Friday, 8 August 2008

Trendy, green and smug

We’re on holiday. This is the week we had set aside for our ‘last-minute break’, smug in the certainty that the credit crunch would leave luscious cottages and villas ours for a snip and a song. The more I thought about it, the more my heart sank: dogs needing kennelling; builders needing elaborate instructions and wiring diagrams; SWCBM needing supplies. Not to mention the whole elaborate pre-holiday trauma. To whit:
1. Trawling in despair around the shops trying to find suitable clothing. I really don’t do summer. I have no natural affinity with cropped trousers (or, heaven forfend, shorts) and dinky tops. With breasts the size of melons (and we’re talking honeydew not Ogen) spaghetti strap dresses and suntops are out. Swimsuits are, frankly, an abomination – eyes water when I dare to brave a public swimming pool. No, it would be yet another amorphous kaftan (and a dark muttering that M&S are making their sizes even smaller this year).
2. The whole ridiculous beauty salon fiasco. The once-a-year cringe-inducing visit to see Emma or Shelley or Donna (they of the iron-straight bleach blonde tresses and uber-long nails). The ritual humiliation of that first appraising look during which you can almost see the pity mixed with sheer horror at the Sisyphean task ahead. The stripping of a year’s worth of cosy fur; the wholesale decimation of eyebrows; the emergence of eyelashes from invisibility; the gouging of cuticles.
3. The attempt at the fake tan. I am the archetypal Celt, pale, red-haired, freckled, genetically suited to lurking in murky bogs and wafting through shaded forests. I’m like a vampire when I hit the sun: heat rash, almost instant sunburn (despite liberal dosing of factor 50) and irritability on a superhuman scale. I have learned, by bitter experience and second-degree burns, that a natural suntan is not for me yet I still crave (pathetically) that sun-kissed copper shimmer. Hence the humiliation of streaked leg and orange face.
4. The packing. Having figured out what husband and child need; not to mention what the dogs need for kennels, I have lost the will by the time it comes to my own holiday wardrobe. Stuff is chucked in with barely a thought, to re-emerge at the other end unsuitable, unpressed and smacking of desperation.

Anyhow, this is all by the by. When we realised that neither of us had actually bothered to look for that last-minute bargain basement break, the solution was suddenly obvious and easy.
‘We’ll be trendy,’ said Adrian (not a phrase that trips naturally off his tongue). ‘We’ll have a staycation.’
So here we are. Instead of burning rubber on the M5 hurtling to throw ourselves onto a plane or lurching over the channel to face 12 hours of French motorways (and our particular pastime of counting the number of men having a pee by the side of the road), we are sitting at home. It is raining of course but do we care? Nope.
Our intention is not to work. We foresee carefree days in the garden, drinking wine and reading books. No matter that the deckchairs have mould and the garden furniture is sodden. We might toss a cricket ball around in a jolly way. We will, of course, have barbecues (in the shelter of the porch) and dutifully get our money’s worth from our National Trust membership by marching purposefully around some pile or other, exclaiming at needlepoint and admiring tree ferns. Hey, we might even get feckless and go to the beach (me cowering in the shade of a cliff). Our carbon footprint will barely indent the sand.
Then again, of course, the phone might ring and we might well find ourselves saying ‘2,000 words by tomorrow lunchtime? No problem.’ to some 20-something editor (as you do when you’re freelance and still have a huge chunk of Bonkers House to save from collapse). But then, given everyone now takes their Blackberries and laptops on holiday, what’s the difference? Except that we aren’t shelling out shedloads of cash for a grim gite and dodgy kaftans and I will avoid that particularly horrible sensation of growing-out bodily hair. Trendy, green and stress-free? I call that a result.


Rinkly Rimes said...

I like to trawl around until I find pictures or other items I can turn into poetry.

Your picture of the wall ornament and the greenery is interesting. Here goes.....

