5 Vaguely Booky Things I Learned On My Holidays

Now that it’s September, and the schools are back, I want to tell you what I learned on my holidays this year.

Not least that having a holiday from the Internet was harder than I thought it would be.

Even the desert has Internet

No people and no books here, but there was Internet

I had some fish in the sun, then some steak in the rain, and then some music in a field.

(I didn’t eat the music. The music rather ate me – or my brain at any rate – but it was great, so I’m not complaining.)

Here are ten sort-of bookish or writerly things I know now, but didn’t know in the middle of August.

1.  I have been shortlisted in 2 categories in the Blog Awards Ireland 2014: Best Newcomer, and Best Humour Blog.

I was away for this happy news, but my inability to gloat and self-promote on social media did not diminish the feeling one jot. It made me think perhaps I should not be on social media at all. Then I got confused, because blogging is technically social media, which would make me ineligible for the Blog Awards, should I remove myself from social media. Then my head hurt. So I had a mojito. Then I had a gin and tonic. I felt better. Then I felt much better. So I had 6 more gin-and-mojitos to celebrate.

2.  I  apparently need a holiday nowadays to have the time to read a book properly.

This made me sad. However, my dismay was tempered somewhat by the fact that I read 6 books while I was away, and all of them were superb.

3.  Some of the books floating about on a sun holiday are quite surprising.

None more so than the topless lady sunbathing beside me, who must have built up extraordinary muscle by holding that hardback textbook over her head all day. The textbook concerned either acupuncture or anatomy (her hand was over most of the title). Her bohemian torso suggested one more so to me than the other, although I suppose it depends on who you’re talking to.

4.  I had an ego I didn’t know I had, but it’s gone now, so that’s ok.

No matter where I parked myself by the swimming pool in the sunny part of the trip, I was followed by a lithe German couple. They were already a gorgeous shade of deep honey at the beginning of their holiday. Their disgustingly beautiful bodies were further enhanced with terribly tasteful tattoos. Just as I attempted to remove my pale pudginess from their immediate vicinity, I realised that the paperbacks they were reading were also in English, rather than German, suggesting that they were also linguistically fit. They were therefore bad for both my aesthetic and intellectual vanity. I hated them.

5.  It’s easier to get Internet access off the coast of Africa than in the midlands of Ireland.

Accessing your e-mail under a blazing sun in the middle of the Atlantic? No bother. Trying to use satellite navigation or check the weather forecast in Co. Laois? You can feck off. But on the other hand, it’s easier to read without distractions.

Every tree needs a chandelier

In the midlands, the trees have chandeliers, but the air has no Internet

And so we come to the end of my holiday learnings. (I left out the fact that going on holidays meant that 93% of my writing ambitions have now been delayed by approximately 2 years, but that’s ok, because my brain hasn’t come back yet. When it does, I plan to give it a welcome home party, with some balloons, and some nice blog posts about interesting things. More on that in time.)


  26 comments for “5 Vaguely Booky Things I Learned On My Holidays

  1. Ali Isaac
    September 2, 2014 at 4:43 pm

    Congratulations on beng shortlisted…. not once but twice, wow! That’s great!

    The German couple sound perfect… a perfect nuisance, if you ask me! I hate them too!


    • September 2, 2014 at 5:01 pm

      Thanks, Ali. It’s lovely to be on any list, let alone two… Except for the German couple’s list of people to sit beside, to make them look even better. That was fairly harsh. Still, we all have our talents. I bet you they’re not half as good as I am at sleeping, eating and staring into space.


      • Ali Isaac
        September 2, 2014 at 5:07 pm

        There you go… concentrate on the positives. Im sure you’re an expert in those areas…


        • September 2, 2014 at 7:59 pm

          Oh, I am. Even though I put down my food after a snooze to type that 😉


  2. September 2, 2014 at 5:14 pm

    “It’s easier to get Internet access off the coast of Africa than in the midlands of Ireland.” Why am I not the least bit surprised about that? Apparently your island and my state have more in common than their similar sizes, shapes, climates and initials.


    • September 2, 2014 at 8:02 pm

      And there you go. They’d have it that we had the worst Internet in the world, and we don’t even have that honour!!


      • September 2, 2014 at 8:12 pm

        It’s an honor that’s big enough to share. I’ll tear the certificate in two, and send you your half. Do you want the piece with the mug rings, or the one with the grease spots?


        • September 2, 2014 at 8:48 pm

          Hahaha!!! Have you got any with both? I LOVE greasy mug rings. If you don’t, I’ll settle for a dog-eared corner. Sorry to be greedy.


  3. September 2, 2014 at 5:19 pm

    Welcome back Tara’s body, particularly your fingers – funny how you’re still hilarious even with your mind still on its holidays? 😉
    ‘Enforced’ time away from the keyboard is bad enough without the internet kicking in too. But then you still sneaked on didn’t you, if you found out about the superior African connectivity?! 😛


    • September 2, 2014 at 8:04 pm

      Ahhhh I had to sneak on the old e-mail because it would have taken me 3 days to sort out the mess when I got home afterwards. But it was only to see if you’d e-mailed me, Jan. And you hadn’t. I cried for 3 days. But I don’t want you to feel bad about that. Really.


