MY SUMMER ON CAMP AMERICA – HALFWAY REVIEW

Six weeks.

I have now been in the States for over a month. That’s one month since I left my little English bubble and jetted off across the Atlantic for my summer-long adventure working on a camp in New York.

By the way, the only way anyone out here actually manages to work out what day it is is by working back from landmarks – what date they arrived, how many days since Shabbat, how long it’s been since . . . you know. Or, you just look at your phone.

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Picture the scene; light rain – the aftermath of relentless rain storms – unmercifully drizzles down my face, nestling in the pool of water now firmly established in my lap (rain! Not *that*!) I sit on the flimsiest, most uncomfortable fold-away camping chair known to man, with god-only-knows what kind of obscure species of snake/spider/frog a matter of inches from my feet. Oh, and it’s pitch black. The only thing preventing me from whipping out my torch (or flashlight, as I’m constantly corrected to out here) and discovering precisely what type of mini-demon is camped next to my foot is that I have – somewhat irrationally – been circumstantially forced to become a firm believer in the premise that if you can’t see it, we’re best assuming it doesn’t exist. I mean, obviously it does actually exist, but my now warped sense of realism has somewhat adjusted my levels of sanity; this owes largely to the excessive amounts of candy I have been consuming, coupled with an alarming lack of sleep. Camp, eh!

You may ask how/why I have found myself in this predicament. The answer is simple: teenagers just cannot be trusted to behave once nightfall comes. Their insatiable, irrepressible desire to rebel goes into overdrive once the lights go out – they must challenge authority in any way possible. This inevitably leads to truly bizarre and ridiculous situations unfolding. Picture countless teenage boys running wild in neon tutus, raving to imaginary music . . you get the idea. “RAVE RAVE RAVE” they chant in unison, like some sort of drug-induced bunch of maniacs – “Guys, you have a bed-time of 10pm, play poker with Smarties, and trade Pop Tarts for Pretzels. Go to bed.” ……. Silence.

Sitting “on duty” while the campers go to sleep is just one of the thankless tasks I – general counsellor – undertake daily. We are effectively glorified babysitters, ensuring the rowdy teenagers don’t cause some sort of civil war over a stolen Gatorade, or fight each other to the death for the last Twizzler. Despite our required 24-hour surveillance of the campers, it is a fantastic job, don’t get me wrong. The sense of reward I got after teaching the some of the guys how to play socc.. I just can’t (!) – FOOTBALL – was unparalleled. I felt like a proud father gifting them a life skill, while simultaneously purifying their toxicated minds.

We are only halfway through the summer, but have nonetheless crammed countless activities and adventures into our time so far. This has included hikes – day-long treks to the highest echelons of Cold Spring’s outback; the more ground we cover, the sweatier we get; the more we drink, the more greenery receives an unexpected ‘watering’; the more we hike, the more ludicrous the conversation gets. Think 50-plus dehydrated, exhausted teenagers forced to converse for seven hours – there’s only so many sports to talk about before the conversation begins to derail on to more liberal topics.

Some of the things they say; some of the things they do – only kids their age (14, 15) would even think of these things. Their naivety is somewhat refreshing – they’re free, without a care in the world. Their actions come before reasoned thought, meaning everything is spontaneous and real. No subtle, loaded comments. No mind-games. No bullshit.

Of course, this uncensored freedom of speech doesn’t come without its problems. One joke too many, one innocent dig too far may just overstep the line between banter and bullying. As counsellors, we are constantly required to have our eyes peeled and ears primed so as to pounce as soon as we witness a camper overstepping the mark. This then opens up a world of possibilities – how to (appropriately – for any key staff reading!) punish the culprit? For someone who has never really held a position enabling penalties for misbehaviour, this is all a bit overwhelming. The sensational variety of options available is thrilling. The more unexpectedly creative, the better. Being that we are dealing with 15 year old rebels, their threshold is somewhat higher than their infant counterparts. Ergo, humiliation and embarrassment is the name of the game. Basically, the more red their face gets, the more effective the punishment has been. (All with key staff in mind, though. Obviously.)

Anyway, we’re off to Washington DC in the morning. Here’s to six hours on a coach with 50 overexcited campers. Great.

