Friday, 30 August 2013

Lovely Bit of Life - No3


One of the great joys of the two days in Devon with the family
was spending extended time with our great grand son Zachary. 

Having given in to his insistence we have our photo taken
 in the middle of his beach fortress.
 I'm trying not to show how much my aged hips are
 screaming at me for
getting down there. 
It's the sort of picture repeated over and over again in every generation,,
 reflecting the great British holiday tradition of sitting on the beach with the children all day.
 My childhood memories are of single days out,
 not week long holidays.
Weeks before we would actually get to the beach,
 preparations would begin when two neighbours would do a tour
 of the row of houses perched on the Welsh hillside where we lived.
It was their self-appointed job
 to see how much support there was
for an "outing"
 to the sea side for the day.
As even this modest excursion was enough to stretch the budget,
 each week leading up to the outing these same two ladies
 would tour the little community collecting instalments towards the cost,
 until, all paid up,
 the longed for day would arrive.
Sandwiches duly cut and packed, thermos filled with tea,
 swimming costumes, bathing caps, and towels packed into everyday shopping bags,
 we would scramble into the bus ready for the off.
Once the obligatory head count was over off we would go,
with two adults to a double seat as you would expect,
 but and in those pre- health and safety days,
 three children to a similar seat.
It wouldn't be long before the a big bag of sweets would be passed around the bus;
 the result of pooling sweet coupons in those days of post war rationing.
It always seemed an age before somebody who knew the route and thus where to look,
 would begin the chant,
 "I can see the sea!  I can see the sea!"
 until it seemed all the bus had cottoned on
 and having glimpsed a bit of the longed for water somewhere,
was able to join the sing-song.
Once out of the bus, and the queue for the toilets behind us,
 we headed en-masse for the beach,
where one or two would "bag" our place on the sand,
 not too close to the water's edge,
 to allow us to
 remain in the same place all day
without having to move back when the tide came up.
The remainder of the party would hire and carry the stack of deck chairs for the adults,
 which would be arranged
 in one large arc facing the sea.
We kids would sit in the centre of the semi-circle under the eagle eye of the grown ups,
 so all our castle building, squirming in and out of  "cozzies",
 wandering up and down to the sea, and communal paddling,
 was supervised and commented on.
Our lunch of sandwiches would be liberally seasoned with sand from our fingers
 and I can still taste the hated cold egg and grit, and the stewed thermos tea. 
 Still, eaten with friends,
 (and if possible swapped for their tit-bits),
with ones toes buried in the cold, wet, sand,
and the smell of the sea in ones nose,
they still went down well. 
Our return home at the end of the day would pass
 oh! so much more quickly than our journey to the sea,
and far too soon the old music hall songs we sang all the way,
would come to an end
 as we would tumble out of the bus in the gathering summer dusk,
say our "Good nights",
and go our separate ways.
I am slightly sad Zachary will not have these memories of community,
of neighbours who seemed like extended family,
 but he will have his own treasured moments to look back on.
He obviously has his own way of collecting these,
and perhaps his drawings of the family,
done on post-its
and stuck to his pyjamas to carry to sleep with him,
means he has already begun.
Learning to hold those you love close can't start too young,
or last too long can it?



  1. Thanks for this wonderful post filled with new and old memories. I felt like I was there on the beach and in the bus singing with you. Devon is such a handsome little lad who looks like he is enjoying every moment of time spent with his great grandma. Blessings and prayers for you.

  2. I guess like every great grandmother I feel I'm getting the best of the bargain when I'm with him Lynda.
    Love and blessings, x