Feeling low today, I succumbed - and booked our annual holiday
Last Monday, January 19th, was officially Britain's worst day of the year, according to statistics.
I forget exactly how they work it out - something about the weather (which is anti-cyclonic at this time of year, bringing with it a deal of rain and cloud), plus it's three weeks after New Year, you're working out quite how much debt you got into over the Christmas period, you're back at work and settled into the routine, and there seems to be nothing to look forward to.
The research was commissioned by a holiday company, who were wondering quite why this day - the first Monday three weeks after new year - is the peak day that Brits book their summer holiday.
Well, I too have succumbed, albeit a few days late. Today I booked our annual holiday (we only take one a year), and as usual, it's going to be in Brittany.
When we holiday, we want to be by the sea, and the Normandy coast is too civilised for us. Further south, things get very boring, with holiday camps everywhere on the Vendee, and in the true south, it's very expensive and touristy, and also so far away that we'd really need to be away for two weeks. I miss my animals after only a few days, so can't countenance the idea of leaving them for a fortnight.
The DH and I also always holiday in the off-season, for several reasons. One is that we live in the kind of place people come TO on holiday - rural Normandy, surrounded by peaceful countryside, lakes and rivers, picturesque cottages etc etc. In summer this place is heaven, so why would we leave it?
But the Normandy winter is something else. Between November and the end of March it's endless rain, endless drizzle. Fog, mist, grey days - the 'grisaille', they call it, the 'triste' time of year, and so it is. As I type, rain is pouring off our slate roof (there's no guttering, so I'm looking at the waterlogged fields through a stream of raindrops). It's 2.40 in the afternoon and it's almost dark. We learned some years ago that holidaying in November (when it's also the DH's birthday) seems to stoke up our batteries, enabling us to get through winter more easily. We'd love a holiday in February too, but can't usually stretch to it.
Not, you understand, that Brittany's weather is any better than Normandy's. In fact it's worse, but at least it's coastal, and sitting in the car, drinking piping hot coffee and watching the rain sile into the sea is somehow different from trying to walk the dog in it back home. And some years we have been amazingly lucky with the weather, especially the week we went to Carnac when it was sunshine from end to end.
Off-season holidays have another serious advantage for us - they're cheap. Where we're going in Finistere this year, on the Plage de Goulien up on the Crozon peninsula (see above), the cost in low season is only just over a third of what we would pay in high season. We also get the beaches to ourselves, and the dog isn't banned.
I've also accidentally hit paydirt with this booking, with both a megalithic alignment and German World War II bunkers within easy reach - both photographic topics the DH is working on. It should be fun exploring the Crozon peninsula, which is wild and beautiful, and you can watch the sun go down in the sea. The gite looks pretty, too - small and simple, with both an open fire and a woodburner, so it should be good and cosy.
Speaking of piping hot coffee, incidentally, before I go I must just put in a word of recommendation for Stanley, the US thermos makers. Recently we'd noticed that our old Stanley thermos wasn't keeping our coffee warm, so I wrote to them to ask if it needed a replacement part. It's 18 years old and owes us nothing, but Stanley instantly replied that they would replace it free of charge, and in fact our new thermos arrived yesterday. Now that's what I call customer service. Can't wait to try it out on our next day trip.