Holidays aren’t what they used to be. What they used to be was fun - plain, simple,
uncomplicated fun. You hopped in a car, or bus, or train and, hey presto, within the hour you
were there, on the beach, by the sea, on your holliers. In Tramore. Our Costa Del Sol. And
delighted I was to be there. After splashing about in the sea (we learned how to swim thirty
years later) for an hour or two we tucked into soggy tomato sandwiches that were in the
prime of their blushing red health setting out but time and travel and summer sun did for
them; then one of our parents skirted across the road to the shop, not for a surfing board, but a
pot of boiling water to make the tea. Ah yes, it was all so simple and wholesome. And green.
We left no carbon foot print behind only the prints of our bare white, innocent feet.
Holidays today begin at home – at the PC where, having picked some ‘exotic’ destination we
trawl the net for a hotel that we fancy and a room that we like at a price that we like only for
Booking.Com to flash up: ‘You missed it, booked two minutes ago’ - they might as well add
‘Ha, Ha, Ha’ to rub salt into our wound. And so for an hour or so the trawling goes on till
eventually you find a place. And now, another hour on the net as you search for a cheap flight
but not one that takes a day and a half to get you to your destination including a stopover in
Reykjavik. Eventually you find a flight which after all the damn add-ons: booking in bags,
booking seats and booking airport parking isn’t so reasonable after all. Anyway, you hop in
the car and off you go. Next up – the airport security hassle – the snailing long queues, the
almost stripping naked, the emptying of pockets, the frisking, the whole damn process that
makes you wonder why the hell do I do this? Would I not be better off in Tramore?
Eventually you’re through security and after a much needed beer in the bar you go to your
boarding gate only to discover that your fight is delayed. Worse still you discover your flight
is delayed while sitting in the plane on the runway. For an hour. At long, long last the captain
(a most tolerant and polite fellow) gets the green light and away we go. Typical Irish we clap
the captain for a safe landing – never mind that we’re an hour late and it’s almost midnight.
Our baggage, of course, is last on the carousel or worse, it’s not on the carousel at all! And
we all know what that means – that means you won’t be wearing the fancy TK Maxx jocks
you bought for the holliers tonight. It also means another half hour, or more, in Lost Baggage
describing your bag which looks like a million others, plus the contents, some of which you’d
rather not air in a public forum but I’m not going there. And then there’s Passport Control
and the long queue and you find yourself with the conscientious passport guy who, having
scanned your passport, scans you, eyeball to eyeball, not once but twice, to such an extent
that you feel like declaring; ‘okay, okay I’m, a terrorist, arrest me.’ The real problem, of
course, is that he does this with each of the hundred passengers ahead of you.
At long, long last we arrive at our hotel, tired and emotional, check in, fall into bed and wake
up to look out on a building site or brick wall. Another hour at reception and your room is
sorted, you can now, at long, long last, relax and enjoy your holiday. I mean what else could
go wrong? Nothing really except you knew in your heart, your gut actually, that there was
something not quite right about that paella and you spend the next day, not on the beach, but
on the loo. Fun and laughter or what, Cliff Richard? Okay, okay so this is an absolute worst
case scenario but I’ll wager that at least one of those holiday mishaps has happened to most
of us on some occasion or other. In the meantime I am genuinely considering hopping in the
car and driving, without passport or boarding pass or car parking receipt and with my
overweight bag full of lashings of ‘illegal’ liquids to – Curracloe. Just for a change.