Monday, August 3, 2009

Thoughts on summer sun holidays - and the Irish "summer"


In July I went to Spain with teenage daughter for a short break, as our eldest son has lived north of Barcelona in a seaside resort town for the past eight years. We have been there almost every year, and we only go because he's there, resort towns and package holidays generally not being my thing. However it is a great place to just chillax and unwind after the stresses and strains of the Irish "summer", which we look forward to throughout the bleak winter months, only to be disappointed yet again.

What I left behind....at home....


...and from the plane in Shannon....

No wonder we can't muster enthusiasm for the killjoy environmentalists who go on bemoaning global warming, as we'd love some to have some here, thanks very much, during what laughably passes for our summer months. We have had virtually non-stop rain since the end of June, after about two nice weeks in the middle of June. July was the wettest on record, and August looks equally dismal. So we have little to look forward to for the rest of the so-called summer.
Kids are bored, teenagers mutinous, and parents driven to distraction trying to keep sane during the school holidays. Newspapers are full of tips on how to keep the kids entertained during the Irish three-month long school holiday, which must be the longest in the world. (No wonder Irish teachers say when asked what they like about their job - June, July and August!). Irish kids are probably no different to kids everywhere in the Western world, spoilt by a plethora of Playstation and Wii and Nintendo DS game consoles, and go into terminal catatonia at parental suggestions that they go for a nice walk/cycle/read a book or something equally improving that doesn't involve MSN-ing, Facebook-ing or Bebo-ing each other. (Come to think of it, in this house those are mostly parental activities so maybe I can't afford to preach!)

....and what I saw on arrival!

Back to sun holidays - I only ever went on one package holiday to the sun; that was to Tenerife when I was 22, and it was my first time ever flying, so it was a first in many ways! I was with a group of 9 or 10 other midwives, we had just finished our training and were ready to party. I had a ball but even then was a free spirit who wasn't quite ready to be regimented in the package holiday modus operandi. I had been round Europe a few years earlier Inter-Railing and that was one of the best holidays ever, and I would love to do it again now that the age limit is gone. Time was you had to be under-21, then 26, and now with life-long learning the norm, they seem to have acknowledged that we can be perpetual students!

This year I was meeting the same friend who had done the Inter-Railing trip with me as she was in Barcelona the same time as I was visiting Spain, so we planned our reunion, and as she had her teenage girls in tow, it was a hit with my teenager as well. We had a wonderful two days in Barcelona, and she spent two days on the costa with us as well. As we caught up on the years, we both agreed Barcelona was a great place to visit and the Costa Brava a great place to spend some down time on the beach recharging the batteries for the rest of the year.

Since coming home just over a week ago it has been virtually non-stop rain and flooding, and as you can see in the photo over here when I say floods I mean monsoon-like rains! Today is the August Bank Holiday Monday and is usually associated with sun and traffic jams on the way to the beach, but alas today is par for the course and another wet day. It is also cold enough to warrant wearing jeans and a jumper (sweater) - not a tee-shirt day at all. We are debating ordering our winter heating oil in August as if this continues we will be putting on the heating pretty soon.


I met someone in the supermarket today who is just back from a sun holiday in Spain and we agreed that it didn't matter where you were, it is essential to get your sunshine fix to face down the winter here. Someone said on Niamh's post (where I was a guest blogger last Friday - take a look!) regarding Ikea and their whole concept of cheap'n'cheerful home furnishings (which I wrote about in my last post), that in Scandinavia with its long dark winters people spend more time indoors so home becomes more important and change is more common than in hot countries. Maybe there is something to that. When we lived in Africa so much of our life was spent outdoors - garden or balcony/patio - that the interior was less important than it is here. Or maybe I am not enough of a houseproud "hausfrau"!

I will post my holiday pics on a sidebar Picasa slideshow, for those remotely interested in having a look, and will blog a bit on Barcelona which was absolutely wonderful, it has to be one of Europe's best cities and I would love to spend longer there exploring and wandering. One day, maybe one day...

10 comments:

jeannette stgermain said...

I'm with you Catherine, no package holidays! We like to find out things on our own - even if we don't get to see as much as the package deals. Never been to Barcelona yet, but I spent my honeymoon in Malaga on the S. coast.
I am severly behind on reading everyone's posts, but it's because I am in the process of moving into a new house, and still having to sell our old. Don't know when that process will be ended!

Rudee said...

Thanks for visiting my site, Catherine. I've not been to Spain yet and I don't know why. My cousin moved there years ago and loves his life there. Someday.

This has been our worst summer in decades. It is cold, cloudy and wet. I've worn wool many times since I thought I put it away for good in the spring.

talesfromagarden said...

hi catherine, thanks for your comments on my blog.i have read your blog on killarney and viewed the photos in sidebar, lovely in sunshine !that photo of the beach in spain looks so bright and dazzling we are not used to blue sky!!! we are off to spain for a weeks holiday in sept.first time ever usually its france and recently italy looking forward to some heat pg.!

The Green Stone Woman said...

I have never been to Barcelona, but everyone who I've talked to who has been there says it's a great place to visit. I guess your son is very lucky to live so close to it. It sounds to me like you should try to go more often. Maybe a week here and there on a cheap flight. I know, I need to go myself. I will, I will, As soon as I can afford it. Cheerio!

Elizabeth said...

I must say Irish and English 'summers can be a bit sad -- as per your opening pictures.
So Spain must be a lovely change
We are in New York where it gets horribly hot in the summer and deadly cold in the winter


but at least you know what season it is
unlike in England where by husband says you have to look to see if the leaves are on the trees.........

our son is off to Barcelona with his wife next week!

Catherine said...

Thanks for your comments and welcome to the newcomers to my blog!

JEANNETTE - nice to see you back again and good luck with your house-moving; a stressful time in anyone's life. I have never been to Malaga but I love the Costa Brava area and would love to spend a month or two exploring it.Barcelona is great as well, a vibrant buzzing city.

Catherine said...

RUDEE - nice of you to follow my blog - if you have a cousin in Spain it is a good excuse to visit - it's a lovely country with a fascinating history and I have enjoyed all my visits there. I look forward to revisiting your blog also.

Catherine said...

KATHLEEN - nice of you to look at the slides of Killarney, it was one of those rare May days, the day before was bitterly cold when we were doing a lunchtime picketing in Killarney Hospital. So you grab the chance to enjoy a good day! Enjoy Spain, where are you going? It is a lovely country.
Hope you have a good rest of the summer!

Catherine said...

IRENE - you must go to Barcelona - it is a lovely city to wander around in and lots to see and explore. I enjoyed it a lot, and even from Limburg it isn't too far, maybe 20 hrs drive, we drove once but it was via Belgium, Luxembourg, France and then we got sidetracked to Switzerland and Austria and Italy and back to France, before getting there a week after we left Liessel! So there are shorter routes!

Catherine said...

ELIZABETH - nice of you to visit my blog - is it your first visit? I hope you follow it and see more posts. I liked your Moroccan pieces, even if you are no longer there. I lived in E. Africa for years. Your son is lucky to be going to Barcelona, hope he has a lovely time there. I was with my friend who lives in New Jersey so she knows all about hot summers and has forgotten how awful the Irish summer can be, so she was blasé about Barcelona's heat. Seasons in England are like ours. unpredictable, all four in one day it feels like!