Saturday 20 April 2013

Going on Holiday This Year?

[I live in Lyme Regis] where from May to September I conspicuously avoid the stew of tourists... This slither of north Cornwall – by road, a 22-mile stretch from Polzeath west to Watergate Bay on the outskirts of Newquay – gets more popular (and more moneyed) each year. There is certainly a smart hotel to almost every fishing village… Michelin stars also twinkle… (Sophy Roberts, FT Feb 10 2012)

“Best of all, it seems that we are the only Brits for miles.” (The Times Jan 2012 on a tiny Thai island)

You know how Londoners view Blackpool – well, that’s how we look at Fleetwood. (Quoted in Tom Parker-Bowles,
Full English)

@Broadway_Mkt: Dear @virginatlantic please stop advertising our market at airports, we do not want more tourists.

San Cristobal’s Crayola-coloured low-slung houses remain, even if many double as art spaces or ad-hoc cinemas. This felt like the real Mexico. (Charlotte Williamson, Sunday Telegraph April 2012)

The trippery-frippery riverside promenade of fish and chip caf├ęs, amusement arcades and gift shops could make you turn round and take the next train home. (The Times on Matlock Bath, March 2012)
Sylvia Smith, who died recently, was a temporary secretary who wrote three books about her life. Here are two Amazon reviews of My Holidays:

This is the first Sylvia Smith I've read but I'll now go back and read her first. I found the book very appealing in an odd way. This lifelong secretary recounts all her truly boring vacations (she even makes 9/11 dull) and, well, it grows on you. One needn't read much between the lines to see that travelling with Sylvia on any of her vacations wouldn't be a joy – even as a young girl she was collecting grievances and finding fault with her companions – but reading about them is strangely entertaining. And this all seems to be part of the point. She captures the banality of many people's lives in her dreary experiences with caravans, B&Bs, campsites and sharing twin-bedded resort rooms, and why it ends up being so amusing is hard to explain. But somehow all those boring dates, those miffed friends, the not-much-talked-about series of meaningless jobs and periods of unemployment, the daily phone calls to her mum, give us a great sense of what it means to be alone, not flush with cash, with few friends, but still wanting to have, as she would put it, "an enjoyable time," and that's what the book adds up to.

Sylvia's holidays may seem boring and banal to some reviewers, but they're a thrill a minute compared to the treks round museums and the strict avoidance of beaches or nightclubs that I endured as a middle-class youth. So that's what you're meant to do: go with a girlfriend, so you can be picked up by a man who'll "bring a friend for your friend". See "sights" during the day, or scenery, or the beach, or shop windows. At night, seek the "nightlife". The best offer we got was to join in folk-dancing with some Christian teenagers - and we turned it down!

Middle-class Upwards never plan their holiday around a Breton bagpipe festival, or that tomato throwing festival in Tours.  There's a list here, including baby jumping, orange fights and goose decapitation (they use a plastic bird these days).

Upwards go to music festivals like Wilderness and Bestival where there’s camping and lots for the kids to do and even a bit of culture and they’re surrounded by people like them (and, as somebody said, floppy-haired children called Mungo). They also go to Charleston and Hay for literary festivals. Working-class Definitelies go to Disneyland Paris. 

The posh old couple (or group of old ladies) I am always meeting in public places (stations, restaurants) like to crossly send one of their number off to do something – get the knives and forks, bag a table, check the train time. You can’t move in a group, or stand around doing nothing. So they are always losing each other and arguing about the agreed rendezvous. (Thank goodness for mobile phones.)

Upwards look down on families who bring lilos on holiday with them. They’re very down on blow-up beach toys generally. Their children must learn to swim like they did – with no fun, no blow-up aids, no games and a freezing cold pool. They claim to prefer swimming in very cold water. Beaches and pools are too democratic, so they’ve taken to “wild swimming” in ponds, lakes and rivers. (“What we called ‘swimming’ when I was a lad.” Ian Jack)

Lower middle-class Teales and Definitelies “book” a holiday, and go in a package tour group where you’re “booked through” all the way so you never have to talk to non-English speakers.

unspoiled: no tourists (common people). Unlike us, tourists come in hordes. Also watch out for “coach parties”. We are travellers or visitors. And we're on an adventure, chaps!

Bill Bryson’s Notes from a Small Island is full of references to “trippers” and “crowds” and “tourists” and “day-trippers”. They’re the worst kind – they come on excursion trains or off cruise ships and don’t stay in local pensioni or eat in ristoranti experiencing the Life of the People.

If you Google for “ignored by tourists” you get lots of hits boosting out-of-the-way parts of France which are probably desperate for visitors.

Real Holidays: tailormade holidays, not a group tour (even though it's a tour for a group. But you provide the group).

More holiday hell here. And here, here, here and here. And here.