“What a waste of your student summer!” I hear you cry as you discover that I have not left the British Isles for the entire duration of my four-month-long holiday away from bubble of St Andrews. And, before you ask, no I did not have a gap yah discovering myself whilst backpacking around south-east Asia, going on safari in the Saharan desert, trekking along the Machu Picchu trail or snorkelling amongst a cornucopia of colourful fish in the Great Barrier Reef. In fact, I have never been outside of Europe, and whilst there are undeniably sights, smells, sounds and tastes that I have not experienced as a result, I remain a firm advocate of the Great British holiday.
We are blessed to reside in a country with a beautiful coastline and breathtaking landscapes
That is not to say that the thought of immersing myself in the stunning art and architecture of Rome or Florence with Rossini and Puccini ringing in my ears whilst enjoying deliciously authentic Italian cuisine does not appeal. On the contrary, as an Art History student this is a vision which is deeply attractive. Nor do I vehemently oppose those who choose to spend their summers in the far corners of the globe either at home or visiting a foreign culture and nation. Yet for me, I cannot imagine anything more agreeable in my summer than the humble staycation.
We are blessed to reside in a country with a beautiful coastline and breathtaking landscapes. From the flat Norfolk broads to the small cove-like beaches in Cornwall and rugged Northern Irish coastline there truly is something for everyone. The British Isles can boast pebble beaches, sandy beaches, isolated hidden beaches, busy beaches – the list really could go on. For some the unspoilt beauty of seemingly undiscovered nooks and crannies of the 7,723 miles of coastline in the United Kingdom are the ideal holiday spots, whilst for others the colourful beach huts and bunting of famous seaside towns is far more appealing. That variety is the beauty of the British seaside holiday.
There really are so many quaint villages waiting to be discovered filled with an eclectic mix of individuals who have swathes of interesting stories to tell. And for those for whom sandy feet is a curse rather than a joy there are beautiful mountains, rivers and lakes which provide the perfect backdrop to walking holidays and more relaxed breaks filled with coffees and novel reading, or perhaps even a few rounds of golf.
The changeable weather is a certain trait of the British holiday, and holidaymakers must be prepared for hot and cold, dry and wet, windy and still days. This uncertainty is part of the charm of the staycation, and the differing conditions lend themselves to different forms of entertainment and activities. Scorching hot days can be spent enjoying ice creams by the sea, sandcastle building and swimming or paddling in the glistening (but almost certainly cold) waters whilst more blustery days lend themselves to picnics of sandwiches and strawberries washed down with a flask of tea followed by flying kites high into the skies. Cooler days can be spent collecting shells, perhaps crabbing or even (for the more active families) playing beach games. There is even joy to be found in the wet and seemingly miserable days cosying up inside with your family and playing endless rounds of Monopoly whilst eating slices of freshly baked fruit cake with a hot cup of tea. Day trips to National Trust properties are another wonderful british summer activity. Traipsing around the walled rose gardens and beautifully preserved houses one cannot help but be preoccupied by the thought of a scone lathered with cream and jam in the tea room at the end of the day.
There are so many nooks and crannies left for me to explore in Britain, more than I could manage in a lifetime
These wonderful days really do lead to you to question whether the faff of flying abroad is truly worth it with the luggage limits, antisocial early starts, and the difficult transfers. Staying in Britain there is no need to worry about healthcare, lost luggage, tropical illnesses and injections, currency exchange, translation errors, or travel insurance.
The promises of good weather abroad which entice families up and down the country can be exchanged for the promise of laughter and fun whether rain or shine in the British Isles. There are so many nooks and crannies left for me to explore in Britain, more than I could manage in a lifetime. I remain an adamant supporter of the staycation and exhort you to reconsider your feelings on the humble British holiday. As the wise novelist Marcel Proust said “the real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes” – we Brits must open our eyes to the delights and joys of the islands we live in.