DW

Moyes Must Master Media

Ahead of Manchester United’s do-or-die Champions League second leg against Bayern Munich, manager David Moyes would do well to arrest his most alarming travail – an alarming lack of self-belief, most noticeable in his feeble interactions with the media.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s ability to spin any mildly negative news story about his team into a show of defiance, harnessing an “us against the world” mentality, was possibly his most under-appreciated asset. This mind-set frequently transferred onto the pitch, his players simply never giving up, no matter how high the odds against them were stacked.

This season the odds have indeed been stacked ominously – unusually – high against Manchester United on a weekly basis. As such, it is more pertinent than ever that the manager stands up to his team’s critics, swats away any negative reports, and provides a united front – a show of unity in the face of wavering certainty, no matter how truly genuine it really is. Simply put, thus far in his United reign Moyes has repeatedly failed to do this.

He has frequently let up the opportunity to address the issues lobbied against his team in the public eye. He has not exuded the required swagger that should be a pre-requisite for any manager of a club with United’s aspirations. United are widely considered to be the biggest club in the country, maybe even the world. Their fans expect to win every match, fearing no opponent. This must be conveyed through their manager – the man who is the most public face of the club as a whole.

A case in point of his failure to convey the necessary confidence ahead of a match is his comments before the clash with Newcastle United at Old Trafford back in December. The match followed a home defeat to Moyes’ former club Everton and the fans were – perhaps for the first time – openly showing their displeasure at his tenure thus far. Moyes responded to ringing criticism of his team by telling a pre-match news conference, “Obviously they (Newcastle United) are coming to Old Trafford and we are going to make it as hard for them as we possibly can,”. This comment alone had the air of ceding control of the tie before kick-off. Quelle surprise, Moyes’ side proceeded to lose the match 1-0, turning in an appropriately feeble performance lacking any sort of cutting edge – almost poetically reminiscent of their manager’s pre-match ramble.

Any authority figure – let alone one in the position Moyes enjoys – must convey a message of unwavering support; he must either ignore his critics altogether, if not effortlessly brushing them off with ruthless detached emotion. One of Moyes’ primary problems is that he has often failed to do either. His defeatist attitude – his alarming lack of persona – was most noticeable in the build-up to the fixture regarded by most fans of the Old Trafford club as their biggest in any season – Liverpool at home. More than ever, Moyes needed to convey a message of belief from within the club that they could turn their fortunes around and prevent yet another defeat at the hands of their greatest rivals. With what seemed like a sense of ironic audacity, Moyes almost pre-empted his side’s fifth home league defeat of the season by conceding his team were not widely expected to win the tie – an unforgivable comment in the eyes of many of the United faithful. “Their league position suggests they are ahead of us and they possibly do come here as favourites. Liverpool are having a very good season and we will have to do everything we possibly can to beat them.” Moyes’ admission that his side’s most fierce rivals came to Old Trafford as favourites was widely perceived as a shockingly defeatist, and his Liverpool counterpart Brendan Rodgers relished condemning Moyes – “I was probably surprised before the game when I heard we were supposedly coming to Old Trafford as favourites. I would never say that at Liverpool – even if I was bottom of the league.”

However, it is what Rodgers said next that particularly resonates with regards to Moyes’ failure to instil a winning mentality befitting Old Trafford – “Anfield is Anfield. We expect to win and we have a mentality that has been developing over 18 months which we expect to win home and away and the belief is in the players and you see that in their game.” Perhaps Moyes does expect to win, perhaps his players do too, but this is certainly not the message he is getting across at his weekly media briefings.

During Ferguson’s tenure, when the performances on the pitch would be below par, he would come out fighting post-match. Every word spoken would be carefully calculated, every gesticulation would have a desired response, and every answer would be appropriately measured to invoke the required reaction from the media, fans, and – most importantly – the players. When things aren’t going to plan on the pitch, the players and the fans will look to the manager to provide reassurance that things will turn around. Moyes simply does not currently embody the charismatic, bold leader one in his position is required to – perhaps a more assured handling of the media would transfer to more assured performances on the pitch.

More recently, Moyes has indeed seemed to have become more aware of his misgivings, telling a pre-match press conference ahead of the Bayern game, “We’ve given ourselves every opportunity and prepared really well. We have to go into this game knowing it’s a cup final for us. We want to be in the Champions League final but we have to win this cup final first. From that point of view we can’t leave anything [behind] on the night and make sure that we go through.”

This is precisely the kind of fighting spirit the United manager must radiate if he is to win over his critics. Coupled with victory over Bayern Munich tonight, it could just prove the spark he so needs if he is to bring the glory days back to Old Trafford.

