Run for the hills
And just like that, it’s business as usual.
The UK has opened up. Pubs, bars, restaurants and countrywide travel are back. We’re buying bread, not making it. That book you started writing, will remain unfinished. There’s catching up to do. And we all want a holiday. We deserve a holiday. Don’t we?
Yeah, well, maybe you do. But where you heading? The press is harping on about a ‘staycation’ but failing miserably to highlight that it actually means you would holiday within your own home.
Fuck that. A two week lockdown with hay-fever, relatives and a barbecue? That’s not happening.
The cost of Covid tests is not an issue for furloughed folk. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been told that the pandemic has seen you ‘save’ money. Good. I’m pleased for you. I’d suggest you save a little for the increased tax we’ll all have to give in future to pay it back.
No matter, you get booking your trip sunshine. Off you fuck.
Of course I’m a little pissed, but not for the reasons you may think.
On the road
It has been quite lovely driving during lockdown. Quieter roads, less tailgating and mainly trucks and other people who have no choice but to work. It was almost a community on the highways and byways.
Now though, ‘they’ are back. Twatty tourists and middle management morons are littering the place. Literally in the case of the tourists.
Campsites opened at different times around the UK and that didn’t matter to you, did it. Motorhomes and caravans trundled out from storage, were filled at their local supermarket and then they went and just parked up wherever they wished. From Scotland to Cornwall, they went and found nowhere open. To quote one guy in Scotland I spoke with, ‘the river banks and beaches are covered in human shit.’ Nice.
Shouting in the car parks, getting enraged about being asked to wear a mask and driving like a wanker. What’s happened? How long have you been off the road that you have suddenly forgotten what to do?
Only last week, traversing a single track road with passing places, a steep drop on one side and deep trench on the other, a guy comes sailing passed his easy to see stop point, and then proceeded to reverse so badly, he had one wheel in the air just before he nearly disappeared in to the ditch…
Fresh hanging baskets of dog shit have blossomed in the trees too. Littering is back. Here in the Lake District, we’ve had people wild camping in places they shouldn’t be, again shitting in the woods and starting wild fires by having barbecues on the floor. Because you know, they need a holiday.
It appears that common sense is now extinct. It has to be. How have we all become so fucking stupid?
The Instagrimmers are back too.
Turning up in their finery, pouting for selfies, climbing to a peak and changing into their posing pouches before heading off to a boat to ‘live their best life’. Pull-ins are filling with vans opening their rear doors to reveal those inside, sprawled out on their immaculate beds ‘…and breathing’ again. You can get in the sea too.
Given the amount of rainfall we’ve had in the past week, I’m surprised the lakes aren’t tinged with gold from the fake tan clan. But, and this might come as a surprise dear reader, none of these guys bother me. The dog shit hangers, litterers and morons are what they are. Scum.
What does bother me though, is where they are spending their money.
Having been living for a short while in a tourist hot spot has been eye opening.
The Lake District is a lovely place. While the main geology may have happened accidentally, how it looks today, has not. It is sculpted and shaped by those that live and work here. It is looked after and you get the benefit of enjoying it. But could you leave the cows to shit on it and not you? There’s a good human.
Cornwall is a lovely place too. Technically the county is almost an island, split from mainland Britain by the Tamar river. I’m sure locals wish that it was. Wales, Ireland and Scotland are all majestic countries with beautiful places to visit too. Idyllic beaches, rolling hills, lochs, lakes and mountains. Beautiful.
But there is a problem.
As tourism becomes the nourishing financial income to a region, locals suffer. Not all locals granted, there are some fortunate ones of course. But tourist poverty is an issue. Take property. Prices get driven up as second homes are purchased. Canny buyers get around the local residency law by renting it to people who only need be there for 9 months for the place to tick the box. Investment portfolios buy houses and Air BnB them. In turn, the actual amount of full-time residents, decreases. Local school numbers drop. The next generation can’t afford to stay here and so, priced out, they leave the place they love.
Casual staff are needed in the pubs and bars. But the locals have left. No problem, local universities and colleges provide a steady stream of cheap casual staff for the proprietors, sorted. Due to Covid, the students aren’t as plentiful though so currently, most of the Lake District is being run by teenagers who have not left for university yet. I kid you not.
In places like the Scottish Highlands, the issue is worse.
Speaking to a local while I was on a recent job in the area, he informed me that his school when he attended thirty years ago, had 30 children enrolled. Today there are two. The houses in the area are being purchased as second homes, holiday homes and by the occasional retired couple. While the retirees may stay all year round, their children have grown up elsewhere and have left home. You can see the issue.
Worse still, the motor-homers and tourists bring everything with them. They shop where they always do; the supermarket. Where they stay lines the pockets of those who don’t live there. I don’t think it takes a genius to see where this is heading.
The same is happening here in the Lakes and all over.
Opposite me right now while I type, is a pop-up shop. It offers man-cave signs, twee quotes on driftwood, that kind of thing. The owner is from Yorkshire and it has been an online business for the last year or two. Logic would say come to the tourist trap and get cash direct from the pockets of the tourist. Apart from some local council bills and rent, what is exactly going back to the local community?
Down the road, a Manchester resident has purchased a lake front bar. Installed now is a scaffolding ‘top deck’. No planning but no problem. The fine is less than the profit so fuck it. Let the Peroni flow boys.
We have some amazing produce across the UK whether you’re a carnivore, vegetarian, vegan or derivative. But we still go to the supermarket. The inconvenient truth is that convenience is going to kill us all. It’s why we’re all so fat, have crap bones and gravy for blood.
Its too easy.
Will you change though? During lockdowns, there was hope that we weren’t all so self absorbed. We checked in on neighbours, friends, people who were struggling. Now you’re back out, do you care anymore?
Of course, these are just my observations. Change is difficult, can be challenging, not cool and you have to want to do it in the first place. I’m not perfect by any means. I need to shop cheaply and budget too but where possible, it is done locally. Not all farm shops are as crass and astronomically exorbitant as Daylesford Organics in the Cotswolds. Many are realistically priced and offer great produce without the need for your coffee to have dribbled through the anus of a Camel, so do search them out.
But I implore you to educate yourself about where you are going. Find out if you can help the local economy and the local residents and not just keep lining the pockets of those that are also passing through.
It might mean doing some research and not going to the places everyone else has gone. But you might make a difference and find something that makes your trip a lot more worthwhile.
Give it a go. I dare you.
“The traveler sees what he sees. The tourist sees what he has come to see.”
- G.K. Chesterton