I have a love/hate relationship with North Wales. I have spent my whole life visiting here, and while I’ve always loved seeing my granny and going to the beach when I was a child, moving here straight out of high school was a whole different experience. Being that it’s pretty touristy, I would go from manic summers where I was working 60-100 hour weeks (divided (mostly) between jobs), to having so little work that I needed benefit assistance to get me through the winter. It’s kind of intense.
I did that for the first four years of my adult life, and when I did finally move back to the States, I said I’d never do it again.
Well, here I am. I’ve just survived the insanity of the summer (with an injury this time–60 hours work is not my game any more, it would seem), and entering into the autumn. And I realize now why it is that I stayed for so long. The autumns here are the best.
- It’s Quiet
This is something that you wouldn’t really think of to notice unless you went through the summers here. People come from all over the country, and sometimes the world, to visit North Wales during the summer. It’s a beautiful place and there’s plenty to do–from the coastal paths to sailing to surfing, to just spending too much money.
The village I live in, at the time that I first lived here, had a permanent population of 800 people. I read one year that during Wakestock (a now extinct festival), the population rose to 20,000. That is insane! Then you have all the sailing races that the rich folk like to be there for, and all the other events that are now catering to the business of the season.
So when it’s done, and school kicks in and everyone goes home, the villages are like ghost towns. It’s amazing.
You can find parking. People aren’t getting in your way because–let’s face it–people in herds get dumb. People are there to relax opposed to spend money, so they’re more likely to be friendly and take the time to be polite. It’s just nice, relaxing, and quiet.
- The Weather
I have so many locals disagree with me on this one, but I swear it’s true–the weather is better when there’s no tourists. I’m not saying the tourists drive the weather to rain, because I’ve totally been here during the summer months, as a tourist, and had beautiful weather. No, what I’m saying is that the best weather months are May and September through October. All the rest of the months are just rain, kind of bleh, for the most part. There are the odd nice days, or partially cloudy days, but not nice nice. Or if they are, they’re too hot (for my liking at least).
But the reason why the autumn nice weather is better than the May nice weather is because it’s relaxing weather. Coupled with the calm after the storm, the sun and the mild warmth is pleasant. It seems to seep into the bones more. You want to be in it, but you want to relax in it. In May, you’re so energized of breaking through the lethargy of the winter that there’s too much to do, to much want to do any of it. But after the summer, the warmth soaks into you with a slight breeze that carries my next point…
- The Leaves
I know, I know, it’s everyone’s favorite part of autumn. But it truly is worth noting. After the trees have been lapping up the delicious summer rain, they’re drying up and ready to change and shed their leaves, and they just smell divine.
I come from a place that looks like it’s been carved out of the trees. I’m not a stranger to masses of trees and their leaves changing. And I love it. There is a heavy dose of ecstasy when I watch the swirls of leaves across the road.
But there’s something different when the leaves are coming from the Welsh Snowdonia mountains. I spend a lot of time in the slate-mine village of Blaenau-Ffestiniog, and so I drive and walk through the woods quite a bit. And I cannot tell you how much joy those leaves bring me.
The tips of the leaves are singing to orange and yellow, and they are just so eager to act as a veil to my destination. Combine that with the rolling quilt of the farmlands that look like they’re lumpy with kittens–it is something breathtaking.
- Mushroom Hunting
As a budding mushroom hunter, I cannot get over how many varieties of fungus there is around here. Don’t get me wrong, I’m spoiled rotten for the fungus amung us in the Pacific NorthWest, but here is just as lush with specimens. When I was growing up, in August, Granny and I would always pick field mushrooms just outside her house. I could see the fairy rings they grew in from the windows, and loved to just marvel at them. Now, as an adult, I’m on the hunt for culinary purposes, and just general curiosity. I have a fascination with them, and there are a plethora all over the Snowdonia National Park.
Until you experience it, you won’t know the difference between a Welsh autumn and that of one in Scotland, The Pacific Northwest, or Germany. And in all honesty, I’ve only experienced one of the three I just mentioned. But if you have the chance to spend a month and a half in Wales, make it the last half of August through to October. It’s worth it, I promise.
Happy Equinox, dear reader.
What is your favorite seasonal experience? Is there any location that you find to be unique with its seasons? I want to know! Let me know in the comments!