Roll On Summer

A couple of days ago, the always fabulous Hannah posted ten reasons why she can’t wait until the summer holidays. As a university student, she has the summer break in her sights already, and I don’t blame her!

Anyway, between that blog post and the delightfully spring-like weather we have been experiencing over the past few days, I was inspired to make my own list of reasons I am looking forward to the summer.

1. I’m going to see Bon Jovi in July at Hyde Park. Fingers crossed the weather is as good as it was last time.

2. There will be a new tiny addition to the family in August, and I can’t wait for cuddles!

3. I am notoriously rubbish at coping with hot weather, but by now, I am bored of winter and looking forward to the temperature rising just a little bit.

4. Warmer weather means less clothes. I’m not especially fond of stripping off, but I do like getting my arms and (depending on my level of weight loss by the time summer arrives) my legs out.

5. I am looking forward to summery activities, like barbecues, picnics and days out.

A photo taken many years ago on a sunny Bank Holiday picnic in the park! ~

7. This year, two of my best friends are turning thirty. Birthdays are the best; I don’t know how we’ll celebrate with them yet, but I am sure we will be doing something fun!

8. Sitting in the garden with a book and a long, tall glass of something cold makes me happy, and I can do a lot more of that in the summer!

9. I bemoan the loss of all the good television in the summer (it really is dire), but it gives me a chance to catch up with all the shows that I have been meaning to watch for ages.

10. There a Caravan of Love weekend in my summery future, and I cannot wait. They are the best weekends of my year.

Childhood Summer Vacations

A couple of weeks ago I took part in the 20SB Blog Swap. I did it last year, and unfortunately, the blog I swapped with has become private, so I have no way of linking to the post I wrote back then. This year, I can no longer find my post on my partner’s blog. Since I really enjoyed writing it, and I wanted people (especially my family) to be able to see it, I decided to repost it here. 

The brief for this blog post is to pick a favourite summer vacation (or holiday,as we Brits prefer to call them). I’ve been thinking about it a lot, and for me, it’s fairly difficult to pick one. When I was younger, my family didn’t go on foreign holidays. It just wasn’t something we did. We didn’t even travel that extensively in the UK; we found an area of the country that we liked, and we tended to stick to it. If this sounds like I am unhappy that this was the case, I’m not. We had one foreign holiday; when I was eleven I went to Germany with my parents and two of my brothers, to visit family who live there. It was a lot of fun, and I was glad we went, but I enjoyed our caravan holidays into East Anglia as much, if not more.

However, when it comes to picking a favourite childhood holiday, it’s hard. Not least because, in my old age, the memories have become somewhat merged into one big lump, and it’s hard to pick out what happened when. But it is also because (and again, this is not a complaint), we did similar things on each of these holidays. To illustrate my point, I decided to share some photographs with you. They come from three holidays specifically, one in Felixstowe in (I think) 1990, when I was eight, another from Hunstanton in 1991, and another from Hunstanton, I assume from 1992.

Caravan  - F_phixr

Caravan - H91_phixr

We always stayed in a static caravan. My love for a caravan holiday is now deeply embedded, and I want to own one eventually.

Beach - F_phixr

Beach - H91_phixr

Beach - H_phixr

The beach was a big fixture in our holidays, lots of free fun to be had and we always loved digging a big hole and then filling it with water. It was always a disappointment when the tide was out. One anomaly in these photos – the little boy in the middle of the bottom photo is a stranger we met there. We didn’t often play with other children on holiday – maybe it was unsociable, but often there were four of us and my mum and dad. We didn’t need anyone else!

Animal - Felixstowe Animal - H_phixr

As well as the beach, we also explored the local attractions – one year my dad took us to a fort that we all hated and it has passed into family folklore as the most boring trip ever. A zoo or farm was a lot more likely – although the bird that my brother stood in front of in the top photo scared me so I couldn’t have a photo with it! To be honest, I’m clearly not that much keener on the horse!

Group - F_phixr

2157_50404073921_6003_n_phixr (1)

A photograph in front of the caravan is a recurring theme. My little brother Michael was usually messing around, as you can see by the look on his face in both photos.

Michael - F_phixr

Michael - H_phixr

Talking of Michael, he always managed to hurt himself on our walks along the beach in the evening. We took our shoes off so we could walk in the sand, but didn’t necessarily put them back on when back on the path, and Michael always stubbed his toe and cried!

