Traveller's tales

Saturday, June 03, 2006

How We Used To Holiday

Where the brass bands play Tiddely-om-pom-pom!

D’you remember knotted handkerchiefs - buckets and spades – buxom barmaids – toffee apples – sticks of rock – fish and chips – Morecambe – Blacky – Rhyl – Douglas – Southport – rain – full English breakfasts. Do you? If you do, you’re older than you look.

“Ee, I remember Wakes Week, I could hardly sleep on Friday night for thinkin’ about it. We’d set off early, get to Yelloways for about nine. The coach would be there waitin’. I think it were bright orange, an’ new lookin’ too.”

My Dad used to carry our suitcase – a battered leather thing – to the bus garage.

“Why in’t our suitcase blue an’ grey like theirs over there?” I would ask my father.

“That’s been to Alexandria, that has,” he said so I shut up. He smiled at my puzzled look as I got on the bus.

“Me Dad put our suitcases in the back of the bus, an’ we all got on. When it were full, we set off.”

“There were no motorways in those days, but they were just startin’ buildin’ the Preston by-pass so we used to look out for it on the road to Cleveleys.”

“Me Dad ‘d say, “Hey up, Robert, we’re goin’ on t’motorway,” an’ we’d get excited cos it were the only one in England then.”

At Wakes week, all the mills would shut down, and the exodus would start, mostly by bus and train; very few people owned cars when I was a kid going on holiday to Cleveleys with me Mum and Dad and our Gillian.

A few men would stay behind though, and do much needed work maintaining the Lancashire boilers which were only closed down for repair once a year.

The rest of us, those that could afford it, were off – for one week, and later for two when things got better.

The sun always shone on those mornings, just like it did every day of the five weeks we were off school.

It rained plenty, of course, we just never remembered it.

I remember papershops that sold shiny red buckets and spades, fishing nets, comics and best of all – plastic footballs. I knew I would be given a comic later that night, so’s my Mum and Dad could go out together after they’d taken us for a walk towards Fleetwood to tire us out, ready for bed. I bought my own football out of my oddie.

When we reached what my Grandma called ‘t lodge’ at 19, The Corners, just off the front, my Dad put the cases down and pressed the round marble looking doorbell. The door opened, and there stood Mrs Diggle, beaming at us all.

No en suite bathrooms in those days, but everything was spic and span, which is why we always went there, and her weekly rates were good too, my Dad said.

A bit later, Uncle Joe and Auntie Joan and Diane and Micheal arrived. They had come up on the train. Diane used to be sick on a bus. They were here, that was the main thing.

First things first, said my Dad, let’s get these lads some bumpers, and we’d go back along The Corners until we reached some shops. Mum and Auntie Joan and Diane and our Gillian looked at swimming costumes, and me and Micheal and Uncle Joe and my Dad looked at newspapers, white hats for bald heads, bumpers and plastic Frido footballs..

Bumpers are what we used to call shoes you went on the beach with. They were dark blue with a white line between the canvas upper and the rubber sole. They were better than pumps. They looked more modern. We tried a few pairs on, me and Micheal, and our dads forked out for them. They usually came with some form of warning from both our dads.

“Don’t go getting ‘em all mucked up, yer not getting’ any more this year.”

Diane and our kid wore yellow pumps, but they were still pumps and me and Micheal sniggered at them as we strode out in our bumpers.

For some reason, I always seemed to have a red spot on the end of my nose at holiday time, and it matched the bright red pullovers me and my Dad always wore on holiday. My Mum had knitted them. They were thick and warm and we had to take them off and carry them as soon as we got walking on the prom towards Blackpool.

At Bispham we all had an ice cream cornet, except my Mum. She didn’t like ice cream, so she bought a bag of Nuttall’s Mintoes.

“Nuttall’s Mintoes keep you all aglow.
Give one to yer Granny and watch the bugger go.”

They bulged in my Mum’s cheeks for the rest of the afternoon. Our Fairclough’s ice cream cornets lasted all of two or three minutes, and I always got raspberry vinegar down my white Tee shirt.

“If there’s owt to spill, our Robert’ll find it an’ it’ll be up to his elbows in no time,” my Mum said to Aunty Joan.
“He’s just the same”, she said, pointing to her husband.

We just laughed when we got told off on our holidays. After all, they weren’t going to send us back or make us stop in, were they?

But we didn’t get ticked off as much when we were on our holidays, I remember. Maybe it was because my Dad wasn’t tired through having to work shifts at Greenfield Mill. That’s what my Mum told us anyway.

My Dad were somehow different on holiday. He didn’t shout at me as much as he did at home.

We all needed a holiday. My Mum had five weeks off being a dinner lady, and my Dad didn’t have to go to the mill for two whole weeks. Me and our kid, we’d already forgotten school. All we wanted was the beach, and sunshine, and we got plenty of both.

Robert L Fielding

Visit My Website