Sunday, 7 August 2011


Am I the only one who hates the summer holidays? No work, combined with potentially long periods of confinement indoors due to terrible weather, plus lack of company as everyone else flies off to fairer climes.

I know I should enjoy it, and consequently feel guilty when I don't. There's nothing like that creeping feeling of dread at the start of July when people start disappearing and 'closed for holidays' signs start to pop up on shop windows everywhere. I love hot weather, don't get me wrong. But as a British woman living in Belgium, chance'd be a fine thing.

For years now, the summer holidays have been a long, tedious stretch of socially-barren thumb-twiddling.
They almost always involve separation from someone I don't want to be separated from, often with a significant body of water and a frustratingly slow internet connection standing solidly between us.

Summer holidays also belie their name by being a traditional period of hard labour: for students, stuck behind the checkout at Sainsbury's, and for interpreters, at Polish language schools.

Almost all your friends will go on holiday at the same time and then on language courses, and by the time everybody's back it will be September again and time to go back to work (with a sigh of relief). The consoling charms of retail therapy and comfort eating are rendered virtually inaccessible by the lack of shops and restaurants actually open in Brussels in July and August.

Why not go on holiday? I hear you cry. You must be joking. There are two options here - no, three. One: you holiday with your nearest and dearest, resulting in bickering, tears and cries of 'I'm not a fucking GPS!', not to mention the unknown quantity of the acoustics in the hotel bathroom. Two: go away with friends... actually this isn't such a bad option, except that it's hard to find single friends of a similar age to go away with - plus any kind of girly holiday inevitably leads to excruciating hangovers and embarrassing sunburn. Perhaps best avoided. Three: go away with your parents...

Ideally, I'd like to kidnap several of my favourite people in the world and hole up in a converted farmhouse in Tuscany (so very home counties), spending daylight hours reading by the (tastefully designed) swimming pool and evenings chugging Chianti in the cool of a hilltop terrace.

In reality, I'm in Kraków, mainlining Tok FM podcasts and trying not to get into trouble with the police (long story). At least the sun is shining. For now.