Lisa Markwell: For a happy holiday, borrow a house

Staying in their homes while rich friends are away is marvellous

Share
Related Topics

The word "staycation" has quickly become tiresome. Like eating "al desko", or having "frenemies", it's a pun too far. We don't use the word vacation in this country these days – apart from in archaic university lingo – so it's a dud bit of wordplay. Although, although...

There are plenty of us for whom summer is made manageable by the vacating of friends from their homes. It's thanks to the dismal weather, which has been useful as the reasoning for just about everything else this summer, from swine flu to Jude Law's impending love-child (OK, not that).

Affluent folks who would otherwise be spending August at their charming little coastal cottage are legging it to the airport for some sunshine. And those left behind without the bank account to facilitate either a second home or a last-minute jet escape are able – in return for promising to feed the fish and/or keep burglars at bay – to get a free holiday.

Staying in their vacant homes while rich friends go on vacation is marvellous. And everyone's at it: whether at the top of the celebrity pecking order – George Clooney is forever lending out his Lake Como villa to friends – or down among us civilians. Even in the drizzle, a week in Dorset is preferable to a week in Kilburn.

There's sometimes a domino effect at work – a talented artist friend has just returned from delivering a commission to a fabulously wealthy client in New York. He's offered her, as an extra little thank you, the use of his staggeringly luxurious beach house in Brazil.

While she's there, dipping a toe in the infinity pool with apple mojito in hand, another friend will be eating ice cream and crabbing with her kids at the artist's home on the Kent coast. No one's yet snapped up family number three's north London terrace, but it's only a matter of time.

This pursuit requires brink-manship – those desiring a free holiday from their better-off chums must hold fast, resist the siren call of cheap Ryanair flights to Europe and wait for the offer. They might end up with nothing – there can hardly be a shortage of willing "tenants" – but they might just find themselves in charge of the Aga and the sit-on mower.

I'm the beneficiary of an act of largesse by a better-off friend this summer. My "Go and stay"-cation is in Cornwall, at a rambling farmhouse complete with gypsy caravan in the garden. Its owner is off to rock around some European festivals and, well, that wisteria won't water itself, will it? (Don't answer that.)

The go-and-stay element is crucial – so much easier than come-and-stay, which requires a top-quality holiday wardrobe, witty repartee and a clever way with a barbecue. There generally isn't time to read the Booker longlist titles and have insightful thoughts about all of them before joining your host at the Pimms jug and besides, being nice all the time is exhausting.

Far better to toast absent friends while wearing that forgiving if slightly baggy old swimsuit, and reading one reliable potboiler. And don't forget to pack a pair of rubber gloves. Rubber gloves? Yes, indeed. If you can occupy someone else's vacant home you, like I, will be spending the last day of your holiday scrubbing the place from top to bottom. Well, you want to get invited back next year, don't you?

l.markwell@independent.co.uk

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Negotiator - OTE £23,000

£13500 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award winning, Bolton base...

Recruitment Genius: Client Account Executive

£23000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Client Account Executive is r...

Recruitment Genius: Telemarketing Executive

£7 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Full Time position available now at a growing...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive + incentives + uncapped comms: SThree:...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Daily catch-up: the SNP’s ‘fundamental problem’, says Corbyn, is that too many people support it

John Rentoul
An investor looks at an electronic board showing stock information at a brokerage house in Shanghai  

China has exposed the fatal flaws in our liberal economic order

Ann Pettifor
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future