Holidays at Home

Five months since I last wrote a blog post seems as good a time as any to do another one. Welcome back strangers to the inner thoughts of me, a respectively average 25-(soon to be 26)-year-old woman. I can blame such a long break on the fact I now have a job, fulfilling my life long dream of working as a retail assistant in the UK's second biggest DIY store.

We have not quite arrived at the "do you remember Covid?" point I think we would like to all be at, but nevertheless vaccinations and heatwaves are bringing us hope that the inevitable 2021 winter spike will be less than last year's Christmas disaster. At this point I have had my first jab and will be getting my second in less than 2 weeks, I can almost taste the pride that little sticker will give me. I am continuing to wear my mask in more crowded or indoor spaces because of my not-quite-100%-immunity, which has incidentally lead to a lot of retailers or gym receptionists asking if they should put on a mask, very considerate but I'm sitting in the "you do you" boat.

The most exciting thing to have happened to me in the last 5 months (besides the job getting and attempted house buying) is that I went on "holiday". With restrictions and "traffic-light systems" switching back and forth like a quarantine-fuelled yo-yo, we opted for a holiday on the Great British Isles.

Now I understand that I am in an incredibly fortunate position to have family roots in Wales that lead my parents to buying a holiday home out there over a decade ago, however only as an independent adult stuck in this country for two years have I really seen the true benefits of it. In addition, I fully intend to do the same at my parents-in-law's house located in Dorset later this summer.

Last summer eight of us travelled the four and a half hours to Pembrokeshire and this year we did the exact same. Although covid did get in the way of one our crew joining us (miss you Chloe), we did our best to have a cracking time and for a short week pretend once again that the world wasn't falling apart. Whilst obeying Wales' covid rules and doing regular tests ourselves we managed to do everything you would hope to do on an early July summer holiday. With surprisingly warm days an the occasional shower we left our little holiday home with full stomachs, fond memories and even a couple of tan lines.

Having done a lot of group adventures over the last five years, I have compiled a list of ways to make holidays (even ones at home) succeed just as much as trips abroad:

Take New Friends:

Having summered in Wales my entire life, some of the activities and attractions Pembrokeshire has to offer can get a little repetitive, you can only see so many sleepy sea-side towns. However, a way to bring some new excitement to that is to bring someone who has never been to that part of the world with you! Showing off the sites (even if they're just personal to you and your family) turns that mountain walk into a beautiful engagement story and you get to play tour-guide for a day.

Take Old Friends:

If you don't have anyone new to take with you then take the same go-to group you holiday with all the time. You're friends for a reason. But, you can also hone in on the things you loved about last time (and do them again) and venture out into new things. As I said, I've been going to the same places in Wales for 25 years but never have I gone paddle-boarding on the river in our nearest "town"! Great activity and I would never have thought to do that, so thanks Tom!

Understand a Balance:

When away with friends, especially in a large group, there can be a lot of different goals/expectations for their ideal holiday. Some might be wanting to do everything all the time every day, and some might want to use their holiday to actually relax (heaven forbid). To understand a balance and to not tire yourselves out can lead to much more enjoyable days out. As a group of seven, the girls were much more happy to relax with a good book at home, whilst the boys could get up "early" and go for a bike ride and be back in time for lunch, then we would all go out for the afternoon/evening - everybody is happy.

Don't Overly Plan:

Whilst having some ideas of fun things to do is great, don't over-do it on the planning. Not only because no one likes a strict schedule on holiday, but it will also inevitably end in disappointment. Mood, weather and availability is so unpredictable, especially in the UK. For the first couple of days it rained heavily enough that I caught a cold - in July! And no, it wasn't covid. We didn't get out and about properly until Thursday where we finally saw some sun, and even after that the rain didn't stop us.

Carry the Load:

The one thing that I can advise on heavily, is meal planning. As one of the more organised of my group of friends, holiday planning logistics often fall on me (which I'm more than happy with). However, food has often been a difficult area to navigate. With everyone's dietary requirements, personal preferences and varied skill set, cooking often landed on the women of the group and sometimes myself alone. This year, however, we finally cracked it - Google Sheets style. Everyone who is comfortable cooking takes a day, those less skilled can become sous chef and everyone else is on washing up duty, simple.

Last Day Reflection:

Unintentionally, on the last few holidays I've been on, we have a habit of going somewhere geographically high for the final day/evening. Be it a mountain top, viewing point or even skyscraper, having some time to look over the landscape you've spent the last few days in can allow time for reflection and naturally reminisce. So far this has included: El Toro in Menorca, Big Buddha in Phuket and now Mwnt in Wales.

Photography by Luke Williams

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