18 million British people cannot afford to take a holiday this summer, screamed the Daily Express front page lead earlier this week - this being due to the pitiful stagnant state of affairs that is the economy. Whether 18 million is to be believed is another matter, but for sure there’ll be plenty people forced by circumstance to stay at home this summer.
Here’s my holiday rescue package for all those of the 18 million who hold high the prospect of eating differently at the heart of their holidaying off this island. The regimen is simple and fun – and looking on the bright side, you don’t have to spend hours getting through security to board that budget flight. Here’s what you do.
Take the time off – it’s due to you and you’ll be paid. My remedy need cost no more either because you’d be spending on food at home anyway – just be mindful of your budget, much as you would if you were away.
Do stuff each day you wouldn’t normally do – so definitely no DIY. Shop exotically – visit ethnic markets and shops you don’t normally not consider on your roster. Don’t buy any food you eat the rest of the year. Think of where you would be holidaying and recreate, as best you can, the cuisine of that place.
Buy foreign newspapers if you must, but not the Brit press. Don’t listen to the news or even watch TV, unless it’s something international you’d be watching whilst away.
Dress as you would for holidays too – it will go some way to taking you there. If you eat out – and can afford it, given so much London eating nudges the price of a weekend break on the Eurostar – seek out restaurants you’d never normally visit, by which I mean off-the-beaten-track ethnic joints. Engage with the language, clatter and music – West African and Caribbean is specially good for this. If you speak French, Italian or Spanish – or some other language, make a bee line for restaurants where you can exercise this right, as if on holiday – after all, you’d surely walk by any place advertising ‘English Spoken Here’ wouldn’t you?
Eat romantically at every meal – eat with your fingers when you can. Set the table with candles every evening – have bowls of black and white cherries on ice in the middle of the table – always olives with drinks before. Lie-in every morning and take turns to make bowls of coffee, tartines and croissants. Learn to make your own croissants.
My late Uncle Douglas used to love the old joke – what’s a continental breakfast? A roll in bed with a little honey.
Do things in the day you’d not normally do – visiting places like obscure galleries, secret gardens, zoo’s, put up a tent in the living room for the kids, or take up walking – and then walk up Snowdon, or somewhere challenging closer to home.
Stay focussed on doing nothing you’d normally do – sorry to repeat this, but make it your mantra.
Eat late and eat outdoors when you can - always have a bottle of affordable Champagne (or Blanquette, Prosecco, or a well made wine with playful bubbles) in the ice bucket you’ve treated yourselves to. Remember there are shops other than supermarkets where you can find well priced goods.
On rainy days visit a foreign supermarket – shop in Lidl, Aldi and Netto and wallow in the unknown brands just as if you were abroad. Buy some crazy items. I’m serious – make every day funny.
Half way through this ‘home holiday’ you won’t get that dreadful downbeat counting down feeling – because you’re home already. Don’t moan about the weather, it could be raining over there as well – and we need rain for our crops.
I hope you get the picture. It came to me in a flash seeing that bleak ’18m Stay At Home’ headline as I fuelled my car. Who is behind this mind numbing propaganda? Beat them at their own game and eat well this summer. Contact me for ideas if you wish – I guarantee they’ll be different whatever your search.
Bonnes vacances, dormez bien et profitez – chez vous.