One advantage of having grown up in a poor working class family is that it provides plenty of material for reminding young people that they don’t know they’re born, that we never needed expensive mobiles and consoles to amuse us – we had enough with a handful of potato peelings, that we had some respect for our elders, and that in my day we appreciated the little we had, and so on.
Yet joking aside, there is some truth in the idea that a scarcity of something teaches us to appreciate the value of things. I grew up in a time when people were just starting to take summer holidays in foreign destinations; until then the best we hoped for was a week in a caravan on the Welsh coast.
But the advent of foreign travel raised the stakes at holiday time, and – aware that Jimbo’s family were going to Greece, or Ped’s parents were taking him to Spain – I can remember how nervous I used to get waiting to hear our holiday plans. The phrase I dreaded hearing most from my dad when, full of unfounded hope, I asked him what we would be doing for the summer was, “days-out”.
This phrase was code that meant we didn’t have enough money for a proper summer holiday, and the best we could do was to go on a few day-long excursions to nearby destinations. At the time it was crushingly disappointing, especially knowing that when you got back to school in September you would be regaled with (no doubt exaggerated) tales of luxury and adventure in exotic foreign climes.
Yet, I have to admit that some of the happiest and most vivid memories of my childhood were forged on those “days-out”. I will never forget my feeling of awe at exploring a real-life medieval castle in Conway, my exhaustion after hours tumbling down sand dunes at Formby beach on a day that (in my memory) was hotter than any I have experienced here, or my contentment scoffing sandwiches next to dad on top of a hill with the green glory of the Lake District laid out before us.
Britain was a good place for “days-out”. It is a country that offers plenty of variety and is small enough to get there and back in a single day. In that sense it is like Catalonia, a country that might have been designed for excursions, as you can see on pages 21 to 35, where we highlight a number of different local destinations that are ideal for a day’s visit.
Money is pretty tight at home at the moment, so there’ll be no big foreign holiday for the family this summer, but given the wealth of options in Catalonia, I’m hoping the kids won’t be too disappointed with a few “days-out”.