Posts Tagged ‘holidays’

#55 Loitering within tent

In holidays on August 19, 2010 at 11:46 pm

Hey! I thought camping was supposed to be a cheap holiday option.

I’ve just been to kit myself out for a long weekend in Dorset and on a pound-to-use basis, it could all work out quite pricey. Read the rest of this entry »

#52 The best things in life are free, or courtesy of the French tax payer

In Free, Kids, Travel on August 2, 2010 at 11:15 pm

This week we have been holidaying sur les Plages of Paris at the expense of the French tax payer.

The Paris Plages , now in their 9th year, have been much envied by London, though just to correct a misconception – they aren’t actually a whole stretch of fake beach (though there are a couple of areas set aside for sand and sun loungers), but a series of activities, kiosks, and entertainments along what would usually be a busy road along the Seine’s right bank, and around the Bassin de la Villette. All laid on by the Mairie de Paris.

We enjoyed badminton, pedaloing, outdoor swimming, pétanque, trampolining, rolling around on the Bassin inside inflatable floating spheres, and – my personal favourite – the forests of very fine spray that is just enough to cool you down without actually getting you wet, while surrounding you with rainbows. But we could also have done table football, kayaking, waterbikes, bmx-ing, fencing… And all for free. Read the rest of this entry »

#40 No rest for the self-employed

In Homeworking, Kids on April 12, 2010 at 12:48 pm

‘Enjoying the Easter break?’

Let us look at this seemingly innocent sentence. Although the people who have asked you this over the past week have probably used the word ‘break’ to mean ‘rest’, as any self-employed homeworker – especially those with children currently on school holidays – knows, the Easter ‘break’ is very rarely restful but more literally experienced as an ‘interruption’. A crack in one’s life.

Or perhaps the speaker means ‘brake’, a thing that slows you down and prevents you from getting on.

While the workaday world carries on bombarding you with emails and issuing deadlines, children demand entertaining and feeding, the house gets filthier, and routine goes to pot. Blackberrys and iPhones have become essential for replying to enquiries while supervising trips to the park – simultaneously pretending to potential employers and clients that you either don’t have children or won’t let them hinder your dedication to the work, and pretending to your children that you are actually paying them attention. Minutes are snatched in between making sandwiches, buying groceries and shouting at people to tidy their rooms.Writing anything longer than a paragraph in one go becomes impossible.

Full-day childcare can be so expensive it wipes out most of one’s wages. That is if you are actually getting paid for what you are doing (which if you are pitching ideas or applying for jobs or studying for a further qualification, you aren’t). Instead we get by on a complex network of child swaps, though I’ve also bitten the bullet and signed mine up for one of those sports day camp (AVP Sports) reasoning that although after taking off fees, income tax and NI, my net profit on a day’s work will be about a tenner, a) it’s good value, including a swimming lesson, bouncy castle, arts and crafts, and sports tuition, b) if I paid for them to do these classes separately, it would cost even more, c) and I would have to go with them, d) it is possible to spend about the same amount on a day trip to town once you’ve been talked into taking them for pizza, e) they have a good time, make friends, and avoid obesity,  f) with freelance work thin on the ground, if you aren’t available 24/7, people aren’t going to call you back.

If you work in an office and need a break, you simply switch on the auto-reply and voicemail, direct the extra workload to an unwitting colleague, collect the holiday pay, and tell everyone to leave you alone for a fortnight. But there’s no rest for the self-employed, no holiday pay, no fallback colleague.

In the mean time:

HTBU is temporarily away from their desk at the moment, but will get back to you as soon as they’ve made lunch, tied football boot laces, hung the washing out, supervised a homework project and practice SATs papers, hoovered the stairs, given in and taken the kids to a playground, broken up a squabble, bought something for supper, made supper, put children to bed, tidied up supper, and poured a large glass of wine. If anyone has bought any.  Thank you for your interest. Hope you’re enjoying the Easter break.

#39 Paris on a budget

In Save cash on April 4, 2010 at 1:24 pm

In our Paris pied-à-terre for the Easter break. We are deep in the garment district, and though the ambiance is artisanal,  the views are less roofscapes of Moulin Rouge! and more Rear Window – straight into the apartments opposite. On summer nights the student on the top floor across the road sits out on her balcony reading what one assumes are philosophical texts; while the family two floors down clear away the dinner and play cards.  Read the rest of this entry »