Tuesday 25 May 2010

Scarborough versus the Med: no contest

Whatever you think about the ConDem coalition, you must admit that the weather has perked up a treat since they took office. The only snag being that the letters pages will soon be full of global warming true believers bleating “I told you so.”

As the weekend sun beat down, the two sides in the British Airways dispute came close to beating each other up, the Icelandic volcano probably just paused for breath and many of us reflected that our jobs are hanging by a gossamer thread that George Osborne and David Laws are about to slash. So why on earth risk booking a foreign summer holiday when there are seaside guesthouses the length and breadth of Britain desperate for our custom?

You will discover the answer to this in August when you are sitting inside a grim, graffiti-covered Victorian shelter with sodden chip wrappers blowing around your ankles, watching the rain stream down the cracked and filthy windows while several OAPs shout at each other about how they have known worse, albeit only that time the Alton Towers log flume malfunctioned so spectacularly during their annual coach trip.

“Real Blackwaterfoot weather” we called it in my family, after a less than successful childhood holiday on the Isle of Arran. Every drenched afternoon the cheery (by Scottish standards) lady hotelier would raise our spirits by promising that, on the morrow, we would experience “real Blackwaterfoot weather.” And so we did. Several inches of it, often coming at us horizontally.

Still, at least there will be plenty of time to read the newspapers. They will be full of true believers’ valuable insights into the freak downpours, often including the words “I told you so.”

Yet I would not have it any other way. I hate going abroad, me. Not because of xenophobic prejudice. I simply hate going anywhere.

If I absolutely have to take baby Charlie on his first summer holiday, as I am told I must, I fancy St Abbs in Berwickshire. It did for me when I was his age, and look how I turned out. Yes, all right, not the strongest of arguments, I know.

Mrs Hann counterbid with Majorca, Minorca and Corfu (cunningly weaving in two former British colonies, I noted, in the hope of sparking my interest as a historian). So naturally I trumped her with the ultimate holiday destination anywhere on the planet: Scarborough, the Queen of the Yorkshire Riviera. I think I’ve just about forgiven the council for tarmacing over my favourite crazy golf course to create a car park. There are others. Along with a castle, beaches, gardens, cliff tramways, theatres, pubs, a Sea Life Centre, a miniature railway and the grave of Anne BrontĂ« (who was to the Haworth sisterhood what Zeppo was to the Marx Brothers). They took her to Scarborough for her health. What an advertisement.

Seriously, I know you will think I am taking the mickey, but I love the place. What could be better than watching a load of grown men steering miniature warships around the lake in Peasholm Park to recreate one of the great naval battles of the Second World War? It seemed bizarrely old-fashioned when my dad first took me in the early 1960s. How wonderful that it is still going on to enthral (or baffle) my son half a century later.

My wife argues that Charlie needs to get used to aeroplanes, and would prefer a beach with reliable sunshine. I say the days of mass air travel are over. Dani (as I call our new ConDem conjoined PM) has already scrapped the third runway at Heathrow. We are all going to have to get used to holidays at home and the memorable disappointments of real Blackwaterfoot weather. You will laugh about it eventually. Do remember that I told you so.

Originally published in The Journal, Newcastle upon Tyne.

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