Honey-stone backdrop for the best of British holidays

Peter Rhodes on raising boys, and days of sunshine and iodine.

The Cotswolds
The Cotswolds

Chipping Campden, Gloucs. I used this Chipping Campden dateline a couple of weeks ago. However, owing to Ye Great Heatwave of 2022, we cancelled the room at the last minute and re-booked . And so here we are in the Cotswolds.

Why an English holiday? Having consulted the crystal ball, we solemnly agreed that our holidays for 2022 would be as low-stress as possible and definitely not involve passports, airports, tunnels or boats. We would drive no more than one hour and make no booking until the weather looked decent.

The result is a blissful few days in Chipping Campden at a lazy 28C under a Wedgwood-blue sky, sipping cider under street umbrellas and soaking up the ambiance to the gentle echo of a dozen foreign languages. Close your eyes and you could be in Avignon. Open them and you see the perfect honey-stone backdrop for any costume drama from Pride & Prejudice to Jeeves & Wooster.

Meanwhile, spare a thought for those whose summer holidays are frantic and frazzled and filled with foreboding about kids. Especially if the kids are boys. In an excellent essay, Daily Telegraph writer Nicole Lampert listed the horrors indulged in by her thrill-seeking sons and their pals in the holidays, from jumping off the highest edifice and cycling through rings of fire to “roof surfing” on top of cars. She cites research suggesting boys' brains are “hardwired for risk”.

I can believe that. My childhood days usually ended with concussion, multi-coloured bruising or that dreaded, agonising dab of neat iodine on a flesh-wound, usually caused by a flying half-brick. This mayhem went by the name of “playing out”.

I suspect most of us full-grown blokes sometimes look at our ten toes and fingers and marvel that, after all that youthful madness, we still have them all. Most males survive intact into what passes for maturity. God alone knows how.

Our changing language. The risk of grass fires has focused attention on barbecues or, as some people insist on calling them, 'barbeques'. This spelling has become so common that it's now listed in dictionaries as an acceptable variant. Personally, I cling to the belief that “there's no Q in barbecue”. Burgers taste best down here in pedants' corner.

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