I was eight years old when I was told I had to desert my sleepy cul de sac in Gelligaer- to all non-Welsh natives let’s just call it just under 20 miles outside Cardiff. That being said I’m not a Welsh native myself, I was born in Bath, but my parents moved to Wales for a job opportunity- my mum most certainly struggled to adjust. She had a hub of family and friends enveloping her back in Devises- her town of origin. I still don’t believe there’s a day she doesn’t think about her pre-Valleys life; a life of comfort and reassuring familiarity. She did acclimatise well eventually though. With her 18 month old daughter in hand she crossed the boundary of the nursery school gates and made plenty of friends.
This brings me to my first point, the people in our little village all knew each other. As a result of this there was a network of doting mothers and squawking children that I and my mother thrived in. I recall a recent event in Torquay when a teenage Scottish tourist asked me if everyone knew each other in Torbay- naturally with a population of approximately 130,959 people I declined, but the question did rouse a nostalgia in me of the days where I’d go with my mother to a Tom Jones tribute act in Pontypridd and know at least 60% of the people in the audience. That possibly couldn’t have sounded more Welsh if I’d attended draped in the Welsh flag with a big inflatable daffodil, but it’s a time I remember so fondly. Of course I am not saying that I don’t have the fondest memories of Torbay, indeed I’m still making them here, but I suppose it’s mirroring my mother’s’ memories of Devises in the sense that I view Wales as a serene, comfortable way of life. This greatly contrasts with how I view Torquay, as I lived in Torquay from the age eight and so I associate it with an exciting time of developing as an individual- rather than with a warm nostalgia.
There is certainly much more to do and see in Torquay, with all the sights and the constant fluctuation of people due to the tourist industry, whereas a drive to Cardiff was required to get some retail therapy out of my system in Wales- rather than just a walk to Torquay town. The beaches of Torquay were a welcome change, as though there were beaches near Gelli Gaer, they did not have the grainy sand and stunning seascapes that appear to be straight out of the work of Monet. I do miss the snow however, as in all the time I’ve lived in Torquay I have seen a proper covering of snow only once, whereas in The Valleys it was taken for granted that we would receive around nine inches of snow each Winter, yet another of the countless reasons as to why Gelli Gaer was a glorious place to be a child, as it would make up for the lack of availability of Christmas shopping venues when you could get stuck into a snowball fight with your friends.
I have now lived in both areas for approximately the same amount of time- give or take a few years. Torquay has an unfair advantage because naturally I recall much more elements of my life here, due to the latter part of my life being spent in the English Riviera. I don’t know how much more different I would be if I had remained where I was in the peaceful, hushed village of my childhood, but I know that I would be living a completely different life, but not that would not necessarily be a bad thing. I say this because at this time in my life, advancing towards university, I’ve realised that my residence in places like Gelli Gaer and Torquay are both impermanent due to my career opportunities and I suppose my desire for new experiences too. Therefore living in such charming and picturesque areas should be cherished and most certainly not taken for granted.
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