An Autumn Abroad

12 October 2018

Cultural Studies | History

Autumn Abroad. The continent calls © Permission granted by Thomas Cook Archives. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.

 

Here in Britain, we had a glorious summer. With six consecutive weeks of soaring temperatures, we spent the season on beaches, in beer gardens and at BBQ’s. It was essential to remember your sun cream, not your waterproof. Come September, I had to dust off – literally dust off – my umbrella. As such, I’m struggling to feel the autumn spirit; no amount of toffee apples, Pumpkin Spice Lattes, Buzzfeed articles about hygge, or baby seals on Autumn Watch has yet done the trick.

Perhaps what I need is to experience the new season in a change of scene. As this historic poster from the Thomas Cook archive suggests, I should go abroad for the autumn. As the sources from Leisure, Travel & Mass Culture show, late breaks are no modern phenomenon, so here are my top five picks for getaways to banish the autumn blues.

 

New England

Fewer places on earth will deliver forests of russet and gold better than New England.

America Begins in New England, 1987, © Copyright of this material is retained by the content creators. John W. Hartman Center, Duke University does not claim to hold any copyrights to these materials. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
New Hampshire Troubadour Yearbook 1938, 1938, © Copyright of this material is retained by the content creators. Michigan State University does not claim to hold any copyrights to these materials. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.

The area in the USA is famous for its gorgeous landscape of sugar maple trees, dotted with pretty villages and ubiquitous white church spires. Follow in the footsteps of early 20th century tourists and take a motoring holiday through New England’s thick forests, enjoying the crisp autumn air and glowing backdrop of vibrant leaves.

 

Blackpool

If you think a seaside city simmers down when the sunshine dries up, then you have never experienced the Blackpool illuminations.

Blackpool's New Illuminations. Gay by Day. Bright ..., 12 Sep-19 Oct 1936, © Tourism Collection, Local and Family History Centre, Blackpool Central Library. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.

Famed for being healthful spot, the second half of the 19th century saw Blackpool transform into the most visited seaside resort in Britain. The illuminations first began in 1912 and served as an innovative way to extend the short summer season into autumn, and keep holidaymakers returning year on year to see the spectacular light show.

Blackpool Autumn Season. Day – "Autumn's Glory" Ni..., 19 Sep-19 Oct 1931, © Tourism Collection, Local and Family History Centre, Blackpool Central Library. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.

You can read more about Blackpool’s extraordinary history as a holiday hotspot in Leisure, Travel & Mass Culture’s fascinating exhibition page.

 

Egypt

Thomas Cook was quick to spot the potential of the Nile cruise as a blockbuster package holiday.

Cook's First Egypt Office, Cairo, c.1872, © Permission granted by Thomas Cook Archives. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.

Cook put on his first Nile cruise in 1869; it was the company’s first package holiday outside Europe and the USA. The tours proved so popular that in 1872, Cook was able to open their first office in Cairo.

An Autumn Three Months' Tour to Italy, Athens, Pal..., 1891, © Permission granted by Thomas Cook Archives. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.

First class steamers conveyed you along the Nile, taking in top destinations like Cairo, Luxor and Alexandria, ticking sights like the pyramids and the sphinx off your holiday bucket list. And according to Cook’s Excursionist Home and Foreign Advertiser, autumn tours combine reduced prices with moderate temperatures and quieter boats.

 

Yosemite National Park

It’s back to the USA for unbeatable natural drama in Yosemite National Park.

Visit Yosemite This Autumn, n.d., © California Historical Society. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.

A favourite spot of Theodore Roosevelt, Yosemite National Park attracts up to 5 million visitors a year. It’s easy to see why one might visit in autumn, when the golden browns and warm reds of Yosemite’s dogwoods, oaks and sequoia trees stand in stark contrast against the backdrop of the stark grey Sierra Nevada mountain range.

[Images of the Yosemite National Park], 1927, © Copyright of this material is retained by the content creators. Massachusetts Historical Society does not claim to hold any copyrights to these materials. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.

The area was brought to public attention by Thomas Ayers & James Mason Hutchings, who publicised Yosemite as a prime holiday destination. Read some of Hutching’s efforts in Leisure, Travel & Mass Culture, with his Hutchings’ Tourist Guide to the Yo Semite Valley and the Big Tree Groves.

 

Kyoto

Everyone knows about Japan’s cherry blossom season, but the vivid reds of the autumnal foliage is just as breath-taking.

This image was sourced from Wikimedia Commons, and has been released into the public domain by its author, User: (WT-shared) ChubbyWimbus at wts wikivoyage. This applies worldwide.
How to See Kyoto & Nara, 1964, © Copyright of this material is retained by the content creators. Michigan State University does not claim to hold any copyrights to these materials. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.

Kyoto shares New England’s fame for the way in which maple leaves transform the landscape. According to a 1964 guide, How to See Kyoto & Nara, one the best views is from Kiyomizu Temple. Nestled in the hillside, the wooden temple was founded in 804 AD, and looks out over a dramatic valley of bright red maple trees.

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About the Author

Rachael Gardner - Stephens

Rachael Gardner - Stephens

Joining Adam Matthew in January 2015 has given me the chance to work with exciting and diverse material, from photographs and dispatches for Migration to New Worlds, to British diplomatic papers for our forthcoming project on the Middle East - perfect fodder for a history geek!

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