Friday, 7 October 2011

Rainy Days and Holi-daze - Part One

It seems that many people are dissatisfied with their holidays judging by some of the disgruntled reviews on Trip Advisor. But who knows - perhaps these are the sort of people who moan about everything anyway. Or perhaps they didn't do their homework. Who knows - all I know, is it's getting harder and harder to find the right holiday for "me".

The weather's gone off and it's gone a bit rainy which always makes me think of holidays. i.e. wanting to go on one!

We may all have our own ideas as to what constitutes the perfect holiday. However, as our life moves through it's different stages our holiday needs change, just as our life needs change.

Never underestimate the importance of holidays. They are something that define us, make for long lasting memories, snapshots of our life at key times. Think back to your past, any particular year and I am willing to bet you have just as many memories of your two week holiday that year as the rest of the 50 weeks put together.

A quick potted history of my holidays, to set the context for my current dilemna. Let's start with my childhood - this covers the period up to my mid teens.

Back in the 70s and early 80s holidays never seemed to be that big a priority. Yes we always had one, but it was invariably in the UK, invariably on the cheap, and invariably based around what the parents wanted to do. This frequently involved camping and B&B's - never hotels and certainly never abroad. As for fun things such as Butlins or Disneyworld, this was the stuff of fantasy. Prior to 1985 I set foot out of the country once - on a horrendous day trip to France on a cross channel ferry in 1979.

Now I don't want to sound as if I am being unduly harsh - for all I know it was like this for all families and I certainly don't recall my schoolmates at primary school jetting off to sunnier climes, and certainly no-one ever went on holiday in term time. Perhaps this was just as it was back then.

Eventually as I grew older and my voice became heard I was able to negotiate some input into the holidays, and I did manage to persusade my dad to take me to Blackpool for a few days one summer but even then I had to endure a week of tramping up and down mountains in the lake district first - something I find absolutely dismal. The camping holidays also extended into France by the mid 80s and I even had my own tent. Which came in very handy in the summer of '86 when I met a young mademoiselle who showed me that French girls were a little more forward thinking than their equivalents back home in my church youth group.

What I really wanted to do was get away from my parents, like any teenagers so I could get up to what I wanted, and I achieved this through the discovery of PGL. With them I had two holidays in England and one in France. The one in France was when I was 17, I arrived at the coach station in London alone, not knowing anyone and boarded a bus with a load of other 16-18 year olds for our two week adventure in France. Sounds quite a brave thing to do looking back but exactly what I needed - leaping into an adventure in the unknown. What an amazing two weeks that was - windsurfing, canoeing, not to mention all the stuff that went on at night. I was a changed person when I returned, for the first time feeling full of confidence about my ability to make my way in the world.

From the late 80s to the mid 90s I was in a relationship so priorities changed. Emma & I were teenagers when we met, and we also wanted the opportunity to get away on our own. After a couple of years of little trips in the UK, we finally went on our first package holiday, and I stepped on to an aeroplane for the first time in my life at the age of 20, and we flew to Greece, with lots of drachma in my pocket (about 250 dr to a £1 if I remember rightly).

The island we stayed on was tiny and had very little tourism. People go on about how cheap it was back then but in this place untouched by mass tourism it really was true. We really could have a 3 course meal with wine for a fiver a head. And all of this normally taking place literally in someone's garden with about 3 tables with their grandmother cooking the meal. And there was nothing to do on the island at all really, but we didn't mind, we were a young couple on their first holiday together so it was all we wanted back then.

all you needed for one of these in 1990