Now Downpatrick isn’t exactly at the centre of the universe. Well, what of it? I don’t want to be at the centre of the universe, and I don’t think I ever did.
When I lived in London and I had a bike I thought I was lucky to live there. I could explore the city at my leisure without ever having to worry about the rising cost of public transport.
But as much as I loved whizzing around the city I found exploring the countryside around London even better. And before long I got to know all the little country roads like the back of my hand. I explored the remote parts of Essex, the side of the county that is almost never seen on TV. I cycled right across Hertfordshire, taking in Ware, Hertford, St Albans and Hemel Hempstead and dozens of villages along the way. And, of course, Buckinghamshire, especially the Chiltern Hills, was by far my favourite part of England. And the Chilterns on a warm, sunny summer’s day was, to me, the best England had to offer!
The problem was, getting out of the city. It took more than an hour by bike from Walthamstow to get out of the suburbs. I would have loved to have a place in the country, ideally in or around Chesham, along with a steady job, but I just couldn’t afford it and I had no real connections out there.
But now I’m in Downpatrick in Ireland where the countryside is within a fifteen minute walk, where I have a whole house to myself (compared to a cramped bedsit in Walthamstow) and where I can go anywhere I please by day or night. This is the centre of my universe.