Tales From... The Archive

We’re all going on a Summer holiday…

I’ve just come back from a lovely weekend away in Cornwall. “Have you been? You really must go…” Yes, I actually have been saying that to people.

There’s something about holidaying in England that is quintessentially unique. On no other holiday would I consider staying in a B&B with a shower with no water pressure, breakfast that took over an hour to arrive and a car park so small that people had to climb out of the boot of their car to get out, and all of this without complaining? It’s England for heaven’s sake, what do you expect? At least we had a view of the sea, not that we could see it behind the thick net curtain that covered every inch of our expansive window.

I feel like this holiday has aged me, I’ve never been to visit so many ‘gardens’ before. I mean I like a plant as much as the next person but we spent 7 hours looking at green things over two days. It’s not even the looking, I like looking, looking is easy. You glance at one side of green things, and then you glance at the other side. I can even feign looking interested and making the right noises “ooh what lovely hydrangeas!” But then they expect you to read about them. No one tells you about the reading! They should have a warning sign before you enter, “Are you middle aged? Do you like plants? Are you easily intimidated by lots of reading? If you answered ‘yes, yes, no’ then this is your perfect day out! If not, there’s a pub down the road.” By the end of looking round the Eden project I felt like I’d finished the plant version of War & Peace. I mean how much information do I need about the cross pollination of a begonia? I get it, they’re flowers, they’re pretty – is there anything else to look at? No.

Of course you can’t holiday in Cornwall without a cream tea. Now the thing I’ve learned about the Cornish is they think everything is Cornish. We were told that we were drinking Cornish coffee despite the fact that I’d already seen her empty out a packet of Kenko into the coffee filter. Anyway, there I am having paid £4.50 for a cup of tea, a scone, a pot of jam and what can only be described as three pints of cream. I don’t even like milk but I’m watching myself spread clotted cream on a scone thinking, “I hope I don’t run out of jam.” It’s not like when I’m at home I find myself with a couple of pieces of bread thinking, “Now, do I want ham & cheese in my sandwich whipped cream?”

I’m just hoping that when I do hit middle age, which lets face it isn’t far off. I won’t suddenly decide that Capri pants are a good idea. I have never seen so many pairs and so many different colours. Women in this country cannot get enough of them and if they can get a stripy top to match, well they’ve reached fashion Nirvana. I was having a real laugh about this until my girlfriend pointed out that I was wearing three quarter length shorts and a blue and white striped t–shirt. It’s all over people.

I had to distract myself from my impending future fashion faux pas by going for a walk. I really do love walking. As a kid I can remember being taken on walks with my parents and spending the whole time thinking, “What’s the point? We’re only going to walk back again. BORING!” Now of course I can derive real pleasure in just walking, looking at the view, smelling the sea air and of course meeting people along the way. Ok, I confess I hate that bit, mainly because I’m not sure of the rules. I grew up in London so I still feel extremely uncomfortable saying ‘Hello’ to anyone I don’t know. I mean if I was to start greeting people on public transport, chances are I’d be sectioned. But I understand that this is the country way. My girlfriend is completely at ease greeting strangers, having been brought up in the Shires, she’s practically a hobbit. “Hello” she says, “Good Morning!” she greets perfect strangers and they reply, “Hello!’ “Alright there?” I think to myself, this looks easy I’ll try it. I walk on ahead, clear in my mind that I shall greet the next walkers who pass me. I see a man walking toward me, he looks a bit grumpy…hmmm, maybe I shouldn’t say “Hello”…maybe I should wait to see if he says “Hello” first. Yes I’ll do that… He walks past me and I hear a cheerful, “Hello!” as he greets my girlfriend. “Hello!” she says. I suddenly hate walking.

And now I’m back home I miss the sea air, the late breakfast, the beautiful countryside, the shower with the water pressure of a burping tap, the cream teas and of course those badly dressed middle aged women. If only every holiday could be this English!

Note: the author of this article is actually hoping to go to Cuba next year should she ever get enough money together. If not expect another blog about The Lake District, Dorset or Norfolk…)

Posted on 21st July 2010


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