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.