Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Holiday anyone?

If you live in a very beautiful place (as I am lucky enough to do) what exactly is a holiday for? Clearly it is not for escaping from the hustle of the city although that is mostly what people are looking for when they come to our holiday cottage www.gwenoldy.com. Perhaps it is just the chance to get off the treadmill of every day life, however much every day life is enjoyable?

The whole holiday question is a fraught one anyway. There are numerous breaks for which people pay good money which would have me screaming for release: any form of cruise (a floating prison? Who thought of that?); a hotel bursting full on any of the costas with huge dining rooms and compulsory roasting on fought-over sunloungers by over-full pools; the obligatory jollity of any form of holiday camp; anything involving sleeping in dormitories; anything involving Mickey Mouse or rides that make you throw up. Add to that the experience of a huge airport in the British summer holidays and you have a recipe for hell.

I am, I promise, not a hater of my fellow man but the older I get the clearer it becomes that I don’t like people in huge numbers. I don’t like being organised or regimented. I like peace, seclusion, the company of those I love rather than the world and his wife and queueing for anything is something for which I no longer have time to spare in my life.

So you might very reasonably ask why don’t I just stay home? I think it is a few days away from the tyranny of the list of things to do, even though most of these are things I love, which is the core of the attraction of a break, even the word “break” tells you that. Then there is the attraction of novelty combined with the joy of coming back which you never get if you never leave. There is pleasure in anticipation, in looking at maps and planning and lifting your head from the demands of the every day and there is real pleasure in discovery and pencilling in the detail of the world which makes up your personal map.

We have just had a glorious week in a cottage near Crickhowell in mid Wales. The cottage was lovely and comfortable although, pleasingly, not quite as lovely as ours. The sun shone and there were huge gardens to walk around. The scenery was splendid, the food good, the walks fantastic. We went to the Royal Welsh Show on the hottest day of the year so far and marvelled at glossy black bulls, gleaming tractors as big as a small house, Welsh cobs running, Tamworth piglets squealing and tumbling in the straw. We slept long and deeply. I read Bill Bryson’s autobiography, “The Thunderbolt Kid” and sat in the sun doing Welsh revision. We had quite a lot of very good wine.

And then happily we came home.

25 comments:

  1. Glad you enjoyed it down this way. Crickhowell is lovely isn't it. I was also at the Royal Welsh last Tuesday - the cows were wonderful. And the Tamworths were asleep by the time we saw them.

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  2. It would have to be some cottage to even come close to yours, and I can say that with some authority...
    Your week sounds relaxing, Thunderbolt Kid is a very funny book I laughed out loud most of the way through it.
    I agree with avoiding the crowds, not being herded like goats on an organised tour, on and off coaches.
    'Tyranny of the to do list' is a very true and succint phrase.
    Welcome back!

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  3. I like to see things I've never seen, do things I've never done, learn about the history and culture of another place. And of course, try out the food, both familiar and new.

    I do agree with you about the crowds. I prefer to vacation in the off season, just to avoid the lines and the crowds of people. After all, contemplating the treasures of Windsor Castle, the complexity of Rodin's Gates of Hell, or the beauty of the Mona Lisa is so much better when you have an unobstructed view.

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  4. So agree with you.
    Airports leave me cold. Quiet holidays with time to relax and do what you want when you want...super!

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  5. I'm not a big fan of 'going away' either, usually because there is a disaster just waiting to happen to me... but here's an idea - why not stay in your own holiday cottage? You can be away and at home at the same time. Seriously, glad your break went well.

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  6. I so agree with all that you wrote, and clicked to see the pretty cottage you visited.

    As I am finally, finally committed to vacation in late Oct - early Nov, I am beginning to try to think of traveling, and also prefer some quiet, but interesting quiet places. Sometimes just the getting there and back can be anything but quiet!

    xo

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  7. Frances the link is actually to our own holiday cottage. Come and stay. Come and stay!

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  8. I am so in agreement about the crowds of people and living in a beautiful area.

    CJ xx

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  9. Yes, go and stay Frances - it really is that good.

    Sounds as if Crickhowell ticked all the boxes. You chose a good week weather-wise.

