This guest post is from London-based illustrator Daniel Goldman. Daniel has long been fascinated by travel and the cultural opportunities of an alternative location. He recently took a gap year to travel the UK and the continent.
It all started innocently enough with an unexpected request. I thought to myself, “Well, I don’t want to be a tourist so I thought I’d make a series of small, remote, quirky, quirky trips – just to sit on a beach, just to be someone who’s not normal”. And I always thought that they would be thoughtful and appropriate.
The reality was that I had never made much effort to plan anything other than a day-trip to Brighton. And I certainly didn’t think of stopping off in Regent’s Park, a 15-minute walk away, only to see pictures of that lovely quaint little arch.
But I had to believe that the kind of places I wanted to see wouldn’t be practical unless it was a short, discrete trip. And so I took a small train to Brighton and I did what I always do; I was hovered around it like a loose end, occasionally going to investigate. Not a proper investigation, maybe, but still – a small investigation. And within a week I had a couple of trips which people hadn’t even considered.
I decided that one of the journeys should go to somewhere cosy. And there I found Regent’s Park. A quiet, quiet spot with little things I could make myself enjoy – lamps, sounds of construction, the fascinating magic of the cement jousting matches which blow on the breeze in the back of the carriage. It’s pretty cool really.
However, Regent’s Park isn’t my first choice of location to enjoy. Regent’s Park might well be the third best thing about the UK (the second best being the water and the second best beer – cosy shivering about bottles of half-full ales, then screaming when they start filling up, again). But Regent’s Park is completely different and so its exoticism has driven me to investigate further. And so I went looking for something which was highly pedestrian, so my hotel could have a cafe or cafe terrace, and somewhere that’s sort of ‘walkable’ but seems utterly surreal and wacky and strangely cool.
Therefore, through searching for a new location, I found Regent’s Park.
Regent’s Park, EH7
I think it’s okay to pick up your life and move somewhere which you haven’t travelled before. You might find it’s relatively easy to make the journey – the UK generally is pretty easy to move – but you might also find that it’s significantly easier to find a cultural connection, a culturally established community, or just generally a place that you can fall into with relative ease. It’s worth also looking into other nationalities in the place you’re applying to because often the expat communities are more varied and supportive.
For example, when I started the Regent’s Park series, it was a bit of a puzzle. I had lived in the country my whole life, before moving to Brighton for the summer. So I thought, “Well, if I’m from the south east of England, I can’t possibly know this place in particular; I wouldn’t have a clue what it was all about and so I’m more than welcome to move to the City and pick up where I left off.”
I did think that they would be more diverse and established, and I guess that’s what I found; this is a diverse, supportive community. We all get together, have coffee, make memories. And I know this sounds stereotypically stereotypical – like groups of holidaying hippies, sitting around chatting about the original Subbuteo football sets – but Regent’s Park is actually one of the safest, friendliest, most welcoming and accommodating places I’ve ever lived. The joke really is on me, mind you – it’s a cliche. But I’ve learned a few things in the last year that have really helped to bolster my self-confidence and confidence in general. There’s a lot to learn from Regent’s Park, in terms of what makes people tick and what makes them happy. It’s super rich in culture, history, nostalgia, art – just look at the beautiful labyrinth made up of squares of varying ages in Brighton, where you feel like you’re meditating into the English housing market and owning the country in one breath.
And so I’ve applied for a receptionist job in Regent’s Park and I’ll be moving to London next year – across Europe, of course, because I will enjoy each and every little whiff of the landscape. I’ve got a family to get back to as well, but