Bank holiday season is upon us. By the time you read this, chances are you, like many others up and down Britain, are taking advantage of the Easter break and next week’s special Royal Wedding Bank Holiday (a nod to the lovely couple for getting married on a Friday instead of over the weekend).
From experience, I know for a fact that England likes its traditions and will try its hardest to keep them going year after year. Tradition has it that any bank holidays will be a washout, but I suspect this might be a tradition that’s going to slip on the wayside as the glorious hayfever-inducing spring weather seems to be unrelenting.
Holiday travel chaos is another tradition that likes to rear its head. While traffic jams seem to be never-ending, this might possibly be the year you won’t be spending 4 hours to travel 20 miles in a car, or changing 7 trains on a triangular path to your destination. (Travellers on a plane will just have to grin and bear it, and wonder whether the illusion that the whole world is on the plane with them isn’t actually an illusion.)
Open the window and feel the fresh air.
I, for one, will be staying in London. The exodus of the city’s dwellers dashing off to distant lands (or Southend) means London has a delightful “secret garden” feel to it. It’s a grand feeling to wander down its eerily quiet streets but without having to indulge in some mental zombie-fighting tactics a la “28 days later”.
No matter whether you have the whole 2 weeks off or just 2 days, here are some tips to help you enjoy your bank holiday double whammy.
What is it they say? Slip slop slap. The name of the health campaign in Australia where the sun is extremely potent, it refers to its motto of “slipping on a shirt, slopping on some sunscreen and slapping on a hat”.
The problem with the British weather is that it’s dark for quite a few months of the year, and while it does get four seasons, the sun is seen as such a rare and joyous thing that many people go towards it like moth to a flame. I was speaking to a friend one day about the uniquely British phenomenon of putting on summer gear at the first sighting of the sun’s rays in March. Every year, it never ceases to amaze me to see tank tops and bare arms out in 12 degrees centigrade. My friend explained, “You need to take advantage of it when you can, this might be the only summer we’ll have.”
I think we can confidently say with the current climactic trends towards milder seasons that the British Isles will start to see more and more of this rare phoenix of a creature we call summer. Just today they were forecasting that Easter weekend here will be warmer than Athens and on par with Tenerife.
So put on your sunscreen, actually don’t slop it, it’s better if you rub it in well.
Use moisturiser that has SPF in it.
I’m going to say wear a hat that covers your face and neck even though no one will listen, but do wear sunglasses. Besides making a fashion statement, you’ll be protecting your eyes from the sun’s UV rays, preventing wrinkles since you won’t need to squint AND for hay fever sufferers out there, it’s another barrier between you and all that pollen.
Plan ahead. I am a believer that if you plan certain things ahead of time, then your life will be much more of a stress-free zone. I’m not saying suck the spontaneity out of your life completely, but it does help to give things a little bit of structure.
If you’re travelling with a group of friends, democracy isn’t always the best choice. How many times have you all stood there on the sidewalk um-ing and ah-ing about where to eat? If all of you really don’t mind, then you would’ve gone to the first place suggested. If however, you do mind, then maybe you should start discussing these things a day in advance or at least before your collective bellies start grumbling and growling.
For a lot of people, travelling on holiday is a great way to relax. However, for a lot of people, the actual travelling can be the nerviest and stressful time of the whole holiday. Have you ever come back from a holiday thinking you could really do with another one to unwind from it all?
Think about what it is that puts you on edge. Is it holiday fatigue? Some people pack way too many things into one day, mainly because of the amazing culture available or because it’s their only holiday for the year. Regardless, if it becomes too much like a work schedule, actual fatigue will always outweigh the pleasures of discovering something new.
Watch what you eat. The warmer and longer days mean that ice cream will be a lovely little treat for many of us. And we’ll all be substituting our stews and hot pots for salads and fruit. While it’s always good to have a break from stodgy carb dinners, eating cold food isn’t the most ideal thing for our bodies.
Cold foods can impair the function of the spleen according to the theories of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). When the spleen is weakened its ability to transform and transport the nutrients from your food is also disrupted and it could lead to symptoms like indigestion, loose stools, lethargy or dizziness.
You can have your ice cream and eat it too, but don’t overindulge and have five in a row. One of my favourite spring-time salads consists of little boiled jersey potatoes, stir-fried asparagus, cherry tomatoes and tuna all on a bed of salad leaves- served at room temperature.
Finally, remember to enjoy yourself. Unlike Christmas, this is a holiday where you’re not obliged to spend it with family and are free to go wherever you want. If you do spend it with a family, the lovely barbeque weather makes it a much more relaxed affair than the more traditional Christmas dinner. If you have children, the Easter egg hunt is a good way to spend time outdoors. And if you’ve decided to spend the whole week indoors with the curtains pulled having a marathon session of Bruce Lee movies, that’s fine as well.
Take this time to recuperate from shedding the heavy layers of winter and bask in the light.
Have a lovely Easter, enjoy yourself and be safe.
Photo credit: furtwangl via flickr
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