Saturday 23rd June
A few years ago now Tony Blair forsook the usual hospitality of the rich and famous and pointedly had an English Holiday. This was to help promote the UK tourist industry which felt it was suffering at the hands of all those sunny hot places abroad. And that is the whole problem with an English Holiday. If, by some stroke of luck you can manage a few days of continuing sunshine, or at least no downpours, there is nowhere better for a holiday. Even grimy rain-streaked concrete-lined London takes on a magic sparkle in those rare moments of sunshine. And the beaches are un-crowded, and free from hawkers and expensive beach-chair rentals, there are lovely little villages to discover, there are beautiful and magnificent National Trust houses to wander round, there are gentle rolling hills and chalky cliffs to admire, there are fabulous restaurants tucked away in unexpected places, there is a hospitality next to none, and yet there is always the risk, or should one say the inevitability of rain. When it is raining the beaches are deserted, the restaurants either full or for some unexplained reason closed, the pretty villages have no parking spaces, and picnics and ‘al fresco’ dining are out of the question. Also it is so cold too that it hardly feels like a holiday at all, as the car is full of bickering kids, bored dogs and the remnants of too many sandwiches eaten in the pouring rain. No-one asks Tony Blair where he holidays now, in fact except for public enquiries no-one asks him anything, but I bet he flies off to some hidden little Sardinian villa, or maybe Tuscany, or in the winter the Caribbean. Margate it certainly ‘aint.