The first rule is to really make sure you’re in the off-season. With hordes of idle pensioners roaming about the country, benign September or October days no longer qualify as out-of-season. But a rough December day (before the X-mas holidays, mind you ) with 6 to 9 Beaufort will do nicely.
The second rule is to come properly equipped : boots, coat, gloves, scarves for the outdoors and a choice selection of books for the indoors .
The third, most important, rule is to bring along a minimum of melancholy imagination, needed to imbue all those chilly empty boulevards and cafés with pathos and meaning.
A suitably melancholy disposition for off-season savouring can be developed either from nostalgia for happy childhood vacations past or from longings for romantic encounters or even from mid-life contemplativeness.
The combination of all three factors is a sure recipe for a memorable stay at a wind-swept, out-of-season seaside resort.
Which definitely makes me eligible as the perfect out-of-season resort guest!
While I’m not graced with childhood memories of annual seaside vacations, I do fondly remember the annual family outing to the town of Spa. We always went to a creaky establishment near the woods, called “Annette & Lubin”, a certified Ardennes-resort of the Belgian National Railway Company (for which my grandfather worked all his life).
Not sure though whether the off-season concept still applies to Spa. Nowadays “wellness weekends” are all the rage, catering to all-year-round overstressed middle class double income couples as the successors of the elegantly overwrought spa-going aristocrats of previous times. Let it be clear that “wellness weekends” are an altogether different category, having no place at all in a little guide to melancholy out-of-season resorts!
As to longings for romantic encounters, I do have a long history of such longings and at an early age discovered the imaginative potential of the off-season seaside. Many a daydreaming walk have I taken along wintry boulevards. From many a glass of wine have I sipped, looking up from a book and staring out of the window to people struggling with their umbrellas in an autumn storm. Romantic encounters did take place, but (come to think of it), never at resorts and never with any person I had imagined. When at last I did find love (out-of-season, but not at the seaside), it turned out to have nothing to do with any of my a-priori longings.
Now what about mid life contemplativeness, as final savouring factor for the off-season connoisseur? No need for the mid-life. Contemplativeness alone will do... and that I have been graced (or cursed) with all my life.