Consumerism (2) – holidays and travel

Holidays. The two weeks in the year that we all work towards. Or three, or four, depending on how blessed you are in your job.

It always confused me why people seemed to accept slaving away for 50 weeks to end up spending a load of money on two as though only those two weeks of the year were important.

When I returned to the UK after more than a year off travelling, it has to be said holidays were not top of my priority list.

In my first job, the only week-long holiday that I can remember spending away from home, was doing The Ridgeway long distance walk, wild camping, apart from one night in a superb youth hostel.

We’d done a trial run previously on The Greensand Ridge walk (story on every pic about that one) but that was only over a long weekend.

The tent was a Wild Country Quasar which as a total non-camper, I had bought in the UK (a visit back to my parents when I was living in Aus) on the advice over the ‘phone from Partner who was still in Sydney.

I am sure no-one will be surprised to hear that we still have it 27 years later. We also have the Vango one person tent that Partner had taken to Aus with him before he met me. It’s a bit small for two. We tried it out in the Blue Mountains in NSW and one night was enough. Perhaps the dog would like it?

At some point, we took the train and went youth-hostelling around Yorkshire. Later we took my car (the only one I have ever bought – a Metro) and youth-hostelled around Scotland.

Our first ‘package’ holiday was with the Ramblers Association on a cross-country skiing trip to France (Vercors). It was an experience. We haven’t repeated it. Nor did they ever reply to my letter of complaint. And no, I wasn’t complaining to them about the paucity of snow.

We’d been back in the UK seven years before we actually went on a real sun-type package holiday. You can tell how long ago this was (1993) because they were cheaper when you got last-minute deals, and we got one to a Greek island. We didn’t know which one because it was accomodation allocated on arrival so it could have been either Kos (where we flew into) or Kalymnos, which necessitated a boat trip at 4am on the Black Pig. We ended up on Kalymnos. But it was a good holiday, quiet, peaceful, and cheap. I didn’t get a lot of the MBA books read that I clarted along with me.

Encouraged by this experience, we had another one the following year. We were still into islands so we went for the Canaries. Partner was sent to arrange it all. That was a mistake. He booked us to fly out of Newcastle and back into Middlesborough. Oh. No. What is the point of living twenty minutes from a local airport and having to travel home from one that is more than an hour away? He had to change the booking to ensure it was Newcastle both ways, so that turned out to be not so cheap. Great holiday in Lanzarote though.

The third – and final – package holiday was to Agios BoredUs in Corfu. It was early May, not particularly warm, and before the start of the tourist season, which was good in that there weren’t many people around, and bad in that very little was open.

We toddled along to the welcome party arranged by the tour company in the hopes of a free drink. Naive or what? All we discovered was that we had to use OUR OWN TOWELS if we wanted to go to the beach. (The caps was her emphasis in the lecture). We hadn’t taken any towels, we thought a package holiday meant just that. A package. Including towels. There was one bus out of the village about 9.30. If you didn’t catch that you were stuck in Agios BoredUs all day. The attraction of package holidays was waning.

On the final day, the flight was in the evening and we were meant to get out of the apartment by 10am, be collected by the coach, and sit in some hotel bar all day like a school party, getting bored/sozzled/whatever. We left a note for our bossy prefect attached to the apartment door with an elastoplast. It said ‘See you at the airport.’

After that, we bought flight only, to 1) mainland Spain 2) Canaries 3) Portugal. We chucked the tent in the rucksacks and we camped and travelled around on buses and trains. It worked out dearer than a package would have done, but it suited my independence. I hated having to be herded onto the school bus at the airport. It was a seriously good feeling arriving at the same time as all the package holidaymakers and watching them wait for teacher/prefect while we shouldered our rucksacks and cleared off for the local bus into town.

We got a villa, once, for a week on my 40th birthday, and a hire car too!! and travelled around on buses and trains for the other week staying in hostals.

But, we also had UK holidays. Apart from anything else, it meant we could take the dogs with us (remember, pre-dog passport days). Scotland (lots), Ireland (once), the Lakes (once), Northumberland (a few times). We had some cheap hotel deals via a fuel station offer, a couple of long weekends at Aviemore in a Stakis hotel for skiing, and we hired a cottage twice, but apart from that we went camping. We did buy a new tent (same company – Wild Country, just a bigger tent) for the luxury of car camping and joined the Camping and Caravanning Club. Very good camp sites, I must add.