    Much as I enjoy going away, I do enjoy coming back - those first exploratory steps into the garden and the shock/horror at how the grass has grown. I'll bet the chickens have grown enormously while you've not been looking.

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  10. I think I'm a bit like you as far as holidays are concerned. My most perfect holiday destination is the west coast of the Scottish highlands - extraordinary, eye-blindingly beautiful and the most romantic place I've ever been. Or there's a wee cottage, off the grid, on the coast fairly near here that I've always wanted to stay in.
    I’m glad you had a wonderful time. Welcome home.

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  11. Lovely post as always Elizabeth, you manage to sum up my own thoughts so perfectly.

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  12. when we moved here we never went away for five years - just the sheer beauty of the summer here wouldn't let us ...now we whizz off for a week somewhere in the Uk we have never seen before - you know where we went this year ...and I can definitely recommend that..

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  13. I love my home and hate the thought of leaving it - but yes you are right we all need a break from the tyranny of those to do lists . . . tempted by your cottage . . . very tempted . . .

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  14. Glad you had some time away Elizabeth. I think you are right in that however much you love your home (and I share this with you) it calls on you when you try to relax. I also share your idea of holiday hell - cruises? Costas? Arghhh! xx

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  15. the change certainly is important. And the anticipation, and the escape from routine. You've said it all, really, but you're right about the very strange ideas that have evolved to represent FUN. And always so expensive, too.

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  16. I so much agree with you, though perhaps it is a rationalization of the 'force majeure' that keeps us here, winter and summer, to wit our berludy label customers who do, bless them provide us with a considerable part of our living but who demand constant attention and who let all hell break loose if we disappear for more than a long weekend. So we are having a 'staycation' - horrible, if useful, word that it is. On the other hand we live in a lovely spot and when the work dies down in August and there is time to walk and eat out and shop and garden and read books then there isn't the need to go away and like you I hate people in large numbers, losing my individuality and just becoming a cipher, amorphous, a battery hen, with feathers identical to everyone else. So I shall walk along the beaches here and not see a soul, the spray in my face and the rain on my back and wonder why anyone should ever in a thousand years go to Benidorm.

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  17. Rescue Dog is asking whether dogs (good natured and small) are welcome at your cottage - it looks perfectly lovely.

    I am a complete home bird but Husband is opposite - I tear up my roots once a year to please him. Like you we hate sharing the same space with a crowd be it at airports, motorways etc.

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  18. Great posting and love that part of the world..

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  19. Having just come back from almost a month in the UK, I am badly in need of a break! It's great to see everyone but dashing hither and yon with three kids is not really what a mother could call a holiday. Perhaps Wales on my own next year?

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  20. i bet the welsh revision got easier the more wine you drank.

    i've been reading blogs, but not commenting much. no reason.... just summer. you know.

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  21. Completely with you on the subject of holidays. I once told a friend that one of the reasons I didn't like holidays because of all the washing you brought back, and she said she spent the last two days of her holiday doing the washing just so she wouldn't have to bring it back - now where's the point in that? Mind you, Gwenoldy does sound tempting...

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  22. Your cottage looks like the perfect place to nestle in and let the world spin crazily while one has the very best kind of holiday.
    I like to travel - explore, see new things - but that's not a holiday. I view a holiday as an escape to peace and tranquility. We have a lot of that here by the Ponds, but there is always the job jar growing ever larger. Your holiday sounds like the perfect solution.

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  23. You are indeed a woman after my own heart. Hubby calls me a hermit. But I also don't like crowds. I found Northumberland amazing...that you could go for miles along the hadrians wall in the middle of the 6 weeks holiday and hardly see any cars. Whereas last week in Glastonbury I shuddered as I turned off the M5 at the queues going on down to Cornwall etc

    Interestingly I am less inclined to go away since we moved to our lovely barn in the country. I am sure you must feel the same with your beautiful haven.

    xx

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  24. PS- I forgot to say like SBS I would also highly recommend Spitalfords/@the Mills cottages...wonderful part of Northumberland and very special hostess...
    xx

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  25. I love it! Very creative!That's actually really cool.
    謝謝你的文章分享,請你有空到我

    參觀,Thanks

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