Sunday, June 16, 2002

This rather damp and dismal start to the summer has made the idea of escaping to sunnier climes very appealing. If I break a recent habit and visit a Mediterranean country, ( I've visited all the usual places - a continuous cycle from which I broke off when I self-diagnosed myself as suffering package holiday fatigue), I will at least feel as if there was a summer to this year. I shall have to go abroad if I'm to be able to look back on this summer with any pleasant sunny-day type memories. This is the only way I'll be able to break the virtually permanent, year-long season of grimly damp, cool, chilly-breezy days which now seem to characterise the British weather right-through-the-calendar.

Make no plans around a British summer's day, you should know, you've lived here long enough to know, all outdoor social plans will send you headlong into the wedding scene in that film with Sandra Bullock and Ben Affleck.Outdoor pursuits are bound to make you feel like the drenched, galloping-away to a better (drier?) life Heathcliff ,sooner or later.

On too many day trips, UK holidays and mini breaks I have had to round the family up, and in a soaking, breathless panic, chivvy them through the doors of gloomy caffs like a parachutist trainer with a bunch of recruits: go.go,go; following yet another wet outbreak. Then, to sit damply around tables, huddles of coats, stinking of rain, encircling cups of tea (the medicine of the weather oppressed) looking like a resentful card school or attendees at a Russian seance. Me gazing out of steamy windows wishing I felt more alive - the rest of the family looking at me balefully, wishing I were dead. Or, if not dead, sensible enough not to drag them all to - wherever we happen to be.

Recently I found myself in one of those situations. And the subject of foreign holidays came up. Cured of too much Med fever through the passage of time (and rancid summers at home), I am now searching for something to release me (us) from the disappointed-guaranteed British summer. But during my research I probably shouldn't have visited " Holidays Uncovered"

I thought this site would provide for me insightful, truthful, (all the sales pitch crap cut out) comments about various countries, resorts and hotels. It does. Or rather, it does if you search hard enough. Generally, the whole website seems to resemble one big letter of complaint.The worlds longest screed, a litany of bug bears, grumbles, and bright,shiny tears.

A brief trip around the section covering the Neapolitan Riviera prepares the hopeful traveller with descriptions of "bland food, rude locals, roaming dogs, unhelpful hotel staff and thieves everywhere," all cited as being pretty typical experiences. A switch to (any) Greek island and you can expect that:" it stunk"(sic), the perennial favourites "mossies and cockroaches" are ubiquitous... ( though that word doesn't appear, well it wouldn't, would it?)... everywhere, open sewers, crap reps (only interested in having a good time themselves - hmm some truth in that one) "cracked pavements, dirty pavements, no pavements too,too expensive; too,too hot, too Greek, too Spanish, too foreign.

And suddenly, I don't won't to bother, because there are grains of truth in all this. I need the summer to get better.

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