As we head into the 'Great British Summer'™ it's hard not to be caught up by the general euphoria and optimism that after 18 months of winter we're set for a diet of long, lazy days of uninterrupted Pimms parties, cricket on the village green and seaside holidays just like when we were young. Far be it from us to be a dark cloud on this otherwise sunny horizon, but we urge you not to believe the hype... You know you'll be disappointed. In the spirit of providing a valuable civic service (and none too subtly pushing our own agenda), here then is our list of the top five reasons to leave the country this summer:
#1: The Weather
If you believe the Daily Express then 2014 is going to be the hottest summer on record (these being the same people who predicted the heaviest snowfalls on record this winter, so best take it with a pinch of salt). Now let's be honest, as a nation we don't really handle the heat too well. At the first sign of decent weather the whole population of the nation's biggest cities decamps en masse to spend their weekend going nowhere on the A303 as the tarmac slowly melts around them. Once you finally reach the Great British Seaside™ you'll find that the beach has taken on the atmosphere and look of a refugee camp, the sea is an alarming shade of brown and yet, despite the roasting temperatures, is still cold enough to numb you to the bone.
For those not fooled into the great seaside pilgrimage it isn't much better. In a heatwave the air in the average British town develops the enticing bouquet of unburned hydrocarbons and diesel fumes and gains a worrying opacity that, whilst unpleasant to breathe, is still not thick enough to entirely obscure the sight of discarded ice cream wrappers and ill-advisedly topless men, slowly turning pink.
Our advice: Go somewhere where the locals handle the heat with an insouciance and panache not found in Blighty.
#2: The World Cup
Irrespective of whether you're a fan or not, being in England when the World Cup is on is a trying experience. If you hate football then you're subjected to blanket coverage of the run-up, accusations of a lack of patriotism for refusing to adorn your car with a plastic St George's flag and having to feign interest in conversations regarding England's problem left back position and the relative merits of going 4-4-2 or utilising a Christmas Tree formation.
Even if you're a fan, the experience is sullied by the inevitable bombastic press assertions of English footballing dominance, 1966 and all that, three lions on your shirt etc., before the inevitable, predictable slump into sullen, introspective backbiting and op-ed pieces linking our inability to beat Germany in a penalty shoot-out with dire warnings about the lack of national character and society's inevitable descent into chaos. Plus all the matches will be on in the middle of the night.
Our advice: Either escape it entirely or watch it in a neutral country in a similar time zone.
Now, don't get me wrong I love a barbecue; done well they can be amazing. Something spontaneous on a deserted beach where aquatic delicacies, plucked straight from the sea, are gently grilled as the sun slides beneath the horizon is my idea of heaven. However, too often the Great British Barbecue™ is some form of ghastly set piece affair. First you have to ensure your garden is fit for purpose... Cue several hours of back-breaking manual labour trying to wrestle a recalcitrant shrubbery into some sort of order, despite the knowledge that it will all be an overgrown wasteland again in a couple of weeks. Secondly, due to the vagaries of the British climate, you never know if you'll spend your time huddled miserably under a golf umbrella trying to get the damn thing to light before giving it up as a bad job and cooking the sausages under the grill. Finally, at the first sniff of the temperature reaching the teens everybody else will have the same idea, stripping Waitrose bare of anything even remotely flame grillable. Thus leaving you trying to feed 30 guests with one small pack of value hamburgers that are genetically related to the winner of the 3.30 at Haydock Park.
Our advice: By all means enjoy a barbecue, but try and do better than a charred chicken drumstick and a warm Magners in the back garden...
#4: Everyone else will be away
All aspects of your life will be affected by the 'Great British Summer'™; there is no escape. If you stay at work everyone else will be on holiday, meaning you end up covering eight other people's jobs. Your only human contact will be with colleagues’ out of office replies and the only thing you will have to look forward to is sitting through the endless holiday snaps paraded smugly in front of you by sunburned co-workers on their return. Outside of work everywhere you go will be rammed with harassed looking parents desperately trying to entertain bored and fractious offspring.
Our advice: If you can't beat them, join them (just do it better).
#5: Finally, check out our Hot Summer Offers
We've got some incredible last minute savings on summer holidays to the Caribbean, Mexico, Indian Ocean and Arabia. If you still need a reason for leaving the country this summer, you'll find it here.
Our advice (with apologies to a certain well known sportswear brand and their no doubt ferocious lawyers): Just do it.