Tag: Borth

Embracing future nostalgia

I am currently on my annual family holiday in Borth. We have had a holiday in Borth every year for the past few years as my dad and stepmum own a caravan here. Borth holds a very special place in my heart so I love coming here. Last year while we were here, I went through a period of sadness and melancholy which was about a perceived fear of future nostalgia. This year, I’ve had almost the opposite reaction.

As I watched my three boys skimming stones today while we were on a walk somewhere in the middle of Wales (somewhere near Devil’s Bridge), I thought about how happy they were at that particular time. They really were. They would have stayed in that spot, skimming stones, for hours if we, the grownups, hadn’t decided it was time to continue our walk after about half an hour. They were content. They were enjoying themselves and enjoying the moment. I was too. We were searching for the prefect skimming stone, or, as my youngest son called it ‘skimming PERFECTION!’. We kept finding the opposite: ‘skimming PERFAILURE’ (another term coined by my youngest).

Watching them skim stones made me think of my brother, their Uncle Steve, who I wished I could transport to where we were at that moment. He loves skimming stones and did the same as they were doing as a boy, and  I thought about how he would have loved at that point in time to help my three boys perfect their skimming technique. The eldest, in particular, couldn’t quite get it. I had to educate him (I’m not a bad skimmer myself).

Skimming stones

Skimming stones

When I skimmed a ‘sixer’ my three boys were very impressed. They thought that was worthy of much adoration. They managed a ‘fourer’ but not more. Mummy rules of course!

This was half an hour in the day, a point in their long lives, that I hope they remember. I want to imagine them, in twenty years time, in a pub somewhere (probably London), nursing pints of larger, and remembering fondly skimming stones in a river on some random walk that ‘dad took us on’. I see the conversation as follows:

‘Where was it when we learnt how to skim stones, to perfection, as Toby would have said at the time?’

‘Much Wenloch?’

‘No, we were on holiday, I am sure of it.’

‘Oh was it one of dad’s walks?’

‘Yes, I think it was, it was a river somewhere, so I’m thinking Wales’.

‘Yes, Wales, the middle of Wales’.

‘Do you remember how mum skimmed a sixer?’

‘What was a sixer?’

‘You know, you came up with the word, it meant a stone that bounced six times.’

‘Did that mean six bounces or six hits of the water before going down?’

‘Don’t you remember? It was six bounces including the last plunge’.

‘Are you sure?’

‘Yes, there’s no way she could have done six bounces then a plunge into water!’

‘Oh yes, and do you remember how on the way back mum talked about “nature’s carpet”, that moss stuff on the ground and Josh made that joke about spilling wine on “nature’s carpet”!’

‘You made that up!’

‘No, I didn’t!’

I hope this conversation does happen at some future point. I hope it is a happy occasion when they meet up and they are all grown up and handsome. My sister, my brother and I often fall into a similar banter of reminiscence when we meet up, the three of us, now: ‘Do you remember when dad used to take us to watch the cars at Keele Services, over the bridge?’ and so on.

That’s my hope for my boys. I am sure it will happen and knowing that, makes me feel happy, not sad.

I have an incurable disease

This is something I realised last week as my sister and her family flew off to New York for a few days. To say I was envious of their travels is an understatement. I was more than envious. I was very green. I was green to the point of sulkiness. I wanted to go to New York. No, I didn’t want to go to New York, I wanted to live in New York. In fact, I concluded that morning that my life would be perfect if only I could persuade my family to pack their belongings and head off to New York for EVER!

To console my feeling of woe as I imagined my sister excitedly awaiting her flight at Heathrow, I went into town to have a cup of coffee in a coffee shop that might remind me of New York. I wanted to pretend I was there for half an hour. I thought that might make me feel better.

My all time favourite city EVER

My all time favourite city EVER

I chose a cafe in town I like called Chez Sophie. This was a bad choice. It is a French coffee shop where they serve amazing milk shakes, crepes and they play French radio in the background. This didn’t make me feel as if I was in New York at all. Rather, it made me feel as if I was in Paris. As soon as I settled down with my Americano and art magazine I thought: ‘wouldn’t it be marvelous to live in Paris?’ If only we lived in Paris, I mused. Then I’d be among the artists and free thinkers of this world. I’d be able to have coffee every day in wobbly Parisian cafes. I would be instantly attractive and well-dressed. I’d have deeper thoughts than I do in Shrewsbury. I could be the original flâneur with my sketch pad and observant eye.

I could live here.

I could live here.

As I sat sipping my coffee dreaming of an arty French life, I perused Facebook and saw that a couple of friends were planning an impromptu trip to London the following day. And the green monster lured up again. I wanted to go to London. No, I wanted to live in London. If we lived in London I’d be able to have coffee at the Tate or the National Gallery, I concluded. How amazing would that be? I’d lead this fabulous cultured life and I’d be able to shop on Carnaby Street and sip wine in Covent Garden. I could go to a well-known art college and become famous too. Yes, that would definitely happen if we lived in Lonodn.

