Growing up in North Wales

I grew up in rural North Wales, a beautiful place to live, but in some areas remote and lonely. Throughout my early childhood I have fond memories of riding my bicycle around the village and running up to the hills and woods surrounding it with my friends (often to my mother’s dismay at my refusal to return home in time for tea!). It wasn’t until the age of 9, that I was allowed to travel on a bus alonefor the first time. I remember it well, feeling like such a ‘grown up’, giving the bus driver my pocket money for the 5 mile bus ride to Porthmadog to see my friend Angharad. Back then, all I cared about was being ‘independent’, a ‘big girl’ going to Port by herself, for the first time, not being driven by my parents or sitting beside one of my siblings. The novelty of bus rides soon wore off however, as entering Secondary school at the age of 11, they became a daily occurrence.

The novelty of bus rides was replaced by the train at the age of 13; travelling further from home [alone] than ever before! I remember the train rides to Llandudno, an hour’s drive from home, to go shopping with my friends, and stopping on the way home at Llandudno Junction in the newly built Cineworld. At one point this trip became a fortnightly occurrence on Saturdays, as for a young teenager, there didn’t seem to be much to do at home; looking back I know that isn’t the case.

During my time at secondary school, I became more “technologically aware”. I remember everyone walking around the corridors with their Sony Walkman personal CD players at break time and on the bus, something that only ten years later seems to be unheard of! I never really owned my own CD player, as it was a hand-me-down from my brothers and sister, however I became one of the first in my year to have my very own MP3 player. By my final year at secondary school (2005) the Walkmans had completely disappeared; replaced by iPods and other MP3 players. I received my very first personal computer (as opposed to using the family computer) at 15; however, to my frustration, my parents refused to allow me to have a television in my bedroom, something all of my friends seemed to have. Consuming food (meal-times) and entertainment (television) very much functioned as family activities in our household, things that could not be done in isolation from everyone else; in retrospect, I’m thankful I got to spend that time with my family, something that got rarer as we all grew up.

Going to Coleg Meirion-Dwyfor in Pwllheli from 2005-2007 was another transition. I had to travel further, a thirty-minute daily train ride, which was replaced by lifts to college by my friends once they had passed their driving test. I however waited until University in Aberystwyth to try my test [which I passed]; however, living in such a small town, there was no need for my own transport, not to mention that they were too expensive for a student with no income! To this day I do not own a car, as moving to a compact city like Cardiff has made everything even easier for me! It wasn’t until I started my master’s degree in Cardiff that I become aware of my actions and choices, actively trying to make environmentally sound choices through the food I buy, or waste disposal etc, to reduce my pressure on the environment. However my addiction to gadgets has proven difficult to overcome so far, and my ‘lifestyle experiment’ is a continuing work in progress.

I guess, as I grew up I became more dependent on motorised transport as my travelling sphere widened, I became dependent on handy gadgets that made life more convenient and fun; all of this consumption, and I was oblivious to the amount of energy I was using or where it came from. It’s scary to think how easy it is for us these days; all we have to do is flick a switch and the world is at our finger tips. Like so many of my generation and those that have followed, we don’t appreciate this power enough.

Erin Roberts

View of Porthmadog

It’s scary to think how easy it is for us these days; all we have to do is flick a switch and the world is at our finger tips.