Archive for the ‘Holiday’ Tag
Booking a holiday today is like scanning through my school geography syllabus. Almost anywhere in the world can be found in a holiday brochure. Until recently, going abroad for you annual holiday was the norm, the UK was kept for second holidays or weekend breaks. We have travelled around the world both following the tourist trail and visiting more out of the way places.
However, my fondest memories is of family holidays camping by Sandy Bay near Exmouth. The whole of my father’s family would descend on the bay for a week in the sun, or rain, it never seemed to matter then. Grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins would congregate on the beach for games of cricket and build huge sand castles. We would gather around a brazier while the men drank bottles of beer and the women prepared the evening meal.
Before the sun rose in the morning I would join my uncles to forage for field mushrooms on the adjoining army firing range before the red flag went up. We never worried about the rain, even when a torrential down pour swept several tents down the grassy slope to the muddy patch by the hedgerow. It was the collective experience that was important. It was the bonds of family that kept us safe. These holidays were the golden days of my youth, treasured memories that live on in faded photographs and old glass slides.
Until I reached double figures, each annual summer family holiday was taken in the south west at a place called Sandy Bay. These were camping holidays and involved most of my fathers brothers and sisters along with his mother. We would spend a week playing inter family cricket matches on the beach, getting up at sunrise to scavenge for field mushrooms on the near-by firing range and watching the menfolk drink too much at night and complain about the noisy kids in the morning.
At first our family of four shared a large green ex-army tent that smelt of musty canvas and some strange waterproofing liquid. As my brother and I out grew the available space a small, grubby white tent was acquired as our bedroom. Around us were many more tents of various sizes to accommodate all the uncles, aunts and cousins that formed the family clan. We thought dad’s eldest sister was by far the most affluent of the family as they had the luxury of a small caravan, although it did not have a WC and they, like all of us would troop off to the toilet block in the mornings for a wash in cold water.
Within this tented community my mother would create a home from home. Using wind breaks she would divide the tent into a bedroom, sitting area and kitchen with the cooker just outside the entrance to the tent to avoid the risk of a fire. Everywhere would be furnished with little extras to make us feel more at home. Even though camping was supposed to be an adventure and involve roughing it a bit we were expected to follow the same routines, including our weekly bath, dressing smartly for outings and putting on pyjamas at bed time.