Monday 26 September 2011

Holiday observations from behind the beard

I would be lying if I said it hadn’t been a trying couple of years and the idea of floundering into another one without a change of scenery was too much to contemplate, so I decided to nip off on my own to Majorca.

I wasn’t looking for adventure per say, though that is on the agenda and as I know the island relatively well I thought I could side step the pressure of exploration and any excursions that were offered and have a bit of me time. 

However, it didn’t take long to realise it was me I needed a holiday from.

Anyway the next couple of posts aren't going to be about the beauty and majesty of the land, sunny blue skies, or the crystal clear warm azure waters of the Mediterranean, instead it is about my scientific observations of how the Brits abroad behave.

Part 1: Planes, Trains and Automobiles
Now there is a subtle difference to travelling by ones self and going on holiday alone, especially to destination like Majorca that is all about the vacation. People were in couples, groups, or couples who became groups, meeting their new 'best holiday friends'.

As a 6.4', long haired bearded man sitting on his own with a note book trying his best to look Nordic and use pigeon Spanish wherever possible, I had a certain amount of invisibility meaning I could avoid any unwanted attention while observing the Brits in their unnatural habitat. 

After the fraught booking of flights, hotels, car etc I had just enough time to practice my origami skills and fold some clothes into ever decreasing and elaborate shapes so that they would fit into one small hand luggage case, enabling me to avoid the dreaded wait at baggage reclaim. I never know why people (unless you have children) take so many cases on a weeks beach holiday, especially the British male who seems to wear the least possible clothes whatever the situation while abroad, but more of that later. 

I was flying from Manchester airport, a new experience for me. This meant a long train journey, not helped by the fact that I hadn't researched the route properly and so had decided to go from Lincoln, 45 miles from the cottage. This rattling cigar of a vehicle stopped at what seemed like a hundred stations with vaguely familiar names, ebbing and flowing with families and their ever-increasing accents.

I finally rumbled into Sheffield where I made a mad dash across platforms to change onto a much sleeker and seemingly fit for purpose looking train, that had the promise of a reserved seat and would whisk me the rest of the way to Manchester in relative comfort. 

Making my with land legs up the aisle I became intimate with complete strangers before finally falling into my seat. With my luggage stowed I was ready to relax into my new comfy surroundings, but just as I was about to open my book I was tapped on the shoulder by someone I new who had travelled direct in this comfortable speedy carriage from Grimsby (closer and much more convenient for Belleau). I'm sure I used to be better at this travelling lark.

I was flying budget airline so the airport experience was the usual giant game of 'snakes and ladders' but with no ladders, just long queues like Disneyland but instead of a colourful character and the promise of fun at the end, there was a glum member of staff informing you in a monotone voice that you had to fill  in a form, pay extra and then join another queue.

The flight was again typical, squashed and squeezed with any announcements been drowned out by the screeches and squeals of children and the babble of their parents playing the failed bargaining and bribery game.

Now my first observations were regarding my subjects in flight. They mostly travel in tight family groups or packs of young males or females often called stag or hen parties.  These usually feature tribal adornments such as comic T. Shirts, brightly coloured stetsons or combinations of the two and communicate in loud hoots and hollers. The families often contain 3 generations, piles of luggage and an absolute disregard for safety.  

One of the alpha-nuclear families in my study consisted of a professional mother signified by using the term 'my children need' over and over again to anyone and everyone. The rank of this woman was displayed when she called over a stewardesses who was hurriedly trying to do final checks and take her own seat while we taxied down the runway, so that several hundred holiday makers who had already faced minor delays could get into the air and so closer to their annual holiday, to tell her daughter that the captain had said she must sit down or he won't take off. The flustered air-hostess looked a little non-plussed but said to the little darling that she must sit down and put her seat belt on as we were going to take off, obviously the brat didn't want to oblige and her equally brattish mother reiterated to the busy hostess that she needed to say that the captain had said it

The second incident was again with a small family group. The single offspring had been particularly annoying throughout the flight, screaming and throwing toys, food and anything else he could get his hands on into the aisle and at any unfortunate people that were sitting in the vicinity, but what was incredible was that even though they obviously doted on the child keeping him quiet was more important than his safety. As we were coming in to land, said offspring didn't want to sit or wear his seat belt so the parents placated him by allowing him to stand. It was no surprise that as the plane rushed towards the ground at a few hundred miles per hour, bouncing as it touched down he banged his head setting off another series of screeches and wails. 

 Tomorrow subject matter in Sunny environment.