Today, #FriendBlogFriday welcomes local author Estelle Maher, as she dreams of exotic holidays in the midst of lockdown. But on closer inspection, are holidays all they cracked up to be? Are we missing them just because can’t have one? It’s for you to decide, as we read from, ‘The Secret Diary of a Middle-aged Woman’
Holidays Versus Lockdown-
I write this in my garden on day seventy-seven of lockdown. I have been out five times in that period. Three occasions were to drop off presents and twice to the beach, (the only two occasions where I actually got out of the car). Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not moaning. We are all in the same boat. And even though I have had ‘the letter’ from the great NHS which tells me I still have another forty-eight days left regardless of what BoJo says, the hot weather today made me start pining for a proper summer holiday.
This was supposed to be the summer when we only went as three. My eldest child has now decided it is uncool to hang around with her mum who is continuously spritzing her with Ambre Solaire, or her dad who has to give a full report on every cocktail he has had, or her younger brother who now competes with her on the tan-o-meter. No, she wants to go to Ibiza and pay £200 to get into a club and then pay 20 Euro for a bottle of water. That constitutes as cool these days.
But what is it about holidays that make us crave them? I did wonder today as I sit in my garden in the mini heatwave we are currently experiencing. Are holidays all they are cracked up to be? Here is a list of things to ponder.
It doesn’t matter where we go in the world; our flight always seems to be at some ungodly hour. Getting up in the middle of the night has its advantages. I don’t have to put makeup on as it’s dark. My kids will shower the night before, so there isn’t a fight for the hot water. So, within thirty minutes of the alarm, we are heading down the M62 with my husband jumping from excitement to panic. Panic is usually induced by thinking he has forgotten something, or with people who drive too slowly, or wondering if he has left the heating on. (Even though he turned it off four weeks ago to make sure he didn’t forget.) Then as soon as we are at the airport and all checked in, we head to Duty-Free. Once the perfume, aftershave and various makeup items are all bought, we then head to the bar. So what it’s four in the morning? It doesn’t matter, I’m on holiday, and I’ve been up since yesterday and feel like I’ve already put in a day’s work. As I settle in the airport lounge, I can see my husband returning from the bar with two drinks and a very thin mouth. He throws a few coppers on the table and tells me that’s the change out of twenty pounds and a firm request to ‘sip it’.
I’m not a fan of flying, so I usually munch my way through a strip of Valium as soon as I see the airport sign on the motorway. Once I’m on the plane, I start people watching and realise I am on the flight with the beautiful people. They are all suitably dressed in matching travel wear ready for their long-haul flight clutching the latest edition of Beautiful People and Their Beautiful Families and periodically spritzing themselves. I sit there wishing I had gotten up half an hour earlier to at least brush my hair and reconsider my leggings and cardy combo. Then I convince myself it doesn’t matter because I’m on holiday even though I am hiding behind my Take a Break and hoping that the particularity perky people are not in my hotel.
It’s always lovely when you arrive. The blistering heat, the beach, the pool, the various restaurants and numerous bars and the complete absence of a washing machine, a cooker and oh… there’s no handy hairdryer on the wall and you haven’t packed one. Never mind, But at least you don’t have to make the bed each day. Even though that would not take any time at all as there are only two pillows when you are used to six. Me and my husband start eyeing the decorative ones and wondering how much support they will offer. We then discover the ‘fully stocked mini-bar’ is a matter of opinion and the coffee machine looks too complicated so one of you will have to play fetch each morning. But it doesn’t matter because you’re on holiday.
The rumbling that you hear on the first morning is not a distant tropical storm, or some mode of transport trundling past your window. No, you soon realise that it is a small stampede of various coloured Brits heading for the pool clutching armfuls of towels. Bleary-eyed, you realise if you want a decent day by the pool, you will have to get up even though you have only been in bed for three-quarters of an hour. My husband draws the short straw of heading down to the pool while I wrestle with my hair which has decided to explode from the humidity in the night. My husband will soon return in a very defensive mood, spouting things like ‘pickings were slim’ and ‘if you’re not happy, you can go tomorrow’. When I eventually make my way to the pool, I see a lot of towels on empty beds, but these are not towels pinned down with a well-thumbed Jackie Collins, no, these are PEGGED at various points. It dawns on us; we are dealing with professionals and realise we will never have a lie-in on this holiday.
So much food. ‘What shall I have?’ as I walk around like a zombie in the main dining room. ‘I know, I’ll have a spoonful of fish stew with some lasagne on the side, and maybe some Chinese rice, oh and some curried lamb and some of what I thought were carrots but aren’t,’ because that’s how you would eat at home. By day three, you realise that curry doesn’t go well with ham and cheese croquettes and you should eat more like you do at home, but you struggle to find Wall’s sausages and Aunt Bessie’s chips, You note the Europeans eat lots of fish and lettuce and you vow to eat like them tomorrow, as long as you haven’t had fourteen Pina Coladas, and if you have, then you will have what they have, but with a side of meat feast pizza.
Isn’t this the reason why we go? To bask in the sunshine and read books and become intellectual as we turn nutty brown. That’s what Cosmos promised. The reality is red skin that will only turn brown with the aid of an Instagram filter and a well-placed tree. You also realise after an hour that it’s warmer than you expected and you start to fight amongst yourselves for the sunbeds in the shade. Unlucky ones tend to be found frolicking in the sea. Anyone frolicking tends to be in the very early days of their holiday. Those that have been there longer than four days usually stand in the waves and stare towards England as they secretly pray for rain or a light drizzle.
As I get older, I find I want to do less and less. Years ago, I would be first in the queue for a booze cruise, checking out a temple or seeing how they make sculptures from the hard skin of mountain climbers. But now, I just want to sit and read. I don’t want to make friends with the popular family from Sunderland. I don’t want to know how many pounds of stone it took to make a statue of a local man that discovered he could whittle penis-shaped keyrings from the branch of a dead tree. And I don’t want to attend anything that’s labelled ‘traditional’. I’ve had enough guitar playing, large hatted, heavily moustached men serenade me while I tried to eat my hamburger and chips to last me a lifetime. I just want to be left in peace BECAUSE I’m on holiday. If I want to know how the local rum is made, I will ask the barman, and if I want to attend a folk evening, I’ll go to Wiltshire.
So, after all that, I sat in my garden with my dogs and a chilled bottle of fizz and decided that later I would cook steak with a peppercorn sauce and realised I don’t need a holiday. Yes, it’s always exciting going away and soaking up the local culture. And yes, the beaches are fabulous elsewhere and it’s a bit of a treat drinking daiquiris at two in the afternoon, and let’s not forget there are no dishes or pots to clean and having six pillows is a bit excessive to be honest, and no one cares that your hair looks like Aslan the Lion so…actually…has anyone ever been to…
Estelle’s debut novel, Grace & The Ghost, made the Amazon best seller list and won an award for Best Spiritual Fiction 2018 by Soul and Spirit Magazine. Then came Angel’s Rebellion, which is a spin off from the first. Estelle has finished her third novel which will be published later this year (2020) This story follows Estelle’s own personal battle with cancer. It’s called The Killing of Tracey Titmass. In this humorous book, the cancer takes human form and the protagonist has to deal with each day as it moves into her annexe.
To connect with Estelle, please check out these links