I’m a holidaymaker… get me out of here!

Reading about all the travel chaos, I began to regret my summer holiday plans. Wouldn’t it have been more sensible just to stay in Acton? But Caroline and I had arranged to go to Ibiza fora friend’s birthday party the weekend before last; then, after returning to London, we were due back in the Balearic Islands, this time with the kids. There was no turning back. The first thing to go wrong was that our British Airways flight to Ibiza from Heathrow was cancelled. Not that BA notified us. The first inkling I had that something had gone awry was when I tried to check in using the BA app

The politics of sun loungers

The poolside was deserted when we passed on our way to breakfast. This time, I thought, as we ate at the still-quiet restaurant buffet, we’d triumph. Yet arriving back at the pool after eating, all the sun loungers closest to it had already been claimed – by owners who were nowhere to be seen. Reserving loungers might have been against the hotel’s policy, but removing the towels and beach bags that their claimants had placed on top of them felt like an act of aggression. Instead I sulked silently from my bed near the bins as, an hour later, the family of four who’d taken the plum spot I’d had my

Why we pick the wrong holiday destinations

Having returned from a fortnight’s break, I wonder if we get holidays all wrong. In northern Europe, the custom is that you head south to spend time on the beach. But equally, there is such a thing as too damned hot, especially if, like me, you have a healthy dose of Celtic ancestry. To avoid this, you need to study what is called the ‘wet-bulb temperature’. This is a measure of temperature which accounts for the cooling effect of evaporation. At 100 per cent relative humidity, the wet-bulb temperature is equal to the dry-bulb temperature shown on weather forecasts. At lower humidity the wet-bulb temperature is lower, owing to evaporative

Travel quarantine scrapped for double-jabbed

International travel rules will be relaxed on 19 June as part of the wider scrapping of social distancing rules and masks. Transport secretary Grant Shapps told the House of Commons that those entering England from green and amber nations will not be expected to self-isolate — provided they are fully vaccinated. In practice, what this means is that British summer holidays have been given the go ahead. France, Spain, Portugal and Italy are all on the amber travel list. Currently, the rules state that returning travellers must isolate for ten days, as well as complete a day two and day eight test. That second test has also been scrapped.  The crucial point is

Am I really paying £3,000 for six days in Wales?

Has it ever been more difficult to plan a family holiday? At the time of writing, it is illegal to travel abroad from the UK for non-work purposes. That restriction is expected to be lifted in due course, although not before 17 May, and replaced by a traffic light system, with countries ranked green, amber or red depending on how they’re coping with the virus. Only eight places are expected to be on the green list — Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Israel, Gibraltar, Iceland, Malta and the USA — and holidaymakers will be required to take a PCR test before boarding a plane home and another within 48 hours of

Why ministers are worried about foreign holidays this summer

On 5 April, the government will publish its framework for deciding what foreign travel will be allowed this summer. As I say in the Times today, there is very little optimism in Whitehall about European holidays this summer. This might seem odd given that every adult will have been offered at least their first dose by then. Surely the vaccine should allow us to go abroad even to places where there is Covid in circulation? But not if the worry is about a vaccine-evading variant being imported into the country. As one of those involved in devising the way out of lockdown puts it:  The nightmare scenario is a vaccine-evading

Bring back the great British holiday camp

By the 1980s, after decades of immense popularity, the great British holiday camp was in terminal decline. The huge camps founded by Billy Butlin and Fred Pontin — the chalets, the dining hall, the redcoats (Butlin’s) and bluecoats (Pontins) — were becoming passé. Now the few that remain have been rebranded as holiday villages. But why not bring them back? Surely old-fashioned camps had exactly what we need today: simplicity, gentle fun and a sense of community. They were about team effort, not atomised nuclear families. Above all perhaps, they had a sense of identity. And they were a life-changer for me. I recently came across an online video of

How did my children become more middle class than me?

In a café in Norfolk last week, my seven-year-old son uttered words that mortified me. No, he didn’t comment loudly on someone’s weight, or ask why the lady next to us had a moustache. It was worse than that. Asked by a kindly man at the next table if he was enjoying his bacon sandwich, he declared to the café at large: ‘Yes, but I prefer them with rocket!’ Judging by the gentleman’s slightly blank smile, I’m not sure if he even knew what rocket was, let alone that in the London suburb where I live, it’s now as much a part of breakfast as smashed avocado on toast. Inwardly,

Letters | 15 August 2019

God Sir: In his defence of Christianity (‘Losing our religion’, 10 August), Greg Sheridan writes as if Christianity and religion are interchangeable terms. His claim that the vast majority of people who have ever lived have believed in God may be true, but most of them were or are not Christians. And when he mentions that Christianity is the most persecuted religion, he fails to observe that much of this persecution is from adherents of other religions. As a non-believer, I look at the harm done by followers of different religions fighting each other — and at the years of sexual and emotional abuse of children by religious orders. I

Spectator writers on the UK’s best beaches

Tom Holland Trevone, Cornwall   Pretty much every summer, my family and my cousins head for a farm in north Cornwall, strategically situated for visits to our favourite beach: Trevone. A beautiful cove with breakers, cliffs and an unobtrusive shop, its chief appeal is the opportunity it provides for building colossal sandcastles. Each year, our ambitions grow ever more Babylonian. This summer we excelled ourselves. It was my nephew’s 21st birthday, and to mark his coming of age he wanted to build a sandcastle on a truly lunatic scale. His dream was fulfilled. Armed with industrial shovels and a wheelbarrow, we constructed a vast array of fortifications: a towering central

