Something peculiar happened this weekend on my mini Staycation and We Need To Talk About It.
So Week….. sixteen? Who really knows anymore right? (Me. I know. I’m slightly obsessed with it these days). The weather required a spontaneous trip to the coast so I jumped in my friends convertible and headed for Bournemouth.
Now. Bournemouth and I have a tricky history. Until circa three days PT (pre-trip), I strongly believed that all UK beaches were created equal: pebbles for sand; rusty, delapitated piers and deckchairs; and nothing to eat except the heavily deep-fat-fried. I arrived in Bournemouth after a nippy two hours on the motorways, ready to put my theory to the test, but au contraire: the white sandy beach was full of posh loungers and groups drinking Minuty. I’d clearly judged the great British seaside way too quickly. Bournemouth looked glorious.
Long story short, I am now all for a Staycation this summer, weather and company dependant. Which of course is a big ‘if’. I remember summers as a kid longing to get to Portugal to take the stress out of waking up in a ‘will it won’t it’ sort of mood, praying for the sun to be shining. Like, will I be paddle-boarding, or nailing Laura again at Monopoly? Who knows. (Note: This makes me sound way cooler than I was. I don’t think I paddle-boarded. I think (ok, know) I body-boarded. Which – just to be even cooler – I called my ‘boogie board’. No, I don’t know why, and no I don’t want to talk about it). Being out of London felt incredible. I adore travelling and this is easily the longest period I can recall of being in one place for quite so long. So as we arrived at Honeycombe Beach (pretty name right), I was R-E-A-D-Y.
But we are still on semi-lockdown, and there was something slightly stressful about trying to socially distance whilst having fun. The boat trip over the water to the restaurant on day two was particularly odd, since we were all in a reasonably small (albeit open-air) space, so had to wear masks. And lunch was my first time being in an actual restaurant (Pret notwithstanding) since March 23rd. We were met with disposable menus, a form to complete for the Government track and trace thingy, and a bizarre loo virtual queue system that basically stopped you leaving your seat until it was your turn. All took some getting used to.
The most peculiar thing for me, though, was the startling contrast between some people’s take on the new semi-lockdown-normal and others. On the beach, most people kept a respectful distance. I’d been avoiding hugs-as-greatings since BoJo banned it all those months ago, so was very happy to engage with the waves and smiles as people came and went. I’m actually a massive hugging wierdo and have felt really bereft without my hourly bouts of human contact (maybe because I’m a twin??) so have recently been reading a study about how to hug during a pandemic. The upshot is that the risk of infection is comparatively low so long as you don’t pick a coughing hug-ee. And the unanimous advice seems to be an al fresco hug. (And ideally with a ‘non-shedder’ (I kid you not, that is an actual thing) so it’s a sort of at-owners-own-risk type pitch. More here.) Bournemouth beach was all very civilised and still upper lip about the whole thing until circa 5pm, when the ASBOs came out and started attempting human pyramids. There was around thirty of them. There is no way they were all from the same household. Or at least, I really hope they weren’t. I think…
Staycations are going to be massively on the rise this summer, as we all struggle to get our heads round the apparent endless changes and myriad new rules when it comes to Air Bridges. A close friend of mine booked a flight recently to Korea. In the week-or-so between booking and flying, the amount of conflicting advice (including, at one point, from the Korean government and the Korean embassy in London, which was particularly baffling) was just unreal. By the time she rocked up at the airport (five hours early, just in case) she had no idea if she would be flying or not. And upon arrival, her pre-booked, apparently legally sanctioned accommodation for a two week quarantine had to be cancelled so she could enter a government facility. It was exhausting trying to keep up.
So. Staycation for the win then? Except, of course, if your fellow-staycation-ers begin to attempt a human pyramid. In which case, run for the hills, because it is all downhill from there. I promise you that.