So as you can see, it’s hard for me to pick just one holiday, because they were all such fun. I’m so lucky that I grew up with lots of brothers and sisters (there two more in addition to the four of us you see in these photos), and that my parents were able to take us away for a week each year. The holidays might not have been in exotic locations, but I loved them!

Holidays are Coming*

Hello all

If you live in the UK, you may have seen the recent television adverts in which the likes of Stephen Fry, Julie Walter and Lady Mary Crawley promote ‘Staycations’ in 2012. I’m not a big fan of the term, but I applaud the sentiment. Everyone loves a foreign holiday, be it a beach in Greece, a European capital city or a dream trip to Australia. But are you ignoring all the wonderful places that Britain has to offer?

I know what some people will say when you try to convince them to take a British holiday. Firstly, there’s the weather. The good old British weather; why take a holiday here, where it might rain for a week, when you can go abroad and have sunshine and warm temperatures. I have a counter argument to this. If you go abroad, and you have the misfortune to encounter rubbish weather, you aren’t prepared for it. You have your suncream, your sandals and your sunglasses, but chances are that you haven’t packed an umbrella, a jacket, or a pair of suitable shoes. If you’re on holiday in Britain, you’ve probably overpacked. You’ve got your shorts, your sunglasses, your suncream and your flipflops. But you’ve also got a couple of thick jumpers, a pair of wellies, a coat (and a jacket), and maybe a hat (not a floppy sun hat, but a woollen hat). You’re prepared! The weather might stay nice for the entirety of your stay, but if it turns, you have everything you need to stay warm and dry.

The other argument against staying in Britain is the cost. Center Parcs and Butlins, two popular British holiday destinations, both work out to be expensive, especially if you going for the self catering option and you have to buy all of your food too. If I wanted to go with my three friends to Elveden Forest Center Parcs for a weekend in May, it would cost us £459. That’s not including the cost of any activities (except swimming) that we might want to do. And who wants to go to Center Parcs just to go swimming? Butlins in May would cost us £533 for four nights including breakfast and dinner.

CP - 419

Butlins 533

If you want to go abroad, you can go to Turkey for seven nights, all inclusive, for £254. You wouldn’t have to take much spending money, if you didn’t want to, because all of your food and drink is included in that price, along with flights and accommodation. What a bargain.

Thomas Cook 254

I know, I’m not really making a good case for the staycation here, am I? Here’s my argument. People seem to think that you need to go to these places that provide entertainment and activities onsite. Center Parcs may be a lot of fun (I wouldn’t know, as I said I haven’t ever been), and Butlins is great if you have a family because there’s a lot to do within the complex. But if, just like me. you are going on holiday with your friends or your other half, why would you need entertainment to be provided for you? You can find it yourself, and for this, you don’t need to stay at a holiday resort.

My friends and I have been going on caravan holidays for a few years now; usually we book through The Sun’s £9.50 holiday scheme, which never actually costs just £9.50, but still works out to be a bit of a bargain. As a child, I went on caravan holidays every year with my parents and my brothers and sister, usually to Norfolk, and we always had a fantastic time. OK, so it’s not the height of luxury, but most caravans have a shower, television and decent enough kitchen.

And as for costs, depending on when and where you go, you can always get a bargain. Lots of people own static caravans, and are looking to rent them out throughout the year to gain a bit of extra income.

Caravan

These prices are from the Park Holidays website for a caravan in Felixstowe, Suffolk. As you can see, the lowest price is £86 for a caravan for three nights that can be shared by 6 people. Quite the bargain. Of course, as you can see, the prices rise as the summer progresses, and the prices also vary depending on where in the country you want to go. But caravans are not the only type of holiday that get more expensive in July and August, as we all know. The same resort in Turkey that I featured above rises to £520 per person at the end of July, and to £549 by the middle of August. The same accommodation at Center Parcs is £579 at the end of July.

Obviously, caravans aren’t the only type of accommodation for a staycation. You can stay in a Bed and Breakfast, or a hotel, or you can go camping. The prices vary so much depending on where you go, and you do have to do your research, I have found, for B&Bs and hotels, but usually it’s worth it.

When I originally thought about this post, I wanted to give you some ideas of the amazing things that you can see in Britain both in 2012 and at any time. But then I got sidetracked into proving that a holiday in this country doesn’t have to cost the earth, and certainly doesn’t have to be more expensive than a holiday abroad! So another post or two will follow with details of those wonderful things that Britain has to offer.

How do you feel about staycations? (How much do you hate the term, or is that just me?) Do you prefer a holiday abroad or in this country?

*The Holidays of the title obviously refer to the British meaning, rather than the American.