Picture this: you’re wafting along a square – some might even call it a piazza – moments from a picturesque beach, wearing something very stylish, expensive and made of linen. Music pipes out of restaurant windows and buzzy conversation about art and so on tinkles along around you melodically. You sit down at a table outside a charming restaurant, without need of a jacket – there is no breeze on this early evening; in fact the gently cooling weather is a balmy relief from the day’s hot sunshine.
You are served a plate of pasta and it is the most delicious thing you have eaten in years. Looking out across this storybook scene – your little slice of paradise, your spot away from it all – you take a sip of the honey-coloured wine recommended by your waiter, a man with the face of the Duke from Bridgerton and the body of the most stacked Avenger, who also definitely winked at you earlier.
You sigh and smile wryly. “Life,” you think to yourself, “is good.”
Then of course you come to, and you are back to scrolling Airbnb during work hours, looking for somewhere to heave yourself off to for a week in August, all in the name of what your mother calls “a change of scenery”. The dreamy tableau you just caught yourself imagining couldn’t be further away from realisation, firstly because it doesn’t exist (you don’t own anything at all that is remotely made of linen, for starters), and secondly because Things Being As They Are, it is still illegal to holiday abroad.
While holidaying in the UK is generally really good – I actually haven’t been abroad since 2018, and have been lucky enough to take some extremely nice holidays in Norfolk, the Inner Hebrides and Sussex – it’s not really a stretch to say that a lot of us could do with a bit of an escape from This Fucking Place. Unfortunately, however, it’s not to be at the moment, so we’ll have to take our pick of destinations from within Pandemic Britain, where the sun often mixes delightfully with drizzle, and where you’ll almost certainly hear someone on an anti-mask tirade in a beer garden. Here’s what your eventual choice says about you:
BRIGHTON OR MARGATE
You are in your late twenties, and have suggested “a week at the seaside” to your partner or friends. But, like a hedgehog with its spikes up, you become anxious when you are too far away from the specific type of gentrification that generates magazine shops called things like “Cube”, so you land on Brighton or Margate. You’re basically casing the joint to see if you might want to move there, because as an “independent maker”, you think you might fit in well with the local creative communities. And by “independent maker”, I mean you started selling homemade glasses chains on Etsy during the pandemic for something to do when you realised sourdough was effort. You have already told multiple people that you’re feeling “really inspired” by your “practice”.
You’ve taken a few days off work and you’re going to make like James Hurley in Twin Peaks and “get on your bike and ride, man”. This is all well and good until you realise you spent the last year cycling around these very parks, so much so that they actually now trigger in you a fight or flight response, so you go home and do the noble thing: get in bed and watch Real Housewives for one week straight.
PARENTS’ HOLIDAY HOME
You tweet things like “eat the rich” despite the fact that your dad has a property portfolio (you’ve always assumed that that phrase was reserved for like, Jeff Bezos and the monarchy – both of whom you definitely don’t agree with by the way!). Three Christmases ago, you were dragged for posting pictures where your family’s Aga was visible on Instagram.
You’ve become more savvy over the course of the pandemic, however, and know how to handle the “social media panopticon” (as you call it) a bit better now. The new “fucking off to Mummy and Daddy’s massive pile” is “fucking off to Mummy and Daddy’s massive pile and going dark on social media for a week as a result”.
COUPLES’ CITY BREAK
All of your Facebook profile pictures are of you and your significant other in front of various landmarks, always in the same pose with only the backgrounds and the amount your faces are starting to sag changing. Your choices have narrowed a bit this year – but no matter, you’ll make the best of it, soaking up all of the local culture in… Birmingham!
You have the best of intentions – you’ll have a walk around Digbeth and take a look at the independent shops at the Custard Factory, perhaps visit the museum and art gallery – only it pisses down raining, so you end up traipsing miserably around the Bullring, before topping the weekend off by having a row in Wagamama’s. That’s amore!
You are often posting thirst traps with captions like “tell me something I don’t know…” against the white sands of various far-flung destinations, so this year you’re a bit fucked. Turns out that trying to get a decent bikini pic on the beach when your backdrop is a random chip shop, five kids in wetsuits and a plastic bag flapping about like a tumbleweed is a nightmare.
SOME SORT OF LUXURY HUT IN THE FOREST
You live in a city and loudly long for fresh air so desperately that you’ve huffed on a tree on one of your walks around the local park while nobody is looking (nobody, that is, except your Insta story viewers). You believe that you’re most yourself when among nature and self-describe as a “water baby” in at least one of your social media bios. While you’d rather die than go actual camping, you do wear a lot of tie-dye, so for your summer holiday, it’s natural that you would want to be at one with the woods, somewhere lush and green – just so long as there’s also hamper of artisanal cheese and high thread count sheets there too!
BANKING ON GOING TO A FESTIVAL