‘Holidays can be tricky...’
Afew months ago my wife turned to me, her eyes full of frozen tears, and mumbled, ‘When will we see sunshine?’ Of course that’s her (not so) subtle way of hinting that we need to book a holiday, and that’s when our exciting annual dance of disagreement really begins. It mostly comes down to my foibles, all of which I was brutally honest about when I met her.
Firstly, I absolutely hate flying, although in truth it’s more than that. I have a severe phobia of travelling by plane, which has resulted in me being removed from said mode of transport for screaming, ‘We’re all going to die!’ Secondly, I find the actual act of booking a holiday, given our vastly differing ideas of what the perfect holiday entails, far more stressful than seems worth it for just a few days away from home.
Just because you love someone doesn’t mean you have the same idea of fun. Nothing has brought that into sharp focus quite like the rare times we’ve perused the internet looking for hotels or villas. My wife would like to lie prone on a sunlounger, doing little but bake herself until she’s a lovely pink colour. I become bored after sitting still for five minutes. She would like a cabin in the wilderness; I become panic-stricken if I’m too far from civilisation. She doesn’t mind roughing it a bit, I want five-star luxury. And don’t get me started on logistics. Apparently my penchant for laminating itineraries and sending them to family, friends and work colleagues takes the joy out of relaxing. She keeps telling me we need to be more spontaneous and I say, ‘Fine, but when?’
We’ve differed so much in our opinions of what constitutes a holiday that for the past few years we simply haven’t left home. In fact, the last time we had two weeks away in the sun was several years ago, and I spent most of my time trying to find adequate wi-fi so I could check my emails. But even I have to admit we need a break. I’ve been away from home, either on tour or dancing on Strictly, for about 18 months. Scotland, never the most temperate of climates, has been struck by snowstorms and ice. I’ve had to hand-knit a balaclava to stay warm inside the house. While looking like a tiny, adorable bank robber may be fun, it does tend to frighten the postman a little bit.
We tried to compromise. ‘What about an activity holiday?’ she suggested. I couldn’t see us doing that. Friends of mine with children often go on adventure holidays where they bike, swim and walk until they return far more exhausted than they left. The only criteria I have for a holiday is that I should return more rested than I went.
But as the usual arguments raged, my wife made a terrifying suggestion. We could go on holiday separately. I shut that line of discussion down immediately. If she was given the opportunity to have fun without me she might realise that spending time without a woman who hates travelling, sunshine, people and relaxing is actually quite nice. And I don’t want to split up with her. She has the Netflix password; separation at this stage of my life would involve far too much admin.
I needed to do something drastic, so I suggested something from the left-field, something neither of us had ever contemplated before. A cruise. It will be hot (tick for her), we don’t need to fly (tick for me), there are activities to keep me entertained, but she can also sit still for as long as she wants. And, there’s wi-fi, so I can relax by working. She’s over the moon at the prospect of sunshine and sangria. I have high hopes for the trip as well, our first proper holiday in years! Even more excitingly, I can’t wait to surprise her with my thus far undiscovered phobias of boats, water and sailors. Well, she wanted more spontaneity, right?
I should return more rested from a holiday than when I went