Z is thinking of a holiday (but not planning one)

Having said what I don’t look for in a holiday, I should consider what I do – although I am pretty easy-going, so it arguably made sense to eliminate the few things I wouldn’t choose.

I like cities, and will happily spend a few days exploring one on foot.  I keep a general idea of where I am, but don’t mind at all getting lost and chancing upon interesting buildings or parks.  I seem to have a friendly face and people often smile at me, but I don’t mind at all if I don’t exchange a word with anyone all day – although, since I evidently look at ease, it’s not unusual for tourists to ask me the way – but, being a boringly sensible person, I generally have a map, so can often help.  Locals always pick me out as English though, at a glance.  I think that just wandering around helps you to get the feel of a place and I like quirky details – architectural ones, such as interesting windows and roofs, and amusing ones, such as the small pool with fountain in Krakow, where I watched a well-behaved dog, on its lead, wallow to cool itself down and then, with astonishing self-control, walk away with its owner rather than follow the instinct to shake itself – the amusing part was when a young man, a couple of minutes later, came and filled his drinking bottle from the same pool.  In cities, I also like visiting art galleries and museums, churches and so on.  I’d rather have ‘culture’ than go shopping, although I love local markets, especially food ones.  

I like rivers.  If ever I did go on any sort of cruise, I’d rather it was a river one.  I like a leisurely pace, prefer rowing to sailing and, when Weeza lived in London opposite a canal, rather envied the people living (or maybe just staying) on the houseboats.  I like being on the bank looking at the boats, the birds and insects and watching the fish, or being on a boat watching the scenery drift by.  I like looking at a rushing mountain stream, but would not have the least interest in doing anything like white-water rafting.  I can’t imagine anything I would like less, in fact.  The best boating trip I’ve ever been on was a magical 23 hours on the Kerala backwaters.  If any of you have the opportunity, do take it.  A traditional rice boat, with an engineer, cook and guide, cost Weeza and me about £100, six (I think) years ago, which included all meals (Keralan cooking is spicy and delicious) and no other passengers – each booking is for the whole boat.

I have no objection to an organised holiday as long as I’m reasonably confident of the company.  I’ve been on several run by the Nadfas branch whose committee I used to be on.  An advantage was that I didn’t have to sort out all the timings and everything, I am quite happy to leave that sort of thing to others.  The main disadvantage can be that too much is planned in the time and there’s no flexibility.  I found that in Spain, where three hours in Segovia was nowhere near enough, and in Scotland last year, where I would have loved to spend longer at the Burrell collection instead of going on to something else rather less interesting.  In addition, the day we visited Edinburgh, I’d had no time to myself and opted out of a bus tour round the city, instead staying in the National Gallery for an extra hour or two and then buying lunch and eating it on the grass outside in the sun.  One wasn’t supposed to, which I thought was a bit mean-spirited of the city fathers, but several hundred other people had also climbed over the barriers and were enjoying themselves too.  What was lovely about these trips was, when abroad, groups of people meeting up to go off for dinner together – we had a lot of fun, no one ever had to be alone and it was all arranged quite spontaneously, so you met new people.  The last visit, the friend I was sharing a room with was feeling a bit insecure and rather stuck by me – I didn’t really mind, but I’m not really one for too much togetherness and found that I didn’t get to know so many people that trip – when alone, someone always comes up for a chat.

When Weeza and Al were quite young, before Ro was born, we had a family holiday on Jersey (this is a Channel Island, Dave, not an item of knitwear).  They were aged nine and seven and there were lots of things to do.  What I loved most were the beaches on the rocky coasts, where there were rock pools and caves.  I spent a lot of time there watching sea anemones, hermit crabs and so on.  They are the sort of beaches I like best, I’m not one for sunbathing and I’m not that fond of sand.  I don’t mind relaxing on a lounger for the odd few hours, however, as long as there’s an umbrella for shade.  I don’t go to seaside resorts, I grew up in Lowestoft and the beach in summer didn’t appeal, far too crowded.  I liked it best in the winter, especially when it was stormy.

When I had a bad hip, I got out of the way of walking for pleasure.  Actually, I rather lost that many years earlier, when I had small children and walked at their pace.  Stopping every few years to examine a colony of ants or watch fish in a stream or counting the cracks in the pavement rather destroyed a previous enjoyment of hearty walks , although I do like going for a walk with a friend – you can chat or walk in companionable silence, and since everyone is more observant than I am, it increases several-fold the chance that I’ll have a chance to see something interesting.

