The leaves on London’s trees are yet to change colour and it’s true there are many Londoners still donning a pair of shorts to work, but the days are definitely getting shorter and the light is waning rather too quickly for my liking. The arrival of September means summer is finally over.
After a UK winter that reluctantly releases its grip, and a brief but warm interlude, the autumn months give us here in the northern hemisphere an opportunity to take stock and look ahead to the challenges of what our North American cousins call “the Fall”.
But just as students return to school brandishing tales of their summer holidays – trips abroad in stuffy, cramped family cars (enforced sing-alongs to the Beatles or Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” included) – so too do the older workforce, eager to champion the far-flung destinations of their most recent trips abroad, the further the better.
In an office where staff are lucky enough to travel regularly, I’ve heard tell of trips to Havana, São Paulo, Berlin, the Amalfi Coast, impending jaunts to the Arctic Circle and a forthcoming tour through Asia. When so much travel is possible, where should I head when putting together my plans for one last recreational gasp of sun? I took the hammer to the piggy bank, collected my loose change and glanced at the world map. Turkey, Greece, Spain? Each with a tourism economy benefiting from the political turmoil in once-popular North African destinations. Or further afield? West to the US perhaps?
No, I opted for an old familiar friend, somewhere I’ve been going since I was a kid – cooped up in a car with Queen blaring from the stereo – yes, to the west coast of Wales. And here’s why.
The village I visit touches the borders of a national park, near beaches and walks along the beautiful Preseli Hills galore, should you feel so inclined. Another draw is that the west coast of Wales is remote enough for me to not to have phone reception, although internet is a possibility. But what really keeps me returning is that for all the richness of new journeys, the excitement of the unknown and dangers of the path less-travelled, sometimes a real holiday can be found in familiar territory: where I know I can walk down the street and people will smile, nod, and sometimes say hello. It’s a place where I can retread familiar routes and eat local treats year on year, where memories blend into each other and the days blur together.
For all the air miles gathered, lounges lounged in, and exotic delights discovered, sometimes there’s nothing like a home-away-from-home to recharge the batteries for “the Fall” ahead.
Aled John is a producer for Monocle 24