Happy Holidays!

Talking to friends about holidays we had when we were young we all agreed that they were too short, that the sun always shone in the summer and there was masses of snow in the winter.

However that is just our memories and lovely though they are the reality is entirely different. Just as it is when you revisit a house you used to live in or a shop you used to frequent – they all seem so small!

Holidays away from home with all the family were overseen by our father who used to be in the army. This meant that he always planned our trips with military precision. Each summer we used to load up the car. This was a major effort as we were a family comprising of four children and our parents. It was a suitcase for each of us, buckets and spades, towels, rubber rings and windbreakers. Do you remember those?

We would then set off for the drive to Burnham On Sea. A long, and quite honestly a horrible trip. Playing I Spy was boring after 5 minutes and I can’t remember what else we played but each one was short lived and the cries of “Are we there yet?”went on and on.

Then came the game of who could see the sea first. How my parents put up with the noise, the breaks to go to the loo and the squabble over sandwiches I don’t know. They must have had the patience of saints.

We used to stay in a hotel although I think that it was really a B&B. I don’t think my father could afford to pay for his family in a proper hotel. All the same it was truly exciting when we arrived, unpacked and hurried down to the beach.

Well of course we couldn’t hurry as we had to find our swimming costumes, the bucket and spades, the towels and the wind breaker. Our swimming cosies were truly awful, we girls had ruched little numbers and the poor boys had trunks that would make Tom Daley fall off his diving board laughing out loud!

I seem to remember that the beach was all sand but speaking to my siblings we had to agree that it was mostly pebbles and a bit tricky to make a castle of any sort until the tide went out.

My mother used to sit in the wind breaker rubbing down her children as we returned soaking wet, only to watch us scamper back to the sea as soon as possible. However she remained as elegant as ever in her boned swim suit (which must have been a bit uncomfortable) and sunbathed as often as she could .We often ran back to her only to find her stretched out on a towel socking up the rays!

My father on the other hand was determined to teach us all to swim. We only found out many, many years later that in fact he couldn’t swim and never mastered this particular skill. But the lessons he gave us all were quite effective, there was a small pier with water underneath it. He would hold us so that our heads didn’t go under the water and then ever so gently let us go. We had to swim then. Doubtless he would have saved us if we seemed to be in any sort of trouble, luckily that wasn’t necessary.

Then when we went home there were a lot more days to fill and our Mother used to make jam sandwiches and wave goodbye as we mounted our bicycles and set off for the day. The only rule was that we had to be back by teatime.

I don’t think any of us remembering those days wouldn’t shudder just thinking about what might have happened to us. It is such a pity that children nowadays can’t enjoy the freedom that we had. We came to no harm apart from a couple of punctures and the wasps attacking our sandwiches. We always returned safely home glowing and fearsomely hungry.

At about the age of eight our parents thought it a good idea that we all had holidays on our own. My first one saw my flying to Paris to stay with some friends of my parents. The fact that they had no children didn’t seem to matter or even that they couldn’t speak English.

My French was terrible – it was a long week. I now have a terrible fear of heights after they took me to the Eiffle Tower and made me walk down the stairs. My knuckles were white with the effort of clinging onto the handrail. I don’t know how many steps there were but it seemed like thousands.

My sister went to Russia for a week with her school and really did not enjoy the trip at all! After that as we were both pony mad we were sent on riding holidays which were blissful for us. We used to have a week on our own. One of would arrive just as the other was leaving. Apart from the horses there were lots of other animals for us to play with, it was heavenly.

Unfortunately one year when we went to the railway station to collect my sister we saw her descent the steps with a large brown box containing six of the scruffiest chickens you ever saw. My brothers and I fell about laughing but one look at our mother’s grim face shut us up quickly. She was definitely not amused! I can’t remember exactly what happened to them but I am quite sure that we did not roast them for Sunday lunch, they were far too scrawny.

My brothers went to Ireland to stay with an aunt and once to Austria to visit another relative, but I don’t remember anything adventures they had on their holidays. I am sure they had some, but wouldn’t dare tell in case they were ticked off.

