Friday, 21 July 2017

What is a holiday?

What is a holiday to you? A holiday, in my book, is taking some books and going to Italy and doing not very much at all except reading and eating. A holiday is a flight and a hire car, hot sun and a cold pool, a lazy saunter to the village shops to buy provisions, which must include some of those giant creased tomatoes that look like they've been injected with steroids, then later attempting to cook those provisions for lunch on an unfamiliar hob, invariably one of those God-awful induction ones that require you to hold down the invisible buttons in a random sequence until something eventually starts to heat up and then the next time you come to do it you can't remember the sequence, because you stumbled across it randomly, so you have to go through the whole rigmarole all over again.

A holiday is taking the anti-mozzie plug-in thingies, then forgetting to plug them in on the first night because you were past yourself with exhaustion (as they say in Yorkshire) because you just did a 13-hour door to door journey (and you were only flying from Gatwick to Pisa) so you get bitten and spend the rest of the 13 nights with your arm under the table at dinner, scratching that bite on your ankle that swells up like a boiled sweet and leaves a welt that scars you for the whole of the rest of the year, as a souvenir.

A holiday is letting your younger kids have pizza and ice-cream and coke at every meal and your older ones drink alcohol and then not bothering to tell them to brush their teeth when they go to bed and leaving them to sleep until lunchtime, because you can.

A holiday is sitting on the sun lounger for so long reading a book that only the front of your legs get tanned.

A holiday is working out which place has the best bread and when the fried fish van comes to town, on the penultimate day.

A holiday is meaning to go and see that amazing thing in the local museum/art gallery/next town but never actually getting round to it and then on that last day saying, shall we go and see that thing? Nah, can't be arsed, we'll be travelling all day tomorrow anyway.

A holiday is using the barbecue precisely twice and then having to spend twice the time it took to cook the sausages scrubbing the thing clean and getting sprayed with burnt-on black bits, on the last night.

A holiday is the deafening sound of cicadas, church bells waking you on a Sunday morning, a row about using the sat nav ("either follow its instructions or turn the damn thing off!"), Boots Soltan Factor 30 you've had in the back of the bathroom cupboard for five years, fishing insects out of the pool with a net, the local market full of foreign tongue, both to listen to and to eat, a tatty old sun hat, a fancy pair of wedges you pack to wear in the evening and then never do because they're much too impractical, sand in the bottom of the bath when you get out, someone else's scratchy sheets and too hard pillow, buying salt and pepper then finding the rental supplied it already, supermarkets with whole aisles of lovely crockery you want to stuff in your suitcase and take home but you know that you can't so you just get one pretty bowl and when you get back home someone puts it in the dishwasher and most of the pattern comes off. THAT is a holiday. And is that what we're doing this year? No.

This year we're not going on a holiday at all, we're going on an adventure of a lifetime to the west coast of America to embark on a road trip because I once did something similar as a child and last year we came into a bit of money that will finally make it possible and if we don't do it now our kids will have gone off to live their own lives without us, for good.

This year there will be no house, no pool, possibly not a lot of hot weather because the pacific northwest is not exactly known for it, just me and my four males, of various sizes and degrees of smelliness, in a 30 foot metal box on wheels, travelling from San Francisco to Seattle then ditching the RV and going on to Vancouver by train, then hiring a car to take us into the Rockies, before flying back from Calgary. And am I complaining? Of course I'm not, I'm lucky as hell and I know it.

Love E x


P.S. Watch this space...

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