Even in our most extravagant moments, few of us could claim to share a huge amount in common with the gilded lifestyle enjoyed by the Kardashian-Wests. Particularly, one imagines, when it comes to summer holidays.
Have luxury villas, super yachts or private jets been a feature of your lockdown escape? Or has it been rather more a ‘let’s pack up the car and head to the static caravan in Wales’ affair? I thought as much.
One thing Kim and Kanye’s summer break may have in common with your own, however, is that after five, long months in lockdown, a few days away might just afford you the opportunity to ponder a major life change.
The Kardashian-Wests have just returned from the Dominican Republic where they apparently went to “focus on their marriage” in what is said to have been a make-or-break trip for the couple. A source told People magazine that the holiday was a chance to “consider the future of their relationship” after a tumultuous few weeks in which the rapper launched his presidential bid at a chaotic rally where he suggested the couple had considered aborting their first child – prompting renewed speculation about his mental health.
“Between the kids, work and dealing with Kanye’s bipolar episodes, it’s been hard for her [Kim] to think clearly,” the source said. “She just wants to do what’s best for the kids. And she thinks finding a way to save her marriage is what’s best for them.”
The trip seems to have done the trick. People reports the couple (whose shared net worth is in the billions) had a good week away. “Kim and Kanye are getting along,” a source told the magazine. “They both seem much happier.”
Whether you are considering a career change in a tent in Devon or questioning your marriage in an Airbnb in Brittany, this summer has marked a turning point for many. There is nothing quite like a few days away amid signs of a resurgent global pandemic to crystallise conundrums that have been bubbling under the surface.
Last week, Gwyneth Paltrow revealed in Vogue that she decided her marriage to Chris Martin was over in 2014, and that it was time to “consciously uncouple”, while they were on holiday in Tuscany. Brad Pitt and Jennifer Anniston seemed to be all over each other in photographs taken of them on a Carribean beach on New Year's Day 2005, but announced their split seven days later.
Meanwhile Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have a bit of a habit of making big life decisions on holiday. They reportedly fell in love on their third date in Botswana, and - three years later - are said to have "secretly plotted" their decision to exit the Royal family when holed up in a multi-million pound mansion on Vancouver Island.
And who could forget Theresa May’s walking holiday in Snowdonia in which she decided to call a snap election, despite having repeatedly said it wasn’t something she would consider doing? “I spent a few days walking in Wales with my husband, thought about this long and hard, and came to the decision that to provide that stability and certainty for the future, this was the way to do it – to have an election,” she announced that summer in 2017.
After five long months of lockdown, it’s no surprise many are considering a major life change. Divorce enquiries have tripled, with couples who have decided to separate warned to expect a backlog in the family courts after lockdown. Meanwhile, estate agents have reported a surge of interest from city dwellers wanting to escape to the country or the coast. Across the UK, inquiries about buying a home in a village jumped by 126 per cent in June and July, compared with the same period last year, according to Rightmove, while estate agent chain Knight Frank reported similar trends.
Katie Roberton, 47, took her son Arthur, eight, on holiday to Bournemouth last week, and while she was there realised that her long-harboured plan to move out of south-west London to the seaside was no longer a pipe dream, but a necessity. “I’m now really determined to make a move as soon as possible, for a major lifestyle change,” says Roberton, a ceramicist whose business, Outlandish Creations, boasts celebrity clients including Lady Gaga and Damien Hirst.
“I think the lockdown has really changed an awful lot for me. I’m a single parent, I’ve been on my own for a while now, I just think there are more important things than [living near] friends.
“At the beginning of lockdown, I was really ill, I had suspected Covid and really wasn’t very well for about a month, and it just made me reevaluate what is actually important.”
A week away clarified for Roberton, who currently works from her kitchen table, how life changing a move could be both for her and her little boy. “We rent a tiny flat and it’s very difficult for work. My business is full of boxes and bubblewrap and tape. The sitting room is piled high with boxes and teacups. To be able to have a garden with a studio in would just be bliss.
“My son would be so much happier by the sea. We could get a little dinghy. We both love swimming. Being by the coast would give us so much more to do.”
Roberton inquired with a few estate agents in Bournemouth on the spot last week, but was told properties were being “snapped up” immediately as others decided to make the same move. “The amount of people who are looking down there right now is crazy. The agents said you’ve got to be down here because stuff is getting snapped up just so quickly.”
For Elaine Kingett, 70, a few days away in Crete in July provided a welcome full-stop on the end of lockdown, and made her more certain than ever that what she really wants is to up sticks and move to the Greek island. Kingett, a writing mentor who currently lives in east London, had been weighing up the idea of selling up and moving out for a while, but feels that, after getting Covid and spending a good amount of lockdown living alone, she is more empowered than ever before to make the move.
“I’m 70,” she says. “I had a heart attack and breast cancer, and my parents died before they were 80 and I’ve got no partner, no dog, no mortgage, no grandchildren as of yet, so why not go off and have an adventure rather than sitting around waiting for things to maybe not happen?” she says.
Kingett’s three grown up children are in full support. “My contemporaries ask: ‘Oh, what do your children say? They must be worried about you...’ The children say ‘Go and do it, mum! Spend our inheritance. We’ll come and see you.’ “There’s a possibility that my daughter Lucy and I might buy a place together in Crete to run as a retreat,” she says. “My husband’s ashes are scattered in Crete. She went to university in Greece and speaks the language.”
For Kingett, who has been running writing workshops via Zoom throughout the pandemic, lockdown has made her braver. “What it’s taught me is the ability to adapt,” she says. “I want a challenge. And also I do feel I’ll have more of a chance of meeting someone if I’m not sitting in my flat in Stoke Newington, and only going to the places that I’ve always gone to.
“In places like Spain and Greece and Italy, the attitude towards older women is not so ‘Oh, at your age you shouldn’t be thinking about sex…’ I think I can be a more vibrant woman in another country.”
Back from her holiday, Kingett is packing up her flat and about to embark on her new adventure. She’ll begin by spending the autumn in Seville before possibly settling in Crete. “I’m not scared of change. It’s fun, and I can do it if I want.”
If the beginning of the pandemic was categorised by fear and uncertainty perhaps, then, the aftermath marks a call to bravery and giving yourself permission to “lean in” to change – whether in your marriage, your living situation or your career. Though we can’t all jet off to the Dominican Republic to ponder our options. A Suffolk campsite might have to do.