Nuala McCann: We like our home comforts while on holiday

Nuala McCann

Nuala McCann

Nuala McCann is an Irish News columnist and writes a weekly radio review.

New experiences are all very well but nothing beats a good cup of tea while abroad
New experiences are all very well but nothing beats a good cup of tea while abroad

My sister is very partial to Yorkshire Brew.

Fred n Ginger could tippy tap their way across the top of what she calls a decent cup of tea.

It has more muscle than Arnie when he had oxters to die for.

On holidays, she likes to pack a few bags of YB to see her through.

“You like your tea,” observed the man who worked on the French campsite where we went one glorious summer.

“Is the Pope a Catholic? Does a bear…” we didn’t reply. (We were brought up polite).

“Yes,” we demurred.

The man had cycled past us on a regular basis every day.

“You spent all week sitting at the table with a big teapot in front of you,” he said.

But then we’re Irish, that’s what we do.

The old battered silver teapot with the willow pattern on the side never grew cold back in our family home.

True to the late great Bernard Cribbens, we met birth and death with a rousing chorus of: “Right said Fred, we’ll have a cuppa tea then…”

Every hour was tea o’clock. In later years, I sought out a particular tea shop in Malaga to bring home real tea – actual tea leaves – for ma. None of your bags – real brown leaves in a paper bag (and I paid dear).

As I’ve gotten older, I find myself reaching for home comforts, especially when on holiday.

New experiences are all very well, but I like my tea, never Lipton on a little string, and my milk never condensed.

It has gotten to the stage where a weekend away demands a nice soft loo roll.

If you went to school in the 1960s, you were no pampered pooch and the joylessness of medicated Izal toilet paper – sandpaper for the soul - lingers long in the memory.

I pack the puppy dog toilet roll.

But I do draw the line at a tea cosy.

The tea never sits long enough in the pot to warrant it and it reminds me of an elderly neighbour who wore such a knitted cosy on her head.

It also brings to mind those Sindy Dolls with the big knitted skirts that posh people put over their loo rolls in their bathrooms as if to tell the world they never really defecated and had no need of paper.

A recent newspaper feature invited readers to share what they brought on holiday.

It seems that many like to take a CD player and ye olde camera with them. Are they travelling to an antique land?

One reader said that they always brought a tin teapot and tea cosy.

It began with an InterRail adventure when they stumbled across a café in Salzburg which advertised Englischer tea… and suddenly all was well with the world.

Since then, they bring their own teabags abroad as well as a bag of powdered milk … nothing like getting that through customs.

I understand.

There was our InterRail adventure that ended on a mad dash to get home involving five nights minus a bed on a series of trains and ferries.

Landing in Dublin, filthy, starving, barbaric, we fell on a pan loaf, yellow butter and a box of Barry’s tea bags.

We drank several pots, finished the loaf then lay around like glorious fat Roman emperors patting our bellies.

Our year in Paris began with romantic strolls along boulevards with a baguette under one arm.

It ended on a mad dash to Marks & Spencer for a hugely expensive white pan loaf. The French just don’t do proper toast.

Some people in the newspaper feature said they always brought their own potato peeler on holiday.

This makes perfect sense. I’ve never found a decent potato peeler in a holiday home.

Ma knew all about that. She gifted us all a perfect potato peeler.

When you have a good one – ma or spud peeler - you guard it with your life.

But I draw the line at the guy who said he always brings a sharp chef’s knife, a box grater and non-stick frying pan on holiday.

How do you get through security for a start?

And the idea of bringing your own shower head seems a little extreme but I swear by a universal plug.

So I’m heading off for a few days and am about to pack tea, toilet roll and a bar of Pear’s soap.

After all, the best thing about a holiday is the joy of home comforts.