I read recently, with a great deal of delight, that Exeter, our home city, was in the top 5 most ‘happy places to live’ in the UK.
(you can read the full article here :)
Now, I must confess to feeling rather proud of this acolade for our city. We’ve lived here for a good few years now, and to be honest, wild horses would be unlikely to be able to drag us from it.
So, I’m just going to share a few reasons why Exeter is so very very lovely!
1) The Cathedral:
Bit of an obvious place to start, this one. But as far as cathedrals go, this one is a beauty. However, for the residents, its more than just a beautiful construction. It represents a place where a lot of people gather (particularly in the summer – the lawns in front are a sea of bodies, slurping ice creams and eating pasties!)
It’s also a building that can be seen right across the city. Wherever you are, chances are you can probably get a glimpse of it. From both of our houses in Exeter, we’ve been able to see the squat spires from our attic windows. Better still, drive out of the city limits, out on to the hills, and you can still see it, enormous and stoic, nustled between all the other buildings like a protective and slightly disapproving parent. It’s a big icon for everyone here.
2) The RAMM.
We waited a looooong time for the RAMM (or Royal Albert Memorial Museum, to give it its official name) to reopen. Then it did, and ever since, my boys and I have been every week without fail. We love it! What other museum has elephants and giraffes facing you when you enter, mooses looming over you in the rooftops, a fantastic toy room for the kids, dolls houses, a real Egyptian mummy and a variety of roman outfits to dress up in? It is a fascinating, haphazard jumble of endless things to look at and do, and its no wonder that it won recent awards in the UK.
3) The Exeter Food Festival:
This is definitely (for me anyway, who is an unashamed piggy) one of the highlights of the Exeter calendar. Coming up this year at the end of April, this is a glorious collection of the area’s finest local food and drink purveyors; and trust me, if there is something that South Westerners do extremely well, it is create tasty food. The cost of a ticket will get you entry to the lovely Rougemont Castle Gardens, plus liberty to graze as much as you like on all the gorgeous samples on offer, and purchase lots of delicious food from local suppliers. The local ciders and local chocolates always go down exceedingly well with me, and I generally have to be dragged away from the stalls by my husband.
4) Exeter City Football club
A bit of a contentious one, this one. I hestitated before popping it on here. However, it isn’t really so much about the football, but about how amazingly ECFC symbolise what is so great about the community spirit in Exeter. A few years back, the club nearly faded into obscurity, thanks to excessively grim money problems. However, the supporters assembled a Trust, to pump money back into the club co-operatively (and yes, my husband, my father-in-law and my brother-in-law are all members! In fact, I think I was at one point, but then we ran out of money…) and now look at them! About to be promoted to League One too, all things going according to plan. Not bad for a club that nearly ceased to be, eh! And all thanks to the support of the people of Exeter. See… now that’s what I love about the city…
5) Gandy Street
Looks like something straight out of Harry Potter, doesn’t it. This is easily my favourite street in Exeter. All cobblestones and ancient, intriguing buildings, plus some fantastic independent shops to boot. And nip down an alleyway and you’ve found yourself at Boston Tea Party, which of course, is a West country chain of teahouses / cafes, serving some of the best coffee and cake EVER. Starbucks, you don’t stand a chance in comparison.
So yes, it’s not surprising at all that we are 4th in the country. Exeter is an AMAZING place to live. We consider ourselves hugely fortunate to do so.