Our town expands exponentially in the summer. A plague of visitors strip the small shops and cafes and supermarket shelves and swarms the beach. We are glad to see them go, but still glad to see them . Tourists are essential to the economy, true, but locals are pleased that they enjoy the place. This year the weather was a joy so the best amenities were used to the full: strolls along the mile long prom; building castles on the expanse of sandy beach and waiting for the incoming tide to fill the moat before washing them away; crabbing in the harbour, snagging the line when the ferry putters past to off load passengers on the slimy steps and looking up to the backdrop of hills in the Mawddach Estuary. Memories are made of this.
Rural Winter is long and hard. Once the night draws in there are no brightly lit windows to look in and dream like little match girls, no twinkling tower blocks to remind us we are not alone or theatre complexes to while away the hours before bed time. For the lack of light pollution we are rewarded with stars, the masters of dreams.
But this is September, that in between time, when the wind is up bringing frequent squalls and sun barely warms the ground, and we have festivals. (The culmination of a year’s planning by good hearted committees.)
A walking festival : ten days to enjoy the best scenery with expert guidance.
A jazz festival: a weekend with world class musicians.
An arts festival: our small theatre is a blessing.
The arts are not dead in the provinces even though there is no money for funding. These are not lavish productions but we are grateful to those who negotiate the slow train or the intricate tracery of roads to share their passion.