You know these guys: refuse to do an out-of-office and reassure you that they are not really going away at all. I mean, they may be in Sardinia for four weeks but there’s Wi-Fi and, ‘Just call if there’s anything, I’ll be checking my emails/attached to my phone.’ Funny thing, though, whenever you actually try to get in touch with them…
Never go on holiday with someone who doesn’t want to lie down and not think of England. You are going to read Circe by Madeline Miller and pretend to be brewing spells on a deserted island. They are going to insist on visiting monasteries up mountains – by foot – and the timings will be all wrong, so you’ll start your climb when it’s hotter than hell. So hectic. Go away.
By now – mid-July – you will have noticed that you are busier than you have ever been in your entire adult life. You are running around from meeting to meeting, preparing reports and talking to a thousand people a night for quick catch-ups. Weekends are a terrible game of diary Jenga. Why? It’s because everybody is taking-the-whole-of-August-off. So everything has to be done NOW. Come to think of it, maybe these are the clever ones. Annoying. But brilliant.
The wait-until-September types
These are the quiet ones, not stressed about the flight and hotel frenzy, planning to have a jolly nice August in the air-conditioned office, with the sped-up commute and guaranteed seat on the train. They are not frantically looking for the last pair of high-waisted bikini bottoms on Asos. And when you get back and launch yourself into September feeling a bit breathless, they disappear. You resent and admire them.
The one-week-here, two-weeks-here, long-weekend-there-ers
‘Are you going away?’ you ask in a friendly fashion, safe and smug in the knowledge that you’ve got your two weeks in Crete sorted so this is no longer a question tinged with aggression. Or is it? ‘Well, it’s a bit all over the place,’ they say. ‘I mean, we are going to have a week in Cornwall and then a week in Corsica and then a couple of weeks in Devon and then a few weekends in Ile de Ré.’ Also known as having the entire summer off. Not so smug about Crete now.
The happy campers
‘Oh, we’re just going to do a bit of camping. Same crowd as always.’ They might even show you their tent. And their barbecue thing. And pictures of all the wild-swimming spots they are going to find. And you think of them, out there in the open air, when you are running for the Gatwick Express, queuing at passport control and stuck on the runway for 11 hours. You think of them and… you wonder.
There they are, single-handedly keeping the National Trust afloat; visiting every castle near the M25, M1 and M40. You can’t believe how many museums this lot can rack up on Instagram. It must be an illness…
The villa-with-friends crowd
Every year you find out that ‘a whole bunch of us’ have taken a villa in Tuscany and you feel a pang. Why does no one want to villa with you? Do you not give out the villa vibe? ‘But maybe you don’t want to villa with anyone else either,’ a little voice whispers in your ear. And you feel better.
The ones who never take holidays
‘I never take holidays,’ they announce. ‘I don’t believe in holidays… I don’t have time for holidays.’ Several nervous breakdowns later, you hear they have surrendered and are on their way to Austria to walk it all out of their system.
These are the noble ones who scoop up the entire family and disappear off to Uruguay or the Andes or go trekking in India for five weeks. Possibly seven. Such energy. ‘One day,’ you think, as you fold down the pages of Ultratravel. ‘One day.’ (Narrator: Never going to happen.)