Jack Averty: Holiday heaven or holiday hell: It’s the Great British break away
This week I embarked on what many would call a quintessential British holiday.
Admittedly it wasn’t quite up there with caravanning in North Wales in terms of the ultimate getaway but it contained all the best elements – rain, rows and having to pay to wee.
The trip started as any proper UK based holiday does – with some bickering.
Having set a firm but fair departure time of 9am, myself and my partner left at 10.30am, prompting a furore from the one who had to drive 150 miles north to the Lake District (me).
Without trying to sound like the kind of person who uses the phrase ‘Brexit means Brexit’, 9am does in fact mean 9am, not 10 s*****g 30.
Nevertheless we ploughed on straight into the next fundamental part of the great British getaway – the weather.
Being a countryside break it was of course always going to rain (it’s not a proper UK-based holiday without the wet stuff), but we questioned what kind of rain we’d get.
The answer was the same as it always is – torrential.
With the windscreen wipers going full-tilt, the car was swaying from side to side on the motorway from the heavy wind.
Sound familiar? That’s because it is literally the same every single time you ever try and go away anywhere in the UK by road.
About half way in to the drive came the inevitable outburst from the other half.
She seemed so angry that I thought she must have finally cottoned on to all my late-night snacking.
But alas it turned out to be something far worse, she had left her fourth choice concealer at home.
Thus followed the inevitable ‘we have to turn round/there is no way on God’s green earth we’re turning round’ merry-go-round squabbling.
To give everyone a breather, and because the great British getaway wouldn’t be complete without the obligatory motorway service station stop-off – we pulled in to let the car – and more importantly her – cool off.
The stench of wee from the over-used toilets didn’t help matters, nor did the 140p-a-litre petrol.
However, our willpower and the overpriced motorway coffee steered us on and eventually we reached our destination.
The hotel turned out to be lovely (they always are) and you find yourself quite fond of the little village she’s got you staying in that no-one has ever heard of.
However, just when you think you’ve recovered from the shaky start, the rain has taken it upon itself to upgrade from torrential to apocalyptic.
Cue the next row – what to do.
Me, the intellectual, opts to stay inside and chill and wait for the weather to, hopefully, take a turn for the better.
Her, the boss, has better ideas and decides that a walk would do everyone good because, after all, this is a walking holiday and ‘we’re not letting the weather spoil it’.
Turns out her shoes aren’t waterproof so we have to turn back 15 minutes in and start again. And, hours later, we arrived back at the hotel absolutely drenched, furious and ready for round three – ding ding.
A few days in, and with the weather still not letting up, we discovered the most quintessentially British thing there is – having to pay to wee.
That’s right, after hours out trekking in the wilderness, drinking a litre of bottled water and scrambling to the nearest public toilet, you discover a locked door and a machine demanding 40p.
Now 40p used to get you a relatively decent-sized bag of sweets, but in the great British outdoors those two 20p coins pay for you to have access to the most basic of life’s needs.
But the discovery of the ‘pay to wee’ machines is actually important because it marks rock bottom – and it’s from here that the holiday really ramps up.
After all it can’t get any worse than having to pay to wee, so why wouldn’t you just kick back and try and make the best of the holiday?
So we tucked into ice creams in freezing temperatures and played crazy golf in high winds – and loved every minute of it.
By the end of the week, when we were back at home only to discover that her concealer had in fact been in her bag the whole time, it dawned on us that this was a holiday we would never forget – and not because it would take a lifetime to dry out from all the rain.
See all the rows, rain and 20ps wasted on toilets all help to create one thing – memories.
Say what you like about holidays in the UK but they’re always memorable – and we wouldn’t change them for the world.