I don’t remember any more holidays, there must have been lots but it is amazing to me that nowadays parents are more likely take their children to Barbados than Bognor. But I bet the kids don’t have nearly as much fun as we did. They are missing out on the joy of a sand filled sandwich, donkey rides and sticks of rock.

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Jane Buckle

My Grandfather was called Bertie Buckle. He was a journalist in Fleet Street then went to live in India and founded the Bombay Gazette. I am not certain this was true but that was what my father told me! I always wanted to be a journalist but ended up doing Public Relations and Advertising, both of which meant that I was writing Press Releases, brochures and articles about clients. I formed my own little business specialising in P.R and Advertising. Unfortunately my clients drifted away one by one. They thought young and enthusiastic girls were preferable to an old lady of 55! I then moved to France where I lived for six blissful years. I renovated and sold houses and finally I realised my dream and wrote for three magazines there. I even had my own column in one of them. On my return to England I pitched for freelance work with all sorts of magazines and papers. I did write some pieces but I was over the moon when Silversurfers accepted an article. I like to think Bertie would be proud of his granddaughter.

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7th Oct 2013
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The only holidays we ever had were with relatives,but staying on my uncles farm was a real treat,as we were allowed to collect the eggs and help milk the cows.Most of our Summers were spent out of doors in the country, where we amused ourselves with all sorts of imaginary games,many stimulated by the Enid Blyton Stories.or acting out real life situations which we saw, such as hay making.We spent many happy hours in the woods climbing trees,or in the river catching tiddlers,or frogspawn.we would spend days playing,and only went home when we were hungry or it was getting dark.The best holiday we never had was looking forward to perhaps one day having a caravan holiday which we never did have.Nobody of our age group seemed to have holidays away from home,as few people had cars,but a special treat for us was when our Dad borrowed a horse and cart and took us for a ride in the country,Once he hired a taxi and took us all and the neighbours children for a day trip to Burnham on Sea,It was the first time we had ever seen the sea.It is sad today that children are treated like mini tourists,and miss out so much on childhood fun.Camping is a good introduction to out door holidays,and can teach early survival skills,which is far better than having everything provided on a plate in luxury form,and is something that the Kids enjoy.
John Catchpole
29th Oct 2013
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The memories of childhood holidays really took me back to pre WW2 , mainly between 1936 and 1939 where every holiday lasted forever and the sun shone all the time. I was, according to my eavesdropping ways, a poorly child until our doctor suggested that he removed my tonsils, the operation took place on our kitchen table, which is in itself another story.
Does anyone remember steam radio and no TV, Saturday nights were the only time my parents did not have to make my stay at home. The was only one station which was the BBC.
After tea and the regulation bath in front of the "middle" room coal fire our family who at that time was myself and the two parents took our places facing the radio, why facing the radio I could never understand except that the tradition became handy when TV started! any way about 6 o/clock a programme called "In town tonight" about London and its visitors and to this day remember the introduction with voice over roaring traffic saying "Once again we stop the roar of London traffic to bring you In town tonight". My mental picture envisaged policemen lined up across the road stopping all the traffic.

I had no concept of the identity of the visitors and was not really interested but was more excited waiting for the famous Sexton Blake and his assistant Jock who single handed managed to lock up all the current rogues.

As children we had no concept of money or the lack of and all the children played, fought and argued as one excepting the children from the upper village, about a mile from the sea.

Even the fishermen from the beach village seemed to resent those from the "street" who used "their" beach.

Who remembers the tin baths used in those days, I could never understand the joke which said that where there were several children the bathwater used to get warmer as the number of users of the same water proceeded.

I will not go into what we lacked such as telephones, carpets, washing machines etc but I suppose we were not unique.

Did any of you make your own kites from bamboo canes and news papers using glue make from flour and water. The string was obtained from the harvest corn binders and the whole combination would have been quite lethal if it had crashed upon say a car and the beauty was there were no cars in the village.

It was strange that at ten years old I could not tell the time was not literate or numerate but in just over one year I had passed a scholarship to a Grammer school, not that it did any good because I was ignorant of the fact the they spoke "foreign" in France and my first lesson was French, I descended to the depths from that point and upon leaving school (which is another story) everything else was upwards.

I would appreciate feed back because while I get great pleasure from reminiscing I would hate to be greedy and become a bore

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