by Genna AlTai
On the weekends, when no one is watching, I sometimes like to pretend I’m a glamorously inactive lady of leisure. After washing my hair and dry brushing my skin, the toughest thing I’ll have to do all day is flip through the latest edition of Vogue. During this painfully arduous task, I’ll stumble on the travel section, where it’ll reassure me that a £5,000 weekend surfing trip to Portugal with a tour guide called Otto is well worth the price.
Lady of leisure Gen thinks to herself, “This makes sense! You’ve always wanted to take up surfing. The waves are calling your name, sea maiden.”
Regular, weekday Gen looks at her bank balance, left eye starts to twitch and tears follow shortly after.
Thankfully, a low budget has never really deterred me from getting on a plane, hopping on a bus or climbing into the back of a truck for a change of scenery. Travel can cost you some money an arm, a leg and sometimes a down payment for a house that is most definitely not in London. But, not always.
Dedicated to all you thrifty gypsies out there, the first in this series will focus on a magical little place called your nan’s. Now, ‘nan’ doesn’t just mean your grandmother’s house. This term encompasses a great variety of older relatives and can include, but is not limited to: grandads, great uncles, great aunts, godparents, neighbours you’ve known for millennia, or your best friend’s grandparents.
What’s so great about nan’s house?
Those who do not enjoy eating for fun, visits down memory lane or being cuddled need not read any further.
1) It’s cheap as chips
Unless your ‘nan’ figure lives in an exotic location like Vietnam or Scotland, visiting your grandparents will almost always cost you less than a night out in central London. Bonus: there’s no chance of getting your wallet stolen and you won’t end the night with sick on your new shoes.
Getting to nan’s house will cost you a return train fare and a bouquet of flowers. Bank account = non-suicidal.
2) Your nan is awesome
Your grandparents are old. So old, in fact, that they lived in a time before microwaves, smartphones and the Kardashians. That’s probably why they’re so interesting.
Both of my grandparents came from very humble beginnings. My grandmother, a Welsh miner’s daughter, trained as a midwife, became a registered nurse and is now a highly successful businesswoman still working in her 80s.
My grandfather’s kin were also Welsh miners. After a trip to the mines, he kicked his rear into gear, took no prisoners on the Rugby pitch and got a scholarship to university for being such a rock star athlete. Oh, and he was enlisted in the RAF at the ripe ole age of 16.
Ask the G unit what they were doing in the ‘50s and chances are they won’t say, “Bored AF.” It’s likely that your grandparents lived through a world war, met some characters along the way and witnessed some remarkable things.
3) They have food
No green juices allowed here.
Nan’s house is definitely not diet friendly, but it’s sure as hell soul friendly. There will be 17 varieties of potatoes (mashed, baked, fried etc.) and no shortage of chocolate. You will be asked if you want thirds and you will be told you’re ‘too skinny’.
Do: say ‘yes’ to thirds.
Don’t: calorie count.
4) Nan’s house doubles as a cultural centre
Because your nan is so awesome (please revert to point 2), said nan should have rare and hard-to-find trinkets she’s picked up along the way.
In addition to figurines and illegal animal skins you’d rather not know how she came across, your nan has all of your family memories documented, indexed and filed. That Christmas you decided would be best spent naked? They’ve got photos of that. Your sister’s camel toe days? Entire albums! Your mother’s ABBA phase? That’s in the back of the cabinet, but you know where to find it.
On top of the countless personal memories she has stored, Nan has 70-years’ worth of fashion history. You’ll find Pucci scarves, elbow length gloves, BIBA dresses and dainty hats.
In 2016, it’s so easy to lose yourself. But at nan’s house, your sense of identity can be rejuvenated at the drop of an elegant bonnet.
5) Your nan will appreciate it
This one’s the most important.
Your nan’s great, so why wouldn’t you want to spend time with her? In addition to getting some much needed rest and relaxation, spending quality time with nan would mean the world to her. She’s dedicated decades to family and probably doesn’t ask for much in return. Time to pay her back with some love.
Next stop: nan’s house!
Yes, Barcelona and Stockholm make fantastic city breaks, but they don’t contain the cultural variance, warmth and bang for your buck that your nan’s house offers. So what are you waiting for? Stop stalling and get travelling! Your nan and all of the potatoes are waiting.