I am taking part in Yummy Mummy in Training’s Blog Every Day in August challenge.
Day 18 is: A Summer Memory.
When I was little, a lady down the road would hire a coach every Wednesday in the summer holidays.
People from the estate would pay £3 per seat to go to Bournemouth each week.
The weekly beach trips were going on long before I was born; it was an annual tradition for my extended family and friends. We would gather on the grass outside the organiser’s house at 8 every Wednesday morning, back packs crammed with sun cream, spare t shirts, packed lunches, all manner of paraphernalia and, of course, buckets and spades galore. All of this, along with pushchairs, trolleys and deckchairs would be stowed by the driver under the coach, while we all piled onto the bus.
The journey to Bournemouth was filled with singing. Such classics as “There’s a Hole in my Bucket” and the Boney M classic “Brown Girl in the Ring” would be belted out, until we got to a particular corner at the top of a hill in Bournemouth; as soon as we rounded that corner, the coach erupted into “I CAN SEE THE SEAAA!”
The coach dropped us in a car park near the beach, unloaded our junk, and left us to it. And there we were, come rain or shine, until the coach picked us up again at 6pm.
A group of us always sat together on the beach. There was my family (mum, my brothers and older sister (younger sisters weren’t born yet); Auntie Margaret and my cousins; Olly who lived down the road, and her 2 children; Sandra and Julie, inseparable sisters who sang and danced and did basically anything to get a giggle, and their sons; sometimes their mother, Mrs Fancy, would join us too. She was old but glamorous; I remember her sitting on the beach in a big sun hat and dark glasses, chain smoking. There was Elsie, her daughter and daughter in law, and their children; “Shopping Janet” from down the road (so called because as soon as we got there, she would dump her stuff and head off “up town” to do some shopping) with her 3 children, and usually a whole bunch of friends and hangers on.
We would pick a spot on the beach directly in front of a particular building, so that we were easy to find when getting out of the sea. Deck chairs were lined up in a massive semi-circle, and once we were all settled the children would set about digging a massive hole in front of the chairs. This had the double benefit of keeping all the children entertained for a while, and making sure nobody could set up camp in front of us and obscure the view of the sea.
|Ignore the flash light on my brother’s back; it’s a photo of a photo.
Our Wednesdays were spent in and out of the sea, eating sand-filled sandwiches, building the biggest sand castle we could manage, burying someone in sand then pouring water over them (see the photo of me!) and generally having fun. Every now and then, my older cousin would take me up to the arcade on the pier to put my pennies and 2ps in one of the machines. It was always so exciting when I got some more out! Very rarely, we would be allowed to go into the rock shop or the souvenir shop to buy something. Sometimes, my cousins would go to the pavilion to buy a cone of chips on our way back to the bus. I would pester and pester my mum to buy me my very own cone of chips, but we were never allowed.
On the days when it rained, we would decamp up to the road, to sit under the arches in our row of deckchairs. We would still run in and out of the sea, claiming that the sea was definitely warmer when it rained. We would mooch about under the arches, complaining of being bored while our parents gossiped and smoked and told dirty jokes until home time.
Of course, the coach ride home was filled with more singing of the same songs. As we rounded the corner to the road leading to our estate, we would sing “here we are, here we are, here we are again!”
On the last week of the holidays, the coach would stop at a pub on the way home. Children were left outside in the garden while parents went in for drinks.
Every Tuesday in the summer holidays was spent shopping and preparing for the beach. Sometimes my mum would let us choose a special pack of crisps to take with us, and spent hours in the kitchen preparing individual sandwiches for us all. Thursdays were spent clearing the sand out of our clothes and bags and talking about what fun we’d had, and what we’d do next week; who would make the bigger sand castle, who we would bury in the sand this time.
Looking back, I suppose we were quite poor. I only remember my dad coming with us to the beach a couple of times, because he always had to work. We always brought packed lunches, and never bought anything while we were at the beach, unless my nan came with us and treated us to some sweets. And my mum never, ever gave in to our constant begging and pleading for a cone of chips from the pavilion, because there were four of us and it would have been too much money. But we were happy; that was our summer holiday, and we looked forward to it all year.