When they fixed him to the wall out in the sun,
He thought that ornamenting would be fun.
His smile was beaming, generous and wide
As he viewed the vegetation at his side.
He looked across at bushes, full of flowers;
He gazed on verdant lawns and paths for hours.
The sun shone warmly on his sun-like face.
This was indeed a very pleasant place.
But then he chanced to cast his eye around,
And he was terrified of what he found.
Long strands of ivy grew there by his side.
He witnessed their approach, all scary-eyed.
Each day they came toward him with intent,
He knew at last what these green tendrils meant.
He knew that one day they would hold him tight,
They'd grow and grow each day with all their might!
He'd disappear beneath the spreading green;
His joyful sunny face would not be seen.
Any wonder that he looks a trifle wary!
The whole idea is positively scary!

Frances said...

Jane, you and A are very wise, to do some relaxing, low-key, pampering of yourselves.

These days traveling by plane is very hard work in the prep and the waiting and ... the pricing.

Driving ... not exactly a pleasure either.

Anything "fun" that takes so much to ready oneself for just seems to shed some of its fun.

I bet you all will have a glorious time, just doing what appeals to you on your staycation. (I've often done that sort of thing here in NY and found it fantastic to be a sort of tourist in my own town.)

(You could still maybe put those doggies in a kennel!


Pipany said...

We never go anywhere JAne as the cost, etc for even a few of us is so prohibitive and I never mind as I can always find plenty to do pottering here BUT THIS RUDDY RAIN IS DRIVING ME INSANE!!!!! (sorry to shout). Sigh...hopefully it will change soon and your barbecues won't have to be under shelter.

P.S. Thank you for your message you sweetie - will mail you AFTER your hol and possibly even have written something by then! xx

Blossomcottage said...

After my trip to South Africa last year I vowed that I would never go anywhere again, i was exhausted 7 flights in 10 days and never long enough in one place to unpack. Yep Jane I think you are right sometimes it more of a holiday to stay right where you are!
Love Blossom x

walter and me said...

Oh you make me laugh!! Perfect to cheer up another wet saturday, too. Staying at home is traffic, no other brits abroad, cheaper, less stress, and no exposing body bits that frankly should stay covered!! Have a chilled time, and put your feet up! And great to have a post from you again. (she says, impatiently!!) Diana x

Norma Murray said...

Hey! Your holiday sounds like my life.... I didn't realise I was having such fun.

Irene said...

I call it very sensible and not just trendy but noteworthy and admirable. More people should stay home, because, really, vacations are so stressful and so full of things you have to do and must not miss and have to see and taste and try, while staying home is so stress free and relaxing and cheap. Especially that and then the tiny carbon foot print also counts for a lot. Nowadays, you can't be a responsible human being and get on a jet plane, not even for a quick hop across the Channel and taking your car for a 700 mile trip is not done either. Have a great time.

Elizabeth Musgrave said...

Well we are doing just this next week too - we must both be supremely on trend! We have decided that we will have two reasonably local nights away in what look like good b and bs and just trog around North Wales. We are not allowed to do anything of the monster list of jobs at home.
Hope you enjoy yours!

Fire Byrd said...

Right so here's the deal... you carry on staying at home and I'll use your carbon ration to keep going away. But i will also save on beauty salon humilition as I'll stay with friends who won't care about forestation!!!
And you never one of those friends may turn out to be you. Unless you bolt the doors in September from woman in fast car!

snailbeachshepherdess said...

Dont tell me you cant feel the need for some gentle Northumberland air, to watch those giant combines crawling up and down like gigantic beetles with a ribbon of perfect blue sea on the horizon? The thrill of a boat ride to the Farne Islands copper shimmer there ..just a green tinge is fine!

Expat mum said...

Well it's no wonder holidays leave you exhausted with all that prep! I just drag out the same "summer" clothes, fling them in the case and head off. Except this time in England it was so bloody cold and rainy that I didn't pack nearly enough winter clothes!

60GoingOn16 said...

Yes, I'm enjoying the Exmoor summer too . . . looking out at the covered up garden furniture I bought last year. Too wet to get any use last year, ditto this year. Had a very soggy dog walk along the Barle today, even the dogs were fed up and we didn't see another single soul.

But if you wanted a treat while you're on staycation - and with all this rain, we need a few treats - forget Emma, Shelley and Donna of the perma-tan, perma-bleach and acrylic nails, go and see Michaela at the very reasonably priced, Essential Beauty in Tiverton. A lovely woman, in whose care I guarantee, you will just float away. Her aromatherapy facial is the business. (And tell her I sent you!)

