In July, when all the world and his wife are supposed to be on holiday, there must always be a certain proportion of people who have to stay at home. When others are holidaying in quiet country lanes, taking part in the crowded life of the beach, or touring through the quaint old towns of Normandy, there are many hundreds of working men and women who see no prospect of going away from home.
A Home Holiday
Perhaps family arrangements make it impossible to get away for any time. Pressure of work and lack of means combine to keep many people, who need a holiday badly, at the grindstone all the year. There are domesticated women, also, mothers of boys and girls, who are feeling a little sad and disappointed because they cannot take them to the sea, and have to resist entreaties for " only a fortnight in the country."
But those people are rather apt to forget that change of scene and environment is only one part of a holiday. It is possible to get much of the benefit that a holiday brings without leaving home at all. A great many people who go for a holiday come back very little the better for all the advantages and opportunities they have had. How often we hear women say that they are truly thankful that the holidays are over, and they can settle into routine again. And these people do not seem to realise that their failure to enjoy their holiday has been their own fault. The one great essential for making a holiday a success is that we should cultivate the " holiday spirit." And it is this holiday spirit that we can have if we like, even if we have to spend the whole summer at home.
One of the cleverest women I know achieved a most successful holiday for herself and her children without moving out of their own home for a single night. Funds were insufficient for the usual month by the sea, but the housemother refused to be daunted, and promised her boys and girls that they .would have as good a holiday as any of their friends, and it turned out to be the case. First, by sheer force of suggestion she got the whole family into a holiday mood. She said they would have a real good time, even though all the neighbours' windows were shuttered and the whole neighbourhood seemed deserted. She altered the meal hours, and she made the food as varied as possible, lighter in quality, and said that they would have as little cooking as could be managed in order that she herself would have more time for holiday treats. She arranged that as many meals as possible would be served in a little strip of suburban garden which in itself provided novelty for the children. They had the chief meal of the day about seven o'clock in the evening, and when breakfast was over and things were put straight, she and the elder children would prepare sandwiches, boil eggs, pack baskets with fruit and cake and bottles of milk, and go for a long day's excursion. As she was saving the price of rent and railway fares by having no holiday out of town, she was able to set aside a certain sum of money for excursions. Thus she carefully planned out the holiday for the children, and each child had a special " day " for her own particular excursion, in which the others, of course, joined. They saw a large variety of sights in London; they took long excursions by boat and tram, and brief runs into the country by train. As they were in the fresh air nearly all day, the children rapidly improved in health, and they had so much pleasure out of their excursions that they unanimously declared the holiday at home a bigger success than any stereotyped trip to.sea or country. On certain days their father was able to join them, and during the week-ends he was always a member of the party. They were always delightfully hungry at luncheon-time, and enjoyed their picnic-baskets to the full, whilst tea at different places was part of the treat.
One of the most surprising things about this holiday was that it proved so satisfactory from the health point of view. The mother was careful not to let the children over-exert themselves during the hot afternoon, and most of the sightseeing was done in the morning, so that everybody was quite ready for a rest in some new surroundings after lunch.
The moral which can be drawn from the success of this holiday at home is the wisdom of determining to have some sort of holiday, whether one can afford to go away from home or not. The business woman who finds it almost impossible to get away from work; the girl who cannot afford the cost of a railway journey and board and lodging, should not give up the idea of having some holiday. The mind as well as the body needs a holiday in the warm months of the year, and it is worth while planning out some extra treats, some change and novelty, so that one can get out of the routine of everyday life. The evenings are the best time of the day in July, and if a girl is free from work at six o'clock, she ought to make a point of getting recreation for herself out of the usual groove. If two girls possess bicycles, they can organise all sorts of delightful expeditions for the summer evenings, whilst travelling nowadays can be obtained so cheaply by 'bus, tube, and train that delightful excursions can be arranged with a little ingenuity if cycling is out of the question.
Of course, those who have to remain in town all summer must take special holiday precautions if they are to keep fit and well. The stifling heat and lack of air are apt to destroy the looks and health unless one is careful to counteract ill-effects. A woman must attend to her diet in the first place. It is far better to give up heavy, stodgy foods in the hot weather, when appetite is less keen and a veritable distaste for butcher's meat is experienced by many people. The very fact of changing one's diet ensures that one advantage of a holiday away from home can be procured, even by those who have to stay in town. Take a good deal of fruit for one thing. Fruit for breakfast is a small luxury which is not extravagant at this season, when fruits are cheap and plentiful. Drink a good deal of milk, and, whenever they can be obtained, take fresh salads, garnished with eggs and tomatoes, which are nourishing, and have valuable properties because of the mineral salts they contain. Then make a point of having one useful, thin dress for wearing in the hot weather-perhaps dark-blue linen or shantung, which is light and smart, and yet always looks well when a girl cannot afford to have a variety of light, coloured dresses. The majority of people wear too many clothes in summer in this country, and the heavy serge and tweed skirts which many business girls wear are most fatiguing. A little forethought will provide them with a dress light in texture, even although dark in colour, to wear during the working hours in summer.
The girl who must have a holiday at home should try to be in bed by 10.30 p.m., in order that she may be able to get up in time to have a walk or cycle run before breakfast, when the mornings are delightful, cool, and healthful. This would help many girls to keep well, even if they have to work all summer without a holiday, especially if they arrange a daily tepid bath, and spend five minutes doing a few exercises night and morning. The unfortunate thing is that very few girls will take the trouble to remember these points, which seem trivial in themselves, but make all the difference to health when each one of them is followed faithfully. It is this same indifference with regard to the hair and complexion that is responsible for the harm which the sun and dust will produce in hot weather. It seems such a little thing to give ten minutes' care to the complexion every night, to wash the dust off, and rub in a little cold-cream to counteract the effect of the hot sun. But many girls will not take this trouble, and then they find, after a month or two's neglect, that their complexions are quite spoilt for a time.
The working woman or business girl who has to stay in town all summer should make a point of playing some sort of game. Let her join a tennis club, or take up golf and croquet when she can, and her health will improve considerably. There is nothing like the cultivation of outdoor hobbies for keeping one healthy. Of course, the girl who is not tied to definite work in office or school can devote an hour or two a day to outdoor games, and the time is well spent from the health point of view. A few hours on the river occasionally, a daily bicycle run, a series of walks planned to various places of interest, are all holiday points for those who cannot get far away.
The great thing is to plan one's ideas systematically. Most people try occasionally to play a game or go on an excursion, but they rarely go into the matter enthusiastically, and plan out in holiday spirit a definite scheme of recreation. Now, that makes all the difference in the world. Haphazard holidaying is not of much practical benefit, whilst the effect of a regular plan is beneficial to the physical and mental health.
The fresh-air question must have full consideration also. If the people who have to be in town during the hot weather would only sleep with their windows wide open top and bottom, and make a rule of having no windows in the house shut by day, it would make a great difference to their health. Thus the general stuffiness of a town, which is so objectionable to everyone, can be counteracted by taking special care to get as much fresh air as possible into the house.
By such means the people who have to stay at home may find themselves better in health and spirits at the end of the summer than their friends who return from holidays tired out as a result of rushing about. It should prove a consolation to those who stay at home to know that they have escaped the risks which attend the eating of strange food and sleeping in strange beds. The great thing of all is to have seme definite change in one's routine, and that can be done with a little ingenuity, whether we go away or whether we stay at home. To get out of the groove, to take up some new interest, to enjoy the little pleasures that can be obtained, to cultivate the cheerful holiday spirit-all these are the chief things at holiday time, the things which, when they are absent, make the most expensive holiday flat and unprofitable.