It may be winter outside, but Francesca Capaldi Burgess and Elaine Roberts are starting to plan their holidays…
Francesca: Holidays always sound like wonderful opportunities to rest, see new things and have novel experiences. Whereas the last two items might be true, I’ve always found the ‘having a rest’ bit rather a myth. Whether it’s hauling four kids from beaches to activities to meals, or walking childless round a major city, it all takes rather a lot of energy.
The organisation can also be an endurance exercise. Two years ago a large party of our family, fifteen in all, trundled off to Center Parcs for a long weekend. I got the job of working out who had which bedroom in which of the two chalets. More gruellingly, I had to coordinate who was doing what activity and when, before booking it all up. Needless to say the holiday itself, while being fun, was also exhausting.
This July I’m heading off, as I have every year since 2008, to the Writers’ Holiday. This is the second year it’s been held in Fishguard. As I’m sure I’ve said before, ‘holiday’ is somewhat of a misnomer. Don’t get me wrong, we have a great time, but boy do we work.
Fishguard (or Abergwaun to the locals) is on the gorgeous Pembrokeshire coastline. This is going to be jolly handy for me this year as I’m setting my next novel in the area. Coincidentally, my daughter Carmela has suggested a holiday at nearby St David’s. I don’t mind going again, especially as it gives me a second shot at research. But with the prospect of including all four children, their partners, children, and partners’ children (ie, around a dozen), arranging it could prove to be another interesting logistic exercise. I wonder who will end up puzzle master…
Elaine: My year usually starts with feeling there’s nothing to look forward to. To clarify that sweeping statement, my eldest daughter is getting married in October, which is no small occasion, but it’s not a holiday. The many holiday adverts on the television and radio don’t help, or indeed the grey wintery weather.
Since that first week of post-Christmas blues in January, I’ve discovered I’m away from home, either for a long weekend or a week, every month between April and July.
One of my daughters suggested we join her and forty-five of her closest friends for a quiet holiday in Portugal. Much to my surprise, my husband said he quite fancied it and booked it up. Thankfully my daughter is in her thirties and not a teenager. The breaks escalated from there as friends asked us to join them in The Cotswolds for a weekend. relatives in North Wales and Worcester also beckoned. Booking a writing retreat in Whitstable quickly followed this. So you can see I’ve gone from a very strict ‘we can’t afford a holiday because we have a wedding to pay for’ to never being home.
This has crept up on me and now I’m at the other end of the spectrum. I’ve gone from feeling sorry for myself to panicking about how my writing is going to fit in.
Planning is a big part of writing, from character and chapter breakdowns to scheduling a blog post. On that basis, there’s an expectation that planning and scheduling things into my life would be second nature and it is. My biggest problem is that I hate saying no, despite attending an assertive training for women course many years ago. Of course, the alternative is I don’t want to say no, now there’s a thought. It goes without saying that my notepad will travel everywhere with me and, where feasible, so will my laptop.
Of course holidays, along with any other excuse to stop work, are great for people watching and grabbing ideas for future stories.