I don’t really know how to talk about a holiday right now. I think any little recap makes me sound like an irresponsible selfish monster who takes global pandemics quite lightly. But there hasn’t been much going on other than my holiday and so needs must.
We did eat out at Honey & Co and Honey & Smoke to get the Rishi Sunak discount and we went swimming in the Thames at Henley one day, to our utter delight. I got my feet and fingernails fixed in preparation for the holiday and bought two bikinis because I am too old to care about whether or not I should wear a bikini. There was a nether-region waxing situation and I got my eyelashes permed to look like Bambi in my holiday photos. I bought a Batsheva skirt that transforms into a dress and I tried to do that neckmess thing – you know, the thing where you wear multiple necklaces of varying lengths to look a bit Rich Bohemian. I bought fabric masks for everyone to wear so we can shop at Waitrose without incurring the wrath of anyone. That’s about it.
So covid/holiday politics aside, getting on a plane two weeks ago was the most extraordinary and yet most ordinary thing I have done all year. Travel anxiety about suitcase weight, panic over getting to the gate on time, me squashed into a too-small seat, the baby screaming and furious at being attached to his baby seatbelt, squirming and kicking the guy in front of us – it was all the usual travelling woes, pandemic or not.
Masks are obviously the new travelling thing; from setting off for Turkey into the cab until we exited the airport in Dalaman nine hours later, we were all required to wear masks the whole time (except for the lucky baby and except for when we ate or drank). The baby spent quite a bit of time trying to rip ours off and we spent time with fogged up glasses and the feeling that we would soon asphyxiate and die. My masks did unspeakable things to my hair and were either way too tight or loose and slippery. They also seem to be responsible for deep reddish spots in unlikely places (bridge of the nose, near the ears), but whaddaya do?
So we did it – we went on a plane, we flew into another country, we had two weeks of unbounded joy and freedom, we swam and ate and jumped off a boat and picked figs from a tree, we got back home on a plane and we didn’t get quarantined. We are bronzed and rested and we have faith in the world and in future plans again.
It was a proper risk when I booked the tickets way back when summer looked cancelled, but it felt like a worthy one. The tickets were cheap and Turkey really is the most wonderful place in the world. The villa where we usually stay was available and our Turkish friends kept reassuring us that things were pretty calm over there. The country opened up to tourists in June and so I was emboldened, sick of the sight of the flat and the heat and the home-schooling and the general joylessness of life since March. Our return flights were cancelled in July for about one minute but then rebooked almost exactly the same which was the only real wobble. The rest was pure loveliness.
Please look away if you get bored of endless holiday photographs filled with smiling brown people having enormous amounts of fun.
This is where we stay, in a stone villa with a treehouse, an inbuilt barbecue, a glorious pool and an outdoor shower that comes out of an old tree and which lies at the bottom of an abandoned village:
The baby very much approved:
Here’s the village we walk through on our way to the clutch of little restaurants set up in old ruins:
Vegetables which were so cheap they were practically free:
A pancake, chips and fresh pomegranate juice restaurant in the Fethiye markets after we bought spices and yoghurt and cheese and nougat. The baby thought the hand sanitiser was lemonade and squirted quite a bit into his mouth. He went red and blotchy for a bit but soon returned to his holiday shade of nut-brown:
Saklikent Gorge, the freezing rapids, the fresh barbecued trout, the rafting tube rides, the ceramic bird whistles which drove us nuts:
Cold Water Bay where the water switches from freezing to bath-like in currents:
Treehouse afternoons, obligatory knee shot:
St Nicholas’ Island, swimming over submerged ruins:
Batsheva dress, ruins and lovely baby:
Amanda and golden hour #1:
Late night BBQing with hot braziers and hot Gus:
A day on the boat:
Bikini days. Didn’t wear knickers once:
Pancakes on the shore:
Amanda and golden hour #2:
Bought us a few rugs:
Brunch under the grapevines:
See? See how life-affirming and normal and natural and necessary it is to be open to the world? How important it is to stay curious and brave? To spend? To keep learning about how other people live?
Anyway. We are back now and even though I an insisting on short shorts, the darkness has crept in and there’s a slight chill in the air. And so it goes.