10 Places I Don't Like
December is a month for reflection, and it is a time to remind yourself what mistakes you won't make in the new year. Like visiting these places.
Brighton, South East
I've been told many times that my deep loathing for Brighton is purely down to the fact it's difficult to get to from anywhere other than Gatwick Airport. It's ironic that the majority of people in Brighton vote Green therefore won't fly from Gatwick. I really dislike Gatwick, but that's a matter for another day.
The problem with Brighton is that it tries too hard. It thinks it is an independent utopia isolated from the rest of England, built for people in Croydon who need a holiday. That is not a good reference. It is like Blackpool but with fewer piers, less history, fewer rides, a much poorer nightlife, fewer donkeys and, thankfully, fewer hens.
If you like Brighton but don't like all the tourists, go to New Brighton, which is a cold dystopian town inspired by the big one. I love it.
Rhyl, North Wales
North Wales is pretty, Mid Wales is pretty, some of South Wales is pretty. Here we have Llandudno, which is very pretty, and Chester, which is pretty. Rhyl did not get the memo.
Towns in scenic areas always struggle because they tended to have grown in the 1970s (a time when architecture was not at its best) and had all the soul sucked out of them as they were inflated. Shortly after this date Rhyl must have been evacuated, and it hasn't been touched since.
Ask anybody in Swindon what there is to do for fun there and they will tell you they have the Magic Roundabout. This has no place on any town's tourism leaflets. Don't be mislead; it isn't actually magic. People in Swindon like to use roundabouts and visit retail parks. It's a town where every day is the same as the one before. Swindon is a town whose only purpose is ensuring you don't have to change trains in Oxford.
No wonder John Major was so desperate to build that bypass.
Borehamwood, Greater London
I love London. It's big, it's silly and it's fun. But to get there you have a trawl through an impenetrable ring of terrible overflow suburbs that surround the city with High Streets that only offer takeaways and giant branches of TGI Friday's. Leytonstone is a good one. And I'm sure Ealing Broadway was only built to give the District Line somewhere to end.
What sticks out about Borehamwood is that it appears to be slightly embarrassed about its insignificance, so it hides behind its neighbour, Elstree. Stop calling yourself 'Elstree & Borehamwood', you aren't called 'Elstree & Borehamwood', you are just Borehamwood.
Normally being named after one of my favourite service stations (Stafford North services on the M6) gets a town ranked highly on my mental approval list. Not this time. Stafford is a town that was rejected from the West Midlands conurbation and then rejected again by Stoke-on-Trent. The only time it was accepted was when residents were looking for somewhere to leave their old mattresses and sexual paraphernalia.
I have a lot of time for Yorkshire. It's a region of real diversity, a place with many jewels in its crown. There is also one speck of dirt, and that dirt is Bradford. When Bradford nominated itself for European Capital of Culture, inspectors were no doubt impressed by the refrigerators left in front gardens (what could you possibly have in your kitchen that's so important the fridge has to go outside?). The new development, a city centre pond, has proven popular as a place to dispose of old shopping trolleys.
Much of Yorkshire has suffered following the closure of mines and mills, but only Bradford has felt it necessary to replace each and every former colliery with a branch of Poundland.
As discussed previously, towns which pretend to be other towns do not score well with me. Leeds-Bradford Airport, an airport which forgets to open the majority of the time, is on this path of shame. Lovely though Leeds is, neither Leeds nor Bradford are worthy holiday destinations.
Chapel-en-le-Frith, Derbyshire Dales
Don't be fooled by the name. The Morrisons here closes at 6pm. How continental is that?
Windermere, the Lake District
I write this with a very heavy heart. Windermere is the central control of my favourite place in Europe. But it is infested with tourists, it takes far too long to get there, everything is full. It's the only part of the Lake District where people outnumber sheep. Windermere is a decoy part of the Lake District; real people go elsewhere.
The Melton Mowbray pie was made near Leicester. The UK space centre is located near Leicester. Good things happen near Leicester. The reason they never happen in Leicester is that no-one who has ever gone there has worked out how to get off the Ring Road. I cannot review it in any more detail because every time I go there I end up in a Sainsbury's, and then I end up going round a roundabout a couple of times, and then I end up inexplicably in Bedford.
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