I like playing but I don’t like sport.  I’ve never had the least inclination to go skiing, and am happy that it is now forbidden me (with an artificial hip, a proficient skier can continue to do it, but it’s not a good idea to take it up).  If I went anywhere snowy, I’d like sleigh rides and frolicking, not skating and skiing.  I have to be careful of sun, but I’m fine with heat.  I don’t mind not speaking the language where I am, which is just as well.  I don’t mind a long aeroplane flight, give me books and, ideally, a film to watch when I want a break from reading and I won’t move for hours.  I love trying different foods and don’t mind what I eat.  In the evening, I like the theatre, concerts, walking and eating, preferably not all at the same time, but if I’m in a country area, I’m quite happy with a pub or bar, and a book.  I like some company but I don’t need it.  I have to take loads of books on holiday or I don’t feel secure.  It’ll be interesting, when I’ve got an iPad, to see if electronic books will substitute.

Okay, I think I can sum up here.  I’d like to be within reach of a city with theatres and museums,, a river, some countryside with historic buildings or beautiful scenery and I don’t want to do the same thing every day.  And I don’t mind if a town has hills, but if the countryside is hilly, I’ll go by car rather than walk.

Have I left anything out?

13 comments on “Z is thinking of a holiday (but not planning one)

  1. Dave

    Although my walking is purposeful, I don’t mind stopping every few years to examine something interesting. Indeed, if I have my camera out, I may stop more often than that, perhaps even several times in an hour.

    I’d really rather be somewhere, though, where there are no other people, whether I can speak the language or not, and have nature to look at, rather than man-made objects. Unless they (the objects, not the people) are at least a couple of thousand years old, in which case I’m prepared to stretch a point.

  2. Zain

    If you were after a European city and you’ve not already been, I’d suggest Vienna. It has plenty of rich and cultured nightlife and beautiful parks and scenery. Escape the hustle and bustle and stay / take a day trip to Bratislava (under 50min by train) which has some fantastic castles, cathederals and views of the Danube.

    Another suggestion is Lisbon – largely undamaged (and decidedly neutral in WW2) and has a great mix of beauty and history and lovely views if you cross over the Tejo.

  3. Zain

    If you were after a European city and you’ve not already been, I’d suggest Vienna. It has plenty of rich and cultured nightlife and beautiful parks and scenery. Escape the hustle and bustle and stay / take a day trip to Bratislava (under 50min by train) which has some fantastic castles, cathederals and views of the Danube.

    Another suggestion is Lisbon – largely undamaged (and decidedly neutral in WW2) and has a great mix of beauty and history and lovely views if you cross over the Tejo.

  4. Z

    Dave, not meaning any rudeness or criticism at all because I like you just as you are, I genuinely wonder why you were ever accepted (or applied) for the ministry, surely one of the most people-centred professions there is.

    “did into people’s lives and then move on” – Sarah, you have it! No, I never have been to Cuba. You have? I have been to Vienna, Zain, but I was a child and I hardly remember it. I had years of no holidays. On my own, I think that cities are best – a remote area is just too solitary for me but city loners aren’t necessarily weird. I visited Portugal last year, but not Lisbon, Wink and I thought we’d like to go.

    We’re rather alike, LZM, aren’t we? Surely I’ll make it to Nevada one day to meet you!

  5. Dave

    Holidays are about doing something different. So spending all my working life being close to people, getting away from them is what I look for in a holiday.

  6. Z

    “Dip”, of course. Funny that my handwriting doesn’t indicate dyslexia but my typing does.

    Dave, either that’s obfuscation or self-delusion, isn’t it? For one thing, the only pastoral side of your ministry you’ve mentioned missing is funeral work, you’ve said that you actively dislike the social part and, for third, you don’t have parishioners to be close to or get away from.

  7. Dave

    Dislike social events, yes, but not the pastoral visiting and spending time with people sharing their problems.

    I still preach pretty well every Sunday, so have people talking to me about their issues, over tea/coffee after the service.

    When I’ve had holidays with groups of other people, especially if they find out my job, I’ve found it a busmans holiday, as I spend hours listening to them telling me their problems. I don’t get that walking the moors.

  8. Eddie 2-Sox

    Z, we should holiday together, then we can wander around some new place alone, together. We may even pass each other on some corner of a foreign, errrm, crossroads.

  9. Z

    I was chatting with two friends a while back, one a doctor and one a vicar. They agreed that they don’t admit to their professions when on holiday. The doctor said that he was told of gruesome illnesses and asked for advice. The vicar said that it was a complete conversation stopper. The other person either backed away, thinking that the conversion speech was about to come, or started apologising every time he said anything stronger than ‘gosh’.

    Usefully, now you are retired, you can keep quiet about your ministry. Unless you wear your dog collar on holiday, of course. I must say, I’ve never even considered talking about my issues to the Rector over after-church coffee and I can’t imagine any of the rest of us doing so either. You should join the stiff-upper-lipped C of E, Dave.

    Simon, is that an offer? What an excellent one


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