Ruth Lesley: It’s spectacularly lovely to be home

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IT’S the time of year when talk turns to tents and toilets. Exotic destinations such as Benicassim, Coachella and, er, Balado buzz into the consciousness like a persistent, pulsating ear worm.

And while I’m not a complete festival virgin (I went to Wickerman once and fell asleep in the dance tent at 1.30am, which seemed to be frowned upon), at the advanced age of *coughs loudly into handkerchief*, I rather feel the whole thing has passed me by.

So, in attempting to venture out of my comfort zone before I slip into sedate decrepitude, I have just returned from my second festival adventure, in Novi Sad, in Serbia, since you ask. I didn’t need wellies, managed to stay up after bedtime and survived the consumption of industrial quantities of cider. But while other friends are suffering post-holiday blues, longing for a return of those carefree nights of lasers and DJs and getting their feet crushed in the mosh pit, of stumbling back to the hotel (you didn’t honestly think I was camping, did you?) in the dawn sunlight searching for the Serbian equivalent of a kebab shop, I think there’s something quite spectacularly lovely about getting home again. It doesn’t matter where I’ve been; it’s about getting unpacked and putting the first wash in the machine, then watching it blow on the line in the wind outside. That’s when I know order has been restored.

It’s about getting that first cup of tea – proper tea that tastes like tea, mind – in my favourite mug. Seeing the friends and loved ones I’ve missed, and watching their faces crinkle into a forced “Oh, thank you, it’s perfect” smile when I hand over that “Hot Priests” calendar from Rome or the Greek bottle opener in the shape of a giant willy that seemed so hilarious in the souvenir shop but, in the cold light of Scotland, is so obviously vile I must have been drunk on DEET fumes when I bought it.

Then there’s the reacquainting myself with the cat – which will obviously refuse to acknowledge me until it has, in its eternal, cat-like wisdom, decided I have paid my penance for abandoning the homestead and the tin opener.

Running a bath after a week of rushed showers and washing the sand, chlorine and general beach gunk from my hair. Using a hair dryer that is actually capable of drying my hair, as opposed to a built-in hotel one that is as hot and powerful as a soft Caribbean breeze.

Ordering take-out for tea – there’s no way I’m cooking on my first night back.

Sleeping in my own bed, on fresh sheets, in a non air-conditioned room, and waking up not drenched in sweat or covered in fresh, raw mosquito bites that I have unwittingly scratched into painful, weeping, open wounds through the night.

Catching up on missed episodes of The Returned, and Luther, and Top Of The Lake on series link.

Then realising, after a fortnight of this relentless inanity, I really, desperately, need another holiday. I’m off to Umbria in two weeks. Feed the cat, would you?

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