We are trying to plan out holiday and it is not easy.
I like being on holiday, but I detest going on holiday. From the booking of the air tickets that feels like I am signing my own death warrant (thanks to a stupid and enormous fear of flying) to having to arrange a dog sitter for the dogs which somehow feels like I am signing theirs. Lucy is easy to look after – she is so well behaved, but Archie… well Archie takes a special pair of hands. Of course, what stress Archie causes in finding a suitable carer he makes up for in adaptability. While we are gone, he will carry on as normal with his chief concern being where his meals are and how often he needs to evacuate his incredibly busy bowels. Lucy will pine and fret and try to please and be kilos lighter when we get back.
All of our previous holidays have been to Thailalnd, where one of my brothers lives and have only been for two weeks each time. Now, after years in between the last overseas holiday we both took and the one we are planning, we are looking at an extended trip to the UK and Ireland.
My husband has family in Ireland and this is the second current point of stress. Every time we discuss the holiday, the amount of time I want to spend in England is sighed at, grumbled over and scowled about. We met in England and lived in Brighton for ten years and although many of the people we knew there have since moved on, I would still like to go. I have also never been to the Lake Distict and one person we have kept in contact wth lives in Cornwall and to visit that part of the country wold be nice, too.
Every suggestion is a battle and so I tend to give up before I have started, put the calendar away and wait to restart the conversation. The trip is coinciding with a significant birthday for my husband and I am happy to spend the bulk of the time in Ireland travelling around, but I do really want to go back to the UK.
Why? I get asked. What is the point? The only family either of us plans to visit is my husband’s and they are all in Dublin. Why do I want to drag us out of free and welcoming accommodation, onto another plane (which I am going to hate) and back into the insanely expensive land of my birth when I am unlikely to see that many people I know while there?
When I moved back to the UK in 1994, I spent about six months living and working in London before moving to Brighton. I knew one person in London but I was never bored, and although I always complained that the problem with London was that there was nowhere safe to drink dangerously, I found other amusements: the art galleries and the theatre, walking. So although many times it is the people that make me want to stay somewhere, it is not the only reason I enjoy the environment.
I had to call an English company the other day, in the UK and it reminded me of all the things that I hated when I went back in 1994. The phone menu, which lead to another phone menu, which then lead to another – each one demanding a specific reason for calling when all I had was a general enquiry. The very reason I was phoning was because I could not email them – they had their own secure email system and I had to set up an account by registering and then nominating from a list of prescribed security questions, a secure answer. Who was the author of the first book you read? Was one of them. ‘How the hell would I know? I was two’ was my preferred answer but not acceptable, apparently. Once I got through to the bottom of the endless daisy chained menu, I was told that all operators were busy and my call was in a queue. I hung up.
But still I ache for England at the moment. I know things are awful in places and I am sure the cities are as crowded and dirty as they had always been (Perth may be boring but it is relatively spotless). So the next time I unfold the calendar to work out our plans and the next time I get asked the question about why I want to go back, that will be my answer: because sometimes, darling, I get homesick too.