COUNCIL crocuses have appeared all over the Links, which means one thing – it’s time to start planning the summer holiday.
It’s a fraught occasion for the family. Competing demands must be taken into account. There is the son, who has very definite ideas about holidays. They usually revolve around staying put in his bedroom and killing aliens on his computer screen.
Then there’s the Yorkshire Husband, who regards lolling on beaches reading books as one step away from idolatry and thus to the fall of civilisation.
There is the daughter, who, despite being in her mid-20s, seems overly fond of her dotty parents and likes going on holiday with us, but is keen on “seeing things” and walking places. None of them are wildly keen on the sun, or heat, which is a problem because I am a regular old lizard, me, and harbour dreams of baking under a scorching sun not doing anything for at least a week. So, sadly, my ambition of lounging by a pool and not moving unless it’s to get my wine glass refilled is not shared by the rest of the clan.
My family insists on “doing things” on holiday. Past experiences have included driving a recreational vehicle around Southern California, being hammered by a force seven gale in a cabin cruiser on Loch Ness and staying overnight in Oban. That last one was more of an adventure than you would think and we expected.
For some reason, I’m the one who has to come up with the plan. How, I thought, could I top an RV, a cabin cruiser and a cottage in “The Town That Never Was” on the Yorkshire coast.
Easy peezy. It’s a narrowboat on the Liverpool Leeds canal, we pray for sun and I pack the bestsellers, hit the nearest supermarket for a case of plonk and we’re sorted.
It’s probably tense for all families. That’s probably why mum eventually takes command and makes an executive decision.
Seriously, planning the summer holiday makes running for the White House look like a stroll in the park.
Dress to impress the landlady
It’s a whole lot easier to do, to be honest. It’s usually an afternoon with the laptop to access the whole world and its treasures.
Back in the 60s, my mum and my Auntie Jane would take an entire day to go to Girvan to source the lodgings for the annual Clyde-side jamboree.
You’d go down, check out the ads in the Carrick Gazette and then literally pound the streets, banging on doors to secure the holiday accommodation.
No-one thought it odd that the B&B owners advertised in the local newspaper when all the trade came from Glasgow and no-one thought it odd that people went to the same town every year for the Fair Fortnight.
It struck me as odd, however, that my mum wore her Sunday best to go holiday house hunting, including her fabulous stilettos.
You had to dress to impress. The landladies didn’t actually want guests at all, they just holed them for the summer.
They’d size up potential customers like Blackpool bouncers and, should that gib not be sufficiently shipshape, would imperiously announce that the accommodation had been taken and you could sling yer hook.
It’s like arriving at Alicante International and being told sorry, you’re wearing trainers. We can’t let you in.
You’re kidding if you think I’ll return
No, clever computer can’t get everything right. The sites you use to book hotels, hostels and cottages remember you, and greet any return to them like over-enthusiastic Labradors.
Heck, they even hunt you down with friendly offers based on prior bookings, coming into your e-mail inbox.
But, like a badly behaved Lab endlessly bringing half-chewed slippers in, the poor mite seems to think it’s doing you a favour, but it isn’t.
We once stayed in Kidderminster. It’s not something we’re proud of, it just so happens that Severn Valley Railway is close by and the Yorkshire husband and the son both expressed a wish to ride the rails.
I’m sure it’s perfectly splendid, but it’s really not our sort of town. For one thing, it seems to have only two restaurants.
ThisIsWhereYouBooked.com endlessly sends further suggestions for hotels I might like in Kidderminster. I won’t. Two nights in Kiddo and you really can cross that off the bucket list.
Nice to know that the clever young people who design these things aren’t as smart as they think they are...
The computer has made life easier, although you’d be astonished at how adept some holiday cottage owners are when it comes to imaginative, indeed poetic, descriptions of the surrounding countryside, yet somehow entirely fail to mention that there is a main entrance to a massive open-cast coal mine right outside the front door.
Response by owner when this was pointed out?
‘Yes, but the view is lovely on the left. Just ignore that side....’