Our first family holiday was in 1971, a caravan in Lyme Regis for the week. 1973 was our most extravagant year, a week camping in a field outside of Saint Ives in Cornwall in August and a week in a chalet in Lyme Regis in September. Nearly every holiday in the 1970s was spent at a campsite at Westward Ho!
Once the 1980s came, Mum and Dad seemed to stop taking holidays. There were some years in which they came to Ireland to visit, but generally they stayed at home.
What was their reason for not going on holiday? Money was undoubtedly a factor in the earlier years: we didn’t have any. We were not untypical, few people in our community took holidays. But in later years, when there were only themselves, and when holidays were a more common experience, there was still a disinclination towards going away.
Perhaps Dad’s preference for staying at home was a recapturing of a sense of holidays in their original form when a holiday was a “holy day,” a religious feast when there was no work to do for a day. Holidays were about not doing things.
Perhaps not going on holiday was a better use of time, it left days and hours for doing the ordinary things that brought pleasure to everyday life.
Going on holiday might have meant sitting in lengthy traffic jams on country roads. It might have meant searching for parking spaces in expensive beach car parks. It might have meant jostling through crowded streets. It might have meant eating overpriced food in busy cafes. It might have meant passing much of the day in a hot car getting nowhere.
Not going on holiday allowed hours in the morning to sit at the kitchen table with a mug of tea and a book to read. It allowed limitless time to go to Langport on errands that might have been completed in twenty minutes. It allowed time to stop and talk to people who might otherwise have been passed with a wave of the hand. It allowed days of postponement of jobs that might otherwise need to be done in a short time. It allowed afternoons to catch up on black and white films and old television series. It allowed evenings when programmes could be watched until the early hours because there was no need to get up in the morning. Not going on holiday allowed time just to do and to be.
Dad’s reasons for staying at home were not so hard to understand.