Second Year Uni Adventure: First Term Review

So, that’s that. First term of second year done. It doesn’t seem like very long ago that I was a mere fresher, setting out to navigate my way through the assault course that is university, but alas, I have now reached half-time in my quest through higher education.

I sit barely an hour into a four-hour trans-European flight, already bored to death of my iPod, and too immature to actually read a book, so have decided to take to my laptop to write. It doesn’t seem that the ever-so-slightly overweight, middle aged woman (?) to my right wants to hear about my university experience thus far, and so I figured it best to bore you lot instead.

Lest you forget, I already chronicled my first two weeks of second year in my previous blog (https://musingsofabored19yearold.wordpress.com/2013/10/08/second-year-uni-adventure-two-weeks-in/) and so there is no need to recap.

Since then, a lot has happened.

Lectures. Essays. Drinking. Partying. That-other-thing. Sleeping. Repeat.

If I rendered a vibrant, adventurous fresher last year, I have become even more synonymous with the stereotypical university student this.

Warped sleeping patterns have meant early nights and power naps being replaced by an unhealthy amount of RedBull.

Budget decisions have meant premium vodka being replaced by £1.20/litre cider, lovingly known among students simply as ‘that poison’ – as in “I can’t believe you’re drinking that poison again!”

Well-researched study and accurately-planned revision timetables have been replaced with three-day library binges. As any student worth their salt will tell you, pyjamas and hoodies are the accepted apparel, and during this period we are fuelled primarily by caffeine and an intense fear of failure – realising this would mean having to forgo the rest of university and instead find an actual job and move back…you know…home. (AAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH)

Of course, none of this would be possible without all those who are sharing my university experience with me. In particular, I speak of those with whom I share my 8-bedroom student house. Those lucky sods. Having to spend nearly every waking moment with me, one can only imagine how I haven’t yet driven them to insanity.

So, what specifically can I say about them?

Well, first of all, I must say they are all absolutely fantastic and I love living with them blah blah blah. They are a great bunch, although they do all possess qualities that perhaps could do with honing – if only to make them even more delightful to live with.

Now, without naming names or specifics, I shall highlight just a few of these.

With it seemingly recognised that my course is not the most prestigious on offer, anyone who studies anything remotely ‘respected’ or offering any actual ‘job prospects’ feels it within their right to constantly make sly jibes that they are doing a ‘proper degree’. Invariably, they will study rocket science. Or brain surgery. Or law. They work hard, often pouring over their leather-bound textbooks into the early hours. However, this isn’t to say they don’t also play hard. Hours cooped up in their bat-cave plays tricks on their mind. They become mildly insane, which leads to an uncontrollable unleash on their weekly night out. Often their vodka will get the better of them, leading to emotional drunken outpourings, naps in the corner of the dancefloor, and the unconscious snorting of chips.

Albeit somewhat pretentious, their presence is much valued, as they often offer insight into how to actually study effectively, and what it would be like to actually have prospects for the future.

Another type of housemate is that of the ‘clean freak’. They tolerate no spec of dirt and all litter is immediately disposed of. They live their life by sell-by-dates, and clean surfaces and worktops become their pride and joy. They relish arguments over the cleanliness of the kitchen floor, and draw up timetables for when cleaning must occur. In fact, ‘clean’ isn’t merely enough – everything must be sterilised after use.

I am not widely known for my tidiness or clearing-up expertise, and so their obsession with cleanliness is actually rather useful, and even appreciated – especially when they take it upon themselves to clean the kitchen of other peoples’ mess.

On the other end of the spectrum is that one housemate who just does not care. No, NOT me. This guy is on some mental free-for-all. All types of hair in the sink, empty shampoo bottles left in the shower, piles of clothes dumped in the corner of their room (as well as throughout the house), this housemate simply has no care in the world for cleanliness or tidiness. And, to be honest, who can blame them? There are only so many years of military-esque precision clothes folding, world-record speeds of emptying and re-stacking the dishwasher, and spotless worktops that any teenager can take. Once left to their own devices, it is only natural that they let go a little bit, and live like that slob that they only ever dreamed of being.

In reality, all students possess traits emanating from all three of these categories. And, if they say they don’t, they’re lying.

Of course, everyone works a little bit (when deadlines are approaching).

