So, tomorrow we set off on our Christmas holiday which in a break from our usual tradition will involve visiting neither set of parents. Instead, we’re possibly foolishly attempting to recreate a fondly remembered holiday we took some time in the last century* in La Gomera.
Back then,* booking a holiday involved sending off for a brochure (in this case it was a pack of postcards), choosing the accommodation you wanted and ringing up to book it, then sending off a cheque* to pay for it. We were met on arrival at the island by the resident holiday rep who had sorted out a hire car, introduced us to his favourite bar, and then left us to get on with it. We knew absolutely nothing about the place, and I only chose it because the holiday company advertised every week in the Guardian Weekend supplement and eventually wore down my resistance through pure repetition. Our research consisted of buying the Lonely Planet guide book and a teach-yourself-Spanish cassette* and our visit consisted of driving around La Gomera’s precipitous roads, hiking, bird watching, and then deciding which of the seven restaurants in the town we would eat at that night, bearing in mind that they took it in turns to be closed on different nights of the week and we didn’t want to repeat ourselves. During the week we were there we heard absolutely no news at all, with our only contact from the outside world being the evening we spent in a bar where a football match was on the television, apparently being played in a blizzard. On our arrival home we quizzed the cabbie (this was back when you could afford to take a taxi from Heathrow*) about what news we had missed and he couldn’t think of anything (I believe it may have been during the Major government – ah, happy uneventful years) although when pressed he did dredge up a mention of the football match. We have been to many more exciting places and seen and done many more ‘bucket-listy’ type things, but that holiday remains one of my fondest memories.
Of course, arranging this holiday has been way more complicated, thanks to the Internet, which meant a painful evening of trying to sort through a bewildering variety of options until eventually I just plumped for a couple of places that sounded okay and were available at the right time. Since then, I’ve been able to stalk the local weather forecast (sunny and 21C at the moment, thanks for asking), check out the accommodation on Google Streetview, fail to learn any more Spanish than we got to with our cassette the first time (dos cervezas por favor) and order a comprehensive bird guide. On mature reflection, given the steepness of the terrain, we will not be doing any cycling, so it’s back to the hiking boots and binoculars. Last time we failed to conclusively identify the one possible canary we thought we saw. This time we hope we will do better.
One aspect of the holiday may be rather too reminiscent of the last time, however. In my haste to get something booked, I neglected to check whether our accommodation actually had any WiFi. The place where we are staying for the first week has, rather ominously, WiFi in ‘some rooms’. The place where we are staying for the second week – a remote cottage on an organic farm in the interior – does not mention any WiFi at all. This may make for an interesting few days…
I could spend the next fortnight desperately hunting for hotspots in order to keep up on Twitter, post the odd blog post, and trying to stop the pile of email that will await me from becoming overwhelming. But on the whole I’m inclined to try and roll with it, get some reading done and unwind. It will either kill me, or do me good.
And oh how wonderful would it be to get back to the UK and discover that nothing at all noteworthy has happened in the world while we’ve been away…
* stop me if I start to sound old here at any point.