Summer holidays in times gone by are a far cry from children’s experiences today, laments Tessa Waugh, as holidaying urbanites bear down on the Northumberland countryside
I was going through some old books when I was back at my parents’. All those wonderful Ruby Ferguson and Pullein-Thompson stories in which children and ponies went from one end of the day to another without setting eyes on an adult. Someone packed them up a picnic for lunch – something that didn’t involve Cheestrings or Monster Munch – and away they went until supper time.
It seems a far cry from the summer holidays that we know now. We are in danger of rearing a generation of children who cannot function unless they have an adult circling like a demented helicopter, documenting their every move or curating an itinerary that would frighten The Queen. Either that or they are on TikTok. It is full-on on the home front at the moment and it is stressing me out. Big time.
Meanwhile, everyone else in Britain seems to be on holiday. In the country. Fair play to them really. If I had been locked down in a city for four months, I would be ready for a breather too. But I was feeling less magnanimous when two very clean, white cars held me up down our road yesterday afternoon.
A number of things told me that these people were on holiday (the neighbours do Airbnb), the first and most obvious being that they were driving at around 15mph.
“It’s a single-lane road with a few potholes but there’s no need for this”, I grumbled, bearing down on them in the Mondeo.
I proceeded to follow them while they cruised on oblivious, taking in the horses grazing in the fields and the summer flowers swaying in the breeze. When they reached the first cattle grid, they slowed down even more.
I think it was the late Dowager Duchess of Devonshire whose random list of dislikes included magpies and people who slow down at cattle grids. “I’m going to have to ram them,” I said to Jack through gritted teeth.
“Yes, ram them,” called Jack, cheering me on from the front seat. They turned off just in time or I might have boiled over.
Alec wanted to go to Bamburgh to draw the castle. Never again. Bamburgh isn’t as busy as Bournemouth; beach life by the North Sea is different – building sandcastles in a bobble hat anyone?
But obviously, the children were hungry as soon as we arrived and demanded chips, so we followed a procession into Seahouses. Once again I lost the plot due to gridlocked traffic, absence of parking spaces and queues everywhere.
I’m not sure what the answer is. Airbnb in the city until everyone goes home again?
Ref Horse & Hound; 20 August 2020