Rod Liddle

Home and away | 8 August 2019

The epiphany came when I was standing in the oxymoron of a speedy boarding queue at Gatwick, waiting to have my ticket checked by Eva Braun, mewling middle-class brats squabbling beneath my feet, all of us en route to somewhere in the EU which is both searingly hot and supported by British taxpayer subsidies (for a while). I had been wondering where on the plane we would be seated. Almost certainly that very row in the middle which is the last to be served by the drinks trolley, and where the stale flatus tends to congregate. And probably behind some ignorant cow who will put her seat back so that

Barometer | 2 May 2019

Great shakes Shale gas commissioner Natascha Engel resigned in protest at what she called ‘absurd’ restrictions on fracking — in particular rules which state that fracking operations must cease. Has anyone ever been harmed by a tremor at magnitude 0.5? — The Richter scale was devised by seismologist Charles F. Richter in 1935. It is a logarithmic scale, each ascending number marking an increase of approximately 31 times the amount of released energy. — The largest recorded earthquake, in Chile in 1960, measured 9.5. A tremor less than 4.0 is unlikely to cause damage and one of 2.0 or below unlikely even to be felt. — A tremor of 1.0 releases

10 ways students can make extra money when home for the summer holiday

When summer arrives and you’re faced with the beautiful reality of endless weeks in the sunshine (OK, wishful thinking), instead of lectures and assignments, it makes sense to try to use that time wisely; and maybe even make some money in the process to have an even better summer with., the student discount app, has very kindly come up with some top tips for students looking to make their bank balance look a bit healthier this summer. 1.      Sell some belongings  Whether it’s clothes, shoes, gadgets, furniture or antiques, if you no longer need or use something, then why not look to sell it.  You know what they say;

Why have I bought a car I don’t actually like?

I am currently in Brittany with the family, having made the 11-hour drive from London on Monday. It sounds like quite a lot of effort for a few days’ holiday, but my friend Wendy Steavenson invited us to stay and that so rarely happens when you’ve got four children that we felt we couldn’t turn her down. No doubt Wendy will regret this after 24 hours, as nearly all our previous hosts have. The journey wasn’t as much of an ordeal as it sounds since Caroline did the driving and I sat in the back and read Jonah Goldberg’s Suicide of the West. It’s a highly readable, 351-page polemical essay

Hunt-the-iPhone was the highlight of my hols

For years, Caroline and I have been squabbling over where to spend our summer holidays. Her ideal is a family-friendly Mediterranean resort where she can lie on a beach reading a paperback, while mine involves renting a car and driving from place to place, staying in Airbnbs and packing in as many ‘fun’ activities as we can. Last year she got her way; this year it was my turn. So we took an easyJet flight from Gatwick to Munich. Admittedly not perfect, given that we were going to Italy, but it was the cheapest deal I could find: £450 all-in, including the kids. A bargain, even factoring in a 6.25

Barometer | 10 August 2017

Out with a whimper Usain Bolt managed only a bronze in his last appearance in the 100 metres at the World Athletics Championships in London. Final appearances often don’t go to plan: — Don Bradman was bowled for a second-ball duck by Eric Hollies in his last Test at the Oval in 1948. Four runs would have given him a career average of 100. — Stanley Matthews bowed out in 1965 in a testimonial between his personal XI and an international XI, which won 6-4. — Pelé appeared for the last time in a Brazil-Yugoslavia friendly on 18 July 1971. The match ended 2-2, with neither of Brazil’s goals scored

Barometer | 27 April 2017

Pippa goes public Church of England lawyers ruled that the public must be allowed to attend the wedding of Pippa Middleton at St Mark’s Church, Englefield, Berkshire on 20 May. Other rulings that could put the dampers on your celebrity wedding: — Marriages are public services. All parishioners, and possibly all members of the public, must be let in ‘unless a genuine question of safety or security arises’. — It is not legally clear whether marriage services can be ticketed, but if they are then they must be publicised. — No video can be produced without the consent of the organist. Time off Jeremy Corbyn wants another four public holidays.

Corbyn’s bank holiday plan misunderstands modern work

Next Monday, while the village fair is raging outside, I will be inside working as on any other Monday morning. Will I be disappointed to miss out on a day of Mayday fun? Not a bit of it. There are only so many steam rallies one wants to attend, only so many seaside-bound traffic jams one can bear to join. I would far rather work through every bank holiday and take time off when I feel like it, when the roads aren’t full of bikers and there are fewer people out and about trying to force themselves to have fun. I don’t think I am entirely alone in this, which

The nightmare of school holidays

The decision by the Supreme Court to find against parent Jon Platt in his battle with his local education authority is both outrageous and debatable. Mr Platt took his daughter on holiday for a week during the school term in 2015 and was arbitrarily fined by Isle of Wight council for doing so. Platt successfully fought the verdict in the high court, yet for reasons best known to themselves, the council decided to take it to a higher authority. Where next, if they had been unsuccessful, one wonders. The European Court of Human Rights? God? As a parent also fined for removing my children during term I know how Mr


Advocates of New Zealand often boast that the country is like Britain was in the 1950s. This is all well and good if 1950s Britain is where you want to go on holiday, but it’s not for everyone. In fact, some might argue the main purpose of the past half-century has been to make Britain less like Britain was in the 1950s. What, then, are the options for those who would rather go on holiday to the Italian Riviera of the 1950s? The answer, it turns out, is Croatia, which has pleasant weather late into the autumn, idyllic coastlines and a laidback glamour that seems like a distant memory on