Archives for posts with tag: Holiday

I was making some calls to potential customers in the UK the other day, and I made a tactical blunder. I hadn’t realised that the UK schools were not back from Easter break the same week as the Ireland schools. A lot of the people I was calling were parents taking time off with their families, and not ready to take my call.

An expression I heard a lot was that someone was ‘on annual leave.’ It’s quite an old-fashioned term to my mind. You hear it a lot in the UK but not that much in Ireland. I would just say that I was on holiday, or that I was taking a day’s holiday, not that I was taking a day’s annual leave.

Leave in this sense is quite an old word and it just means permission not to be at working, a leave of absence from the workplace. It got me thinking that there are many uses of annual ‘leave’, not just a holiday away, nor a ‘staycation’. Even though I may be at home getting a few projects done, or taking my child to an appointment, or even attending a funeral, I would still call that a holiday, since it’s a holiday from work, or at least regular paid work.

Of course, another important distinction is that annual leave is paid time away from work for the employee. For the self-employed of course, time away from work is unpaid time.

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In this second post of a 3-post series on ‘musings on holiday stuff I come into contact with’, I wanted to talk about water.

When we’re at home we try and get the kids into the habit of having a quick shower, no more than 4 or 5 minutes if possible. It’s not only good practice for when Ireland finally gets its act together in terms of water metering, but it’s good for us and future planetary inhabitants too.

We were on holiday recently, in the warm-all-year-round canaries. It’s always a pleasant surprise to come out of the shower into into a naturally warm environment. The first day or two I was tempted to have a long luxurious shower. After all, there’s loads of water around here. We’re surrounded by an ocean of the stuff, I was thinking.

Of course, this is stupid, selfish thinking. As the Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner goes, ‘water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink.’ The island still has to treat all that sea water to turn into the water that comes out of our taps and shower heads and flows into our pools. They’re as keen on conserving water as any other country, probably more so.

So I kept my showers down to the minimum time, having had a word with myself. Water is a precious resource, so conserving it – even for a business like a hotel, with lawns, plants and flowers to keep looking good – makes sense whatever your circumstances.

Since I went away with the extended family for a warm weather break a few weeks ago, this is the first in a 3-post series on holiday travel. I was tempted to call this post the Ryanair Scam part 2, since they have recently introduced a rule by which you can only have your cabin bag in the overhead locker if you’ve booked priority boarding. Otherwise it goes in the hold. This is fine if you already have a large bag in the hold, but a pain if you’re travelling light, since you have to factor in extra time and effort to retrieve your bag from the destination baggage belts.

I recently experienced this policy at first hand. The reality is that it works pretty well if, as I mentioned, you already have large holiday bags checked in, at additional expense of course. We did, so it was a no brainer and it means less to carry on and off the plane. However, it’s a ton more work for the hard-worked, exasperated gate crew – the check-in/boarding staff and baggage handlers – who now have to manually tag and load around 100 additional non-priority bags per holiday flight.

As it happened, our flight was delayed leaving. The conveyor belt into the plane from the baggage carts broke, presumably under the workload of having to deal with many more bags than it was used to. This turned a useful conveying device into a shelf, so the bags had to be manually carried into the hold.

This is what often happens to a process which you’re constantly tweaking and looking to improve. You pinch here, you feel it somewhere else. Ryanair do keep moving, changing, innovating though. Fair play to them for that.

In the northwest corner of the Republic of Ireland, bordering Northern Ireland, sits the ludicrously beautiful county of Donegal. It has a long, particularly curly coastline and consequently some amazing beaches. A lot of them.

Some of these beaches are easily accessible from the main road, and easy to find, especially now the touristic powers that be have strengthened the signage and naming as part of the Wild Atlantic Way.