Meanwhile, my work colleagues were still flying to posh hotels in Puerto Pollenca (or whatever it’s called) in Majorca and bumping into each other on holiday – how AWFUL!), or visiting Disneyland, or going to India, or Australia, or Egypt, or the Caribbean, or wherever. And I’m happily taking the dogs and camping in Scotland. Because I couldn’t actually compute in my very slow head, the point of travelling so far, and flying for so long, and spending so much money for a couple of weeks.

One colleague at work hired a villa in San Pedro de Alcantara. ‘You won’t know where it is, of course. It’s just a small place, but we do like it.’ Stupid woman. Of course I knew where it was. By this time I was the veteran of Spanish bus services on the Costa del Sol. We never did speak much after that. And San Pedro is no longer small, just for the record. And it’s just south of Marbella and Puerto Banus for anyone who doesn’t know.

Since we left the UK we haven’t taken any holidays. Unless you regard it as one long holiday of course. By holiday, I mean travelling somewhere else. That’s partly due to money restrictions, but it’s also partly due to living in a nice place, near the sea, beautiful views – where to go? Sure, I would love to go to Cuba, Mexico, South America, and travel down through Africa in the Land Rover (either the Series III or the Santana). But it isn’t for now. And Latin America involves flying.

I haven’t flown for around 12 years. Twin towers freaked me out slightly. So did being stuck on a plane for two hours for a delayed take-off in Newcastle. So did the gypsy woman in Cordoba. I’d flown to Spain (Madrid) on my own, leaving Partner at home to look after dogs while I scouted around looking for properties for sale in MΓ‘laga province. I’d chosen Madrid because the charter flights/prices didn’t suit or I was sick of them, or both. Actually they had become expensive by then as I vaguely recall. Might as well fly Iberia.

In Cordoba, where I spent the last night before travelling back up to Madrid, I was crossing to the railway station in the morning and a gitano woman asked me to buy heather, so natch I refused. Equally naturally, she cursed me. I am not into pressure sales from anyone, and that includes gypsies. My mother oddly, would never turn them away, got it from her mother etc etc. I was obviously the first to break the family mould.

But I freaked. I shot into the railway station and rang my partner, just in case anything happened on the flight. He was still ok, so were the dogs – so if I made it home… and I did.

Returning to the UK to visit my ageing parents, dying, and eventually, dead father for his funeral, I travelled by train, bus and ferry. I’d cottoned onto the fact that air travel is somewhat bad for the environment, and having to book ages in advance to get cheap flights doesn’t fit with me anyway.

I’d always had aspirations to be a nineteenth century monied traveller around Europe. Not so aspirational or so monied that I paid for my own cabin on the train or the ferry of course. I shared the overnight sleepers and the ferry cabins. In theory, I shared the ferry cabins. In practice, most women on the cross-channel ferry don’t want to share with strange women so I paid less and got a cabin to myself.

Travelling to deal with emotional family issues hardly classes as a holiday, but, it was a period away from home, and I tried to visit UK friends (sometimes) on my trips. Travelling overland is so much more exotic than flying. These days flying is so sanitised, crammed, crushed, unpleasant. Sleeping with strangers is fun, you even talk to them before you go to sleep and when you wake up.

Travelling overland gives you thinking time and lets you slow down the pace of life.


No long haul flights for 26 years
No flights (Europe) for 12 years
No holidays elsewhere for ten years
Vehicle used only 1) for work 2) to transport dog (!)
Preferred method of transport: legs (walking or cycling), followed by bus/train
Accommodation on holidays: one villa, two cottages, a few hotels/hostales, mainly three tents (all more than 20 years old)
Package holidays: three sunny ones, all to Europe, and one skiing one to France

About roughseasinthemed

I write about my life as an English person living in Spain and Gibraltar, on Roughseas, subjects range from politics and current developments in Gib to book reviews, cooking and getting on with life. My views and thoughts on a variety of topics - depending on my mood of the day - can be found over on Clouds. A few pix are over on Everypic - although it is not a photoblog. And of course my dog had his own blog, but most of you knew that anyway. Pippadogblog etc
This entry was posted in consumerism, death, environment, environmentalism, europe, family, holidays, home, life, musings, parents, spain, travel, work and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

28 Responses to Consumerism (2) – holidays and travel

  1. Blu says:

    Humph. What’s a holiday.
    My Record:

    Only bought 1 airline ticket in my life, to Ireland for my last Aunt’s funeral.
    Had a week in Tenerife. Holiday was paid for by the travel agent.
    Not sure that’s how it is meant to work.

    Have visited over 80 countries and 25 of the 50 states in the USA. Managed to convince the fools it was work so they paid for it all πŸ™‚

    n.b. I do agree with you that it has to be worse for the environment to spew pollutants out at 30,000 feet as opposed to a Landy’s exhaust height of 2 ft.


    • I suppose there are too ways of looking at your ‘travel’. Either you were very lucky to visit so many places at someone else’s expense under the guise of work, or it could actually have been a drag that you were ‘working’ and you may not have got to see much of the places. Only you know the answer to that one.

      nb – you aren’t going to draw me on the Land Rover, so there πŸ˜€


      • Blu says:

        I guess it was a mixture of the two, but more of the latter if truth be told. When I started travelling flights were a lot more expensive than they are now, so I tended to do 2 week trips so one weekend away, and the USA/Asian/African trips were longer so 2 or even 3 weekends away.

        Generally I would travel by train within Europe, so have criss crossed most of it over the years. Most memorable journeys were the train from Berlin to Hamburg right across communist East Germany and the hydrofoil along the Danube between Budapest and Vienna, again during the communist era.

        The limitation was that I nearly always ended up in big cities, although notable exceptions were the Nyali Beach hotel in Mombassa and The Shangri-la resort on Mactan Island in The Philippines.


        • I never found work trips to be much of a holiday. I didn’t mind the odd conference in London if it was located near the BM which made an excellent lunch-break. But otherwise, my work trips were day ones (apart from NZ), so no time to enjoy where I was going. Just another tedious hotel.

          When I find my Berlin postcard, I will write about my trip there, also in communist days, and so spooky, probably 1983 IIRC.

          Mombassa? Just as well you aren’t there now. Probably be kidnapped by pirates 😦

          I do wish I had spent more time in the Philippines. Was in a bit of a rush though. I’ve got an appalling photo so I suppose I could write about it at some point πŸ˜€


  2. Kyanite Blue says:

    Still need to comment re ‘Houses’ but will jump in here first.
    I’ve always been blessed with lots of holidays. Free travel as a railway mans daughter & with a mother with a little private money meant every school holiday we went away to the COAST[stayed in small B&B’s], the Peak District, Edinburgh to visit family.
    Later, I took time off between jobs to enjoy holidays in the Isle of Man, traveling around the UK.
    Then being self-employed gave me the freedom to ‘take a break’ when I wanted and along came Little Buddy!
    I’ve never ever been on a package holiday, but burnt many air miles flying to Canada, and around Europe between 1991 – 2007, and on 2 trips in ’09 – their cost more emotional than monitary as was financed.
    Now I’m happy to walk, take a train as no longer own a car.
    Having said that I love ‘hotel’ life – should post about that!


  3. Nice post – not sure I could manage without flying – took an overnight ferry to the Netherlands last weekend – it was ok but I would have preferred to fly!


  4. Vicky says:

    I’ve got to agree, I much prefer my feet on Terra Firma nowadays, though in the late 60’s early 70’s, I had several fly holidays. When the girls arrived, it was a car journey to ready pitched tents France (about 7 years running). I’ve flown 4 times since, 1 to Corfu, 2 to Cyprus and the last to Oz 10 years ago.
    New things starting soon, as you know.


    • It’s funny, depending on the people you mix with, whether or not you (not you personally) seem to be the norm or totally whacky. A bit like my ‘distorted’ post previously. So in my last job, 9/10 people took package holidays in hotels. Looking at these responses (A excepted), that’s not the norm for people.