Of course, it is nice to keep the house clean (when the landlord comes to inspect).

Of course, everyone lives like a bit of a slob (in between visits from parents).

On this note, I sum up by saying that it has been a simply fantastic term, and I cannot wait to do it all again next semester!

I shall now return to deciphering whether the specimen next to me is indeed a woman, or if that suspiciously short haircut is in fact that of a man, rather than some attempt at finally accepting her age.

DW

Second Year Uni Adventure: Two Weeks In

So, here we are. Second year. It’s been a long time coming, but it’s finally here.

They say “out with the old, in with the new”. Well, from my week-long experience of second year so far, what they really mean is “out with catered meals, en-suites and working ovens, in with ready meals, blocked toilets, and broken *insert essential kitchen appliance here*.

However, that’s not to say I’m not loving being back. Far from it. No nagging parents, no curfews, no rules: no responsibilities. Well, kinda.

To say my second year of uni has started off to a flyer would be something of a lie. “Tell ya what, we’ll throw in a brand new, state-of-the-art plasma for you guys to sweeten the deal,” claimed the landlord when we signed on the dotted line. Either he’s blind, has a severely misconstrued sense of modern technology, or is just complete liar (see below).

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So, I’m sure it is no surprise to all of you to learn that we started this term with an extremely depleted kitchen – namely, we had no toaster, kettle, kitchen table or chairs. And our oven was broken. Oh, and our boiler.

Suffice to say, everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) in our house is/was a little bit broken.

One of the main problems was that our house was never really properly cleaned. So, when the original foundation layer of dirt is combined with eight caution-to-the-wind students leaving empty Pot Noodles lying around, copious amounts of alcohol being drunk/spilt every night, and an alarming dis-regard for any willingness to clean up after themselves…well, one can only imagine the state of the place now.

The thing is, and I think I speak on behalf of the majority of students when I say this, we just don’t really care.

The bathrooms aren’t beautifully sterilised? Meeeeh.

Three day old empty yoghurts remain on the worktop? Hmmmph.

The kitchen bin has been transformed into an ice bucket? So what.

So, after being spoon-fed in my fresher year by my wonderful meal-plan card, I am now left to fend for myself. The main component of this consists of having to do my own food shopping, and thus properly budget. I now have to decide what I need, and what I don’t. I have to determine how best to allocate my minimal funds in a way that maximises both my health and my enjoyment. Tricky, I know. Naturally, out go vegetables, fruit, and cleaning products. In come alcohol, microwave meals, and FIFA 14.

I would say already this year I have made three lifelong friends: BOGOF, my Tesco Clubcard, and the Drinks-2-Go man.

Little tips like extending all sell-by-dates by at least two days, turning up to every lecture a minimum of two minutes late, and not bothering to use glasses to save the effort of washing up all get you a long way.

After all, every little helps.

So, as you all begin your own adventure into second year, take comfort from knowing yours isn’t the only student house that would fail a hygiene inspection, and you’re not the only one who uses the dishwasher purely as a storage unit – not cleaner – for dirty dishes.

DW

The Trials And Tribulations Of All-You-Can-Eat Restaurants

Picture the scene. As much food as you can muster. Unlimited portions. Bit of this, bit of that. Some more of this, some more of that. “Another plate of sushi – don’t mind if I do!”

One problem.

It’s not just you. It’s everyone in the restaurant. All at once.

The premise of the all-you-can-eat restaurant is simple: eat as much food as you possibly can in your sitting, all for a set price.

Simple enough to navigate, one would think.

But, alas, it never quite seems to work out as smoothly as it should.

A major problem often encountered is where to start. Respect traditional dining etiquette and begin with a small starter to set the taste-buds tingling? Forget all that and go straight for the most enticing, filling, exotic dish available? Or – for the hipsters amongst us – go all out and delve into the luscious desserts before working your way back Benjamin Button style to the appetisers?

Implementing the correct strategy is a very tactical process, and takes several moments of meticulous planning before one should unleash themselves on the array of food at their mercy.

A valid argument dismissing the need for a rigid, set-in-stone three-course sequence goes something like this: why waste time on sub-sized, underwhelming edamame/seaweed/nachos, when piles of delicious, wholesome sweet-and-sour chicken/teriyaki beef/peri-peri chicken is just sitting there waiting to be gobbled up?

If one is to maximise the fantastic opportunities created by this particular style of dining, they must act with the kind of expansive imagination mirrored only by modern-day street artists.

