I had thought that settling in to my new location would be relatively easy. In reality, it has taken me longer than expected to acclimatise…
Moving 5 hours Up The Road
It is over seven months since I moved from the Oxford area up to North Wales.
With my new location being just five hours away and on the same piece of land — and having visited friends here over the years — I had thought settling in would be relatively easy.
In reality, it has taken me longer than expected to acclimatise because of marked differences between the two that I had not appreciated.
The first thing I noticed was with the workmen.
In the South-East, you agree on terms, arrange an appointment, and they arrive to do the job required. Not so in North Wales. Here, you agree the terms, make an appointment, and they may or may not attend at that time. I have found they can quite often turn up two or three days late and at a totally different time.
Initially, this had me gnashing my teeth and getting worked up.
However, it seems to be the way things are done here. And as time has gone on, I’ve learnt to relax into it and accept that the work will get done eventually. I now build in the potential delay and even find the laid-back attitude amusing.
(Super)markets and takeaways
I have also been quite amused by what are considered large supermarkets. Compared with down South, they are not.
There appears to be only one Waitrose in the whole of North Wales, and it is about the size of a store you would find in more rural parts of the South-East. Even Tesco, Morrisons, Aldi and Lidl, which seem to have popped up on new outlying trading estates, are not what the South would recognise as hypermarkets.
The food on offer tends to be more starchy and basic. So I now have friends in the South sending me the more exotic ingredients that I am used to (though, until now, I had not considered an aubergine exotic).
There are far more pre-packaged goods — and don’t get me started on the takeaways.
Apart from the usual chains, such as McDonald’s, Burger King, and KFC, the small Indian and Chinese takeaways offer dishes that taste, to me, like the Indian and Chinese cuisine of the 80s.
Not being a fan of shopping or takeaways, none of this bothers me, and having less choice has made my food decisions easier.
Visiting North Wales? Bring your umbrella!
The weather, though not a surprise really, is much, much wetter.
It seems to rain more often than not, and even when it stops, the skies are leaden and overcast.
As I write this, the weather has finally turned glorious, and the towns are awash tourists and the palest exposed flesh I have ever seen on show.
Not that I blame them — I’m guessing this respite will not last long, and you have to make hay while the sun shines (quite literally).
The local people
On a huge plus side, which far outweighs any niggles, are the local people.
In the main, they are warm, friendly, and very community-spirited.
People here watch out for each other, are quick to offer help (though you may have to wait a while for it to arrive), and genuinely seem to want to welcome you into the fold.
Eye-opening visit to the South-East
On a recent trip to the South, I noticed that the air felt thicker. And for the first few days, I struggled to breathe properly, so I assume the air is cleaner in North Wales.
There was something strange about the daylight too. In the South, this didn’t appear as clear and bright as at my new home. I found focussing my eyes harder, and they were initially dry and itchy.
Amazingly, I have discovered that since my departure seven months ago, my eyesight has improved. Who knew atmospherics could differ so markedly?
Finally, the speed and noise in the South made me jump for the first few hours. Everything seemed to be moving at twice the speed to which I have become accustomed. And I had forgotten about the continuous noise, even during the night. (It has been a while since I have heard so many police sirens dashing around at all hours.)
I also acutely noticed how the night sky disappeared amid the high levels of light pollution.
Have I made the right decision?
On returning home, it struck me how, for now, I am caught between two worlds. The one I remember (and was reminded of on my trip), and the new one I have adopted.
I have no qualms about the fact I will eventually settle into the quieter, calmer pulse of Welsh life. And, having been able to compare them recently, I know I prefer the Welsh atmosphere.
All I need to do is relax a bit more into it and allow Wales to polish off the harsher Southern edges with which I have landed.
If you have any tips for relaxing into a slower (& more healthy) pace of life, please drop them in the comments section below! Many thanks 🙂
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