Fly away home

Forget kicking back on the beach, Holly Sands just wants her mum

The Knowledge

To flee, or not to flee? That is the question. To which the answer, if we’re on the subject of avoiding summer, is most likely yes.

But the real issue – assuming you’ve finally accrued enough annual leave and saved up enough of your hard-earneds – is where to spend those precious few weeks off. And I’m not talking about a toss-up between chilling on swanky safaris or backpacking the length of the Great Wall of China. The eternal question among expats is whether to take advantage of Dubai’s centre-of-the-world location and use it as a springboard for trotting the globe, or simply go home and hug your mum for the first time in 12 months.

When you put it like that, it looks like the woman who brought you into the world and force fed you spinach is onto a winner. We’re surrounded by exotic locations, but the pull of the native stomping ground is always too much. Or so I’d thought. Apparently not everyone is so keen to swap island-hopping in Asia for couch hopping back home.

My summer plans to spend two full weeks doing nothing but drinking tea with my mother and escorting her on the weekly shop have been met with surprise, mystery and barely masked concern for my mental health. But the truth is, I quite like my mum, and I miss her much more than I ever thought I would when I was 15, while we screamed at one another through my bolted bedroom door.

That’s not to say I don’t love the eye-opening experiences that travel offers too, it’s just not quite as good as people-watching with my mum at the dodgy market in the pretty rough next town. I’ve spent many happy mornings there, learning breathlessly eloquent profanity and disarming put-downs – money can’t buy that kind of education.

Want to search for lions in the African wilderness? I’d rather hunt for my handbag, which Ma Sands will always helpfully tidy away to the most illogical hiding place possible. Road trip across the US? I prefer the motorway between London and Manchester, en route to see my gran. Eat my way around India? Mum’s got Madhur Jaffrey nailed.

At some point, however, I’m going to have to explore more of the world, no matter how pleased my family might be to see me. Perhaps it’s finally time to set my sights east instead of west, and tackle the Great Wall.

I wonder if my mum would like to come with me...

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