Return to Bristol

24 March 2013
For family reasons I had to return to the UK for a few weeks, and one of my stop-offs was Bristol. Before I left it a few months ago I had a bit of a love-hate relationship with the place, but having done two multi-year degrees in this city, it was somewhere that nevertheless formed a large part of my life. The trip turned out to be surprisingly devoid of sentiment, and at times felt like a self-enforced choir. I suppose this is what closure feels like.

I was invited to the students' union end-of-term party, which allowed me to catch up with a lot of old friends, most of who are themselves leaving Bristol. This was billed as the 'goodbye' party as several rooms (including the bar) are about to be demolished and redeveloped. Also took the opportunity to get a few series off the Anime society, and to meet up with a few people in my former research lab.

Economically Bristol has a few signs of recovery, but it is pretty clear that a large portion of the local economy is catering to overseas Chinese students. It was notable that the former colleagues I spoke to about financial issues said things that correlated well with my own suspicions. Lot of people are short of money, and even those who have the capability to save are taking the decision not to. Apart from maintaining a small float of a few grand, spare money is being invested in one thing or another.

My former flat in Clifton has been sold, as the logistics of preparing it for rental were too great. From a longer-term financial stand-point this is a bad decision, as the rental market is substantially more buoyant than the housing market in general, but the final straw was the complete piss-take quotes given for refurbishment. It seems that a lot of British companies are over-dependent on taking a few customers to the cleaners rather than having a wide customer base.

A fundamental question I asked myself was would I want to move back, which means considering the reasons I left in the first place. Were these reasons in hindsight good ones, and if so do they still apply. They do, so it is no turning back.