British Studies Web Pages



Holidays - The Archetypal British Holiday

As British society has changed, then so has the type and manner of holiday that the British take. This change is described in more detail in the Facts and Figures section of this issue.

Below there is an activity, devised by Adam Dalton, that describes the traditional type of British holiday that is perhaps not as common as it once was. Britons do not spend their holidays in Britain as much as they used to, but the typical British beach holiday still conjures strong cultural memories and retains its place in the popular consciousness.

Before you read

What's the best holiday you've had in Poland? And the worst? Do you prefer holidays abroad? Why?

Is there a typical Polish holiday (either in Poland or outside of Poland)? If so, what is involved in it? Think about:

  • Where you go
  • Food
  • Clothing
  • Activities
  • Games

And what about a typical British holiday? Make lists as you read the article below.

As you read

Some of the paragraphs have been removed from the article and put at the end. Match the letter of the paragraph to the correct numbered gap. If you want to see the answer, drive the mouse cursor over the purple ball.

The Archetypal British Holiday
by Adam Dalton

The sun's out! Quick! Get in the car before the clouds come back! It'll rain this afternoon. You know the old joke: 'What's the difference between a British summer and a British winter? It rains more in summer.'

1. _______E_______

So, we sit in the car on the motorway in a massive traffic jam, along with the rest of the country. Dad tries to make us all sing songs, but he's not as good as Britney Spears on the radio. Then we play 'I Spy' until we've run out of objects to guess. My sister begins to feel sick.

2. _______B_______

We race down to the beach and take off our shoes and socks. It's a stony beach and the stones hurt. Mum goes to buy some flip-flops for us. We get changed into our costumes under our towels, clutching them desperately to us as the wind tries to tear them away. There's a French family nearby and they change without hiding under towels. You can see everything! They're strange the French.

3. _______C_______

Once we've dried off, we make sandcastles (you can find some sand if you dig down beneath the stones). Then we go rock pooling, hunting for crabs amongst the rocks. The seaweed is slippery so we have to be careful. My sister finds a big crab, but it's dead. I find some nice shells and dried seaweed to take home.

4. _______D_______

The weather gets cloudy, so we pack up and decide to walk around the town and tourist shops. Dad wants some 'real' fish and chips. My sister gets some sweets that are made to look like pebbles. I get some rock to eat with the name 'Brighton' written all the way through it. I want to know how they get the name all the way through the sugar stick, but Mum tells me to ask my Dad and my Dad tells me to ask my Mum.

5. _______A_______

We get in the car and fall asleep, tired after all the sights and sounds of Brighton. We're home in no time. Another summer over.

A. Finally, we go on the pier to play in the penny arcades. Dad has a go on the 'What the Butler Saw' machine but says it's for adults only. Mum buys a 'Kiss Me Quick' hat. My sister and I have our photo taken when we put our heads through the holes in a big board painted with a fat man and woman on it. Then we buy a naughty postcard with 'Wish You Were Here' on it and send it to grandma.

B. Can you see the sea? There it is. We crawl along in the traffic for another hour, within tantalising reach of the sea. Finally we get into Brighton proper and spend half an hour looking for a parking place. We get one, but Dad has to shout at another man and pay money to an attendant.

C. The water's black and freezing. We spend half an hour edging out until the water is up to our armpits. My sister has got water wings to swim with and I've got a float. (Dad's still back with our stuff, trying to inflate the dinghy with a manual pump. What's taking him so long? He says there's a leak.) My sister's lips turn blue and we decide to go back. Mum's waiting with the flip-flops. She says we have to wear them because there might be glass on the beach.

D. Dad asks if we want to play cricket or Frisbee, but Mum says we should eat something after all the exercise. We have some sandwiches and Dad goes to buy some ice-cream cones. They're dripping all over his hands when he comes back. But they taste good. Mum has a chocolate flake in hers.

E. Everybody piles into the car for the trip to the coast. Buckets and spades in the back. An inflatable dinghy. Mum's packed some sandwiches and ginger beer. I hope I don't have to sit near the hamper, because the egg rolls will start to stink in the hot car.

After reading

What do you think the holiday of the future will be like? How will resorts look? Design a holiday brochure describing your holiday.

Produced in Poland by British Council 2003. The United Kingdom's international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations. We are registered in England as a charity.