Essential holiday packing

Off to the seaside for a few days and any sort of holiday needs books and plenty of them, as vital as the paddle in the sea and the suncream. We went to France every summer to visit the family, five of us in a Ford Anglia. Packing was simple; everyone had a small suitcase with summer gear (it was always scorching hot), presents in the form of boxes of very sophisticated After Eights, a jar of Marmite which had to last the full six weeks, which left plenty of room for books.

We were all great readers in the family and to some extent could swap books, but we were always worried about running out, as there were no books in any of the family’s houses and the nearest bookshop was an hour’s drive away. So the car was packed with books; books in the boot of course but also on the floor of the back of the car, so our legs rested on stacks of reading matter. No reading was allowed until we had crossed the Channel and then my parents relented and we could dive into our supply. Both of them being teachers, they never lost an opportunity for instruction, so we would read out the ads on the giant hoardings on the way down, handily teaching us French grammar at the same time.

So for me a holiday isn’t a holiday without first visiting a bookshop. If I fly, I love the airport bookshops which often have advanced copies of bestsellers. However this time it’s a sedate trip on a train, three days away, which requires at least three books (running out would cause hyperventilation). Spend a happy half hour browsing in a bookshop (one of the great anticipatory pleasures) I come away with four paperbacks, just in case.

And when I settle down to read on a bench in the shade, I’ll remember the joy of travelling half way down France perched on a stack of holiday reading.

Vive les vacances!

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