One must be ruthless to the max. This involves immediately dismissing all sub-par gourmet options, showing no sense of remorse whatsoever. After all, who goes to an exotic all-you-can-eat to have chicken nuggets and chips?! Any standard, run-of-the-mill dishes must be immediately and cold-heartedly disregarded, and replaced by scrumptious Mediterranean delicacies, the likes of which were seemingly only available several thousand miles away.

Upon approaching the buffet, any seasoned all-you-can-eater worth their salt will immediately be frantically searching to come up with the most delicious food concoction possible.

Peri-peri chicken thighs with a side of egg fried rice. Beef in black bean sauce complemented by a portion of vegetable dumplings. Yakisoba alongside sirloin steak.

The possibilities are endless!

For all intents and purposes, all health and diet plans go out the window as soon as one walks through the door of the restaurant. If you want salad and rice…stay at home. If you want every meat known to man, polished with the thickest, sloppiest BBQ sauce available…come on in!

However, this is all very well and good, but if you can’t even get to the food you most desire, then it kind of defeats the object. Inevitably, the item of food you yearn for the most will be hidden out-of-sight behind a queue of several hungry rivals. After all, if it’s worth having, others will want it too. After an eternity, one will reach the front of the queue only to find that oh-so-delicious dish all finished.

Consequently, one must ensure their most desired food is immediately targeted, approached, and demolished – before any other proactive diner can act. Leave them starving in your wake.

So, there you have it. The complete guide of how to avoid the pitfalls of dining disappointment, and emerge from the all-you-can-eat restaurant having eaten all you can eat, of everything you could possibly want to eat.

DW

Genesis Challenge Israel Trip – A Review

Genesis Challenge Israel 2013 – what a trip! I don’t quite know how to sum up what was without doubt two of the best weeks of my life so far in a mere blog post, but here goes – my best stab.

I’m not ashamed to say that I was, originally, somewhat reluctant to go on the trip. A booze-filled, lads holiday to the hedonistic islands of Ayia Napa or Ibiza seemed like a no-brainer when compared to two and a half weeks touring round Israel with a bunch of Rabbis, involving numerous hours of Jewish learning in stuffy run-down classrooms.

How naïve I was.

This was not two weeks spent solely in yeshiva. This was not two weeks spent sightseeing a country most of us were already familiar with. Technically, this wasn’t even just two weeks.

In fact, this was 17 days of banter, self-improvement, stimulating conversations, spiritual learning, bonding, and – most importantly – fun.

From Rabbi Hill’s instance on repeating the overall cost of the trip, to Rabbi B’s simply exceptional frisbee skills. From Jacob Betito’s incredible ability to be both frum and cool, to Joel Marks’ bellowing of any Israeli song at every opportunity.

We were a family; a community. We reflected and improved upon ourselves. We respected, understood, and intellectually challenged one another’s views on everything from the existence of God to the intricate details regarding the Skittles man and his rare condition (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mb5Tq3lO1pI).

We grew as a community, becoming closer to our original mates, as well as forging new partnerships and making lifelong friends. For instance, some of my new friends include WiFi (in the lobby), Goldstar, and that scrumptious strawberry and banana juice.

An original gripe over sleep deprivation was soon replaced by an embrace for Jerusalem’s vibrant night-life, and the finest bars Crack Square had to offer. The obsession with litre-sized beers and exotic cocktails was even shared by some of the Rabbis, who were spotted indulging in Israel’s finest lager in the deepest, darkest corners of Zolly’s.

A running theme of the trip was self-reflection and self-improvement. This was certainly, at least in my case, achieved – or so I like to think. The talks we were afforded the opportunity to hear were always stimulating, intellectual, and provoked interesting theories and, sometimes, heated debates. I think it’s safe to say the subject matter of these lectures differed somewhat from what is often heard in university houses. A welcome change? Surprisingly, yes.

We tried our very best to stay awake and alert in all the activities, but this was inevitably easier said than done. After all, students are simply not used to waking up at 8am every day after an amount of sleep often branded virtually illegal in the student bubble. We compensated for this by nodding off as soon as we collapsed into those awfully carpeted coach seats, or whenever the umpteenth mention of the Kaballah became just a tad too much to bear.

