Thursday, 14 May 2009

Molly goes on Holiday

Molly is just over six months old and she has just returned from her first overseas holiday to Ibiza. I compare this to my own overseas travelling experiences, which didn’t begin until I was twenty-two years old.

When I was a boy in the 1950s and 1960s family holidays came once a year and were rotated tri-annually between a caravan in Norfolk, a caravan in Cornwall and a caravan in Wales. I’m not being ungrateful because these holidays were great fun and in those days it was all that my parents could afford. To be perfectly honest the very idea of going to Europe was completely absurd, I knew of people who had been to France or Spain (or said that they had) but I always regarded them as slightly eccentric and wondered if they were telling the whole truth! As for going further than Europe I might as well have made plans to go to the moon!

Foreign travel used to be expensive and was beyond the pocket of most ordinary people. When British European Airways first launched its air service between London and Valencia in 1957 at the start of the package holiday boom the cost of the fare was £38.80p which may not sound a lot now but to put that into some sort of perspective in 1960 my Dad took a job at a salary of £815 a year so that fare would have been about two and a half weeks wages! So for two people – five weeks wages in a single income household. It was just out of the question! The average United Kingdom weekly wage today is £450 so on that basis a flight to Spain at British European Airline prices would now be £1,100. Thank goodness then for Ryanair because this week I have just been to Portugal for £30 return which represents just about three hours work today in comparison with what of been about a hundred hours in 1960.

While Molly was away I received daily updates on what she was doing and how much she was enjoying herself and this was different to the old day as well. Staying in touch was difficult because there were no mobile phones, no satellite television with UK news broadcasts and whilst I could happily do without those today there were no bank debit cards or ATMs if you ran short of cash, which I now find rather handy. Getting holiday spending money estimates right was quite important because getting a top up if you needed one was a real problem. On my first holiday I took £60 spending money, which I suppose would be about £200 now and although this didn’t sound a lot I was on full board arrangements at the hotel and I didn’t drink quite so much beer in those days! In 1976 £60 in sterling converted to several thousand Italian Lire and so for a few days I was able to spend as though I was a millionaire.

So whilst it took me over twenty years before stepping on foreign soil, Molly has a stamp on her passport already and I am looking forward to August when I will be taking her to France for a week at the seaside, so that will be two stamps in the passport before she is one year old. I hope she inherits my travelling obsession and I am going to do everything to encourage it!

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