The evening crept in as I sat in Wetherspoons. My eldest sister was due to arrive in Aberystwyth after a 7 hour coach ride from London. I had had grand designs of spending the previous night in a proper campsite and using the facilities to freshen up Groggy the campervan before her arrival.
Alas, alcohol happened.
The previous day, I had pulled into the beautiful, Welsh seaside town of Aberaeron and wandered around the harbour until I found a decent-looking bistro for lunch. It wasn’t long before I starting talking to two Welsh ladies who indulged me in my curiosity about language, identity and nationality. They told me that there is a government initiative to have at least one million Welsh-speakers by 2050 and that most of the primary schools in the area use Welsh as their first language.
The conversation naturally progressed to relationships and matters of the heart; there was no coming back. Several bottles of wine later, it turned midnight and we ended up at one of their homes with a couple of German backpackers who needed a couch to surf.
I went, in the space of an hour, from being a complete stranger to being one of the sisterhood. We shared our stories and gave each other advice. We even talked about the times when other women had put us down and how we couldn’t understand why there isn’t more inter-oestrogen support among the women we encounter. You only need to look at Twitter, or ask any teenage girl, to know that some women can be very quick to cut another female down.
As women, we have enough to contend with in this world without adding unnecessary obstacles for each other to climb. When we stick together as sisters we have the support we need but when we claw at each other we do ourselves no favours. Dish out the complements, and be genuine. When women get along, I take pity on anyone who would pose a challenge.
I subsequently awoke with the mission of tidying Groggy before my sister joined me for this leg of the journey, since my plan to stay in a campsite had failed so spectacularly. I went to a laundrette for the bedding, a café for electricity, a pub for the jerrycans of water and gave up on the hoovering idea completely.
Whilst waiting for my sister’s bus to arrive, I remembered the times we had spent travelling together in India, Cambodia, Vietnam and Singapore at the beginning of this year. We had had an incredible time together but it wasn’t without its tensions.
Before she arrived, I vowed to myself I would be placid and tolerant. Given 24 hours and I had already succumbed to my more stubborn tendencies and leapt to the defensive on a number of occasions. This was not helped by, but not excused by, our decision to implement a strict dietary regime which had me craving sugar. Cue the ‘hanger’.
By the third day however, we had properly found our groove and marked the occasion with a bottle of prosecco by the beach. By Day 4, we showed Wales that women who work together are a force to be reckoned with.
Having pulled over beside a pebble beach on the coast of Anglesey, we saw a large motorhome start up its engine. As it pulled forward to begin a 3-point turn, my sister commented how brave he was pulling forward so far onto the pebbles as it was likely to get stuck. He got stuck.
We donned some appropriate footwear and went over to help out, just as the parents and their little daughter were examining the situation. Without hesitation, my sister knew what to do and instructed them accordingly. With authoritative delegation from her, and an inspired suggestion from yours truly, they were out of the rut and ready to go. The dad called us heroines and said that if his daughter were capable of such a feat when she is grown, he’d be overcome with pride.
Naturally, when we found another man whose van was stuck in the sand further up the coast, we went over to help. Shortly after, he too was on his way.
My sister and I had rescued two vans in the space of two hours. We are so similar in many ways and so very different in others. When we differ in opinion it’s an ugly sight, but when we’re getting along we are formidable.