Earlier this year, I booked my 'holiday' blocks of annual leave, with no idea if travel might or might not be possible. So, I booked a two-week block straddling the end of May and start of June, hoping that, if the 'road maps' were anything like right, I'd at least get some day trips. Ah well, it wasn't to be, at least not in week one.
As I began to ponder how to spend my time, I recalled something that had been hugely popular in churches in Leicestershire, which was effectively a holiday Bible club for older adults called 'Holiday at Home'. Low key evangelism coupled with honest companionship, the premise was simple - you went on holiday for a week without having to travel. Each day, guests would arrive for morning coffee and optional themed activities before enjoying a two course themed lunch. In the afternoon there would entertainment (a singer, a conjurer, a tea dance, whatever people could offer), tea and cake and then a short epilogue/songs of praise/talk. Often there would a coach trip to a local place of interest. As evangelism, I suspect it wasn't hugely effective, but as pastoral care and broader community engagement, it was priceless, and much valued by those who visited 'pretend France' or took a 'virtual cruise'; one group even went on a 'virtual safari!'
So, this week, I am emulating that for myself. On Monday I stocked up with ingredients to cook dishes from the places I planned to 'visit' and set out my itinerary.
Yesterday I was in 'pretend Rome' and met my online prayer cell at the 'pretend Colosseum' before taking a walk along the 'pretend Tiber' (Clyde) and joining a friend for a Zoom coffee alongside the 'pretend Trevi fountain'. It was fun hunting out photos to use as a virtual background on Zoom, and I enjoyed cooking Italian food for the day.
Today I am on 'pretend Malta' and typing this as the filling I made for 'pastizzi' (pea cakes) cools. I have an idea where today's walk will take me as I call to mind visits to the walled city of Mdina and the, sadly no longer there, Azure Window of Gozo.
Tomorrow is pretend Crete (with a bit of real world Glasgow Zoom thrown in) before Friday's Zoom to Australia means a pretend day trip to Auckland, NZ.
In between leafing through old photos and cooking national foods, I have a jigsaw and a couple of 'feel good' books to read as I relax in my 'pretend villa' which comes complete with cats!
Maybe one day, it will be possible to do a 'Holiday at Home' with and for others, but for now, it's keeping me entertained in what might otherwise be just one more week of the same old streets.