Monday, 29 August 2011

We're All Going On A Summer Holiday





I recently read an article by Caitlin Moran where she said she didn't really like travelling. Indeed, she had spent the vast majority of her life returning to the same three places on holiday, all of which were in the UK.






I've got to admit that I'm a bit gobsmacked by that. I mean I love Cate's column and read How To Be A Woman in one sitting, alternating unbridled laughter with vigorous head nodding at her sharp insights into modern feminism. But holidays in Gower? Every year? Why? Surely that's tantemount to self harm?






I'm the absolute opposite. I bloody love going to new places and plan our holidays with an energy and rigour that I fail in almost all other aspects of my life. I suspect my children wish I spent as much time and effort poring over their school timetables as I do travel books, which might result in them not having missed the first day of term two years running.



Though I have never written a shopping list in my life and the fridge often houses a haphazard collection of items from goats cheese to maple syrup, but rarely milk or eggs I do regularly write a list of places I'm desperate to see as soon as possible. And it never gets any shorter. I just seem to keep adding whenever I'm inspired by a book, an article or a film.






A couple of years ago I watched The Shipping News with Kevin Spacey and was so taken with the wild landscapes and the idea of eating seal flipper pie (c'mon tell me you're not curious) that Newfoundland made its way onto my list. A quick reccy at accommodation however told me that this was not a goer, not with two kids in the mix, so instead we ended up in Quebec. It was magnificent. The national park is the size of Wales.






And this summer, inspired by the Quebec trip, we ended up at the other side of Canada, spending a few days in Vancouver (where we went whale watching and saw three pods of Killer whales) before heading to the Rockies. They are dizzingly stunning, stretching endlessly to the horizon, snowcapped even in August, punctuated by lakes so blue they make you laugh out loud at the sheer absurdity.






Each morning we'd grab our Starbucks and then head out into the wilderness with last night's waitresses' tales of bear spottings and couples airlifted to safety from wolves. Heady stuff. And a world away from what was going on at home.






To be honest, despite having a lap top, an iPad and three mobiles with us, we had spectaculaly failed to notice that the UK had all but descended into anarchy.



The first mention of riots came from a text from a radio station I often contribute to, asking me whether I had any views I could share given my special interest. In my defence there is a massive time difference and it mashed my brain. Plus the beautiful surroundings can make a girl giddy, but I couldn't for the life of me think what my 'special interest' might be. I'd written my dissertation on the Brixton riots epochs ago, but couldn't imagine how anyone knew owt about that.

Not one to let folk down (and a complete meeja whore into the bargain) I put my alarm on and hauled my sorry ass out of bed at three in the morning. I blathered a bit about Lord Denning with the presenter sounding even more confused than me. Fortunately I was too knackered to be embarrassed.

Then she mentioned Blood Rush, my latest book, and it dawned on me...it's about gangs and how young people can get dragged into doing despicable things. I did have a special interest. I did have something to say. But sadly, we were out of time. I think we could safely call it a missed opportunity.

I couldn't get back to sleep of course, and I didn't want to wake up the tribe, so I went outside onto the deck and watched the sun rise. Then I pulled out my list...Naples, Japan, Miami, South Africa...decisions, decisions.

6 comments:

JO said...

I'm with you on the travelling front. But then I had such itchy feet I gave up job, house, daughters (adult) to take a gap year in my fifties. Am off again for a month early next year. So many wonderful places still to see . . .

Karen said...

I'm afraid I'm with Caitlin on this one - I don't enjoy travelling either. I don't mind the 'being there' bit, it's more the journey I don't like!

Lindsay said...

I'm with Helen on this one. Only managed 42 countries so far - so not even half-way to The Travellers Century Club. Like Helen, I read about places, or see them in films and on the list they go. I get a huge kick out of reading about places I've visited in novels or seeing them in films. "Oh, I was there!" Istanbul is next (a re-visit after 37 years - I guess we'll have both changed rather a lot) Then Burma!

Neil said...

Although I haven't actually kept a tally, I think i must be close to the 100-mark - I spent around five years travelling in total. But when people tell me that's a lot, I point out that there are still more countries that i haven't been to than ones that i have. I'd better get going before I run out of time.

Debs Riccio said...

Crikey, Helen I'm exhausted just READING this! I'm with Caitlin and Karen though, I don't have a wanderlust bone in my body and could count the number of trips abroad I've made on one hand. I hate the very idea of having to travel anywhere... in my next life I shall be Dr Who's new assistant - THAT kind of travelling I wouldn't mind so much!

Maggie May said...

We travelled round the country in our mobile home with my husband's job, so are happy to be settled in our lovely house now. There are so many places to see in this country, why would you want to go anywhere else? I love the changes in our climate - you don't get chance to get bored. My sister has just gone to live in Malta where the temperatures are around 35C at the moment. No escaping from that. I couldn't bear it. Give me Great Britain any day.