Withy Brook said...

I am all for Sbs's ideas about Northumberland but I do see that it is a long way. But if you change your mind, there is a lovely place where you can chill out if you want or visit all sorts of lovey places and it is right here at Withy's home. Think if I had decided on a home holiday I would take a lot of shifting though!

mountainear said...

Home's good - all that money spent making it comfortable must be some justification for staying put and enjoying your own place.

I have somewhat ancient memories of packing up 3 small children to stay for a fortnight in a French hovel (sure they are not like that any more). Waved goodbye to dishwasher, washing machine, vac and most other life support systems. Was the wine what saw me through it.

Bonnes vacances. (never was much good at French...)

Rinkly Rimes said...

Of course! I knew all the time it was Virginia Creeper!!!!! But 'ivy' was easier to fit in to the metre! Do you believe me? If you saw my garden you'd know I hardly know a rose from a carrot!!!

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Don't blame you at all. I haven't dared face an airport since they started putting plastic bags in drinks or vice versa. We had a great B&B posh holiday in Tiverton but then daughter did vomit all over the lovely furnishings as she had eaten too much butter. I think they've just about forgiven us.

abcd said...

Makes sense to me, by the time we have paid for kennels, cattery, and livery stables, it costs more than our holiday and the alternative of persuading some unsuspecting friend or relative to move in for the duration means I feel I have to totally spring clean the house etc. before I go. So much easier to stay at home!

Kitty said...

Not a bad idea, says she frantically googling flights to Paris or B&Bs in Edinburgh, seeing if the kennels will do a frequent-flyer type deal. I have itchy feet, I'm sick of gardengardengarden and mudmudmud and inlawsinlawsinlaws.No chance of you nipping up to wales on 28th is there?

CAMILLA said...

Hi Jane,

Know just what you mean about going on holiday and then having to worry about animals/kennels.... HL said recently how about trip to France, WHAT.!! never usually moves from his chair with said remote control. Must admit it take my fancy, only problem do not like leaving Daisy in kennels, she that is used to over-indulge luxury of that plumped up cushion on sofa.

Sun - I am of the fairer sex, celtic skin and remember the time moons ago of looking like wrinkly-red beetroot of burning myself from falling asleep in the sun, oh yes, it's the fake tan for me, even though a tad streaky at times.

Bring on cooler weather, muted colours of wool and cashmere and dark tights with boots.

Put those feet up Jane, just chill, books, day trips out maybe, not forgetting the glass of red stuff, and forget the telephone and write by deadline date, enjoy your holiday at home in that beautiful Devon countryside.


DJ Kirkby said...

Staycation...officially the best word ever! Give that man a prize.

blogthatmama said...

How great is 'cosy fur'! I've just filled the bath with it, pre-Zambia. Hope you have a brilliant time on your staycation, blogthatmamax

laurie said...

i love staying home.
a wise choice!

Fennie said...

Well, there's so much here that I can share for I was beginning to wonder if I were the only one who approached a holiday with steadily increasing horror. Fortunately it doesn't last and once it's too late to worry about whether you actually did turn the gas off or lock the shed, I begin to enjoy myself. Not that we can ever get away from the labels for much more than a long weekend. But then there is just so much in every locality that you haven't time to visit if you are working, including our wild and inaccessible wild beaches.

Sally Townsend said...

Be interesting to see if you do any work whatsover, fancy a meet up in October ? I'm down your way, I'm having a holiday, that's H O L I D A Y. xx Oh forgot, I am on holiday :(

Maggie Christie said...

I love the word 'staycation' - I hadn't heard that one before. It seems a brilliant idea to me - remember to take the phone off the hook though! xx Mags.

Anonymous said...

I am so with you on summer. I much prefer autumn/winter simply because I feel more comfortable in jeans and jumpers!! My breasts aren't the size of honeydews but the weight I am putting on is definitely shying away from an M&S wardrobe and moving towards Simply Be.

CJ xx

Georgina said...

Hey, no probs we can girly hug in our big knicks, I may see you in Exmoor or Darmoor SOON ! DEBS X

Unknown said...

