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Adios, sombreros and Pie Ella. The age of the package holiday is over | Stuart Jeffries

Thomas Cook is in trouble, in part due to our changing holiday habits. These days, the individual experience has replaced the communal

When my primary school friend Mark turned up at my door that summer with the gift of a model Spanish bull, I was conflicted. I would have preferred a sombrero of course, but otherwise, I was in awe. He had just come back from a package holiday in Spain. The sea, he reported, was warm! He had been on a plane! Twice! He’d eaten something called Pie Ella!

This was absurdly adventurous for a Black Country family in the early 1970s. I think it was the same year our family went to Minehead Butlin’s and I declared to my stunned parents I was prepared no longer to participate in the knobbly knees contest.

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