Tuesday, 25 February 2014

What I know from summers in a seaside village.

Before I moved to Cardiff, I lived in one of Pembrokeshire's most tourist infested villages. I also worked in it's neighbouring village for six years. For the majority of this time, I socially steered myself out of it's direction. I knew how people in the village worked, and the way it's mouth was never clamped shut. I knew that people complained about the nature of gossip but would unravel it themselves, about the way people smiled at you with bared teeth like the wolf going to stay at Grandma's. I also knew that people loved the summers, and a few years ago I gave in.
“Every man is surrounded by a neighborhood of voluntary spies.” - Jane Austen

I experienced both the good, and the bad. Some of my best memories were made in that place, but some of my most cringe inducing moments also happened there. Some of the worst things were said about me, and there was no where to hide. You could drive away, but you'd probably then bump into someone else you knew on the way out.

Little Haven is a place where they'll duel it out over parking spaces and leave boats stranded in the middle of the road. Its a place where money is of no object, except to the people who actually live there. No one knows how to reverse down a country lane, and right of way is foreign to many.

It's a place where you can pull back the curtain's on someone's high class affair, or where you can meet unlikely contacts. People who come here don't know the difference between a cappuccino and a flat white, and the closest you will get to a daily newspaper is the hum of chinese whispers of gossiping friends and foes, all tied together with a smile laced with obvious judgment. 

Some crucial lessons:


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The phrase "sloppy seconds" is thrown around with little care. Yep, I still remember that one.

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People you probably hated a few years ago will become regular drinking companions. It's okay, you can hate each other silently.

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These people rarely understand that the word "friends" very often does mean a platonic relationship, the way they see it it's a free for all and everybody sleeps with everyone else. All the time. 

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If you spend one night at home, you'll have missed out on some life changing gossip and no one will tell you what it is. This is truly devastating for us all.

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You shouldn't drink bottles of Southern Comfort Lime and then go to the pub for 5 hours, but you can and you most definitely will.

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People in the pub say they miss you, but they really just miss having something to talk about. The good news is someone has taken your place on the pedestal.

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You will probably have a maximum of three good friends, the rest are just curious.

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 You shouldn't drink the night before Regatta, but sadly these things happen. You will then sit on the floor doing the blackboard to try avoiding vomit aftermath and losing what is left of your will to live.

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Regatta stirs the utmost panic into everyone in local hospitality. Then it will probably get rained off.

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If you bring sea sodden wet suit and sand into our cafe, we will throw eye daggers at you and shout in your general direction to get your order. Please, we have only just mopped (for the 6th time this morning).

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Driving other people's cars is funny when they don't see you do it.

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The annual visitors of the village are probably nicer than the people you see everyday.

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People will never understand not to bring caravans down Little Haven Hill. You will never understand not to walk up Little Haven Hill.

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Every year welcomes a new clan of 18 year olds ready to make their way in. You get older, and less socially valuable.

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People wear sandals in the rain.

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Judgment is fickle, labels are temporary but hazy memories are fun.

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When it all goes wrong, at least you will always have next year.

The most important thing to learn was this. Once you're in, you're in. It's kind of like the Upper East Side, but with flip flops and counterfeit Ray Bans instead of Chanel.

August closes it's doors, and the boats no longer call the shore their daily home. They are reeled in and locked away. They have left in the early hours, and no one wanders with a jug of Pimms onto the village green. Clouds start to clutter the sky, and silence fills all spaces and the one road that works it's way through. By the time the September morning dawns, it's time to go home. If you're anything like me- it also was time to move on.