When I was growing up, there was one activity which clearly marked the arrival of the school holidays. Whilst not having to wake up before seven and having the temporary freedom to wear clothes other than white knee-length socks and a yellow gingham summer dress should have been enough of an indication alone, it only ever felt that half term had arrived once our over-night bags were packed and we were on the road to stay at Granny Mac’s in Swansea.
Staying at my Granny’s was utter paradise. Every trip we were inevitably welcomed with a big-hearted hugs and a restorative repast of ‘soup and sandwiches’ which provided a much needed dose of comfort after a morning’s travelling. It was the closest you could get to home outside the four walls our humble house.
In between guzzling glasses of mango juice, poster-painting and giving Dreyfuss (Granny’s incredibly affectionate but rather tubby tabby) another tickle, one of our favourite family pastimes was exploring the costal delights of Swansea. The Gower, Rhossili, Bracelet Bay, the Mumbles were within a stone’s throw of Granny’s cosy, quilt-covered bolthole. Even in pouring rain, these little pockets of shoreline were a source of endless fun and treasured by us all.
In 2011, our much adored, periodic trips to Swansea finally ended after my Granny moved to join us in Reading. It was only last year when I was amidst checking out my prospective universities that we ventured back to the area which held so many fond memories for us. Unsurprisingly, by the end of the trip I was no closer to deciding what university to go to (I maybe be many things but decisive ain’t one of them!). However, all of us crossed the Severn Bridge with our minds made up that a return trip to Swansea, if not to its university, was definitely needed!
And so, this Easter holidays, we did just that! Following a difficult few weeks we felt we had thoroughly earned a mini break to recharge our batteries and experience a much-needed change of scenery. What better location to do so than the sunny (I know! who would have thought it) Gower Peninsular?!
Older and wiser than before, it was refreshing to return to Swansea with a different, more mature outlook. Being in such a familiar city was by no means a disadvantage as there were an abundance of attractions still to be encountered. In fact, this foreknowledge came in rather handy as no destination was too far out of our way or made unfeasible by a challenging commute. Knowing we could go anywhere, at any time and with such ease felt oddly liberating.
This feeling of freedom certainly enhanced our eating experiences too. As much as I adore my grandmother’s cooking (I am yet to meet someone who can cook a fry-up to rival hers), being able to visit restaurants which would have been too ‘modern’ for her and overwhelmed my unsophisticated, infantile palate gave our jaunt a new, delicious dynamic!
The first-time experiences amongst our ‘for old times’ sake’ return visits to our favourite Swansea spots made this holiday the perfect mix of the old and the new!
This has led me to conclude that whilst it’s important to try new things; whether it’s a menu dish you’ve never tasted before, opting for a bolder haircut or picking up a new hobby- like surfing (actually, don’t try this one- you’ll only end up nearly breaking your nose and be left bleeding, half-frozen and undignified on a windy beach), I have found that venturing down memory lane and reliving forgotten pleasures can be just as refreshing and cathartic for the soul.
Expanding our comfort zones and pursuing ‘new experiences’ is essential for energy restoration and mental stimulation. However, maybe time should also be allocated for ‘re-visited’ experiences’? Perhaps to renew a memory’s warrantee, to remind yourself that your original feelings or thoughts are still accurate and to reassure yourself that they haven’t gone stale with time.
For instance, in the 68 hour window I spent in Swansea, I rediscovered the following:
There’s nothing quite like having Sausages for brekkie! These were courtesy of ‘The Kitchen Table’ this time…sorry Granny I’m afraid you’ve been knocked off the top spot.
I am still not over the emotional trauma brought about by the Doctor Who episode “Doomsday” after visiting Rhosilli beach.
The propinquity and location of your next ice-cream is a topic of genuine concern and requires appropriate consideration. Fortunately, a visit to Verdi’s Gelateria (mine’s an Apple Crumble with a scoop of Pecan Praline, if you please) allayed my qualms.
Check out these places if you ever find yourself in the Swansea area!