|Surfing in July.|
I live in a seaside town in the very North coast of Northern Ireland.
In summer the population of the town swells to bursting, with the trains expelling another influx of day-trippers every hour and tour buses disgorging sun, sea and sand seekers onto the beaches and parks (and into the pubs).
|The 'day job'.|
My 'day job' is in retail and the store that I work in has a prime location a few hundred yards from the train station and on the main drag through the town. The shop sells fashion, footwear, home-wares, stationery, electricals, soft furnishings, gardening and pet items along with a small selection of grocery and perfumes. It's spread over two floors in a building that was once the old town station (and then a nightclub where I used to dance the night away, but let's not get into that). I started working there in December last year, enjoyed a fairly busy Christmas and then a cold and wet winter before the first serious tourists began to arrive around Easter.
The change of pace was incredible and I wondered how the main summer season would compare.
The summer season was insane.
|Ready for the tourists.|
The shop refilled regularly as people got off trains and buses, folk wandered in from the beach, often in bare feet and bikinis, looking for sunscreen, towels, shades, drinks, underwear (amazing how many people come away on holiday and forget to pack underwear!), queues built up and disappeared, the store got messed up and tidied. It passed in a flash of sunshine, sand, laughter and waves of tiredness that left me unable to do anything but fall into bed when I got home.
Everything else fell by the wayside - my writing suffered, my home got messy, my kids ended up cooking for me instead of the other way around. It was crazy.
And now it's September; the beaches are empty of windbreakers and sandy sandwiches, there's no queue for the Post Office and always plenty of chilli-chicken baguettes at the deli counter. The locals have reclaimed their parking spaces and their Sunday walks: Children are wearing coats again as the chill creeps back into the air and the waves send spray high onto the rocks. It seems to be a common belief that a Summer town is sad and depressed once the tourists have gone home; that it craves those few months every year when its streets are full, its beaches echo with the song of bathers splashing in the water and the late night party crowd stagger home through warm breezes from the ocean, their bare feet sinking into still-warm sand.
Yes - during the winter months our town is quiet; most shops open fewer hours, the caravan dwellers disappear back to the city and the holiday-home owners sign their second homes over to the student rental market. It's peaceful, I suppose. So long as you don't mind the colder weather, lots of rain and storms that roll in off the sea, which I don't.
But 'sad'? 'Depressed'? To be honest I think that this Summer town gives a sigh of relief once August ends, pulls on a heavy sweater and welcomes Autumn with a smile on its face and a fresh wind full of promises.