|are we nearly there, yet?|
In all my years of travelling for work and pleasure, I have never, *ever* experienced tourism quite as 'all or nothing' as it is here in North Wales.
Holy crap, does it take a bit of getting used to. I know extroverted locals who often hide away until after school holidays are through, but as a local who's also an Introvert, there's no way you'll ever be adequately emotionally and physically prepared for All Of The People. It will break you; I'm not even kidding. These are my tips for surviving the holiday season as an introvert.
Give yourself, oooooh, at least double the time you would normally reserve for doing *anything*. This includes driving, walking and, if you have a death wish, cycling. Nothing, I mean nada, nowt, not a bloody thing, will run to schedule. Think you're popping to the local store for some milk? Think again, sister, cos that ain't what's happening here. You might be used to small village life and aimlessly wandering around in the winter, not seeing another soul for miles, but buck up, people, that's all but a distant memory now. Nothing will go according to your plans from Easter ‘til September. And don't think you can factor in a bit of additional time and everything will just work out for you. It won’t.
Your local store that's usually so small and friendly, and even the larger supermarkets, will immediately cease being the calm, relaxed oasis they once were. Instead of two tills open, they're all open. Instead of being able to browse in comfort, you will have to start planning trips with military precision *just* to get near the aisle next to the one you actually want to be in. Instead of being able to check out a full selection of red wine on a Friday night* you'll have to wrestle with some sunburnt woman from Birmingham just to get your paws in the last shitty bottle on the shelf. Shopping is literal hell. And the stores in my part of North Wales are simply not designed for the sheer volume of summer traffic. Go early (8am), map your exact route, pretend you're Usain Bolt, as you sprint round the aisles (pay no mind to those you knock over) and get the Hell out of there as soon as humanly possible. Also, and I can't stress this strongly enough: do NOT let your partner/husband/SO deviate from The Plan, regardless of how much he says he needs green beans. We all have to make sacrifices at this time of the year, so suck it up, sunshine.
I live near the beach, on the glorious Cambrian coast in Snowdonia National Park and I totally get why people come to visit. I came to visit two years ago and I’m still here. Beach towns; particularly those that look as pretty as they do here, are a magnet for families who want to wander along the sandy, splash in the Irish Sea, eat fish and chips on the harbour, and get drunk in The Last Inn. And that's all brilliant; I just wish they wouldn't all do it at exactly the same time. When you try to escape your own beach town and, say, go to someone else's, then you're pretty much just adding to the problem. On the recent bank holiday weekend, we took a drive to Aberdyfi in Mid Wales. It looked stunning, gleaming in the summer sunshine and I know this because I looked at it from the car window. Unfortunately, I wasn't mentally strong enough to actually attempt getting out of the car and wandering along the harbour front with the entire population of Bebington, because I’m simply unable to enjoy being around lots of people. Being and Introvert doesn't mean you can't go out and see the sights, it simply means that you'd rather see them from behind the people-proof safety of your car window.
Holidaymakers will park ANYWHERE. They care not whether this legal or not, as long as they don't have to walk more than 100ft to get to the beach/bar/chippy. Just because you have whole designated parking areas does not mean that people will actually use them. Also, even when you do have visitor car parks, when the weather's particularly stunning, they'll never be big enough, anyway. If you, a local resident, have to conduct business in your town, do not count on getting parked. You can't.
Even those tiny little hidden spaces that you make use of the rest of the year and you think no one knows about? They do.
In this instance, you can choose to walk but, I find it way less stressful if you take care of all your errands in the week before the schools break up. Seriously; you know it makes sense. If you don't have errands to run, you won't have to deal with cars parked up and down streets, on double yellows, outside your house, immediately round a dodgy bend in the road, and then you won’t drive yourself nuts in the process. Insanity is not a good look.
I spend a lot of time thinking I might like to give my husband a night off from cooking and go out to eat. However, I spend even more time trying to strategically plan this around when I know it won't become A Thing Of Nightmares. This, for me, is involves going anywhere that has too many people. And in a tourist hotspot this is everywhere. These days, we tend to visit our favourite eateries before Easter and then refuse to go back until the coast is clear in September. The downside of this is that, living in a small town that thrives on tourism, many of your favourite places close when holidaymakers go home. But this is just something you have to live with for the happiness that comes from knowing where all your marbles are.
Most hazards come in the form of drivers who have no idea where they're going and have never experienced the sheer joy that's found in driving on rural roads. In the summer, your daily commute will take at least a third as long as normal, but this will also be littered with perilous situations and drivers who leave you so frustrated that you verge on committing road rage crimes for which there will be no chance of parole. Rural roads are filled hidden driveways, caravan park entrances, national park resting places, picnic sites, and bends that come at you out of the blue. In the two years I've lived in North Wales, I've twice had my car hit by someone who wasn't paying enough attention, or was driving way too fast and therefore unable to stop in time when a tourist decided, at the last second, that he'd turn into a farm lane. And on the subject of farms: its not tourists that you need to watch out for, it's errant sheep, tractors, mad bales of hay that roll off trucks and into your path, and sometimes that's just getting out of your own street. I find that playing a few rounds of Mario Kart helps me to adequately cope with the kinds of situations that continually crop up here. Please note that you really shouldn’t lob mushrooms at the car in front. I think you can get into trouble for that.
As entirely frustrating as school holidays are for residents, you have to sit back and remind yourself why people want to visit.
When you take your drive to work, you might become immune to the sea gently lapping at the coastline and the mountains stretching out in front of you but, for a lot of visitors, this is the first time they've been lucky enough to experience it.
Also: they spend a small fortune in the local towns and villages and provide the backbone of the income generated here. Whenever I'm shouting at the guy with the Liverpool number plate who thinks nothing of backing into my drive when he's trying to find the road to the beach (even though there's a massive sign telling him there is no access), I have to remind myself that, come September, I'll once again be able to work in my front garden in my jammies and no bra, safe in the knowledge that only the local sheep are judging me.
Basically, if you can do it, just stay indoors. It's much too dangerous to venture outside.
PS - seriously though, welcome to North Wales. Don't think I'm rude if I don't come and say hello; it's honestly not you, it's me.