Monday, June 18, 2007

Proper holidays

Its the time of year when thoughts turn to the summer holidays and whether or not our decision, made some time ago, that we weren't going to take one this year, was wise or not.

Eldest daughter is going to Ibiza with her boyfriend next week and so I'm been milked of £300 this morning for some spending money for her, no, I don't know what the fekk her holiday has to do with me anymore but apparently it is incumbent on me to foot the bill for her seven days worth of cheap booze.

And so the remaining daughter and the one who swears that I did betroth myself to her (I remember nought) have started the nagging campaign for us to go somewhere in August, me, I'm not bothered.

Last year, as with several previous years before it, we went to Menorca and spent in excess of £5000 in two weeks for the pleasure of doing so, this year the budget is lower, much lower.

So I started browsing t'interweb and as we have some elderly ex-neighbours who now live in Cornwall and who Suzanne still treats as if they were her own parents I thought it would be nice to pay a visit to the county of my childhood holidays.

Actually spent some considerable time on t'interweb this weekend and tracked down two excellent looking small hotels, neither of which had availability in August of course, for sensible people will be booking their 2008 holidays by now, but I went ahead anyway and pretended that they had just to see how much it would cost the three of us.

£1050 is the answer for two double rooms for a week and I didn't bother to check the single room supplement so you could probably add another 50% onto that figure - that gets us bed and breakfast in a small hotel, its a very nice small hotel admittedly but I dread to think what my father would have said all those years ago when he was booking our family holidays in Cornwall if they'd asked for a grand off him - his house didn't cost much more than that.

The hotel in question has a "green" policy and they encourage guests to travel by train to Penzance, it cleverly disguises the fact that they have 14 bedrooms and only three parking spaces, but still, we should all do our bit, and so with heart in mouth I visited the Network Rail web site for train fares to Penzance in August.

Last year I discovered just how much of a secret rail travel is in this country and how the train companies don't really like telling you whether or not they run services to your destination on your chosen dates, or indeed any dates at all and if you do manage to extract such information out of them then getting them to tell you how much it will cost is like pulling teeth.

I typed in a fictitious date in august, not that I made it up or anything, the date was genuine, its just that we wouldn't actually be traveling on that date as the hotel had no availability, but you know what I mean - on the date chosen Network Rail found trains that would eventually get me to Penzance from Leeds even though here were no direct ones (yes I know it was a bit optimistic expecting one to go all the way without stopping).

The likeliest train left Leeds at 9.10am and with only one change to make, arrived in Penzance at 17.20pm, an eight hour journey. The last time that I ventured as far south as nearly into Cornwall was when I drove to Plymouth three years ago and that trip took me five hours including two stops for tea and a wee, so curious I was as to why the high speed inter city express would take eight hours to make a just a bit further journey I clicked on the booking form to see how long the change of trains in the middle was.

Stupid me, they wouldn't tell me, they wouldn't even tell me where the change was to be made, after all what business was it of mine, the customer.

Click on I thought, and check the price - a snip at £175 each, each way.

Well thats not exactly true, there were fifteen different prices to choose from, starting at £22 each and rising to £175 with no apparent reason why, they were all on the same train on the same journey but they all had different names and different rules as to when to pay and how to pay and whether or not you had a seat or had to stand in the guards van or even follow the main train behind on one of those open wagon things where two of you pump a lever up and down to make it go.

Booking trains was as complicated as I remembered it to be and after ten minutes and a shopping basket of £1050 I abandoned the idea, a grands worth of diesel for the car would get me a lot further than Penzance and back, its not very green I know but I'd rather drive and then buy a tree to save the world.

Finally, and just for a laugh I looked at the hotel where I'd really like to stay and priced up a week in august in a sea front suite for the three of us, that will be just £2800 please sir they said.

My dad would have had a fit.


But Why? said...

Little wonder that cheap flights to Eastern Europe are so popular... Loved the post, and if I hadn't just had a painfully pricey week's holiday in the UK, I'd be laughing my socks off by now!

Gary said...

I seem to be paying for everyone else's holiday this year but not taking one myself, can't quite work out how we got to this situation but its quite normal in our house - I got a big bar of chocolate off the daughters for Fathers Day and they ate it for me.