If you type "Aylesbury is..." into Google the suggested search "Aylesbury is a dump" is at number four of its suggestions.*
Now that I have lived in Buckinghamshire for nearly 9 months I can list a dozen towns in the county without too much thought (although I do sometimes get confused where the borders of Hertfordshire start).
Now that I have been in Aylesbury for the same period I have to agree with Google's suggestion that the place is a dump.
Harsh maybe, it certainly has some lovely parts in the old town, the new theatre is a splendid structure and there are a couple of half decent pubs. The main reasons people give for living in Aylesbury is that it is cheap to live in, and that transport is good. Neither seem compelling reasons for loving a place though, low rent and being easy to get out of are not exactly great selling points.
But it is not all bad, in fact after less than a year living here I have become rather attached to the area, not Aylesbury itself, which I would happily never visit again, but the surrounding towns and villages.
I spent a happy morning in Tring Natural History Museum, and a happy afternoon wandering in Tring park, I have made 3 return visits to Wendover and Coombe Hill, Great Missenden is like a chocolate box village and a shrine to my literacy hero Roald Dahl, many evenings have been spent chatting with new friends at a pub in High Wycombe, the Chiltern Brewery is a great visit and it has a fine range of ales... and the list goes on.
Tring Park (Technically in Herts, I told you I get confused).
In fact when my parents came to visit a few weeks ago I felt a certain pride in showing them the sights, the Chilterns are as beautiful as any countryside in the West Country, and if anything more 'English' in its feel, and you get a free display of Red Kites thrown in for free!
Today maybe cemented the fact that I could settle here, on the train to Amersham today I bumped into one of my colleagues, and on the way home bumped into another colleague from another branch on the platform. Bumping into people I know was something that only happened in Exeter, and now it is happening here too. I am becoming a local.
In reality we will probably move on sometime in the next 9 months, work will dictate our location for quite a while yet, but perhaps I will move somewhere else that I have never heard of, and have a new range of places to explore and people to bump into?
Near Wendover Woods
*As an aside if you repeat the same with "High Wycombe is..." then "a dump" is the top suggested search.