Sunday, 28 July 2013

Reluctant Tourist



As some of you may know from my last post, I went to Amsterdam recently. I have to admit, however, that I’ve never been a big fan of holidays. Since I started writing fiction, this has escalated to the point where I’m almost holiday-phobic! Friends stare at me as though I’m completely off my trolley when I tell them my last ‘proper’ holiday, before Amsterdam, was seven years ago. ‘So, you’re finally getting a week away, then,’ one of them said when I booked the flights last month. I replied that it was actually only three nights - but that was more than enough for me I’ve been surprised and cheered to discover that apparently there are plenty of other ‘normal’ people out there who are not too keen on holidays, either. It’s not exactly homesickness – for me, it’s largely about disruption. In a nutshell, I find holidays 'inconvenient'. First off, I’m not a good traveller; I need tablets to cope with a flight, buses, trams and taxis and the medication makes me sleepy. Plus, my inner-ear sensitivity means I get severe pain during take-off, during most of the flight and landing. To counteract this, I have to wear earplugs, so I’m forced to be totally unsociable on the plane.
Amsterdam is a beautiful city, but I couldn’t go anywhere without my map-reading husband, because my weird form of dyslexia makes me hopeless at getting from A to B - and holidays are all about exploring new places, aren’t they? With a city-break ‘make-the-most-of-it’ attitude, I was shattered by the end of each day, so my ‘holiday’ reading went up the spout. I didn’t read one word of my novel the whole time. Being on your feet from dawn to dusk is also not recommended for a girl with blossoming bunions.
I suffered constant disorientation having to think in Euros, trying to do the decent thing by making a stab at speaking Dutch (‘please’ is ‘alstublieft’ and I just couldn’t get the hang of it) and having to look the ‘wrong’ way when crossing the road (four days there and I still couldn’t work out which side of the road we had to stand on to catch the tram). 

The problem is – when I imagine the place of my dreams – delicious home-cooked veggie food (and I’m sorry dear waiter, but a fish isn’t a vegetable), classy wines, a private lawn and patio with a comfy lounger waiting for me with an open book – I picture home. Call me fussy and set in my ways, but I like a cuppa made with PG tips and soya milk, I like granola for breakfast. I don’t like condensed milk in my coffee or three fried eggs on unbuttered bread for lunch (the veggie option at the Rijksmuseum cafĂ©).  And I hate beaches and sand – so please don’t suggest Benidorm or Bournemouth.

All images: Microsoft
When I’m away, I miss our cat, worry that the hanging baskets are frazzling to a crisp, miss my husband’s gourmet cooking and the latest episode of Wallander (in Swedish, of course). I miss slopping around in my tracksuit in bare feet and sleeping on a pillow that is just the right height. They’re not called home comforts for nothing. I miss getting emails and being up–to-date and yes, I miss writing. A lot.
Give me Home-Sweet-Home any day.