The golden age of holidays
There was a time in the not too distant past where holidays, at home or abroad, meant doing different things and doing things differently, including:
- Spending more time with friends and family, eating out together, undertaking outdoorsy pursuits.
- Dressing appropriately for the beach, promenading in a foreign city, taking high tea, cycling, hiking, cruising etc. (whatever floats your boat)
- Taking real photos, which ended up in a printed photo album.
- Being literally or metaphorical out-of-the-office.
All this has changed; technology means that we are always connected and always ‘on’. Work and home networks, emails and cloud-based software, services and apps are never more than a few clicks away.
Meanwhile in the real world socio-economic changes mean a growing number of us are self-employed, part-time or portfolio workers, we have more informal dress codes, more short-breaks and we can easy-jet to 101 short-haul destinations, we have bucket lists, instagram & facebook – home-after-the-selfie. Getting away from it all feels like being at home, but with more sand in your sandals. No more heading to a guesthouse in Blackpool for your 2-week office, factory or town shut-down, gone are the days when a holiday was a much-needed and singular escape to some-where and some-thing other.
(Ed. or it could just be that you have changed?)
A drop of the good stuff
We have recently come back from a tour of the North East of Scotland, the bit that sticks out into the North Sea, oil and fish to the right, the majestic Grampians to the left, and sublime countryside and fine malt whisky in between.
Us townies take the countryside, coast and villages for granted, thinking they exist in some frozen bucolic bubble simply for our benefit. But, scratch the surface a bit and you will see a lot more technology and change than you would imagine.
So-called primary industries of fishing, farming and pulling minerals out of the sea and ground that we learnt about in school have always used the technology of the day, what else are the ploughs and the fishing boats but human ingenuity and know-how used to extend what we can do, with less effort, quicker and with more bountiful results (hopefully). There is cutting-edge science & technology everywhere, from the huge oil and gas fields and related chemical industries, to the sophisticated navigation & fish locating systems, to the smallest rural croft with its satellite dish & solar panels. Livestock and crops are now more likely to come from the laboratory than the byre and grain store, and the estate-managed monster state-of-the-art £100K tractor makes the crofters old Fergie look like a Dinky toy.
One last example; the local habit of making the water of life – the literal translation of the gaelic word for whisky (uisce beatha) – is a fundamental natural process, man (and woman) turning water, barley, wood & peat into the fiery liquid with age-old artisan skills, there’s very little high tech here, is there? A tour around the picturesque Glen Morangie Distillery, the most Northerly Speyside malt, looking across the idyllic Dornoch Firth, is both an elemental journey into the past, but also a glimpse of the future. The mashing and distilling process is clinical, automated (mostly) and computerized, the barrels come from across the Atlantic or Europe, reused from wine and other spirits, the marketing and distribution is a sophisticated global business (part a French-owned conglomerate, owners of Moet, Givenchy, Louis Vuitton & Bulgari and many more luxury brands).
The end of the world
We also went to visit John O’Groats (it was on my bucket list!), another 90 miles up-country from Tain. As I looked out from the rocky and windy promontory towards the Orkneys and the North Pole I thought, this is it, the end of the world, the tech stops here? OK, so I was no Jan de Groot ferrying Orcadians out to the islands, and it was a bit chilly, so I turned round and went into the café for a Starbuck’s and free wifi. What a relief, now I’m really on holiday 😉
(c) 2015 Antony Lawrence CBA Ltd.