There will be no blog entry next week (oh, at least try to sound disappointed), because we are away on holiday.
Earlier this year, my wife and I gave careful consideration to our summer holiday destination for 2017, and, following the success of our last two trips abroad (to Majorca and Disneyland Paris respectively), we eventually settled on… the Cotswolds.
It’s not that I don’t like going abroad – in fact, I would much prefer to travel somewhere exotic and sunny (which the Cotswolds will almost certainly not be) – but, having weighed up our options, we decided that a holiday in the UK would be more appropriate this year.
If, like us, you have young children, or can cast your mind back to a time when you did, there is a good chance you have also compared the relative merits of holidaying abroad and in the UK. You may not have over-thought matters quite to the extent that I did, but I will wager that the following factors played a part in your decision:
The weather is undoubtedly one of the main attractions of vacationing abroad. If we discount Ireland, the Arctic/Antarctica, and the remotest parts of northern Russia, then pretty much everywhere else on the planet is guaranteed to be enjoying better weather than Britain right now.
So, if your only criterion for a summer holiday, is that the weather must be glorious, the chances are your deliberations will be short-lived: you’re going abroad. Having said that, if your only prerequisite is gloriously hot sunshine, just be careful the travel agent doesn’t persuade you to go to somewhere like Iraq, or Afghanistan.
Sunshine isn’t everything though. I burn very easily, my wife is only slightly better than I am, and we have two boys who view the application of sun cream as torture – so they try to avoid it at all costs.
This shouldn’t be an issue really, as I am quicker and stronger than both of our children, so I should be able to catch and restrain them with relative ease, before lathering them in as much sun cream as my heart desires (and, once they have started misbehaving – as they always do – my heart desires to coat each of them with an entire bottle, purely as retribution).
The problem with adding sun cream to children, however, is that it makes them extremely slippery, and therefore better equipped to evade capture – it’s like coating a dolphin with butter.
If we then add in the fact that family holidays abroad almost always involve a beach, and, as I explained a few weeks ago, I detest beaches with every fibre of my being (https://middlerageddad.com/2017/06/09/the-old-blog-and-the-sea), all of a sudden, some light British drizzle doesn’t seem so bad.
To a childless couple, without a care in the world, flying to their destination is part of the holiday. Part of the fun. As soon as they arrive at the airport, they are on holiday, and will chat happily with the assistant at the check-in desk, breeze through security, and then enjoy all the delights that the departure lounge has to offer. They will skip through the shops, browsing the treasures of duty-free, before sitting down to enjoy that first alcoholic drink of the holiday. At 5am.
In contrast, when you have children, the airport and subsequent flight are the challenges which must be overcome, in order for you to earn your holiday. Unlike the childless couple, your vacation does not commence until you are safely locked in your hotel room, well away from the glares of your fellow passengers, whose airport experience, flight, and hotel transfer, were all utterly ruined by your demonic little shits.
The only way to survive the ordeal of airport-flight-airport-transfer, is to quickly locate a family on your flight with children behaving worse than your own, then stay as close to them as possible, to make your kids seem slightly better.
Travelling to your holiday destination by car, is infinitely preferable. Ok, you can’t really start drinking at 5am (or at all, for that matter), and you don’t get all the joys of duty-free, but that is easily resolved by having a quick stroll around your nearest Boots and WH Smith before setting off (and we have both in Sandbach).
Of course, you still have all the struggles of having to travel with your children, but you no longer have to be sat directly next to them, and, unlike on a plane, you can play very loud music to drown out their noise. You also do not have the disapproving stares of other passengers (save for your wife, who really doesn’t appreciate Roxette’s Don’t Bore Us, Get To The Chorus album anywhere near as much as she should) and, if things get really bad, you can stop, get out, and find a tree to scream at for a bit.
Best of all, when you get to your destination, you are at your fucking destination. Not a three-hour coach ride from your destination, surrounded by angry and tired British tourists, who have been holding in a collective fart since breakfast.
Baggage allowances for most flights nowadays, typically range from 20kg to 25kg, depending on the airline, destination, and duration of flight. There are also a great many restrictions on what you can and cannot place in your luggage, which, no matter how much you travel, you never really grasp, and end up checking everything several times before leaving for the airport.
Unless, of course, you are one of those people who selfishly packs their bag without any regard for international travel restrictions, content to simply empty everything out in front of your fellow passengers at the airport, and hold the security queue up for half an hour. If you are one of those travellers, then, with the greatest of respect, screw you very much.
In contrast, the baggage allowance for your own car, when holidaying in the UK, is whatever the hell she can cram in there. Men, when taking a trip in the UK, will pack what they think they will realistically need, and then enjoy the journey with all the comfort and leg room their spacious vehicle affords. Women, on the other hand, will see every single nook and cranny of that car’s interior as potential storage space, allowing them the wholly unnecessary luxury of taking three pairs of shoes for every sodding day.
Plus, because there are no restrictions on what you can pack into your own car, you can take whatever the hell you like with you. Admittedly, as a family, we don’t have much call for dangerous narcotics or explosive devices (although, having the freedom to cram a large stash of cocaine up my bottom, should I so wish, is rather liberating), but it’s just nice to be able to travel with an actual bottle of water, and enough toothpaste to brush every tooth at least once. Sorry, but even the fucking A-Team couldn’t take down a plane with a small bottle of Evian and 100ml of Aquafresh.
Admittedly, this is where the appeal of holidaying in the UK loses ground slightly.
I enjoy trying new cuisines (even if that only means package tour, all-inclusive food), and it’s nice not to cook for an entire week, but with a moderately fussy wife, and extremely fussy children, cooking what I know they will all eat does have its advantages. Plus, it makes for a cheaper holiday.
Besides, there is no finer cuisine in the world, than British fish and chips. Admittedly, we’re going to the middle of the country, not the seaside, but I prefer that anyway. In Worcestershire, there is (hopefully) far less chance of some massive fucking seagull getting it’s disease—ridden talons into my battered sausage.
When holidaying abroad, the two main pastimes are sunbathing, and going on over-priced excursions, where you are charged twice as much as the locals to see the sights.
Imagine paying £100 to go on a coach filled with your fellow compatriots to see Stonehenge, when the locals know they can drive on that road past it for free, acknowledge that it is a series of (admittedly fascinating, but ultimately rather underwhelming) rocks, and then piss off again. Don’t get me wrong, Stonehenge is a national treasure, but then again so is Bruce Forsyth, and his appeal wore off after ten minutes as well.
Fair enough, sunbathing in this country isn’t quite the same as abroad, but for someone like me, who burns to a crisp inside ten minutes, and hates beaches with a passion, sunbathing serves only one purpose: to get sufficiently hot enough that a swim in the hotel pool doesn’t kill you on contact.
When you don’t like beaches, consider any temperature over 30°C ‘too damn hot’, and have a family who are far happier traipsing around a castle in the rain, than some continental bazaar in the baking heat – where you are inevitably pressured into buying a giant rug that you don’t need, and have no means of transporting home – it’s a bit of a no-brainer really.
So, overall, we opted for a domestic holiday this summer, but we may brave going abroad again next year. After all, when Brexit rolls around, it’ll cost us all twice as much to get there, so we best make the most of Europe while we can.
See you in a week, blog fans.