      And we all want different things from our holidays. For me part of the enjoyment, isn’t just deciding what to do and see when I get there, it’s also about planning getting there. Not much fun when all you do is turn up at one airport, land at another and get on a school bus 😦 Much more fun when there is potential for things to go wrong πŸ˜€


      • Vicky says:

        Oh yes!!, the getting there is part of the holiday for me too, and unlike T, I’d much prefer to meander to my destination that joint the motorway rat race.
        A few years ago, when returning alone from Yorkshire, the M1 was closed by Derby, the detour was rammed with stationary traffic, so I puled into a lay-by, grabbed my road map and plotted a route across country through many unheard of little villages, it took 6 hours to get home instead of the usual 3, but it was a great adventure, and just the way I’d like to travel, now I’m ‘time rich’ πŸ™‚


        • Do you think we are secretly sisters? πŸ˜€ I’m not a fan of motorways. They are ok some of the time when you ‘need’ to use them, but I too like the meandering routes. I guess it’s similar to the contrast between flying from MΓ‘laga to Yeadon (or whatever it is called at the moment) and going overland, then ferry, and then train up to Yorks. A boring routine flight became an overland adventure πŸ™‚ I met a woman with two kids on the sleeper once who were going to France from Madrid, to see their French grandparents (husband French, woman Spanish). I thought it was so neat that when it got to midnight, which was approximately when we crossed the border, they had to swap the language they spoke πŸ™‚ They were very excited about that. They were also very asleep at midnight!!


          • Vicky says:

            I’m starting to think the same too, perhaps it’s a Yorkshire thing πŸ˜‰
            Yeadon!!, I haven’t heard it called that for years :-), I used to cycle there as a kid to watch the planes.


          • I don’t see why they change the names. Nowt wrong with Yeadon. I only went once to pick up an older cousin flying from London. It all seemed very jet-setting to us πŸ˜€ Anyway, if Heathrow isn’t called London West (for example) and Gatwick isn’t called London South (for another example), why should Yeadon not be called Yeadon? I mean, it is at Yeadon πŸ˜€ A used to get stopped there, because apparently he looked like a Basque terrorist, more on that one if I can find a pic to fit the story.


          • Vicky says:

            😳 I’m talking of the days before jets were allowed to land there 😳
            If I remember correct, it became Leeds Bradford International Airport when the jets were allowed.
            As you say, I much prefer Yeadon too πŸ™‚
            It’s the same as Elmdon Airport, more commonly known now as Birmingham International.


          • I thought it used to be Yeadon with (Leeds Bradford) in those brackets for persons who had no idea where Yeadon was.

            I don’t think the little plane that Mary came from London on was a jet somehow either. We (ie my dad and I) just thought it was so exciting to go and even collect a relative from an airport πŸ˜€


          • Vicky says:

            Just had to Google that for my own brain cells sake. In your lifetime it has always been LBA, but in my days of cycling there it was Yeadon Aerodrome.
            God I DO feel old now, it sounds like something from the war.


        • Vicky says:

          I think my fingers are meandering too, that should read ‘than join’, rather than ‘that joint’ πŸ˜•


  5. Letty says:

    I have been absent from blogland for various reasons, so I certainly need to catch up on your writings! I will try to do this over this weekend (a Me and Marv home alone weekend) so I will comment then. My thoughts are greatly impaired at the moment though because I had a tooth out this morning and I am feeling most sorry for myself. J ;0(


  6. Ahhh… taking the Ro-Ro over to the good old Isle of Man…. πŸ™‚ Beautiful place… Hubbie is half Manx and we used to go visit (even went for the TT once – 10 years ago now…) Can’t face going back though since his Mum died 😦

    I now have this song stuck in my head from over 35 years ago when we sang it as part of our music lessons at middle school….

    “Flannagan, Flannagan, take me to the Isle of Man again
    Take me where the folks all cry ‘Sand, sea, lovely blue sky!’
    Flannagan, Flannagan, if you love your Mary Ann….
    Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh Flannagan!
    Take me to the Isle of Man!”

    J πŸ™‚

    (My comment relates to one of your reply threads with another person… πŸ™‚ )


    • I have never heard that song before! It was a beautiful place though, I really enjoyed it. I can see why you don’t go back though, it doesn’t change the place, but it does change the way you feel about it.


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