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Want to know when the sun's going to shine over the next few months? Diane Benussi has the answers.

Forget long-range weather forecasts from the so-called experts: anyone wondering whether to book a holiday in Britain over the next few months because of uncertainty over the weather needs only to consult me first. I will gladly provide you with the dates I plan to be abroad – and those are the very dates that will guarantee you sunny days and balmy temperatures.

You see, I’ve just returned from a week’s sojourn in Majorca – a safe bet, you’d think, for hot sunshine in June – and it poured with rain and was really cold. Not long before that, I spent a month in the United States – again, the weather was largely dreadful.

Both times while I was away, however, good ‘ole Blighty enjoyed a bout of particularly clement weather. The same thing happened last year, too, so I feel well-placed to predict when the UK is going to catch a bit of sun.

What was interesting about my trip to Majorca, though, was that the poor weather didn’t dampen the trip, despite the fact I only managed two, very chilly, swims in the outdoor pool. I went, with a couple of friends, on a painting holiday. None of us had ever painted before – and we were all pretty hopeless – but we became immersed in it from the outset.

There is, I discovered, something immensely mesmerising and uniquely relaxing about sitting in front of an easel, with paint brush and paints to hand, overlooking a ravishing view (rain-drenched though it may be) and trying to capture it, however inexpertly, on canvas.

We would regularly sit for three hours at a stretch – without the ubiquitous holiday drink or a bite to eat – and the time slid past unnoticeably in a gentle hue of unconscious self-absorption.

One day, when we returned to where we were staying, other guests commented on the miserable weather and I realised I’d not even noticed it.

Also interesting about this holiday was that I was so engrossed in what I was doing I didn’t think about the office once. Now, back in the “real” world, I find myself wondering about the holidays we take and the benefits thereof, both actual and anticipated.

The trades unions and other movements fought long and hard to win paid holidays for British workers. How could they know that in the 21st century, workers would be able to take numerous paid holidays a year and yet still continue to work? The advent of the Blackberry coupled with the employment climate of fear has resulted in stressed-out executives literally taking their work on holiday with them.

That’s sad, because holidays are supposed to be what they say on the tin – a time to unwind and enjoy. But how can you unwind or enjoy if you’re suddenly propelled from a frenetic, deadline-meeting environment into a vacuous, lie-on-a-lounger-all-day scenario? No wonder so many people reach for their mobile ‘phones not long after breakfast.

Holidays should relax and refresh you; otherwise there’s no point. We claim to need more “me” time, and surely we do, but if we don’t know how to use that time to chill out properly, then a holiday can be counter-productive. My advice is that you identify an interest and go with that. And remember; there’s no such thing as bad weather – only inappropriate clothing.

(Diane Benussi is managing partner with Birmingham-based matrimonial law practice Benussi & Co)



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