We tend to forget that it is only relatively recently that the advent of cheaper air travel and package deals meant we started to take holidays abroad for granted.
For many of us, the first memory of a holiday will be at the good old British seaside. So no surprise, surely, if that is where the world and his wife headed as soon as we got the heady combination of exceptionally sunny weather and the easing of some aspects of lockdown. There was probably some comfort in the nostalgia it raised, as well as the actual experience of getting out.
But let’s go back a bit. Earlier trips to the seaside probably differ from those you might make today. If you lived, or have always lived close to the coast perhaps getting there was no big deal? You might have been able to use a routine bus or train service, or even to walk or cycle there.
For others it might have involved a lengthier journey by coach or by car. What was that like? Possibly not that jolly, if, like me, you were plagued by travel sickness. But fun if you got to stop en-route – especially if it was at a pub on the way home and the grown-ups brought you out a bottle of lemonade and a bag of crisps?
Who did you go with? Family or friends?
If it was a full-blown holiday, where did you stay: in a seaside boarding house, a caravan park, a holiday camp, hotel or bed and breakfast?
And what did you most look forward to doing when you got there? Perhaps you enjoyed building sandcastles, looking for shells, playing beach cricket, visiting a funfair or risking a few pennies at an amusement arcade?
Did you have to carry everything down on to the beach? Buckets and spades, a picnic, the windbreak, towels and swimming costumes, folding chairs, coats and extra jumpers in case it rained or was cold. Who recalls the effort of struggling in or out of a damp swimsuit behind or underneath a beach towel?
Paddling or swimming in the sea might have been fun, but it could also be freezing and what about the fear of encountering a jellyfish? Other familiar hazards were greedy seagulls and getting sunburnt. (No-one had heard of Factor anything. It wasn’t until more people started going abroad that we started routinely applying products like Ambre Solaire (or baby oil!)
What foods you associate with holidays? Fish and chips and ice-cream are seaside staples. If you regularly visited the same place was there a particular tea room, restaurant or cafe you would visit?
As well as food, you might unlock a few more stories if you think about the activities that tend to go with a traditional seaside holiday, such as watching a Punch and Judy show, playing crazy golf, taking a donkey rides, seeing the End of the Pier Show, renting a deckchair, eating cockles and whelks, rowing on a boating lake or sailing a toy boat? Did you go shopping for saucy postcards and novelty rock? Was there a carnival or a summer fete?
Of course, you might not have headed for the coast at all. Perhaps you preferred the countryside, hills or mountains. Maybe you went caravanning or camping?
The same process works whatever the destination, so you can extend your memory trip to those early holidays abroad too. Think about the food you ate, the clothes you wore, how you got there, who you met and/or holidayed with and what you particularly looked forward to doing.
What other countries have you visited? And where did your first trip abroad take you? Perhaps you didn’t grow up in this country at all – in which case you will have a different perspective on all of this.
For some, the first taste of foreign travel may have come with a school trip. Or you may have worked or been stationed abroad. Did that widen your choice of holiday destinations? If you were a student, did you go hitch-hiking?
Dig out some of those old photographs and postcards you have held on to. As well as looking at these, see if you can find any mementos or souvenirs.
As ever, if you come across something that makes you smile, do add a few notes or a picture to your scrapbook or personal memory box.
YOUR CHALLENGE (Should you choose to accept it…)
Is to bring something of a particular holiday atmosphere to you.
This could be something as simple as packing up an old-fashioned picnic (or wrapping up some fish and chips) and eating this outside. Don’t forget your Thermos of tea.
Or you could have a go at turning a corner of your house or garden into a little Bistro, Tapas Bar, or Taverna (complete with tablecloth and candle in a wine bottle?) and create a themed occasion! Why not go the whole hog, and dress up in your holiday togs and find some appropriate music? Is there a game (e.g. of cards) you could play that reminds you of holiday time? Warning: unless you have access to a wide open space, it is probably best to avoid something like French cricket!
We’d love to see your pictures!
If you have anything you’d like to share with us, and are happy for us to post onto this page, and our social media pages – please email them over to email@example.com.
We’d love to hear from you, and make this a fun community activity with loads of people taking part and sharing their stories, photos, comics – and anything else!
- What year did Cliff Richard and The Shadows set off in a bus for their “Summer Holiday”? And where did they go?
- Who starred in the 1953 film “Roman Holiday”?
- The song “Eviva Espana” was originally written in which language in 1970? (Clue: it’s not the obvious one!)
- Which of Charles Dickens’s title characters was born in Suffolk?
- Jane Austen began (but failed to finish) a novel set in a coastal resort. What was it (the novel and the place) called?
- What colour of the blazers were worn by the staff in the TV holiday camp comedy series “Hi-de-Hi”?
- The composer Claude Debussy apparently finally finished his famous work, “La Mer” (“The Sea”) whilst staying in an English seaside resort. Take a guess at which one.
Answers to last week’s Garden quiz:
- Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary had a garden that grew with silver bells and cockle shells.
- Poet and hymn writer Dorothy Frances Gurney wrote that “with the kiss of the sun for pardon and the song of the birds for mirth, you are nearer God’s heart in a garden than anywhere else on earth.”
- American singer Jimmie Rodgers had a big hit with a song called “English Country Garden” (in 1962).
- Frances Hodgson Burnet wrote “The Secret Garden”
- Kew’s first lady gardeners caused a scandal by wearing practical Knickerbocker trousers to work in.
- Tennyson was the poet who wrote “Come into the garden Maud”
- Garden Gnomes were banned from the Chelsea Flower Show, except for its Centenary Year in 2013