While it may appear that I am constantly taking holidays, this isn’t quite true. In my defence, it is summer here and summer requires a holiday. It’s obligatory.
I avoided going away over the “stats” (i.e. the statutory holidays over Christmas and new year) and opted for February instead. In the past I always headed off down south to the beach house but that is no more, so this year I have opted for a road trip, staying in rented cottages and exploring new locations.
My first stop has proved delightful. A perfect set up for a single traveller, a one room cottage with a small courtyard for sitting in the sun, right across the road from the beach. I went to sleep last night listening to the sound of the waves on the beach, and slept very soundly in the dark that only exists in the country away from streetlights. I went for a run along the cycle trail this morning then had breakfast outside, and enjoyed a cup of coffee with the owner before she left for work.
There’s nothing particularly difficult or peculiar about holidaying alone in these circumstances. Not for me, at least. But others struggle to grasp the pleasure of it, and express concern for my welfare.
For example, when I arrived, my host asked when my partner was arriving (I’d booked as 1 adult) and then having determined I was alone, was delicately enquiringly was I recovering from a break up or similar. All of which is fine, except that she lives alone herself so the idea of a woman on her own shouldn’t really be so surprising to her of all people.
Before I left, a few people asked what I had planned before helpfully reeling off a long list of all the possible sights, attractions and activities I could cram into my days away. When I responded that all I was planning on doing was spending time by myself reading, sketching, walking, and maybe hitting a few golf balls, I was met with a look of disbelief.
It seems that living alone is one thing, but choosing to be alone is quite another. The first is a circumstance that others understand but believe can (and should) be rectified; the second, however, is perverse wilfulness.
For people who can’t imagine a worse fate than spending time alone, it is next to impossible to understand why I would choose to spend my holiday on my own. So I don’t try to explain, and let them suggest diversions, none of which I will do but I feign interest for the sake of manners.
When I return, they will no doubt be concerned that I didn’t follow their suggestions, and worry that I’m depressed because I chose to travel alone.
So I’d like to state, for the record, that choosing to travel and holiday alone is not a mental illness.