09:globalnotes/notes from a small island..............................................................................jamiethunder2009
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Notes from a Small Island
By Jamie Thunder
August 2009
Ah, the British summer: the melancholy drizzle; the baggage handler strikes; the imminent spread of some deadly contagious disease or other. And, of course, the traditional British holiday.
There are two basic types of traditional holiday. The first is the British seaside resort holiday, where you drink warm lager on the beach while wearing appalling Union Jack shorts and remain stoic even though you’re getting rained on. This sort usually takes place in towns like Blackpool, Scarborough, and Margate, and is accompanied by rubbish fairground rides and forlorn ice cream vans squatting in the downpour.
The seaside resort holiday used to be very popular among British families, but now it has been largely usurped by the ‘Brits abroad’ option, largely thanks to cheaper flights and package deals. This second kind of holiday is similar to the seaside resort holiday, but with a couple of important differences. Instead of drinking warm lager on the beach you do it by the hotel pool, and rather than remaining stoic in the face of rain you remain stoic despite your second degree sunburn.
This year, for the first time, I sampled the second option. Armed with four friends (including a native Spanish speaker) I set off to the classic ‘Brits abroad’ destination of Tenerife, in the Canary Islands. I’d often heard people remark that this sort of holiday was like being back at home only a bit warmer and tackier, but I had no idea how accurate they were.
The first clue came on our first morning there. We’d arrived in the early hours, so were all a bit bleary when we went down for breakfast. I was expecting the usual assortment of foods on the buffet: eggs, toast, bacon, maybe some croissants. And they were all there. As were, for some reason, chips (that is, fries, just so you don’t get confused).
People in Britain do not regularly eat chips for breakfast. I’m not really sure where they got that idea from. But people were eating them, along with more standard breakfast fare. There were also a lot of rather pink people wandering about, but more on them later.
vhcle-09:global notes
Jamie Thunder is an English language undergraduate at Cardiff University, Wales. He writes for and sub-edits his student newspaper, www.gairrhydd.com. His interests include current affairs and bad puns, and he hopes this will equip him for a career in journalism.
Just about everyone staying in the hotel was English, although there was the odd German and Spaniard for variety. This led to quite a lot of talking loudly and waving arms at bemused Spanish staff, but also made it seem like a peculiar little British colony. The nightly bingo didn’t exactly convince me otherwise.
It was only really in the day that anything very noticeably different from anything you could find in Britain happened: the sun came out and stayed out. All day! Unfortunately very few of the Brits had any idea how to cope with such unprecedented weather, so managed to lightly toast themselves. Or completely burn themselves. This meant that almost everyone in the hotel was moving a bit gingerly, and we all had at least pink patches. It also led to one of my friends raiding the buffet’s yoghurt supply to smear on his poor, scarlet shoulders.
Really, being in the hotel in Tenerife wasn’t all that different from being in Britain except for the weather. Even the owner of the restaurant we went to was English. I’m not sure I’d want to go back, but it’s nice to know that I’ve now tried both types of traditional British holiday.