Charles Nevin: Try a holiday at home this year

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The Independent Online

Recent brief outbreaks of sunshine have shown this country in a different light. I had been regretting the conspiracy of circumstance - absence of initiative, finance and friendship with an Italian prince - which prevents me from holidaying abroad this year, but now I'm not so sure. Have any of you, given the current confusions, wondered if you'll be allowed back in?

Exactly. And that is only the half of it. In the past few days, for example, two cruise ships have been forced to abandon voyage. I gave up cruising for fear of encountering Keith Harris and Orville, and in these cases it was also stomach trouble. Then there was that Lancashire teacher who took 30 hours to fly from France to Manchester, and the poor woman who took five days and three airports to get to Jersey. And the survey showing British Airways to be best on lost baggage, with an average of only five passengers per flight left staring forlornly at the half-unwrapped parcel and broken buggy making their melancholy circuits of the carousel.

No, staying behind is the thing, I now see. We domestics have been the more exclusive since 1998. You will recognise us not only from our attractive pallor, but from that air of environmental superiority which we cannot conceal.

And Britain does have such a lot to offer. This month will be particularly good for getting around, too, as those who remain will spend much of the time in front of their new widescreen television sets (John Lewis, 85 per cent increase in sales), in the middle part at least.

Where to go? Well, the Victorian Society has just launched a campaign promoting our resorts, and there is no doubting their delights and distinctions, of which space, sadly, allows only these: Napoleon III based the boulevards of Paris on that magnificent thoroughfare, Lord Street, Southport, after a stay there as a young man (in Lancashire, Paris is known as "The Southport of the South"). The Grand Hotel, Scarborough, was the largest hotel in Europe when it opened in 1867. The fish finger was invented in Great Yarmouth.

But the Interior also has much to commend it. Few countries, surely, can match the variety of landscape contained in even one of our counties, and, with rare thoughtfulness, local authorities have created a calm and steadying contrast by permitting and sometimes persuading every town, no matter where, to make its high street exactly like every other. Don't forget, either, that even in the deepest, boskiest, most magical depth of the countryside, you're never more than 10 minutes away from a large and convenient supermarket.

Such is the sophistication of modern life, however, that novelty is vital. And here, the Interior has always lagged behind the Coast, although the friendly custom of tractors guiding motorists from village to village at a pace which allows appreciation of the surrounding countryside is still appreciated. All the same, what's really needed is something that will produce a bit of buzz. Clearly, the reintroduction of wild boar hunting is a start, but despite much hot rural rumour, I can't see it being extended to fly tippers, second-home owners and Margaret Beckett in the lifetime of this parliament.

I myself have long argued for the adoption of the splendid Spanish parador system, reasonable accommodation provided by the Government in magnificent buildings and stately settings. But where will our rulers find such places?

How to make a day to remember

Favourite for Gordon Brown's National Day is, according to a BBC poll, 15 June, the date of Magna Carta, ahead of Trafalgar, Waterloo, and VE Day. Other suggestions have included 1 May, commemorating, of course, the glorious victory of 1997, and 28 April, St Prudence's Day, but I don't see any of them quite capturing the essence of our island virtues and values.

Luckily, inspiration struck when I read about the Yaohnanen tribe, in the South Pacific, cargo culters who worship Prince Philip as a living deity. Of course! The Prince, above, 85 on Saturday 10 June, represents all that is noblest about this country, demonstrating just what an immigrant down on his luck can achieve, and exemplifying our tolerance, good humour and ability to ignore, but politely, all attempts at provocation. I give you - and Gordon, it's got a ring - Edinburgh Day!

* Finally, here are some important messages for St George's flag users:

1. If you notice that a large queue has built up behind your car, don't be concerned, as in some motor-racing circles, your flag can mean "emergency, no passing".

2. Resist attempts by unscrupulous traders to foist you off with one bearing a red cross with splayed ends, as this is the Templar flag, and before you know where you are you'll find yourself locked in a fierce struggle with a crazed albino monk.

3. Remember: flags must be taken down from cars at sunset.

4. If you're dining in Hampstead or want to keep fluttering for any length of time, it's useful to know that it's also the flag of a) the Genoese Republic b) The Tasmanian Steam Navigation Company.

5. Handheld flags: do put a rubber protector on the tip before attempting The Crouch, or you can do yourself some serious damage.