Big City or Small Town

Neither, actually!

I was a bit of both, but for most of my life, I have been an island boy, and that is how I would describe myself.

I was born in a small English market town with a population of little more than 9,000. So definitely a small town. But it was only 50 miles from London, with a regular train service available every hour. So whenever I needed a break to my small town life, I could be in the big city within the hour. So I really did have the best of both worlds. By choice, the small town, with its modest amount of traffic and people, suited me better but the option to join the hustle and bustle of London’s West End, or the home ground of my beloved football team at Highbury was always available.

Jersey Beach
Jersey Beach

I was not yet thirty when work took me to the tiny island of Jersey, an area of just 45 square miles. I, and of course Mrs B, loved it. A safe haven in which to bring up our two boys, the sea all around us where ever we went, miles and miles of quiet country lanes, and a stunning history going back a thousand years or more.

We had a small town as our capital, and if we wanted the bright lights of the city, places like London, Manchester and even Paris were just a short flight away. Many times we caught a fast ferry on a Sunday morning across to St. Malo on the French coast, enjoyed a wonderful afternoon of great food and even better wine, catching the last ferry home in the late evening, usually the worse for wear!

So when retirement approached, where should we live? Jersey, being so very small, was unbelievably expensive, and our pensions would not go far if we stayed. Neither of us fancied a big city atmosphere, or a small-town mentality, so we opted for another island, somewhat bigger than Jersey.

Cyprus, our home now for the past eight years, has a big city, the capital Nicosia, and we live close to a wonderful small town called Iskele, with cobbled streets and an oldy-world atmosphere. Our actual Roger Barahome is on a beach resort, where the incredibly blue Mediterranean is so very close, with a spectacular mountain range in the other direction, just 20km away. Bliss.

So no, not big city boy, not small town boy, but island boy for me. For ever, I hope.



Big City or Small Town? 

I’ve always been a fan of urban landscapes. Great cities such as New York City or Tokyo have been a fascination to me. 

Life goes on, however, and now I really understand the beauty and coziness of small places, the countryside compared to big city lifestyle. You will want to spend the rest of your life in places where my RUSUK pals, Roger and Dean, happily live now, in their case, on Northern Cyprus, having done, respectively, their personal life journeys. Sure, this is not a paradise but something that looks like one. Plus, if you’re not 20 anymore, you don’t need to explore life both mentally and geographically as much as before.   

Talkeetna, Alaska
Talkeetna, Alaska (Sergey’s Facebook)

By the way, after spending more than three months in Alaska, I found out, to my big surprise, that I’m not such an outdoor personality like I probably would imagine myself before. Dog mushing or commercial fishing is something that I wouldn’t choose as my lifetime addiction. Oh, boy, it truly looks cool and romantic just like in Jack London novels but such lifestyle is just not for me. Now I know it.

This is why I would now vote for an escape, for a small size, small town life, even the countryside, in a warm sunny and peaceful place. At least, this is how idyllist life looks to me now. No more big style outdoor adventures and, on the other hand, no more urban experiences. 

Probably, this is something connected with the emotional burn-out because I understand at 45 that Our Rusuk Blog writer Sergeynot all my goals would be achieved, not everything would go my way. There’re things I can’t change even if I don’t like them… Then you would just want sit back and relax, collecting more life energy, reassessing your life…  



Big City or Small Town?

Washington, DC is a funny city, as cities go. The city itself only has 600,000 residents, it’s mostly office buildings with a beautiful, park like downtown area called The Mall. Up until my lifetime most Americans thought of it as a sleepy Southern Town, but no longer. While the downtown area is still the same, the area around the city is a major metropolitan area. Close to eight million people live there.

So the city is like a giant donut with a green center and lots of marble moments. It also has all the attributes of a big city: world-class shopping, great television, insane traffic, real football, and sky-high prices.

Metro Rail, Washington, DC
Orange Line, Dean’s Train

During the Winter I used to get on the Metro early in the morning, at maybe seven, and the train would enter the tunnel going under the Potomac before the sun came up. I worked in Union Station and so I would get off and ride the escalator up inside the building. At the end of the day I would take the Orange Line and retrace my tracks, with the train coming out of the tunnel at maybe six. It was dark.

Because everything you could want was inside the building, restaurants, shops, and twenty-four people I had to support (I was the General Manager), I never had a reason to leave the building. Put another way, during the Winter I only saw the sun on the weekends. 

Between my Wife & I we made within a few hundred of $100,000 a year and we were always broke. Not because we lived decent lives, we lived like mice driving tiny clown cars. The cost of living was simply stupid. 

Today I live in a small town and while I still get up before the sun, it’s by choice. Little money, no shopping, crap roads, oh and these gawd-aweful little knats, the Brits call them midges, that can leave a welt when they bite. 

The sea is lovely shades of greens and impossible light blues; nothing like the Atlantic, and a week never goes by without joining friends for drinks in the salt breeze. If I have some little project to do around the house, I go down to Paşa Yappy Market (Pasha’s Hardware) and the owner greets me with a smile and calls out my name. 

Today I’ll pick up a friend and we will stop to grab a couple of beers & crisps (chips) on the way to Roger’s house at two. There’s this old movie, Titfield Thinderbolt, that shows a Britain that no longer Photograph of Dean Lewisexists. It’s a comedy that they have both seen and I’m informed is required viewing if I want to understand the UK. Truth is that’s all an excuse.

So big city of small town? NO contest.