When I first travelled to Donegal, it was on a road trip with my brother. Somewhere in the county on a coastal road I drove past what looked like an interesting track down to what I thought might be the sea, though I couldn’t see it. We passed a couple of houses and then stopped the car before an unused sports field. The field was full of flowers and was so desolate that sheep were asleep on it and didn’t see us coming. Through the field was a saddle that bore onto the most deserted and prettiest beach I thought I’d ever been on.

I duly locked the place away in my head and saved it for a another time. That other time was a couple of years later when I was on a break with my good lady. I wanted to revisit the route the brothers had taken and propose on the beach.

Couldn’t find the damn thing. Had to revert to a plan B 3 hours’ drive away.

A couple of weeks ago, we were both back up there for a few days, the first time in 15 or 20 years. The roads had changed a bit, the place a little more commercialised. Still couldn’t find the damn thing. You see, there are a lot of coast roads and a lot of beaches, including the mystery Donegal beach.

I reckon I’ve narrowed it down though :-).

There’s more to come on this saga, I think, has to be…

I took a day off the other day. What I would describe as a proper day off. It wasn’t a holiday, and I wasn’t going on holiday. It wasn’t a weekend. I simply didn’t work that day.

I had a bunch of fiddly things to get done, and some errands to run. The kinds of things that I would normally try to wedge into the cracks of a normal working day. Stolen minutes at lunchtime or on a break, going a at breakneck speed to check a couple of pesky items off the list.

What a joyful day it was. I had forgotten what it was like to enjoy your spare time. Ambling around like I had all the time in the world to get my stuff done. No more cursing my bad luck at the traffic or at other people conspiring to to delay me in my rush to get from A to B.

I’ve always been a bit precious about taking the odd day off. This is probably a throw-back to my time as an employee when I had a finite amount of holidays to take and I didn’t want to waste any on needless frippery.

But there’s something to be said for simply taking a day off to slip into the slower part of the stream for a while, to enjoy the journey, rather than the destination.

I was on holiday quite recently. We took the family skiing. Not something we do every year; it’s too expensive and I’m a big fan of the heat.

We went to Italy. I don’t do the data roaming thing, because I’m not a big user of data when I travel; voice and text is enough for me. This means I rely on wireless networks, you know the deal.

The apartment we rented was tiny, but the use of space was so amazing IKEA should have been taking notes. It had no wireless, though. This meant if I wanted to get online it was the mountain restaurants and bars.

This was fine in principle, except the connections were so flaky that you couldn’t really do much, so I didn’t.

I was basically off the grid for a week, except for 5 minutes to check in for the return flights online and download the boarding passes with my fancy airline app. And, do you know what, while I was ‘away’, the sky didn’t fall in.

It was actually great. I didn’t miss it at all, and felt no compulsion to go onto social media and tell people how many corn flakes I’d eaten. No withdrawal symptoms, no first world problems, nothing. It was like the good old days when you went on your family holidays and came back wondering what news you’d missed and what song was number 1 in the charts while you were away.

Coming back was not too bad either. The inbox was manageable.

I recommend being off the grid it to all my friends, at least to try it for a few days. A sort of digital detoxing.

Holidays are great. There’s the chance to unwind, spend some quality time with family and generally not think too much about work.

These days, however, we often can’t rely on somebody to cover for us while we’re on holiday and do the work that we would do if we were not on holiday. So what we sometimes find ourselves doing is working ourselves to a frazzle in order to clear the desk for the holiday, and then returning, somewhat refreshed, to face a backlog and the mountain of work to be done simply to get back up to speed.

When you add the fact that it sometimes takes two or three days to unwind, and two or three days to gear ourselves up for the return to work, it sometimes feels like a week’s holiday is simply not worth the time or investment. Perhaps you’re one of these people who can instantly slip out of work mode and leave all your troubles behind you. If so, you are a lucky person indeed.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for work hard and play hard. I need to work harder, however, to enjoy my holidays and make sure that the seams between the work hard and play hard periods are shorter so that they almost end up being seamless.