Life In The City After Life In The Country

In September 2013, I made a decision that parents never thought I would make: I left my home in Ivybridge, Devon to study Creative Writing at university. Now don’t get me wrong, moving away from home isn’t exactly a mind-blowing concept, especially in this day and age. People from all corners of the globe have ventured much further than I to experience new things. Nevertheless, the choice to leave my home behind has undoubtedly been my most life-changing to date.

Since my parents dropped me off at my bog-standard halls at Brunel University, I’ve made new friends, rapidly developed a new taste in music, performed a stand-up comedy act and taken on jobs as everything from chef to copywriter. But perhaps best of all, I also met the girl who I’ve come to build a life with in our cosy flat in East London. Taking everything into consideration, you could almost say that despite my Devonshire roots, I’ve become a proper city dweller. Well, almost. Because, as flattering as that may be, I can’t say it’s entirely true.

Regardless of my time in London, my thick, west country accent is still going strong (whether I like it or not) and while I like to think I fit in seamlessly with the hectic lifestyle that surrounds me, the urge to visit my family back home intensifies with each passing month. At every mention of the place I grew up, a little part of me misses it. To say that I get homesick would be a considerable departure from reality. However, I’ll openly admit that for the eighteen years I lived in Devon, before packing my bags and heading out into the real world, I severely took it for granted.

There are so many things to like about Devon. Fields, farmland and trees are in abundance; you’re never too far away from a seaside town or beach; if you get a taste for pasties, ice cream or fudge, you’ll feel right at home; and even if you journey to the most remote village, you’re still bound to come across a quaint pub with plenty of character. Moreover, the air is twenty times cleaner than any of the densely-populated cities elsewhere in Britain. But on a more personal level, Devon has been a fantastic place to grow up.

Just one example of why is a camping trip I went on with school friends during our GCSEs. We pitched our tents in a field belonging to one of the group, cracked open some drinks and shared a barbecue around a toasty log fire. But by far the best part of this weekend, for me, was the night sky. Far away from any kind of light pollution, I was able to look up and see the stars clearer than I ever had before. I saw multiple shooting stars that evening, and know with certainty that you could never enjoy a view like that in London. Not a chance.

However, it was only after I moved away that I came to truly recognise the value to living in a place like Devon. In hindsight, if it were possible, I would never have left. But for me it wasn’t an option, because there’s one crucial thing that London offers which Devon does not: opportunity. Sure, the pollution is a real problem, the traffic is always a nightmare and living costs are sky high at the best of times – but the simple fact is that there is so much more going on in London.

Something that’s considered a rarity in the countryside is in abundance in the capital. If you were to visit the City for only a day, you’d be spoilt for choice for what to do. Part of this is down to its sheer size. London has distinctive pockets of culture scattered throughout its wide reach – my personal favourite being Camden Town, if only for the labyrinthian market and tucked-away music venues. But whether you’re an avid theatre goer, a serial shopper or a lover of architecture, there’s something for everyone – even if you don’t know it yet. And that’s just the tourism side of it.

I could go on, but I didn’t move to London because bands I like tour there more often. I moved away from Devon because I wanted to be writer – and as far as Britain (or even Europe) is concerned, London is the central hub for writers everywhere. So the fume-filled air, the extortionate rent, the lack of visible starlight – these are all things that I choose to endure.

Fortunately, it’s not all doom and gloom. Because after visiting my family for Christmas, I’ve come back with something beautiful. The first time I brought my girlfriend to explore my home county, we visited a place people like to call Bantham Beach. It’s without doubt one of my fondest memories, because everything about the day was just perfect. Therefore, as a Christmas present to us both, my parents tasked my rather talented cousin Gemma to create a canvas painting of Bantham. Now, the painting sits on the wall of our London flat, so that every day – no matter what stresses the City throws our way – we can feel like there’s a little piece of Devon here with us. If you’re reading this, Gemma, we can’t thank you enough.




One thought on “Life In The City After Life In The Country

  1. Well what can one say a well executed piece of writing .So proud of what you have achieved and I know Devon will always be in you bones: dirty dirty London Nice place to visit but not to stay indefinitely for me :


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