Time off

· general ·

"So, you're a lecturer — you must get nice long holidays!"

If you're a lecturer or school teacher, you're probably wearily familiar with that kind of comment. While it's true that the students have very long holidays over the summer, so we're not doing any teaching, the departure of the students is the cue for most of us to roll our sleeves up and actually get our own research done. We do have quite generous leave allocations, but the truth is that most academics never manage to take off all the time that they are entitled to.

Part of the problem is that — like many other working people — we don't have anyone to cover our work when we go on holiday. You know that when you come back, you'll be facing exactly what was on your desk (real or virtual) when you left, plus whatever has accumulated in your absence. After a while you feel that it might be less work in the long run to simply stay at your desk.

If you take time off, but don't stray from an internet connection, the temptation to check that nothing urgent has cropped up can corrode your sense of relaxation — another feature that's common to many modern jobs.

For these reasons (and many more!) Mr. Bsag and I hadn't had a proper holiday for more than two years, so last week, we made our escape to Cornwall. It wasn't a long holiday, but it was a complete break: no car, no email, no internet, and best of all — no work.