Reckless fun filled holidays

Sue Nelson

Sue Nelson

First published in Columnists
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Six glorious weeks. Six weeks of busily not doing very much at all where the days blend into one long adventure broken only by having to go in for your tea.

How we used to love the school holidays. Maybe our mams didn't, what with us kids milling around and under their feet. Not that we cared all that much, because we were just glad not to be squirming and fidgeting in the classroom.

Let off the leash, we were pretty inventive if somewhat stupid - playing chicken on the railway line at the back of our street was not the brightest thing I've ever done. Nor was creating a den out of a pile of house bricks on the nearby building site and crawling inside to hide from the site foreman.

Playing tag in a derelict building with half a roof and a plethora of rotten floorboards was a bit dicey too.

But we had no real conception of danger so took what today seem to be the most appalling risks. Oh, we knew to look both ways when crossing the road and that we should take to our heels if approached by anyone we didn't know, but everything else was fair game.

We didn't, for instance, think there was anything wrong in digging up the grass verge in our street and creating our own race track for our Dinky and Corgi cars (I didn't do dollies) but I'm pretty sure the local council workmen would have given us a pasting if they'd caught us in the act. Vandalism of sorts it clearly was, but to us it was all about letting our imagination run wild with whatever was at our disposal. And if it happened to be a grass verge with a bit of dirt in it, then that would do.

And we were never in, simply because once we’d raided the bread bin for plastic bread sustenance there was nothing to keep us there. Apart from Champion the Wonder Horse and Thunderbirds, telly was rubbish and the nearest we got to being glued to a screen was playing with an Etch-a-Sketch - and we only did that when it was slinging it down.

Once in a while over the long drawn out days, we’d be chivvied into the family car (green and white Triumph Herald, red leatherette seats, quarter light windows, mock walnut dashboard, no seatbelts…) for a ride out to the seaside. We’d bounce around in the back asking every five minutes – yes, you’ve guessed it – if we were there yet.

And when we did finally get to There Yet, we’d tumble out of the car, gulping in the sea air to rid ourselves of that carsick feeling, and run pell-mell for the beach, bucket and spades at the ready. Up would go the windbreak, out would come the ruched swimming cozzy, round us would go the towels as we wriggled out of clothes and wriggled in to our far-from-designer swimwear, and on a route march to the water we’d go.

Greaseproof paper-wrapped Wonderloaf sandwiches – always cheese and cucumber in our house – would be grabbed out of shopping bags that doubled up as beach bags on summer weekends, and we’d kneel, shivering as we ate them, and the sand too.

One time I crouched in splendid isolation on vast expanse of Knott End beach on the south of Morecambe Bay digging up the coiled casts of lugworms (I haven’t a clue why) while my dad gave my mum what he grandly called a driving lesson. What that actually meant was her driving round and round in ever increasing circles on the sand - presumably so she didn’t run me over - while I was banished to the beach with my bucket and spade – presumably so I didn’t distract her with my bouncing-on-the-back-seat antics or come a cropper if she happened to crash.

Though what she would have crashed in to was something of a mystery because anyone who knows the Fylde Coast sands will know there’s not an awful lot in the way of obstacles when the tide’s out. Maybe my dad wasn’t so daft after all…

Glorious summer days they were and I wouldn’t have missed them for anything. I hope the kids today have as much fun during their school holidays as we did. Just so long as they keep off railway lines….

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