It’s that time of year when many of us traditionally make summer holiday plans. You can either do this online or offline. The offline method (the old traditional way) involves a weekend wading through several trees worth of colourful travel brochures—all of them brimming with smiling faces, sun drenched beaches and couples holding hands in front of the Eiffel Tower or the Taj Mahal (no, not the high street restaurant but the real one in India). In fact, so much paper is dedicated to advertising summer breaks that it’s a wonder there are any trees left for us to see when holidaying in some parts of the world. Not so romantic I agree, but it might be more realistic if photos featured a forest of tree stumps above a beautiful Norwegian fjord. I suppose downtown Budapest wouldn’t look quite so attractive if half obscured by a chlorine belching pulp mill. Perhaps Salzburg will include a musically themed tour of a log mountain entitled ‘The Sound of Sawing’…
Of course, nowadays it’s much more convenient (and much nicer to the trees) to search for your holidays online, so last weekend I googled and goggled at hundreds of WebPages and I became so confused by the huge choice that I gave up and took myself out to Sunday lunch. Over ham and eggs, I read the Sunday papers which of course included five tons of wood pulp converted to glossy pics of Bermuda, Barcelona, Bangkok and Brighton—all of which rather defeated my honourable effort to ‘save our trees’.
I decided that—rather than lie flat on a beach and turn myself into a charred chunk of French toast—I might be noble and actually try to achieve something for a change. After all, on holiday you’ve got lots of time to relax and be creative, so why not have a break, get a bit of a suntan and return home speaking basic Chinese? You don’t have to go all the way to China. Take an activity break to Miami or Manchester and they’ll give you good Cantonese food, tell you a bit about Ming vases and the Great Wall and then teach you some choice phrases to impress your friends the next time you visit your local Chinese restaurant. Mind you, there’s no guarantee the waitress will be able to understand you because she’s just arrived from Poland, but you’ll still feel superior. And rightly so.
Themed holidays are all the rage. Whatever you’d like to do at home, you can probably now do it while catching some rays virtually anywhere in the world. You can go on painting holidays, history tours, cake bakery breaks or fishing, walking, racing, sky-diving or golf holidays. In fact, there are so many golf holiday breaks available in every country (yes, even North Korea) that you’d have to combine golf with basket weaving in the morning, ballroom dancing after lunch and then a bit of kung fu followed by belly dancing after dinner. And then after four hours’ sleep, there’s pre-breakfast scuba diving at dawn. At least you could look forward to coming back home again to relax!
If all of that sounds too energetic, you obviously need to improve your fitness levels. You can choose from hundreds of Spa and Wellness breaks… they’re everywhere. You can detox in Dartmouth and Dagenham. You can wallow in Wellness in Totnes and Taunton.
Incidentally, ‘Wellness’ is a strange new age word… I suppose it’s the opposite of Illness? Or does it involve descending into a dark hole in the ground? Perhaps both. Anyway, Wellness holidays involve meditation, massage, yoga instruction, aromatherapy and body scrubbing as well as gym and light jogging duties and—of course—a strict diet routine.
You see, I was more or less OK up till that last bit. What is the point in going on holiday to enjoy yourself and feel better and then not being able to at least have a good steak in the evening and a glass of wine? A couple of lettuce leaves just won’t cut it for me. You might as well go on a prison camp holiday—hard labour followed by stale bread and water for lunch. And yes… this is also available as a themed holiday for real in Latvia featuring Soviet uniformed prison guards, a stone cold cell with iron bars plus warning gunfire and cries of despair from fellow inmates. All for just £12.50 a night. Torture is extra.
‘Sounds like excellent value! Don’t all rush—there’s a waiting list to get in…