Living It Up

Trigger Warning: Just don’t look at the photos Claire

I so loved my family holidays when I was growing up, that it’s incredible to think they were matched by those first few holidays away without them. In 1979 I spent a week in Southwold and another in Waldringfield with mum, dad and my sister but in 1980, I decided it was time to leave my childhood behind. Some of my friends were of a similar mind and Helen F., Sue, Tony and I booked a chalet at Caister Camp for the summer of 1980. Others wanted to join us but since we only had a 4-berth chalet Dave and Helen M. decided to pitch a tent nearby whilst Laura and Andrew stayed in the Newcombe holiday home at nearby Scratby.

And so the time arrived. I believe Sue’s father very kindly drove us door to door – even Tony hadn’t started driving yet and our spirit of adventure didn’t stretch as far as the inconvenience of trains or coaches. Surprisingly my memory of this holiday is not as sharp as if often is. I know we sometimes went to the entertainment on camp and at other times we travelled into Yarmouth for the day or evening. I suppose we used the famous blue buses of Yarmouth though I don’t completely recall.

One strong memory is of sitting on the veranda of what is now the Grosvenor Casino but back then was Shadingfield Lodge. The girls were drinking Snowballs, I don’t recall what anyone else’s tipple was although Lowenbrau was one of my early favourites before I got a taste for bitter. At 52p a pint it was an expensive drink which was known to us as Laughing Brew. The veranda was packed with other young people either holidaying or perhaps locals. It was one of those points in my life when I – at just 17 – felt considerably grown up.

Holiday (1)

Other highlights of that first holiday include our beach barbecue at the foot of the cliffs in Scratby, later immortalised in poetry. What I also remember about that barbecue is that after shopping in a well-known supermarket for our steaks etc. we purloined the basket we had shopped with and converted it into our barbecue. Sorry Sainsbury!

I was reminded by Helen of her and Laura hanging teabags on the washing line to dry. I doubt I was involved in this sacrilege because I more than likely had a can of beer on the go.

Oh, before I leave 1980, that poem!

Remember the night at Scratby
When we had the barbecue
The moon was shining brightly
With no clouds to block its view
The sea was lapping gently
And a gentle wind did blow
The drink was flowing freely
As the coals began to glow
We had lamb chops and mushrooms
Pork steaks and burgers too
We washed them down with beer and wine
had slow tapes, old and new
And then just after midnight
We all looked up quite quick
A sound! the cry of seagulls?
No, Helen being sick.

So, that was our first successful ‘mates’ holiday. The following year we were back in Norfolk but at Hemsby, this time filling two chalets with around twelve of us. This was an even more grown up affair for we had recently left school (16th June for me – you never forget that date).

Incidents of that holiday include Andi careening around the chalet site in Tony’s car leaving us knocking on doors apologising for a stuck throttle cable. Andi and I (I am calling my dear, old friend Andi in this blog but he was actually known to one and all as Mags in those days. The reasons why are a bit complex. One day I will unravel it. Meantime, I’ll stick to Andi), so where was I? Yes, Andi and I were sharing a room and we were also sharing a bottle of rum and a bottle of blackcurrant. We were quite partial to a rum and black in those days and would have one or two before setting out for the evenings drinking. I think we had killed the rum by Tuesday actually. Incidentally, there is a memorial to our love of rum and black on the back of a house in Goffs Oak. Twas where Andi used to live and happened after he leaned out of his bedroom window after a night of rum and blacks. The purple streak remained in situ for many years and may well still be there today.

Holiday Hemsby

In 1982 we decided to head to the West Country and the village of Kilkhampton. It was when we discovered if you wanted anything you would “Have to go t’ Bodmin for that” This was very nearly going to be the title of this blog. It was a busy holiday and I think there is mileage in it for another blog. There were some sixteen of us in two chalets plus another couple camping nearby. It was also World Cup year back in the days when I still cared. Yes, we’ll come back to that one and the follow up in Hayle in 1983.

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