I live in a particularly beautiful part of a particularly beautiful country. It is a part of the world of which I am immensely proud. I can’t think of anywhere that I would rather have been raised. The north coast of Northern Ireland is a stunning place and a joy to behold.There are, as always, advantages and disadvantages to living in the middle of an area of outstanding natural beauty. One of the advantages – Often when I wake up and open my curtains I stare out at the Antrim Plateau and its beauty fills me with awe of creation and makes everything all right in the world. One of the disadvantages – After I’ve been filled with awe (and juice and bagels) and showered and dressed and looked at the time and then panicked and then run to my car shouting to no one in particular that I am going to be late for whatever, I pull out of my drive and into a queue of traffic caused by some tourist slowing down to 20 mph so they can fully absorb the wonder of creation as they drive along the scenic route.
The problem is that all the routes around me have suddenly become “scenic routes.” Originally it was just the Coast Road and that suited me down to the ground as I could avoid it if I was in a rush – now all of a sudden that road has been extended right up past Coleraine, Castlerock and on. The Causeway Coast will soon reach the whole way round the Island I think. Then the roads round the Bann became Bann Valley Scenic Routes – there are at least three separate Bann Valley Scenic Routes. Everywhere I turn there is a new brown sign telling me that the road on which I am currently driving is a beautiful route, and that if I turn left I will be on another beautiful route, and that a bit further on, to the right is a beautiful route, and, oh yeah, didn’t I think that route behind was pretty?Now I am always late because, wherever I go, there are tourists. I can’t wait for winter. Maybe the rain and grey skies will mask some of the natural beauty and the scenic routes will be a little less busy.