Ben Ross: To leave, or not to leave? That is the question on changeover day

Something to Declare

Tick, tock. There must be an equation, somewhere, for the way time plays tricks on holiday. You know the feeling: it's the second full day of your week-long break and it already seems as if you've been away for ages. You're acclimatised, but finding new things to do – dinner here, drinks there, a nice walk yonder, probably also with dinner and drinks. Still five days more before you have to go home. Five long days!

Tick, tock. Were you not concentrating? It's day four and your holiday is more than halfway done. The day after tomorrow is … suddenly here. Last full day. Let's hope the sun is shining. Cram in everything that you can. But now you have to pack because you're going home. You're in the car. You're at your front door. You're back at work. Tick, tock, gone.

For families, week-long half-term holidays, such as the one just passed, are particularly brutal. You cheat, of course, and strategically withdraw the children from school on the previous Friday to maximise your break. But time still stretches, then suddenly contracts: back to work again.

How, then, to extend things a little? Every year, I reason that we could fool the ticking clock by making the most of our changeover day: the point in the week (often a Friday or Saturday) when holiday rental properties are emptied, cleaned, and refilled with the next wave of tourists. Cornwall, where my family and I spent last half-term, seems particularly affected by this tide, its roads clogged with incoming and outgoing holidaymakers.

My thinking goes thus: just as we try to make the most of our arrival time, leaving home at dawn to see if we can grab our keys earlier than the allotted 3pm, we can surely work things to our advantage when we leave. So what, I cry, if we have to be out of our cottage by 10am? Once we've Hoovered and cleaned the loo (and confessed to breaking that wine glass) we'll simply pack up and go to the beach, or visit the Eden Project, before driving home. If we loaf around long enough, it'll feel like a whole extra day!

And yet, it never quite works like that. Perhaps it's because holidays are all about escaping. Once we've locked all our possessions back into the car, it's as if we've been rumbled. You've had your fun, says humdrum reality. Now get back home – and no stopping on the way.

Try as you might to enjoy lying on the beach, the awareness that you're about to leave makes it far less pleasurable. Like handing your bags in to a hotel concierge once you've checked out of your room, then loitering in the bar for a couple of hours before your flight leaves. You'd really rather just get it over with.

So, time plays its holiday games. For us, it's a six-hour drive home from Cornwall, rather longer on changeover day. (The A30 eastbound is a particular treat.) We should probably set off sooner rather than later. Back to work. Tick, tock.

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
New Articles
i100... with this review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
footballTim Sherwood: This might be th match to wake up Manchester City
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
New Articles
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Blahnik says: 'I think I understand the English more than they do themselves'
Arts and Entertainment
Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey
TVInside Downton Abbey series 5
Life and Style
The term 'normcore' was given the oxygen of publicity by New York magazine during the autumn/winter shows in Paris in February
fashionWhen is a trend a non-trend? When it's Normcore, since you ask
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    IT Administrator - Graduate

    £18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

    USA/Florida Travel Consultants £30-50k OTE Essex

    Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Sales Account Manager

    £15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...

    Day In a Page

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam