Oh, joy – it’s the August Bank Holiday

August Bank Holiday,rain,transport,Britain,England,Northern Ireland,Wales

Come on, dip your toes in – the traffic’s great!

Mention the August Bank Holiday to most people in Britain and you’ll see very little other that eyes rolling up to the heavens and a smile that’s about as genuine as Katie Price‘s boobs…

The August Bank Holiday in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, takes place the week before North America’s Labor Day.

Unlike many Canadians that I know of who use the Labor Day weekend to pack up their summer cottages and get children back to reality in time to resume school on the Tuesday, the Brits gleefully stuff their 4WDs/SUVs and minivans/people carriers with tents, picnics, beach balls, and lots of other summery outdoor stuff. With true British optimism they are determined to make this final fling of summer an event to remember, which it will be – usually for all the wrong reasons.

Perfect time to slow down all travel

The Great British Public Sector supremos – mainly in the transport sector – in their infinite wisdom often select the August Bank Holiday as the perfect time to dig up numerous roads and highways, and do lots of essential maintenance work on the railways.

The latter part of August usually sees some terrible weather which makes for ideal conditions to carry out this work so it’s all finished in time for the balmy Indian summer that England and Wales, anyway, usually get in September when there is no-one around, the roads are clear, and the trains run half-empty.

So these families leave home only to spend several hours at a crawling pace on one of the UK’s overstuffed multi-lane motorways until they reach their leafy campsite in the small hours of the next morning and spend the weekend shivering under canvas, sloshing through puddles and trying to get a signal on their smartphones. Come Monday afternoon they pack up their kit, get back gratefully into their warm, dry cars and speed back home at a similarly frustrating pace.

Let’s all go to the seaside!

August Bank Holiday,rain,transport,Britain,England,Northern Ireland,Wales

The August Bank Holiday is about as welcome as an infestation of cockroaches.

Seaside and other resorts welcome this rejuvenating invasion of tourists at the end of the season like they would welcome an infestation of cockroaches.

The hotels, B&Bs, cafés and burger bars are beginning to look pretty scruffy by now with paint peeling off the walls, ominous smells coming from the toilets, blistered feet and bad temper afflicting nearly every member of staff, and hospitality business owners counting the nano-seconds until they can close up shop and go somewhere far away for a real vacation.

With the outdoor temperature in single figures, gale force winds and most of August’s monthly rainfall falling on this weekend, many tourists gather in the covered amusement arcades, kicking the slot machines to see if they’ll get lucky, drinking beer, starting fights and vomiting up their cheap kebabs and curries on their fellow travelers’ shoes.

Families with bored, snarling children get told to eff-off by the seaside balloon sculptors and cartoon character impersonators and instead buy them vile ice cream cones that drip sticky goo all over their clothes, their hair, the floor, their cars and worse.

How about a mini-staycation?

Of course, you can always choose to stay at home for the August Bank Holiday in England.

There are reruns on TV of movies so old even your grandparents won’t remember them and other channels showing end-to-end reality TV shows, game shows, the nineteenth rerun of one of Sir David Attenborough‘s nature films and animal programs with presenters petting tigers in Thailand and stroking spitting cobras in Indonesia and scaring the potooties out of themselves.

August Bank Holiday,rain,transport,Britain,England,Northern Ireland,Wales

Barbecued meat or a sundried cowpat? The similarities are striking.

Then, Dad can crank up the barbecue as long as he dries out the charcoal in the tumble dryer for a couple of hours and manages to light it under a golfing umbrella outside the back door.

Everyone loves that great outdoor flavor of burnt burgers and sausages that look like dog turds and taste like roasted shoe leather, accompanied by Mom’s limp salad she bought at the store which hasn’t had a fresh delivery for two days … because it’s the August Bank Holiday.

Actually, our neighbors (and soon to be foreign neighbors, perhaps) up in Scotland have got it right. They do their holidays much earlier in the summer when they have at least a fighting chance of some sunshine. And no brainless idiots deciding to dig up the roads or cut half the trains.

What am I doing this August Bank Holiday? Would you believe I am, er, writing? My favorite pastime of all, any time of the year!

What are you doing – or what did you do – for yours?

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