This is in response to a ‘Let’s blog off’ call – ‘Where’s your slice of heaven?’ I’ll post the links to other contributors as soon as I have them. Here’s my two-penny worth.

Let’s get a couple of things out of the way first.  Who you are with and your own state of mind are the two most important things when it comes to being happy. But that would make for a blog with few pretty pictures and not much to disagree with. And what would be the point of that?  But not wanting to dismiss a winning argument too quickly, let me elaborate with a poem and an aphorism.

The importance of your significant other is beautifully illustrated by the poem ‘ To a Godly Man’ by the late, much missed, Adrian Mitchell.

Don’t waffle to me about kingdom come
I’ve often loitered there
My left hand was on Celia’s bum
My right hand in her hair.

You get the general idea, I’m sure. It is about other people, but it’s also about you.

The Buddhists have a saying, actually they have lots, probably far too many.  The  smug quip most relevant for this occasion is ‘Wherever you go, there you are.’ And it is undeniably true.  If you don’t like, and enjoy, yourself then at least one person is going to really piss you off wherever you may be.

All of this is very deep and meaningful. So why is there a picture of the Thames at the top of my blog?   I’ll tell you how this is going to end. I’m going to run down my three favourite places and then reveal London as the winner.  But it is a close call.

Third place is Lisbon. It beats Marrakesh, the best smelling city in the world, Palermo, the most frantic, fascinating and beautiful city and Bologna, the red city of style, passion and wonderful, wonderful food.  And, incidentally, you can poke Paris with its miserable Parisians, filth, congestion and a cuisine that hasn’t developed in 50 years, anywhere you want.

Lisbon is cool. It has great bars, good food, friendly people, very good beer and access to lots of underrated very good Portuguese wine. And there is the Port Wine Institute, a place where you can order a glass of an ancient vintage at a very reasonable price. And where else has an elevator in the street, designed by the same fellow who did the Eiffel tower, and that doesn’t even go anywhere! It has beautiful tiles everywhere and soup that turns stock and cabbage into something that is not just palatable but actually tasty.

Second place is Brighton, England, the, venue of choice for generations of Londoners heading off for dirty weekends. It has posh restaurants, it has down market restaurants.  It is as common as a hen night, as camp as a drag queen and as easy as a plastic glass full of Pimms Cup on the beach.  And all of those are regular features of life in Brighton.  No one cares who you are, what you look like or, really, about much at all.

I live in Brighton and from my tiny roof terrace, and this could be my 12 square foot of paradise, I look over a chaos of roof tops, some from the last century, some more than a hundred years older.  I see boats on the English Channel and hear teenagers arguing outside pubs and fast food restaurants and seagulls shouting to each other. And then I know I am alive. Brighton is incredibly diverse.  It is the second most diverse city I have lived in.

You already know where this is going.

When you list the very many good things about Brighton, sooner or later you find yourself saying, ‘and it’s only 55 minuets by train to London’ – exactly.

Picture credit – John Davies

My love affair with London is almost too personal to write about. I’ve lived there, moved away, moved back, move away and I know, one day I’ll be back again. It’s been my home for most of my life. It’s where my history is, many of my friends are and it will always be where I feel most at ease.

London isn’t easy. There are six and a half million people crammed into a relatively small space. You crash into them as you walk down the street and crush against them on public transport. They speak over 300 different languages between them and not everyone gets along. You get idiots and bigots everywhere. Driving through town so problematic that they charge you a hefty toll just to do it.  And the city is expensive. Property prices make your eyes hurt. But London is like nowhere else on earth and everywhere else on earth.
The whole world is in London. You can, if you are open to it, meet people from every corner of the earth, eat their cuisines, and absorb their influence. In London there is always something happening, concerts, fashion shows, art galleries with openings. It has  four premiership football teams including one good one. It has Hackney Marshes where there are enough football pitches for 1500 amateurs to kick chunks out of each other each Sunday mornings. It has  Hyde Park, Green Park, Regents Park, Richmond Park, Victoria Park, Clapham Common, Highbury Fields, London Fields and, of course, amongst many more, Hampstead Heath.

There are pubs on every corner, and half way down the street, where you can lean against the bar and chat, there are street markets to buy old tat for a fiver. There is astounding creativity – if it comes from London be it music, fashion, art or interior design, it has an edge. If you want it, it’s here.

The other thing London has is my heart. When I see the Thames I know I am almost home.

Here are some other thoughts on the same subject. I’ll update the list as others reveal themselves.

Blogger Twitter Blog Post Link
Veronika Miller @modenus Modenus Community
Paul Anater @paul_anater Kitchen and Residential Design
Rufus Dogg @dogwalkblog DogWalkBlog
Becky Shankle @ecomod Eco-Modernism
Bob Borson @bobborson Life of an Architect
Tamara Dalton @tammyjdalton Tamara Dalton Design Studios
Sean Lintow, Sr. @SLSconstruction
Richard Holschuh @concretedetail Concrete Detail
Kevin Lee Allen @klad2688 KLAD Design
Jody Brown @INFILLnc Coffee with an Architect
Madame Sunday @ModernSauce Modern Sauce
Roaming By Design @RoamingByDesign Roaming By Design
Beach House Finds @beachhousefinds Beach House Finds
Jane Frederick @JaneFredArch Low Country Architect