The Blessing of a Bank Holiday Weekend
Here in Great Britain we have the very occasional Bank Holiday (which means public holiday to those of you non-Brits). We have only 8 public holidays per year, including Christmas. On the continent however they have one pretty much every week and sneakily place them on Tuesdays so that everyone gets the Monday off as well, known as a ‘puente’ in Spanish, a ‘ponte’ in Italian, or ‘4-day skive off work’ in English. Italy boasts 12 public holidays, Spain 14! And that’s excluding the extra days for ‘puentes’!
In Great Britain we don’t even have a ‘national day’ as such, and we don’t even celebrate the day of our patron saint, St George. By contrast, we celebrate St Patrick’s Day (the patron saint of Ireland) far more, and this year on the 23rd April I didn’t even realise it was St George’s Day until someone mentioned it in passing.
So when it comes to May, when we’re blessed with not one but two bank holidays, the country rejoices! Now I see bank holidays as the necessary rest that I would have normally had during half-term (when I was still at school) or reading week (the university equivalent of half-term). Before starting work I would barely have noticed a bank holiday weekend, and certainly not have understood all the fuss. In fact, I’d actively try to avoid travelling over a bank holiday weekend as flights & hotels are all more expensive, as workersseize the opportunity to get away.
Now, however, it’s a different matter. As I’m now one of the millions restricted by my holiday allowance from work, I treasure these rare bank holidays. I talked about this transition in a post I wrote shortly before I started my graduate job, ‘Coming to terms with the concept of “Annual Leave”’, and it still hasn’t got any easier. Such is growing up!
Have you been away anywhere this bank holiday weekend? I spent it partly in London and partly in the countryside in Hampshire, and took in the Blumenfeld Studio exhibition at Somerset House (available until 1st September 2013). Somerset House is a stunning building on the Strand in central London, that hosts London Fashion Week and in the summer is adorned with these fountains and a lovely background murmur of splashing water. There’s also a lovely café overlooking the Thames…