‘Hol­i­days can be tricky...’

Good Housekeeping (UK) - - Contents - Su­san Calman

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

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