Not that long ago, going on holiday used to be all about doing as little – physically – as possible. I would judge the quality of a holiday by the number of books I managed to read, and it was not uncommon for me to get through 10 books during the course of a two week break.
I would sleep as late as two young children would allow, then move myself from my bed to a sunlounger either by a pool or a beach and read. Then I would eat my own weight in food and drink, as if there was a danger that I might be starved on my return home. Holidays were a free pass to sloth like activity and gluttony.
These days I approach holidays very differently.
These days I see holidays as an opportunity – that does not often present itself – to get in maximum exercise, whilst not succumbing to the sort of desperate, stress and tiredness fueled eating that can often punctuate my day to day life.
I still love to read, but the one week holiday I have just returned from resulted in finishing only 2 books but walking 75 km.
A typical break consists of getting up relatively early and going for a decent 7 to 10km walk. Then all I really want to do is eat a healthy lunch, lay on the beach reading a book and periodically venture into the water. I might go shopping, so long as I also have time to read and walk as well, and in the evening I’m not that bothered about going out drinking or eating – I’d rather go to bed, read and make sure I was in fine fettle for my walk in the morning.
I’m starting to realize that this is not making me a great holiday companion for many people.
This holiday I’ve been away with my daughter and my parents. My daughter is generally of the view that her legs have been designed exclusively for the purpose of dancing, and my parents are getting older and are not much up for route marches through the National Park. To her credit, my daughter did, under some duress, accompany me on one walk – the longest and probably most challenging walk I undertook during the week – but there was no way she was coming every day.
This does make me wonder whether I’m actually suited to holidays with other people. I want to be selfish when I’m away. I work hard. When I’m on holiday, I want to indulge myself. And I find increasingly that the way I most successfully indulge myself is by doing things alone. Yet at the same time, I feel terribly afraid of being in a situation where being alone is not a choice, but just my life. There is something about being on holiday alone, as a necessity, that fills me with dread.
I’ve decided though that I need to meet this fear head on. I’m going to experiment initially with short breaks alone. Years ago, during a particularly desperate moment in my marriage, I spent a week alone near Marbella – ostensibly to get over some recent relationship trauma. I learnt the hard way that for me this was not a good thing – an analytical mind that some might describe as prone to overthinking, does not benefit from a week alone even somewhere as lovely as Marbella. I had way too much time in my own head. With this in mind, I’ve decided I should not initially plunge myself into the traditional 7 days away. A few long weekends will suffice and I will see how I go.
There is a part of me that isn’t the slightest bit afraid and suspects that I will love it. I’ll let you know. And if you have a good book recommendation, please do let me know.