Cycling home after this morning of woe I realised that I have a disease and it’s not a good disease to have. I have ‘grass is always greener’ disease. I live in a state of continuous envy of other places to live. Whenever my husband and I go abroad I try too persuade him that we could live there. We’ve imagined life in Amsterdam, Prague, Berlin as well as New York over the last few years. This also happens on UK holidays to Devon, Somerset, and even Borth. I have gone as far as browsing property for sale in Borth.

I love Borth

I love Borth

This is nuts because Shrewsbury is a lovely place to live. It is a very lively and cultured town which is steeped in history. It has all sorts of coffee shops which I frequent (some of which remind me of Paris, obviously that would be Chez Sophie; some of London, such as Ginger & Co.; and some of New York, for example Starbucks). I can cycle into town. I can go from front room to Waterstones in ten minutes if the wind is blowing in the right direction. How lucky am I? So it isn’t New York, Paris, Borth or London but it’s not that far off. I need to pinch myself sometimes and tell myself that I am jolly lucky to live where I live.

Having said that, we are planning to move as soon as we can convince someone else of how lovely Shrewsbury is, and in particular, how lovely our house is. I suspect that after we moved I will mourn for the Shrewsbury life I will be leaving behind.

It is an incurable disease.

Do seaside towns have genders?

This is a very weird thought. It might even be in the top ten of weirdest thoughts I have had since I started this blog.

This weird thought came to me while I was writing my last blog entry. I was thinking about our holiday in Borth and trying to work out why I prefer Borth to Aberdovey.

Aberdovey - a lovely place to be and wear boating clothes

Aberdovey – a lovely place to be and wear boating clothes

For people who live in Shropshire and Staffordshire (and other counties in this area) North and West Wales are very popular seaside destinations. When I was growing up, in Stafford, we ventured to West Wales a lot. I remember going to Aberdovey and later on, to Borth. I also remember Clarach Bay and Tywyn. My thought is about Borth vs Aberdovey.

On paper, Aberdovey seems to beat Borth. Aberdovey is posh. It is full of boats. It has nice shops. It has a Fat Face and a shop that sells Seasalt clothes. It is always sunny there. It has lots of sand. People enjoy sitting on the beach with their picnics there. Borth does not have so much sand except when the tide is out. It isn’t posh. It has just a few boats. It has some nice shops but also some rather run-down tacky shops. People are more likely to be walking along the beach than sitting on it there. It rains in Borth. It never rains in Aberdovey. Aberdovey tinkles gently in the wind. The wind blows harshly yet silently through Borth. Houses in Aberdovey sell for more than houses in Borth.

We prefer Aberdovey to Borth

We prefer Aberdovey to Borth


However, I’d rather live in Borth than in Aberdovey. Why? I ask myself: wouldn’t you rather hang out with the posh kids and be in the sunshine wearing Fat Face clothes? I think I prefer Borth because Borth is more masculine than Aberdovey. Aberdovey is pretty. Borth is gritty. I’m not a girly person. I don’t like girly things (Equally, New Quay is quite feminine in my mind and I much prefer Borth to New Quay as well.) I don’t like pink. I don’t wear much makeup. I have always struggled with girly things.  Aberdovey strives for perfection in appearance. Aberdovey cares about its appearance. Borth doesn’t. Borth demands that you either like it or hate it. If you hate it, go away. Also, Aberdovey isn’t quirky. Borth is.

The pebbles of Borth

The pebbles of Borth

I’ve always generally preferred male company to female company. My closest friends have mostly been male. I do have close female friends now and I have done in the past but more often than not, my closest friends have been male. At school and then at university I got on better with the boys than the girls. Girls sometimes confuse me because I’m not like them. I live with four boys. I’ve only got male children. So, I suggest that I prefer Borth to Aberdovey because in my weird synaesthic mind Borth is more masculine than Aberdovey. Aberdovey is pretty and sunny and bathed in a pink hue. Borth is grey, broody and solid. Borth sits in a bluey grey hue.

Borth makes me think of Morrissey whereas Aberdovey is Katrina and the Waves.

So if ever we decide to move to the seaside (not likely but in my dreams) I think I’ll get much more house for my money and be much happier to skim stones on a pebbly beach rather than ride my yacht past the sand dunes and Fat Face.

Fat Face on the beach

Fat Face on the beach





Fear of future nostalgia

This is a weird thought I’ve had during this week while in Borth.

We visit Borth every year, thanks to the generosity of my dad and step mum who own a caravan there. I love Borth. I love Borth because I went there for two, or maybe three, years running as a child and teenager in the 1980s. I went with my mum and grandparents and we stayed in a tiny cottage on the main road called Myfanwy. That cottage is still there. I would love to see inside it again. I have such lovely memories of those holidays: spending hours in the sea; sitting in the window reading library books; foreseeing a future of me and a handsome young man walking hand in hand along the beach; browsing the old, dusty seaside shops. I also remember the smell of bacon in the morning, my grandma sitting on the stones in her deckchair sipping tea and the Laura Ashely decor in the cottage which we all admired so much.

