I’ve been thinking about my dusty, forgotten “101 postcards from Wales” challenge a lot recently. It’s been over four years since I declared I’d be embarking on said challenge and I have published a grand total of zero posts related to it since. 🤦♀️
The spirit behind what’s stopped me can be found in the last post I published. It’s that old fear of failing again. In my continued quest to get over that damn fear and write more, I’m officially starting the challenge again as of today.
If anyone who requested a postcard via the form in my initial post should read this: Thank you for being supportive, even though I ended up delaying the challenge to the point you’ve probably moved. 🤦♀️ again! I’m operating under the assumption that no one is going to be waiting for a postcard they showed interest in four years ago and will be starting afresh with the challenge from next week. Please feel welcome to message me if you’d still really love a postcard, though! I’ll be opening up the form again eventually, also.
And so, without further ado, I am happy to welcome you to post and postcard #1 of the challenge.
Postcard #1: Barry Island 🎡
I’m incredibly lucky to have hundreds upon hundreds of co-workers spanning across almost a hundred different countries throughout the world. The ease at which we’re all able to communicate is magic that I too easily take for granted. And the sheer amount of things I have to learn from each person’s world is not something I take nearly enough advantage of.
In an effort to to correct these wrongs, I joined a “distributed postcards” group last year. As part of that group, I was automatically paired with a new person each month, with a view to exchanging postcards.
In a batch of four, I exchanged my first set of postcards with co-workers from Germany, Canada, and the US, spanning roles across HR, design, and engineering. I learned about the California bear flag, discovered how a Berlin marketplace had evolved over time, and was delighted with an origami postcard that became a plane. Well wishes and the highest hopes for the future were amongst the words written on the backs of the cards.
When putting thought into what to send back, I knew I had to start with home.
Barry, my home town. It’s, of course, where I’ve been locked down these past couple of years.
I couldn’t imagine not living by the sea. It’s like therapy to me. But “therapeutic” is not something that would come to most people’s mind when they think of Barry Island, my town’s main tourist attraction. With jaunty jingles blaring out from the amusement arcades, the fairground rides generating excited screams, and seagulls cawing for food, Barry Island is full to the brim with life on sunny summer days. It’s The Great British Seaside in all its glory.
I got to experience a calmer side to sunny days during the lockdown of 2020, when restrictions prevented the usual crowds from visiting. Daily walks to the beach became a ritual that not only provided me with calm, but little glimpses of hope.
On one daily walk to the sea, when I was particularly down and yearning for normality, I was stopped by the sound of raucous laughter from somewhere above. Looking around, I saw two workmen on a rooftop. The first was the one doubled over with laughter, barely able to support his own weight. The second was merely a pair of flailing legs protruding from a windowsill, evidently stuck. It was a scene that would have ordinarily been lost amongst the noise, and I was glad for the unexpected laughter and light it brought to my day. Lesson learned: always go for that walk, especially when you don’t feel like doing so.
2021 saw the return of crowds. The gradual return to normality brings a different kind of comfort and calm, but I suspect I’ll continue to seek moments of solace with the sea whenever I can.
The postcard I sent out was of a 1920s railway advert declaring Barry as “gem of the Welsh coast”. I fell in love with this little slice of history from my home town! So much so that I brought a larger version to hang up in my house. I also included a “plantable postcard” with hand-drawn messages of hope. The plantable postcards were left blank, so that the recipients could choose whether to plant them themselves (and watch them grow into wildflowers!) or gift them to others.
With that, I’m one down, with a hundred more to go 😀