River Wissey Lovell Fuller

Notes from a newcomer

May 2004

Marion on the joys off holidays and travel!

If there were more people like me, Thomas Cook would never have become a household name. There's so little of the gipsy in my soul that I'd be the last person to book a cheap spur-of-the-moment holiday on the Internet, pack a small bag of essentials and set off, Rough Guide in hand. Although the idea of basking on palm-fringed beaches or exploring foreign cities is enticing from the comfort of an armchair, the thought of actually getting from the armchair to the exotic destination fills me with gloom.

First off, there's the packing. Travelling light is an art I haven't even begun to master. I can't go away for a single night without a hot water bottle and my own hair dryer. (Has anyone ever come across a hotel hairdryer that

actually works? There must be an international health and safety rule that ensures they only blow out lukewarm air.)

Ideally, I'd like to take my whole wardrobe so deciding what to leave behind is like pulling teeth. Will it be hot enough for T-shirts? Could it rain?

Might I need something dressy? And we won't even talk about shoes. Except to ponder why even two or three pairs of size fours are so darn heavy and take up more than their allotted space in the suitcase.Whatever time of the year it is, I take a last walk round the garden. There

is always something about to flower that I have been waiting months to see and now I will miss the moment.

Then (and I guess this makes me a sad person), I feel awful about leaving the cat. I know he will be fed and watered and most kindly cared for in my absence but I'm certain he'll miss me. And I can't even send him a postcard to tell

him I'm having a lovely time and wish he were there. A pair of green eyes, watching reproachfully as I lug the laden suitcase out to the car, ensure that I feel remorse all the way to the airport.

Ah yes, the airport. Queueing to book in, then sitting around for hours, pretending to read, but with ears strained for flight announcements. The whole process contrives to be nervewracking and deeply boring at the same time. The only way to relieve the tedium is a spot of retail therapy in the duty-free shops that aren't duty-free any more. But beware - you are going to have to carry

all those bottles (it's invariably bottles) along endless corridors and escalators to the departure gate (which is, naturally, the one furthest away from the terminal).

Finally, there's the guilt about travelling at all when I get hot and bothered about swathes of Essex being destroyed to create a larger Stansted so more and more of us can fly around the world, helping to pollute the very places we

go to visit.

So should I put an end to all this soul-searching, burn my passport and resolve to stay at home from now on? Well, that would be enough make a cat laugh.

Marion Clarke

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