"Why I love Winchester"
Winchester resident Paul Hynd explains why he is so passionate about this wonderful city.
I've had the good fortune to have travelled a lot, and also to have lived in some beautiful, fascinating cities.
Why then do I love Winchester the most as a city to live in? Let me go back in time a little bit and think about it.
After leaving my native Dundee, I spent some years living in the city of Edinburgh, capital of Scotland. Like Winchester, Edinburgh is an ancient capital city, with a fascinating history of characters, including Mary, Queen of Scots, Greyfriars Bobby, and Robert Louis Stevenson, creator of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.
My grandfather John McGhee - a veteran of the Argyll & Southern Highlanders - was born in Edinburgh, a city he loved. He worked as a "boots" in the Conservative Club in George Street, so always had a plethora of interesting tales to tell of his life there.
So Edinburgh certainly gets close to the top of my favourite cities to live in.
While living in Edinburgh, I was given a heaven-sent chance to work on a consultancy assignment for a while in the Swedish capital, Stockholm. Built on an archipelago of some 30,000 islands, Stockholm is, to my mind, certainly one of the most beautiful cities in the world,
I found the locals very friendly, albeit with a slightly more reserved manner, until the Akvavit started to flow. While based there, I spent one Easter-time driving up to the university city of Uppsala, then across to Norway, down through the fjords to Oslo, then back to Stockholm.
My Swedish evening class was a hoot , where the only language we had in common was Swedish which none of us spoke! I had French, Spanish, Italian, Scottish, German, & Hungarian classmates, and we had a ball.
My time in Sweden gave me a real wanderlust.
Dhahran, Saudi Arabia
Just a few months after leaving Stockholm, I ended up working and living in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia for almost 5 years, working for Saudi Aramco, the world's largest crude oil producer.
It was a bit of a culture shock to begin with living in an Arab culture - I worked with Arabs from all over, including Palestinian refugees from Beirut, Egyptians, Saudis, Kuwaitis, Yemenis, etc - all of whom were universally welcoming, very friendly, and great fun to be with.
In terms of history, you only have to look out on the three quarters of a million square miles of the Rub' al-Khali ("empty quarter") desert in the Arabian Peninsula to get a dramatic sense of historical perspective.
Fast forward a decade or two, and now I live in the beautiful city of Winchester, ancient capital of England.
After all my world travelling, I can think of no other UK city in which I would rather live. Here we are surrounded by history - literally at every turn. You only have to take a leisurely stroll on a sunny afternoon around Winchester Cathedral, and nearby, to see this history writ large.
This is why I love Winchester.