Gwennan Rees

Blogger and Illustrator

The Big Smoke

The Big Smoke

I am inclined to pre-emptively apologise, readers, if you either begin this blog (or daresay, finish it) and the point seems to elude you.

I’m not certain there is a point, but I hope it somehow transpires to be an enjoyable read. Although I offer this disclaimer, which is that this blog is extraordinarily unlikely to be informative. But, fingers crossed, it might just be vaguely interesting. For those that are avid readers of Gwennan’s blog (which I hope is all), you will know that she lives in what I would refer to, and what I always have referred to, as the Countryside.

Gwennan and I have known each other for some time. Nearly 10 years to be exact. And when she said she would need guest bloggers whilst she was on a well-deserved holiday, I jumped at the opportunity. I confess I have no blog-writing experience. I doubt that comes as much of a surprise… not many people begin a blog by apologising... But what I lack in experience I make up for in enthusiasm (let’s hope). One thing’s for sure; I do love to write.

Writing has consistently been one of the few things I truly love (taking equal place with reading and followed closely by gaming in second). So, here we all are. I was debating whether to do a Top 10 of something or something like that, but I’m not skilled enough for that. I thought a solid topic would come to me, but instead I’ve just given writing whatever comes to me in this moment a go. And since I have literally just moved into London, it is rather occupying my thoughts. Hence, London.

And so we come to my second apology, which is for the vagueness of my title, as The Big Smoke is a term that has often been attached to a number of iconic cities. However, it began with the place that has newly become my home – London. It isn’t a new story, country-ish girl moves to the city. Yet, I’m not sure anyone or anything can truly prepare you for the juxtaposition.

One of the greatest misconceptions of our generation is that to “make it”, London is the place to be. Whilst it is undoubtedly an often overwhelmingly wondrous place, it certainly isn’t the be all or end all. Success can be found anywhere, I firmly believe that. It isn’t London or nothing.

Gwennan is one of the best examples of my friends that I can think of who proves this. Whilst remaining at home in South Wales she has constructed her own thriving business, built her social media profile and become a successful blogger – all learning as she went. London would not have helped her; London would have weighed her down. As I think it can weigh most people. Not because she wouldn’t have been able to (here we go again) “make it”, but because the drudge of London can be disheartening and definitely isn’t for everyone. Gwennan has thrived and flourished, something I’m not sure I will yet do. London can simultaneously be the most fertile and barren plot.

I think of the words of the poet William Blake and realise the first I ever understood of the UK’s Capital was how it appeared in Victorian verse and prose,

I wander thro' each charter'd street,

Near where the charter'd Thames does flow.

And mark in every face I meet

Marks of weakness, marks of woe.

But he wasn’t lying. I walk down charter’d streets the days I venture into central. Yet, I am also quite the fraud, as Clapham is an incredibly green part of London. I can still walk through Clapham Common and recall words of Wordsworth’s ‘nature never did betray the heart that loved her’. Even in the sometimes-grubby madness, there is always beauty. It’s in the concrete, as well as the city trees, lining the city streets.

And yet, I’ve just returned from Cornwall as I write this and the majesty of the landscape occupies my mind. I don’t love the sea, but so much of the surrounding landscape was reminiscent of a Hardy novel. I know, deep down, I belong even there more than London. And I hate sand. Although… I’m starting to think that my English Degree has irreparably damaged me…. I can’t seem to think of anything without associating it to some form of 19th Century Literature.

Will I ever fall in love with London? Not in the way I love the countryside. But are its charms irresistible? Undoubtedly. On the whole, the jury is somewhat out. But for those who feel it just isn’t for them, I would take a slightly unpopular standpoint and say your not missing out. Inhabit the place that makes you happy, and don’t believe that it’s London or nothing. Because it just isn’t true. 

I am extremely fond of London and excited to finally be living here, but give me a few more years and I’ll be in cottage somewhere in the Lake District, and I don’t think I’ll miss Big Ben one bit.

Feel free to check me out on Instagram – mroderick93. Never quite got the hang of Twitter, but maybe one day. I hope this wasn’t too much of a directionless interlude, as I certainly had a lot of fun writing it.

So thank you Gwennan, it’s been a pleasure! Look out for tomorrow’s blog Things Girls Do But Don’t Like to Admit, by guest blogger Sarah Ann.

Follow Megan on Instagram here!

Instagram: @m_roderick93

Things Girls Do But Don't Like To Admit.

Things Girls Do But Don't Like To Admit.

Broadstairs: The Great British Seaside.

Broadstairs: The Great British Seaside.