Election '97: Time for the great election getaway

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Indy Politics
Suffering from election fatigue already? It may feel as if you have been talking, walking, sleeping the campaign for aeons, but there are still hours more to come. If you are not already suffering from opinion poll overdose, be warned, you soon will be. So why not escape the hassle of the hustings without delay?

Some apolitical pastimes may require imagination, cash or commitment. Others simply promise to be comfortable. They could even bring you riches - spiritual or sterling. Take your pick from the Independent top 10 election- free zones and kiss goodbye to your manifesto malaise.

"Before succumbing to the pull of the left or right we need to become centred within ourselves" says Guhyapati, one of Britain's 350 fully-ordained members of the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order.

Budget for pounds 300-400 for a period of meditation, country walks with a touch of yoga and Tai Chi until the election is safely out of the way. Single, double or dormitory accomodation is available at many retreats and beginners are generally welcome.

Dhanakosa retreat centre in Lochearnhead, Scotland, is run on the basis of generosity, so there are no fixed charges. For those who wish to make a financial contribution, the suggested weekly rates are pounds 180 for those in employment, pounds 140 for those on low wages and pounds 90 for the unwaged (01877 384213).

Rivendell retreat centre in Sussex charges pounds 180 per week/pounds 130 concessions. (01825 732594). Taraloka, a retreat centre for women, in Shropshire, charges pounds 175/pounds 133 per week (01948 710646).

Why not take a leaf out of Swampy's book: adopt a new name and burrow your way out of the election. In a maze of underground tunnels, the faces of Blair and Major will certainly be out of view. To find out how to join the protesters at the site of the proposed Manchester Airport second runway, contact Friends of the Earth (0161 834 8221).

The pharmaceutical industry is always on the look-out for volunteers. You feel allergic to politics, but how do the latest drugs go down?

The bonus to this escape route is that it pays. The going rate for a 24-hour day is pounds 100. Volunteers must stay at the unit, where they are given meals, a bed and entertainment facilities. The downside for many is that volunteers are not allowed alcohol or tobacco - and some trials can last for four weeks. Guy's Drug Research Unit, a private company which is linked to Guy's Hospital in south London, tests new products on about 1,000 healthy volunteers a year (0171 378 1772).

Why not decide to wrap yourself in a five-star dressing gown and prepare for some serious pampering. Set in the silence of 170 acres of Hertfordshire parkland, Champneys health farm occupies a 19th-century former Rothschild mansion and is sure to provide a surefire detox from the political scene. Like most of the larger health farms, Champneys offers an extensive list of treatments to improve your personal feelgood factor, including aromatherapy, physiotherapy, various anti-ageing treatments, tummy trimmings... There are even medical screening sessions available for those who fear the long- term consequences of election fatigue. It's not a cheap escape; expect to pay pounds 230 a night for a single en-suite room, and pounds 360 for a double.

(01442 873155).

A popular option for men and women, according to pop polls. Although the Spice Girls claim Margaret Thatcher as their foresister (while Mel B and Mel C claim to be lifelong Labour supporters), a roadie is likely to get more make-up tips than political analysis. Their manifesto - outlined in the book, Girl Power - advocates "having a laugh, living large and taking on the world". And following news that each of the five will be worth pounds 10m by Christmas, they can afford a decent wage.

"A six-week campaign seems to us to be more than anyone should be asked to bear, so we are making our own election pledge to UK voters: The only party we'll mention is the one you're invited to." Terry Toohey, chief executive of the Isle of Man Department of Tourism and Leisure, knows your needs.

Hoteliers are offering to unplug televisions and censor newspapers. Pub landlords are even considering banning all mention of Major or Blair. Special deals for election-free holidays on this politically- independent island in the Irish Sea abound. Try Everymann Holidays for inclusive B&B breaks (0345 023568).

They say sleep is the best cure of all. Well, it is medically possible to be sedated for the duration of the campaign. Known as Coma Camps in the United States, establishments offering narcotherapy have acquired a bad name. But Dr Peter Nixon, a cardiologist who has researched the use of sleep to interrupt "downward spiral and enduring fatigue", sleep remedy can work wonders.

It could be the perfect time to lock yourself away and write that novel you've always known is in you. An added incentive for budding female authors is the forthcoming all-women Orange Prize for fiction. If you're quick, you could even get your name on the long-list, and if you're lucky scoop the pounds 30,000 prize when you come out of hiding in May.

It's cheap and it's remote. For pounds 2-a-night you can camp in barns in the West Pennines. Suitable amenities include no water, no electricity, no telephones or televisions. Great House Barn Information Centre, Horwich, Bolton BL6 7SB (01204 691549).

You could find a patron and turn yourself into a installation art exhibit. Maybe do a Tilda Swinton. Sealed off from reality in a glass cabinet, the artist was oblivious to life outside.

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