Frequent singing of, and dancing to, every Israeli song under the sun was the name of the game most evenings. Separate circles, of course. Rabbi Hill’s relentless smashing of his drum rendered everyone a little bit fearless of what may happen were they to cross paths with the great man, and Rabbi Shua’s simply sensational rapping skills never ceased to amaze and thrill chanichim, madrichim, and Rabbinim in equal measure.

The buzz-word around town for the final part of the programme was most certainly ‘soulmates’. Rafts of people were seen queuing around the cobbled streets of Jerusalem, desperate to find out who they were compatible with in order to start planning their Simcha sooner rather than later. However, the odds are stacked against any newly-formed Genesis couples beating Rabbi Hill’s world-record meeting-to-engaged time of…if you want to find out, go and find him and he’ll tell you.

Once the slightly awkward, yet refreshing, stay at our host families was done with, attention shifted to the mystery activity for our final night. I say ‘mystery’, but in reality we had all known exactly what it would be ever since we climbed up and down Masada on our last night of Israel Tour. Nonetheless, our excitement was not to be quashed, as, on only a few hours sleep and countless Red Bulls we trudged up Masada in our masses to embrace the sensational views and say our goodbyes.

An amazing experience, shared with amazing people. Thank you all!

DW

Brits Abroad: What To Expect

It happens once, twice, maybe even three times a year. We decide to step outside our comfort zone and venture out of our miserable, grey, wet country for hotter, sunnier climes. The promise of scorching sunshine and sky-high temperatures is too much to resist, and so we reward ourselves with a couple of weeks on holiday.

The premise is simple: take a break from our bleak, monotonous lives and soak up the sun, get a tan, be refreshed, relaxed, and come home rejuvenated and loving life.

Of course, nothing in life is this simple.

The entirety of the holiday inevitably is much more complicated, and invokes much more stress than is desired.

This all begins with holiday shopping. No matter how many suitable garments we have stuffed at the back of our closet, we feel the pressing need to purchase an entire new wardrobe.

We set out with the best intentions of uncovering a revolutionary, unique way of somehow looking stylish and chic at the same time as dripping with sweat and covered in sun cream. However, we soon realise this magical combination is utterly elusive, and so plump for numerous combinations of different colours of plain t-shirts, alternating between round-neck and V-neck. We justify to ourselves that the blue really brings out our eyes, and the black really highlights our biceps. Not to worry – we shall be looking reem by the pool after all.

Toiletries are then the name of the game. Being British, it is in our nature to fret over any and every possibility that may arise on our travels. To counter this, we buy literally (not literally) everything in Boots. Suncream. Aftersun. Tanning oil. Insect repellent (spray AND roll-on). Bite cream. Condoms. Mini deodorant. Pocket-sized fan. European plugs.

We kid ourselves into thinking we can get away with factor 15 suncream, but then soon realise what we think is ‘bronzing’ is in fact ‘burning’. It is at this stage we bless the decision to bring factor 50 ‘just in case’, and smother our throbbing red body in it, before adding the insurmountable defence shield that is the plain white t-shirt covering our torso and towel over our legs, and hide away in the shade for the next few days.

At the airport, we insist on buying a small fortune’s worth of junk in WHSmith including magazines, drinks, crisps, some book we like the cover of but will never read, more Euro plugs, and some sucking sweets to counter that weird ear popping sensation on the plane. We then visit everyone’s secret favourite place – the Duty Free Shop. This is the place where every cologne must be tried on. The place where oversized, surreal, Toblerone bars are thrust upon us. The place where alcohol comes in a plastic bottle. Obviously, we don’t actually buy anything. We just like to compare the VAT-free prices with normal prices. But – whatever you do – do not buy. It would be a bargain. It would make too much sense.

Free WiFi in the departure lounge is just too tempting to ignore, but just as we complete the tumultuous digital obstacle course to log on, our plane starts to board.

This is where the holiday really begins. From finding out you have been seated in the fire-escape row, and so being responsible for saving the lives of everyone on the entire flight in the case of emergency, to discovering the rent-a-car company you booked with doesn’t actually exist, this is where those ‘stories to tell the grandkids’ (or bore your friends with) happen.

Family holidays, lads holidays, stag dos, hen dos, honeymoons, school trips.

They’re all the same – get massively hyped for them, then realise the intense stress levels going on holiday actually invokes.

Go there stressed, come back burnt and jetlagged, in even more need of a holiday than when you went.

On that note, I wish everyone the most amazing summer holidays!

DW