Green isn’t too far away either. (The latter is also home to another pointless M&S)


I could probably waffle on forever about the differences between London and Bristol, but what would be the point. I’m at the stage now where I refer to both places as home, but it’s only recently that I’ve started to feel like I miss it when I’m not here.

When I first came here I really couldn’t see myself settling in, it was all so different. Now I can’t see myself being anywhere else.

What are my parting words about Bristol? Bristol is where you come to be yourself.

No wait… I forgot one last thing… Hills. Living in Bristol is like living in an M.C. Escher print, inexplicably everything in every direction, is uphill.


Originally published at thevisioninblue.blogspot.com.

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