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Sunday, 15 June 2014

Answer me this

What exactly is a holiday? Sleeping away from home - you can do that in jail, on military service or purely by accident. Talking foreign talk (as in Birmingham?) Drinking to excess and not caring. I could go on.

The old bromide says you relax on holiday. But suppose you relax anyway, off-holiday. How much relaxation can a man stand? VR reads off-holiday and on-holiday and that's OK. I write off-holiday and am inclined to write on-holiday and that's not OK. It looks like work. Holiday as an act of denial, doesn't sound right. If a holiday's Lent whence comes Easter?

We do other things. Occasional Speeder and Darren took us to a lovely restaurant - haute cuisine but with utterly humane service. Witty even. The waiter asked what I disliked and I answered fervently cucumber and courgettes. Later I was presented with The Club Sandwich Revisited decorated with, inter alia, borage flowers, pansies and marigolds. Courgettes had also featured but had been removed - "No loss, they were just there for show."

OS developed tooth ache during the week-end. A visit to the Maison Medicale de Garde in Béziers saw us in and out within twenty minutes, carrying prescriptions for an analgesic, mouth-wash and an antibiotic. Promising to see a dentist on Monday. What the Republicans call socialistic medicine.

Touring the Béziers flower market we found ourselves monitored by police on Segway scooterish things (two wheels side by side) looking essentially foolish.  Adding to their foolishness they labelled themselves Securité en Proximité or some such.

Globe artichokes have an an ornamental as well as a culinary function it seems. Below: there's only one reason you'd find me in Galleries Lafayette - air conditioning!


Sir Hugh said...

Allowing for the time difference and information on Blogger Dashboard about the time of posting it looks as though this was posted around 7:00 am. Assuming it took some time to write I reckon that having a sleep in is another item not included in your holiday attributes.

Lucy said...

I often wonder. Short holidays in particular often seem to incur more effort and planning and stress than staying at home, and we too pursue many of the same activities anyway, and take qute a few of our habitual trappings with us. Yet there is something in a change of scene, and also, home imposes duties, a feeling that really one ought to be doing this and that which need doing, and the days away do take a subtly different shape.

I've tried getting my globe artichokes to flower like that, but they don't last long and go brown and mouldy. I've discussed this with our Breton friends in Morlaix who reckon that they must be treated with something. They are magnificent anyway, and that club sandwich is a thing of beauty too. You don't look too chuffed about being nuzzled by a large artificial cow. Come to that you could probably have that experience in Milton Keynes.

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

I hate holidays, at least if that's what they're supposed to be, and relaxation is boring. If I go anywhere away from home I'd rather there was a good reason, like visiting friends or doing research, or going to see something extraordinary, ancient or modern, and staying there a while to appreciate it. The best away-time is either an illicit weekend/week, or going to some isolated cottage to finsih a work in progress.

I like your travel/holiday reports.

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Or even to finish a work in progress.

Roderick Robinson said...

Sir Hugh: True, I don't do much sleeping. While this is a luxury villa and the beds are King size, no foreign bedroom can ever match the exactitude of our Belmont chambre, evolved over the years to our precise needs. Right down to the texture of the carpet beneath my feet as it leads - in one unsevered piece - into the en suite.

Lucy: I'm nagged by what you manage to do when on holiday, especially those visits to rewarding churches with lots of knowledgeable detail and pix. Yesterday's cock-up was typical of the way I fail to match up. On the wine list I noticed a rosé from a vineyard I was familiar with (albeit for reds); ordered a first, tasted its body and maturity, ordered another and discovered the vineyard was only 4 km away from the restaurant. Inevitably the bureau was closed. However we needed some rosé anyway so I stopped at a communal caveau. As I got out of the car I noticed a bag of humbugs in the door pocket and thoughtlessly extracted a couple, offering the second to OS who was accompanying me. Thereafter I was faced with tasting a couple of offerings. Why didn't thoughts of you restrain me?

Natalie: I like the idea of an illicit weekend/week classified as a break from routine. It betokens a very pragmatic attitude to relationships. Otherwise, what you mention are not of course holidays. I am not a beach person being of fair complexion and in France my main aim is conversation - usually for some specific reason. OS's dental problems - though I feel for her - are supplying just that kind of opportunity.

Blonde Two said...

I think expectation is the biggest killer of holiday pleasure. If you can travel without it (not easy), you are likely to be pleasantly surprised by your adventure.

I relish the time to write that a holiday gives my but get frowns from those who suspect that this activity is work rather than relaxation.

mike M said...

We call them vacations here in the US. Keeps the pressure off.

Roderick Robinson said...

Blonde 2: You put your finger on it. All of us came with the highest expectations and I posted about that particular state of mind. Small matters can undermine things: at one point it seemed too hot even to use the pool. It was also difficult to keep track of the best sources of rosé. However, by common consent, the huge "American" fridge with an ice-generating feature has been voted a great success.

MikeM: The French got there first with vacances. I am left dwelling on words cognate with vacations: vacancy, evacuate, vacuum - no great promise in any of those. My experience of hols in the US is that employers were remarkable stingy (two weeks vs. five weeks for me in the UK) and most employees didn't seem to want more time off. Considered it un-American. But things may have changed.

mike M said...

The "usual" environment is what's vacated.

Stella said...

Your vacation sounds pretty ideal to me -- food, flowers and free flowing wine. C'mon, you're in France! I'm sorry about the tooth -- one of our Ireland journeys, our companion chewed up a travel day having an emergency root canal. Lousy for everyone except the dentist who relieved her of quite a bit of money. The tooth was pulled when she got home. Memorable though. Breathe in, breathe out; breathe in, breathe out; breathe in......