Having just had a week’s holiday in the stunning Lake District, I ask myself if having a holiday is really ever relaxing? Is it worth all the stress? Yes it’s lovely not to be working, not to have to wake up to the alarm, not worrying about being places at specific times. Yes it’s lovely not having to be at home worrying about mundane chores like housework but, relaxing? I know I’m my own worst enemy because I normally work right up until I go away giving myself only a few hours to pack and get ready and it takes me at least the first two or three days to actually switch off from work. Do I actually really switch off though? Sadly I think not. In today’s age of technology, where you’re contactable by so many different mediums and with anyone able to reach you 24/7, is it possible to completely switch off? I often think on my next holiday I will leave my phone at home but the crux of the matter is, if you’re self-employed you can never truly switch off and go completely off grid for any length of time.
It does get me thinking though, in the days before we had all this technology, was that when holidays away from home were truly relaxing? You would be completely cut off. If someone wanted to get hold of you, they would ring your home phone – no answer. If they wrote to you, you wouldn’t see it or know about it until you got home unlike emails that are immediately visible on your smartphone. No social media, no sat nav, no WiFi…………nothing. Bliss! Having said that, there is at least some technology that clearly makes holidays away from home more bearable. The sat nav for instance, question in the morning “where shall we go today?..............Windermere”, punch it in the sat nav and off we go. Get back to the cottage in the evening, nothing on the telly, that’s OK we can get Netflix oh hang on the WiFi keeps dropping so we are only able to binge on episodes of The Crown in chunks while we still have a connection.
Then of course we must talk about the weather. It does appear that we left Summer in Sussex and drove around the M40 onto the M6 and went off at Autumn. It seems to rain a lot in the Lake District! If one more person says to me, “how do you think all those lakes are there?” I’ll scream! We did have a couple of days that were completely dry but mostly it was moody skies and varying degrees of rain or drizzle. The one place that it seemed to be consistently raining was Coniston. We tried three times to go there and each time it was raining! On the third time we just got out and got wet. Luckily it soon stopped raining and was just a shady grey. I’m sure it is beautiful in the sunshine but was very hard to imagine. One of the ladies who worked for the English Heritage in one of the places we visited while we were away said “you wouldn’t believe it but May, June and July were so hot and sunny” no you’re right, we wouldn’t believe it! Still holidaying in the UK and especially in the North, you must be prepared to get wet. We always take wet weather jackets, hats and wellies on every holiday we go on regardless of where we are going and what time of the year – always prepared!
So on to the weariness and this is largely down to our hounds. Don’t get me wrong, I could never go away on holiday and leave them behind but it is definitely not a relaxed holiday with them. Our holiday cottage is beautiful, an idyllic setting, quiet, modern, fully equipped with everything you could need. However all being on the same level is great, until it comes to bedtime. The hounds never see upstairs in our house so when we are away and they are able to sleep in the same room as us it’s a novelty for them. However, they do not seem to understand that they must sleep on their beds on the floor next to the bed and not on it with us. It’s like a three pronged attack (they certainly work as a pack) – one on each side and one at the foot of the bed (whose idea was it to have three dogs?). Normally it begins around 1am when they’ve had a couple of hours sleep. Someone will wake up and have a scratch (it’s normally Buddy who finds a door to scratch against which in turn bangs against the wall to wake everyone up). Then you’ll get a cold wet nose nuzzle under the duvet followed by the front paws. Then you’re awake and will spend the next twenty minutes or so telling them to get back in their own beds. This happens throughout the night every couple of hours. I can honestly now sympathise with parents of newborns because I imagine this is exactly what broken sleep all night with a baby feels like. Mr Furry says we’d probably get more sleep if we just let them on the bed but I doubt that as we would only end up with six inches of the five foot bed! Once they’re back in their own beds, you get a very faint whimpering whine, just loud enough that you can’t get back to sleep until eventually they’ll give it up, well at least for the next couple of hours! So yes I love our holidays but I need to get home for a good night’s sleep at least. Next year’s holiday research will involve looking for cottages that are two-storey properties with the bedroom upstairs!
Sometimes I wonder what on earth the hounds are thinking. I mean do they really want to go on a boat on the lake or be dragged around a museum or castle or sat under a pub table while we eat? I would love for them to turn around and say “actually Mum, you go away we would quite like to spend a week with the Dog Sitter”. However until that happens, I will continue to holiday with them as I simply cannot bear to leave them behind. One brilliant thing about the Lake District that I’ve found is that there are an awful lot more places that are more accepting of people with dogs. There is an abundance of cafes, pubs, shops, attractions and museums that are more than willing to allow you in with dogs. So at least that part of the holiday is less stressful.
Do the hounds travel well? Yes, they’re all amazing in the car. As soon as they’re in the back, they’re asleep and only wake up as and when we choose to stop on the journey. We often pull off the driveway at home and ask each other "we did put them in the back didn't we?". So for that I am truly thankful and as my sister pointed out, at least unlike children they can’t keep bothering you with “are we there yet?” “how much longer?”. Do they travel lightly? No! In fact having them is the sole reason that we bought a 4 x 4. They have their big fluffy bed each in the boot and the back seats of the car are piled up like a very complicated jigsaw puzzle. Like a game of Jenga, each item has to be taken out in the exact reverse of the way it was put in otherwise the whole lot will fall down.
So a few things to take away from this year’s holiday; look for a two-storey cottage, leave my phone at home or at least have “phone-free” days while I’m away, consider staying in the South of England where the weather is better, take a few days off either side of actually going away.
Then we have to consider the massive clean-up of the cottage before we leave to come home. So normally in order to get your security deposit back you have to “leave the cottage as you found it”. Of course, I have absolutely no problem with this apart from the fact that there is no vacuum cleaner. We have a broom and a dustpan and brush. So there we are frantically sweeping up after three heavily shedding Basset Hounds. Honestly, it’s like cleaning your teeth with chocolate! This in turn adds to the weariness. Somebody really needs to invent a non-shedding Basset Hound!
I asked Mr Furry why he thought Worthing was so overcrowded compared to Windermere? Why does everyone want to live where we do? Simply, we have good weather, it’s warmer and dryer (I promise to never moan about the rain again!!), the WiFi is consistent and fast and we live by the sea. So there’s 3 of the W’s; weather, WiFi and water – as for weariness, well I’m thankful for my own bed for the night and a full night’s sleep and of course my new Shark vacuum cleaner! Having said all of that, I've had a lovely week away and despite the unpredictable weather, the Lake District is truly stunning.
Thank you as always for listening to my ramblings.
Much love Sally xx