Our holidays lie near the heart of our emotional life, enjoyed for a fortnight, fed on imagination for eleven months of the year.
What we want from our holidays tells a lot about who we are and what we wish we were.
In this charming account, Fred Inglis traces the rise of the holiday from its early roots in the Grand Tour, through the coming of Thomas Cook and his Blackpool packages, to sex tourism and the hippie trail to Kathmandu.
He celebrates the bodily pleasures of generations of tourists - from Edwardian banquets in Paris to fish and chips on the beach, from the Bright Young Things on the Riviera to the chosen hardships of the sea, the desert wastes and the mountain tops.
He considers the ideals and the spiritual aspirations which are part of what we look for in a holiday, but he also warns of a darker current - how we have increasingly destroyed what we take most pleasure in and how the dealings between those who have much and those who have little, can seldom, however good our intentions, avoid the taint of exploitation.