We've been having 'staycations' for ages now because of lack of funds, and energy. You put it all into words exactly Jane. Never seem to have the time to relax in our own homes, so this is the perfect opportunity. This year I am making scrapbooks of old photos and hobbies, writing letters instead of emails, and putting items we definitely do NOT need on ebay to clear clutter.

In the evenings I am cooking real meals for us,and walking to collect stray wood for the fire in the winter which will soon be upon us I fear.

I might even be able to do some exterior painting of the poor ld cottage - if the sun would only shine!

Jane said...

We are stay at homes too this summer - but it has rained all school holidays (they go back next week), we didn't get to do any of the Bodeny healthy holiday things I imagined. I have spent a fortune on trips to the cinema in an attempt TO GET OUT OF THE HOUSE and I am now fed up. Like you I don't really do summer clothes but it would have been nice to get out of parka and wellies.
I have booked a week in Barcelona in October.

Chris Stovell said...

The only problem is that it's absolutely peeing down here so I hope that you get a little sun on your staycation... but not too much so you don't have to worry about shorts etc (I'm with you there.)

bodran... said...

Do you realise it's nearly a year since i trawled to dulverton while you where away.. Time passes far to quickly! And i doubt if this year will let me escape but you never know xxo

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

I am totally with you on the beachy,sunny, tanny, thing. I am quite pale as well, and proud of it!!
Scots heritage and all that.

We only do the beach in the evening. Or in the fall and wintertime! I actually adore a winter, rocky beach.


Ooh, Jane - join the club of trendy staycationers! I now feel quite vindicated re our non-holiday choice, which is rubbed in (not unlike said holiday factor-50 when we DO manage to get away somewhere where it isn't raining) whenever I pop into Malmesbury and inevitably run into someone I know. "Been away yet?" they croon across the aisle, flaunting their Mediterranean/North African/or possibly Cornwallian suntan, as I loiter palely eyeing up the BOGOFs in the washing-powder aisle. Staying at home - it's the new brown, you know.

Great blog, by the way. Am now staunchly re-confirmed in my hatred of all things holiday.


abcd said...

Jane if only you lived nearer, there would be no horse envy, Billy is retired but Jack(no asbo) has been getting bored and very fat all summer as I haven't been able to ride due to frozen shoulder, he could have been all yours! Shoulder is on mend now so am going to give it a go this weekend and see what happens!

Pondside said...

Hi Jane - I hope you had a decent time on your staycation. I had to laugh at this whole post - the hairdressers...their cousins must have come over to these shores, because they work at my hairdresser's. Over here they are invariable called Jan, Shelley, Melissa and Amanda.

farming-frenchstyle said...

I, too, would love a stay-at-home-hol. But with cows, sheep and dogs to look after it wouldn't be much of a holiday (though I did do very little during the Olympics). Hope you had a good time and drank plenty of wine with the barbecues.

Queen Vixen said...

Never go near a swimsuit if you carry a couple of melons before you. The swimsuit merges any delicious curves into a lump of indiscriminate wobbly stuf. I do now opt for a bikini, in spite of the stretch marks and birth battered belly. Its much better to let it all hang out and for people to be able to differentiate the bits that are hanging out.

Hols at home can be fun but only if you dont tell anyone you are there. I used to do it regularly when I could not be arsed to be putting little ones to bed at 6pm on a foreign place and officially having no life in a hotel room/cottage/caravan. Hubby and I called them rascal fun's. "the kids were too rascally to take away so we pretended to have fun". Hope you have had a good break - even if was a round of drinks in t'garden.

Milla said...

Just adore holidays, the lack of responsibility, although the dismal reminder of dullness thwacks you in the face when you get home. Always pack the wrong things, too. Lovely blog as per and get you with your 38!

Sorrow said...

so are you still on holiday?
or just so bored with us in the blog world?

DJ Kirkby said...

Is your 'staycation' over yet?

Mother Nature said...

It's September and I'm wondering where you are. I ready to hear more from you. I haven't laughed this much in a week.

Grouse said...

Well thanks you lot!!!!! Always felt a bit robbed not having hols (holiday accom for 6000 birds a bit thin on the ground) but reading all yur comments and XJ's blog I dont feel so hard done to.
Def planning the fake bake though- daughter due back after months of travelling......not picking HER up from airport looking like a bleached potatoe............