I should preface this post by saying that in the UK, a ‘holiday’ is what the Americans would call a ‘vacation’.
Ever since the early 1800’s the British have been rampant holiday goers, whether you’d call a train trip from Leicester to Loughborough a holiday these days is another matter*. I suspect for a lot of people, that is now what we call a ‘commute’. If you wanted something a bit more extravagant though you didn’t have to wait long for the famous vacation company ‘Thomas Cook’ to organise one such holiday package.
Their package holiday, in 1872, consisted of a 222 day trip covering 25,000 miles around the world and covered every country they come across, all for a bargain price of £210. I do think though for the benefit of my mental health a 25,000 mile journey with a group of strangers with no chance of escape, is not the most ideal scenario. This is one of the main reasons I’ve avoided package holidays for a long time.
The short ‘getaway’ holidays people typically have now didn’t quite start until after World War 2, I suppose one of the few upsides to World War 2 was the increased level of basic geography. The British put this new knowledge to good use and immediately headed to far-flung places, on new charter planes, such as Alicante in Spain. In what must have been a hangover from the colonial days, the British decided the real names were not Spanish enough and imposed their own newly made up names, and so Alicante became the ‘Costa Blanca’*.
Still though, a week in the sun, getting sunburn and spending time in real Spanish cafes, like ‘Dave’s English Grill’ and ‘Barbara’s Fish n’ Chips’ is also not conducive to my mental health. Although it is nice to see the
model migrators British mixing with the locals, speaking their language and absorbing their culture .
Of course, I’m missing a huge chunk of holidaying culture out here, and that is the Victorian’s and their great love affair with the ‘Great British Seaside’. With their 99’s and their windbreakers, sandcastles and arcades*. This is more my style, although sitting around in huge groups is also not a mental health holiday for me. I’d rather wait until it’s cooler and have a walk along the beach alone, with no other humans to interfere with my planned nothingness.
It is difficult to squeeze in scheduled zero human nothingness when you now live with a family and don’t really know the area very well. So my mental health holiday today consisted of a one hour drive in a 2001 1.4 litre Vauxhall Astra diesel. I didn’t spot it in any holiday brochures or on teletext*, this was a holiday of my own creation. Thankfully Ireland is full of lakes, hills and flourishing greenery. It was/is beautiful. Unfortunately it also has a lot of rain, and it was 5pm, so my holiday mainly consisted of being stuck in traffic, in the rain.
The peace and quiet, the squeaky window wipers and the terrible radio stations were all I need to get that all important holiday though, and I feel better already.
*One of the first ever package holidays offered.
*I literally have no idea what the Victorians did at the beach, so I just described 4 things that I did.
*Remember teletext? My spell checker doesn’t.