The Bank’s Closed – Oh No, What Shall We Do?

Here we are at the start of May and it’s difficult to believe the year is a third of the way through already. So, what have I achieved from my to-do list? Frankly, not a lot. Whilst I’ve been busy with home stuff, creating the odd painting or two and pottering here and there in the garden, there is much I still want to achieve this year. But not today. Today, in England, it is a bank holiday: May Day – or as it has become called: the Early Spring Holiday, as opposed to the Late Spring Holiday at the end of May; what used to be called the Whit Monday Holiday. This early May bank holiday is a fairly recent introduction, only coming into being in 1974, along with the New Year’s Day bank holiday, prior to which most of us had to go back to work following a late night celebrating New Year’s Eve.

The idea of bank holidays, when all banks and finance institutions closed for business for a day, was introduced in 1871 by Sir John Lubbock: Easter Monday, Whitsun Monday, the first Monday in August (subsequently changed to the last Monday) and Boxing Day. The remainder were known as public holidays, being Christmas Day and Good Friday. These have also come to be referred to as bank holidays. Companies are not obliged to pay staff for bank holidays although many do; others include the bank holidays as part of the annual holiday allowance. Some crucial services that do work on a bank holiday pay overtime for those that have to work, although that is phasing out as more and more places, particularly shops, remain open.

In 2011 there was a motion by some members of Parliament to scrap the May Day bank holiday in favour of a national saint’s day, or VE day, or some such, but that appears to have died a death, although many are campaigning still for it. The same with the nonsense of the clocks changing every spring and autumn.

What has become traditional for English bank holidays is lousy weather. You can guarantee almost with certainty a British bank holiday will be cold, windy and very wet; never a good day for organising an outdoor event, although occasionally we do get fantastic weather. Today, here for the moment at least, it is dry, with sunny breaks in the clouds but the forecast is for rain on the way. Another certainty is lousy programmes on the television, so even as it’s pouring outside, you can guarantee everyone will be even more bored staying indoors with rubbish programmes to watch. Three cheers for the movie channels and on-demand TV. Still, the food can be cooked in the oven instead of the barbi should the rain clouds open up.

Another English tradition for bank holidays is to while away the time in the car, stuck in endless miles of traffic jams caused by roadworks, breakdowns, accidents, often caused by disruption on the railways as they deem these perfect days to carry out repairs and maintenance. All this means by the time you eventually reached the coast for a weekend at the seaside, you are fraught with temper, tired, and the kids irritable and wanting to go home. All jolly good fun. Not.

20150504_113810A further tradition is visiting the supermarket on a Friday and doing enough shopping to stock up for a hurricane or being snowed in or just-in-case visitors drop in; as if the shops are going to be closed for a month when, in fact, the majority are open all year (with the exception of Christmas Day), 24-hours a day in some cases. Still, what else is there to do on a wet, cold, miserable bank holiday other than eat, drink and try to be merry. Others make an annual pilgrimage to the shopping mall in search of things such as new furniture, particularly garden equipment in the hope of a hot, balmy summer; to the DIY store for paint and stuff to do decorating indoors; or more generally just for something to do that normally entails going round and round the car park for hours looking for an empty space to squeeze into, or being stuck there for hours trying to get back out but can’t because the roads are gridlocked because of the traffic standstill on the motorway and no-one’s moving.

So, what are my husband and I doing today? Not a lot. Certainly not sat in a traffic jam. Certainly not filling our shopping bags or trawling the shops. No, for us, it is a day to enjoy at home pottering in the greenhouse or relaxing and unwinding enjoying the spring garden, or doing nothing. Me? I’m about to get the paints out and create another masterpiece (she says in hope).

20150504_114413

Whatever you are doing this Monday, enjoy.

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12 responses to “The Bank’s Closed – Oh No, What Shall We Do?

  1. Wow, I can’t imagine working on New Year’s Day. Granted, I may have done the odd shift or two during my years in the medical field, but not as a rule. I like starting the year with a day off. Holidays, world over, I think, have gotten harried and people-full. Hubby and I tend to stay home a putter. Maybe read a good book. Especially on our fourth of July, which is fraught with over-large fireworks. We like to make certain we still have a house standing at the end of the night. 🙂

    • It was always hard working on New Year’s Day, Laurie. Lots of people booked the day as annual leave anyway so when it was officially made a bank holiday a big sigh of relief spread across the country. At my last job, we always had to work the morning of Good Friday which was daft as the phones never rang and there wasn’t much to do as every other company was closed. I eventually persuaded the management to change this. Boy, I was good 😉

  2. Loving your photos. Gorgeous. AND why is it that it always seems to rain on days off? It’s some kind of conspiracy. 🙂 Enjoy your day off!! Jillian

  3. Ahh we seem to enjoy or not the same weather patterns. Funny the different holidays around countries. Though like you holidays don’t mean everything closing up here mainly banks, government and schools. Retail rarely.

    • I read in the newspapers this week, Lavada, that several banks here in the UK are now going to remain open on a bank holiday in future. Seems rather odd to me, taking a step backwards, especially as many internet bank, use cards and we have cashpoints everywhere. It is only the odd one day. Are people seriously that money-mad? Next it will be everywhere open on Christmas Day too at this rate.

  4. Beautiful flower pictures!

    • Thank you, Trisha. I do love my garden. It may be small but brings hours of enjoyment and brightens up a rainy day, especially on a bank holiday! 🙂

  5. LOL, Kit! You summed up British bank holidays perfectly. Old Sir John’s got a lot to answer for 😉 But good on him for being responsible for giving us a few extra days off, even if those days are mostly spent avoiding the weather!

  6. Valerie J. Patterson

    Lovely photos, Kit! Oddly, having the banks closed here does not necessarily mean everyone has the day off as well. The Federal Reserve kind of says when banks are open and when they are closed. There are several holidays when the banks are closed that most other people still have to go to work and the schools remain open, too. Frankly, I believe people need more breaks and time away from the workplace. There are some countries that put sleeping quarters in their workplace so that people can take a siesta during the day. They claim this provides for happier employees and a higher output of work. :P.

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