Alice-Azania Jarvis: 'Cost of holidaying in the UK has cast a cloud over my break'

In The Red
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The Independent Online

And so here I am, on my stay-cation. And you know what? It's not that bad. As I write, a plate of fish by the sea awaits me, and the sun's beginning to go down after a whole day of shining. It hasn't been like this all week, true. In fact, the overwhelming majority of the week has been spent traipsing around town in the rain, drying socks on the radiator and wishing I'd brought another umbrella.

Luckily, the cottage I'm staying on has provided a sufficiently comfortable setting for lolling about. Tiny and picturesque, it's inside an old bell tower and has a view over the sea.

It's great, and I can't help but feel enormously lucky to have found it on the Cornish Traditional Cottages website – at £500 per week, it's considerably cheaper than any other options, even if it isn't in St Ives, my first choice of destination.

So, yes: all well and good. I've managed, more or less, to leave behind the strains of London life. Well, except for those of a financial nature. Booking self-catering hasn't, as expected, saved me much on food, mainly due to the fact that I've been eating out every night. (It's nearly impossible to resist the signs promising fresh-caught cod and local crab.)

And driving myself down didn't, as expected, save very much on transport – if anything thanks to because of the petrol costs and the extortionate bill incurred at the Blumenthal-renovated Popham Little Chef.

In fact, if anything, my financial concerns have been the one shadow stalking me over the course of my break.

My debit card has been refused – twice. I've checked my balance and, while not so low as to prompt card-refusal, I can't help but wonder where my hard-earned savings have been dripping away to. We'll see. At present, there's not very much I can do about it. Tomorrow I'll be embarking on the mammoth drive back to London with all of the overpriced pit-stops that the journey entails. When I get home, it'll be time for some serious penitence.

As for holidaying in the UK... well, sorry, but I'm not convinced. Maybe if we'd been a bit more careful it might have been a tiny bit cheaper than a budget break abroad but, personally, I can't see the charm. There's something more than a little unsatisfactory about "getting away from it all" when your local Tesco still lurks just around the corner.

And, of course, there's the weather. Next year, if I can afford it, I'll be heading to Europe – and I doubt it'll cost a jot more.

a.jarvis@independent.co.uk

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