Been anywhere nice this summer? That’s what we ask, isn’t it, as sun-kissed family, friends and colleagues troop back from their holidays.
It’s assumed being on holiday means going away somewhere hot in order to relax, recharge and recuperate. Lying on a beach or by the pool is our reward for months of slogging away, coping with the monotony of our everyday lives and battling near-permanent exhaustion.
The curative properties of a holiday are so ingrained that, as the Mail reported this week, it’s being suggested that doctors ‘prescribe’ holidays to middle-aged patients to protect them from heart disease. It follows research that found people who took less than three weeks’ leave were 37 per cent more likely to die young than those who enjoyed plenty of holidays.
Been anywhere nice this summer? That’s what we ask, isn’t it, as sun-kissed family, friends and colleagues troop back from their holidays
Well, I won’t be writing such a prescription for myself anytime soon. I loathe holidays. Of course, I take time off, but I very rarely go away. That’s because I love my day-to-day life, and I’ve worked hard over the years to get the balance of work and play just right.
If I’m ever tempted to stray, perhaps for a city break abroad or a long weekend in the UK, I start to miss my routine at home and at work — and I worry about my patients. By day three I’m counting down the hours until I’m back.
I don’t wish to sound like a killjoy, nor unbearably smug. I realise I am very lucky to have a job and a life that I love so much, and I find it sad that so many others feel the need for respite from their lives.
If people feel in need of a holiday from their normal existence, then they should take a long hard look at their lives to see what changes can be made. ‘Getting away from it all’ shouldn’t be a necessity.
Of course, it’s good to have a change of scenery every now and then, and I don’t begrudge those who take ‘holidays of a lifetime’ to Australia or America, for example, or to see world-famous heritage sights such as Angkor Wat or Machu Picchu.
I completely understand, but it’s not what I’d ever do. I spend my annual leave exploring the UK, on day trips or short breaks.
I also understand that parents may feel obliged to take their children on holiday and often it’s the highlight of the year for them. That’s fair enough. But children don’t need no-expense-spared trips to exotic places or to high-tech theme parks to learn about the world and have adventures.
Indeed, I worry that over-stimulation is doing children a disservice — setting up extraordinary expectations for what life is like and preventing them from developing key skills such as patience, attention and imagination. What’s more, the children I know who are most widely travelled seem to have the least knowledge about their own country — and we have such a rich heritage here.
My family often couldn’t afford a holiday, yet my childhood was filled with excitement. My mum was on top of all the free events and offers, and we’d go on day trips to explore the coast, countryside, zoos, art galleries and museums.
I’m sure it was these experiences in my formative years that led me to understand that holidays aren’t the answer to life’s problems.
Many people, on hearing that I don’t do holidays, have confessed the same. They love their time off but use it to immerse themselves fully in the everyday life that they love, too. For us, the answer to ‘Been anywhere nice this summer?’ is ‘Yes, I stayed at home.’
Since March, the erectile dysfunction drug Viagra has been available here over the counter. I was among many in the medical profession who were wary of the move. I feared that being able to buy it sends the wrong message about a potent drug with potentially fatal side-effects. Indeed, figures released this week show that this year alone