Borth - a small Welsh seaside town that many love

Borth – a small Welsh seaside town that many love

The last time I’d been in Borth before I returned as an adult I was 14 years old. I didn’t return for 21 years. I’ve now been with my two then three children every summer for the last eight years. Borth is currently firmly in my children’s childhood memory bank, in fact it is more firmly in theirs than it ever was in mine.

The cottage where we stayed, as it looks now

The cottage where we stayed, as it looks now

Nostalgia is a strange emotion: warm and melancholy at the same time. My strange thought is about future nostalgia not current nostalgia. I can deal with the nostalgia I feel for my time in Borth as a child. But if I imagine myself in years to come, an elderly lady, revisiting Borth I feel deep sadness. I don’t like the image. Because in that future my children have grown up and they no longer live with me. So I see myself in Borth alone and remembering bringing them. For all the complaining and sighing I do at the moment about how tiring parenthood is, I can’t envisage the end of it without feeling deeply sad. I don’t like the idea of sitting on the sea front with the echo of their voices.

I don’t want to be an old lady sitting on the beach in Borth with tears in her eyes remembering carrying her middle son over the stones while six months pregnant because he didn’t like them or watching her three sons skimming stones very badly on the shore line. I need someone to reassure me that if I become that person in 30 years time that I won’t have that moment, or if  I do, it won’t be sad.

They need skimming lessons

They need skimming lessons

I would like to think that I will return and that Borth won’t have changed much as it hasn’t since the 1980s. Perhaps even my children will return as old men and remember how badly they skimmed stones.


Can you like both ketchup and brown sauce?

We’re in Borth again this week.

Blustery Borth this morning

Blustery Borth this morning

We left the husband / daddy at home. I brought some ketchup with us from home but left the brown sauce behind for him as he likes it on his double poached egg on toast for breakfast. When we are on holiday we always have bacon butties for breakfast. It’s tradition. With our bacon butties we like sauce, tomato or brown. Myself and my eldest two love ketchup. However, my youngest son doesn’t like ketchup; he likes brown sauce. Sadly for him I am too mean to buy some more brown sauce just for him. He had to have his bacon buttie with just butter.

Does this stuff float your bacon butties?

Does this stuff float your bacon butties?

This got me thinking (while cooking, not in the usual place) whether it is physically possible to like both ketchup and brown sauce. So I asked the ocean of opinions on Facebook and this is the response I received:

Friend One: At the same time? Or is that too weird?

Friend Two: Nope ketchup is lovely, brown sauce is ikky.

Friend Three: John [Friend Three’s husband] will often have both if eating a cooked breakfast.

Friend Four: I have a splodge of each with a cooked breakfast, and sometimes have a bit of each on a fork full!

Friend Five: I like both equally and mustard, horseradish and tartar sauce. I love all condiments.

Friend Six: I used to have cold mashed potato with ketchup as an afternoon snack. Not keen on brown sauce though.

Friend One’s idea of a joke: It’s not as if i spend all my time on facebook fishing for condiments.

These questions provoked a further, related, question to which the answer clearly is YES. If it is possible to like both, is it possible to enjoy eating both in the same meal? Apparently so, and even in the same forkful!

Do you dip your sausage in this?

Do you dip your sausage in this?

I’m not the first person to ponder this topic. In 2013, a website called News Shopper asked the same question relating it to bacon butties. Here you can see the statistics on the replies they got. Just over 1 in 10 people who responded think that either is fine. So this provides me with affirmation of my facebook results: it is possible to like both.

I’ve learnt something new today. It has been a useful day.


No weird thoughts – is it the water?

At the moment I am in West Wales and I’ve had very few opportunities for weird thoughts. I blame the water as whenever I come to Wales, I spend a less-than-usual amount of time having weird thoughts. So this has led to me to wonder: is the water here hard or soft? How does it compare to water at home? And since we’re on the subject of water differences, how come I need to use more washing up liquid here than at home?

Where we are

Where we are

The Dwir Cymru Welsh Water website tells me that the water quality where we currently are is considered ‘soft’. Severn Trent’s website tells me, in an equally useful way, that the water quality where we live is considered ‘moderately hard’. So therein lies a difference and perhaps an explanation.


A water quality map - blue is hard, green is soft

A water quality map – blue is hard, green is soft

The Internet has surprisingly little to offer on the subject of the effect of the quality of water and the number of weird thoughts to be had. I’ve known ever since I was a child that coming to Wales often necessitates a dose of Milk of Magnesium so therefore there must be a link between water quality and regularity. A trip to Devon has the opposite effect on me. So why doesn’t the Internet confirm this? Or at least help me understand this?

The Internet explains what hard water and soft water are, which is fairly interesting. However, in terms of amount of washing up liquid needed, the information the Internet offers completely contradicts my experience in West Wales vs Shropshire.

There shouldn't be more  bubbles in Shropshire compared to Wales but there are

There shouldn’t be more bubbles in Shropshire compared to Wales but there are

So perhaps I should consider the teeny tiny possibility that my 35-year old belief that water quality correlates to my weird thoughts is psychological rather than medical. Perhaps this knowledge will help me have a weird thought tomorrow.