Kirsty McLuckie: Hot tub grime machine

I admit that I’m irrationally annoyed about the change of meaning of the word “staycation”. When first coined, it did not refer to taking a break in the UK, whether it be a campervan trip around the North Coast 500 or an Airbnb in Rhyll.
Picutre: ShutterstockPicutre: Shutterstock
Picutre: Shutterstock

f that is now the case, all my childhood summer trips will have to be rebranded staycations, as we didn’t go on package holidays abroad – much as I wanted to.

Instead, we spent our time in a cramped caravan which was towed to Achmelvich Beach or parked up in a cow field in the Lake District.

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These were just called holidays and we kids enjoyed them, although how my parents did is beyond me.

A staycation, in its original form, means holidaying in your own home. Staying put, but taking time off work with day trips and garden sunbathing – it certainly has its attractions with ongoing Covid considerations.

Even plans for a holiday to a “green list” country can go awry. My husband and myself ambitiously opted for a trip to Turkey last June to celebrate our 25th anniversary.

We duly skipped up to the airport check-in desk only to find all flights cancelled because of Turkey’s Covid levels. A lucky escape perhaps, but it made for a rather downbeat trip home to put the heating back on.

This year, we’ll stay at home but with our holiday refund we have a budget to spend on a real staycation.

It seems we are not alone – sales of outdoor furniture, hot tubs, pools, top-end barbecues and summer houses are through the roof.

A friend confessed via email to buying an inflatable hot tub this week on a whim. She never wanted one before, but after a drinks engagement with friends in their tub, she – ahem – took the plunge.

She wrote: “Now we need an electrician to fit a power point. The area I thought was level enough isn’t, so that needs sorted, and in the meantime we have a large obstacle to the front door.”

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But these things can create more stress than the bubbles relieve. We once hired a hot tub for the summer. It was lovely and we spent many a happy evening in it, relaxing with a glass of wine. Housework was abandoned, boxed sets unwatched, and the ends of my hair slowly turned a refreshing shade of green. Happy times.

But it also attracted the neighbours, who got into the habit of popping over – with swimming things under their clothes – waiting to be invited to take a dip.

Our childminder, previously happy to have the kids at her house, relocated her working day to our garden to watch her charges from a more effervescent position.

We got used to returning to the house only to find other parents, who’d called to pick up their children, splashing around in their underwear in our tub. Even the local postie had a dip.

Adding the right mix of potions to keep the water clear was a challenge, and when the tub was eventually emptied for its return, a revolting Frankensteinian human soup was released onto the garden.

So this year we won’t be investing in a hot tub, but we will be looking for friends who have successfully plugged theirs in.

Does taking a trip to your pal’s with your swimmers on count as a staycation?