      • September 2, 2014 at 8:23 pm

        Raspberries! 😉

        You’re a shoo-in for the humour laurels 😛


        • September 2, 2014 at 8:49 pm

          And the very minute one gets smug, one gets a big smack of a wet fish in the face. Strange what passes for humour around these parts.


  4. Sally
    September 2, 2014 at 5:20 pm

    Well done on the shortlisting – well deserved. I’ll keep all the proverbials crossed for you (not that you need that from the likes of me). It’s good to get away and clear your mind for a fresh beginning. As for the German couple, I bet if you searched the internet you’d find a blog by Gretchen and Heinrich complaining that on their holidays they kept accidentally bumping into an intelligent and charming colleen who made feel dowdy and boring, when all they wanted was for her to read out the picture captions in their English book. (Then if you look a bit harder you’ll find Heinrich’s secret account where he is wistfully wondering how he could get his wife go on holiday to Co Laois next year.)

    Start with those writing ambitions right now.


    • September 2, 2014 at 8:09 pm

      Thank you, Sally! And I need all the luck I can get. You never know what the judges are looking for, and it might be far from the likes of me. As for Gretchen and Heinrich, if I were them, I’d be FAR too busy stripping off all my clothes and admiring myself in the mirror to be thinking about pasty Irish people. Seriously, I bet they get nothing done all day. Perhaps they might come to Ireland some time. Wearing rain-glasses. And blinkers 😉


  5. BRMaycock
    September 2, 2014 at 10:10 pm

    I’m curious on two counts (and if I’m out of order feel free to ignore both queries!). Firstly, how did you arrive at the 93 pc delay? And, secondly, any recommendations of the six books that you read?


    • September 3, 2014 at 12:29 am

      Ah. The 93% delay is based on a probability of 64.9% of the drastic changes I need to be making to a novel taking 72% more time than planned to implement (due to the brain being on holiday and the build-up of e-mail and blog administration in my absence now requiring attention), multiplied by a factor of 3x (the x being an as-yet-unquantifiable variable based on several roots, none of which bear thinking about). So I think you’ll agree that’s quite specific.
      On books: I will happily recommend in particular Lost For Words by Edward St. Aubyn (a great skit on literary prizes) and Jo Baker’s Longbourn (which a besquillion people read before me, but I was saving it for my holidays!).


      • September 3, 2014 at 11:55 am

        Longbourn? Not another Pride & Prejudice spin-off???


        • September 3, 2014 at 12:22 pm

          I’m afraid so, Elaine… But a bloody great one. P&P from the POV of the servants (oooooh…. Acronym shivers) and some fecking lovely new characters which make you almost forget the old ones entirely. I loved it, anyway….


          • September 3, 2014 at 12:38 pm

            Have you read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies? I keep meaning to get past page 1. It looks pretty good actually. Although I think Lady Catherine De Thing, is probably already one of the undead.


            • September 3, 2014 at 1:24 pm

              I have indeed, and enjoyed it much more than I thought it would, although some of it became a little repetitive, if memory serves. I thought the idea was smashing enough to carry any limp scenes, though. Give it a go.


  6. September 2, 2014 at 11:13 pm

    I missed you terribly but it sounds like you were having experiences if not fun. I had barely discovered you than discovered you gone. Now you are back, even without your mind, and that is a good thing. If you win both, are you going to be greedy and keep them? And Ireland has nothing on Vermont for internet connection, though we are trying very hard.


    • September 3, 2014 at 12:32 am

      I only wish I knew how terribly I was going to be missed: I could have wandered around telling everyone I met how TERRIBLY important I was. It’ll have to wait until next year, which is awfully sad!
      In the meantime I can safely say that if I even make the final (i.e. past the shortlist) for either award, I might disappear from the stratosphere entirely, so inflated will I be with my own self-importance (kidding)


  7. September 3, 2014 at 12:04 pm

    I went to France for my hols. Lasted two days without social media. Finally opened up my ipad and found I cd get emails, but not send them. How irritating is that? And how did you know they were German??? Bet they were from Essex, had a spray tan and were learning to sprechenzy deutsch to enter the Austrian X Factor.


    • September 3, 2014 at 12:25 pm

      I speaking the Deutsch myself, you see, but not well enough to read a German paperback. Hence my envy. Still, I got to immortalise them in a whiny blog post, which makes us evens.

      You have my sympathies on email woes. My own access could shut down without warning mid-answer, causing many Grrrrs and Tccccchs.


  8. September 4, 2014 at 11:25 am

    Great post. I need an enforced reading break/holiday, but I know I won’t leave the internet unless I am forced to.


    • September 4, 2014 at 7:25 pm

      Being outside Internetsville was indeed not part of the plan! Still, it freed me up for the reading and it’s nice to know you can turn yourself off… occasionally 😉


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