I’m very envious of people who manage to make friends whenever they go on holiday. They come back with an exchange of addresses, an opportunity to get together to relive the memories, and a future of convivial visits to each other’s homes and meeting up for more holidays.
One year I thought we’d cracked it. We arrived very late at our campsite in Italy: it was pitch black, pouring with rain, and our Eurocamp tent turned out to have a hole in it – the children were not impressed. But our lovely neighbours (from their watertight campervan) dispensed tea and sympathy, and lo, it turned out that they lived not far from us in London. For the next few days we got on famously. In fact, we did exchange addresses, but I should have guessed that this would lead nowhere when there was no assumption that we would have dinner together on their last night at the site. We did invite them for Sunday lunch when we got back. They came, they ate, they left – and that was the last we ever saw of them.
So do we come across as sociopaths? Could it be that our families and the friends we have managed to make under other circumstances haven’t the heart to tell us that this is the case? I’ll admit that Mr Verity and I are fairly reticent types, but I wouldn’t call us taciturn.
Perhaps we’re not going on the right sort of holidays. We’ve taken to going on self-guided walking holidays. This is not because of any Greta Garbo-type aspirations; I’m just afraid that if we walked in a group I would be the slow one bringing up the rear, puffing and wheezing and scarlet in the face while speedier souls (soles?) were forced to wait for me, tutting disdainfully and casting their eyes heavenwards. So as it is we spend our days in splendid isolation and totter into our hotel at evening sweaty and dusty, and possibly smelly – no wonder no one wants to know.
This year I did give some thought as to how we could remedy this. Leering at people and beckoning them to our table was obviously not going to be the answer. But I did make the huge (for me) effort of striking up a couple of conversations, and they went OK. One of them turned out to be with someone who is BIG IN T K MAXX! But it didn’t lead to anything (and no, it wasn’t because I asked for free samples).
So not for us the week-long ski-ing holiday in Germany that a couple of our friends were invited on. On the other hand, we do know of some people who are now powerless to prevent a two-week visit every year from ‘friends’ they made on holiday.
But I realise I’ve overlooked one lasting friendship with people we met on holiday: it wasn’t until we bumped into them 350 miles away on Lindisfarne that we got talking to our neighbours a few doors down the street. We are British, after all.