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Silver Travel Book Club - Book of the Month - June 2019

I was a child in the 60s and have fond memories of going on holiday with my family to Weymouth where the sea is safe to swim in and there is a nice beach. In my memories the sun was always shining but I’m sure that wasn’t the case really! Although there was a nice sandy beach my Dad liked to sit on the pebbly beach and I can remember the uncomfortable walk down to the sand and sea from where we were sitting – even with flip flops on it was still uncomfortable! I used to enjoy the sand models that were made every summer by a very clever man, watching Punch and Judy, eating ice creams and I particularly enjoyed the donkey rides. I also enjoyed paddling in the rock pools near the Portland Bill lighthouse. We went to Weymouth every year from when I was born until I was about 11. Then sadly, my Dad became ill and died of cancer when I was 13 and we never went back to Weymouth again on holiday. However, my husband’s parents live in Dorset so we visit regularly and sometimes pay a visit to Weymouth, which brings back happy memories for me but I have never set foot on the pebbly beach again!!!

Just married and poverty-stricken, my wife and I desperately wanted a holiday abroad. No chance of a hotel or flying at 60s prices. So we bundled our small carvas tent, zip-together sleeping bags and a small gas stove into the boot of the car and headed to Dover , clutching various documents (pre EEC), yellow headlamp converters and travellers’ cheques. After a short channel trip, headed down the N roads towards Provence. What a revelation when we got through the Rhone gap. There was warmth, herbal aromas and very civilised campsites. Plus the local food and wine was good and cheap, including the Relais Routiers reststops.
We returned for several years, but the first time of experiencing the pleasure of alfresco dining in wonderfully ‘foreign’ surroundings couldn’t be recaptured, even when we could manage to afford more comfortable accomodation.

Ah, I was still at Junior school in the 60’s so sadly the only holiday memory I have, the only one I went on, was to Dublin on a school trip. It was my last year at Junior School before moving up and the first with no family. I remember the Ferry across the Irish sea being very rough, and while my friend Joanne and I watched the high waves and rough seas from the outside deck, most of the other kids, and teachers had retired somewhere warmer and less choppy. We were in our element, chatting and feeling very grown up. I remember seeing the occasional head of a teacher peering through the door to check on us but making a hasty retreat inside. I think they were pretty glad when we went back inside.

We were staying in dormitory style rooms and I recall there were other school kids there also which we bumped into at the shop or games room area. Mostly we went on trips. One was to the Irish lottery building and to the Guinness factory. We brought souvenirs back but no Guinness, lol. Sadly, we mustn’t have been given lottery tickets because I’m sure I would have won, lol.

I have been back to Dublin and love it. I’m also planning another trip across to Ireland soon.

Just to note to Carol too that All Creatures Great and Small was my favourite programme. I also recently came across an old James Herriot shouldn’t happen to a vet book while clearing out at home and re read it. Ah the memories, lovely.

This story doesn’t relate a comfortable experience, but at the time, it was a good one.
In the 1960’s, we had virtually no money – but badly wanted a holiday.
Enough for petrol and food (but not accommodation), my boyfriend and I set off in his Morris Minor on the 12-hour journey to Cornwall.
(It would take half the time now, with the better roads, but that was then …)
Vivid memories of Porlock Hill, which we only managed to navigate in reverse (as even first gear wasn’t low enough), and arrived in beautiful St Ives. This was before it had become totally over-run with (other) tourists!
We had no alternative but to sleep in the car (outside the boundaries of the town, as sleeping in cars not legal, I seem to remember). This was no mean feat, as I’m over 5ft 9, but we were much more flexible in those days.
First thing in the morning saw us on the beach, having had a wash in the public toilets, and with a big tray of tea.
On alternate days, we ate Cornish Pasties (and drank cider) in an atmospheric pub.
But the days in between – bliss – we had enough to eat in restaurants. My first taste of lobster. Amazing!
Yes – this sounds a spartan holiday. But I have the fondest memory of escaping to the seaside, the lobster, and the clean air.
It was only on our return to the Midlands, that I realised how nasty the air smelled, in contrast. That Cornish air was magic.

My most vivid memory of a holiday in the sixties is when my husband and I, along with my parents, went on a camping holiday to Switzerland.
After taking the channel ferry, we drove through Belgium and Germany where we spent a night en route in what turned out to be one of the worse thunderstorms I have ever experienced, our tent was literally floating off the ground.

What made this even more memorable, is, that same night while we huddled together trying to keep dry, my father spoke for the only time I have ever heard, about his role in the 2nd Wolrld War. He was a flight engineer on the Lancaster Bombers and whether it was because we were in Germany that made him speak out but he told us just a little of the horrors he had seen. I never heard him speak of his time in the RAF again.

Arriving in Switzerland and our campsite by Lake Lucerne, was truly magical. It gave me a lifelong love of lakes and mountains and I was lucky enough to return about 30 years later and managed to locate that same campsite opposite the Lido. I also remember the painted tunnel/bridge which sadly was burnt down.

In the Sixties I visited Egypt for the first time, in a small group. Got hooked and returned fifteen times on my own, visiting all the main cities and archaeological sites, climbed up inside the Great Pyramid and descended into the tomb of the bulls. In the Giza area I got to know many locals and was invited to meet their families. I learned Arabic for three years so I could converse with the wives and older generation, who delighted in meeting someone who was interested in their homes and daily lives The children spoke excellent English,and a six-year-old girl became my guide and friend.

I was invited to engagement and wedding parties, and was the only European at a “horse-dancing” display, where a Saudi princess was buying horses from the local stable, very dashing. I also attended a “circumcision celebration”, when the whole village turned out to celebrate ( not perform! ) the rite for four little boys. The village square was covered with carpets, and a famous singer had been booked from Luxor. All the men danced while we women sat on the outdoor steps and porches drinking coca-cola.

I was once invited to see the pyramids by moonlight, and expected it to be a quiet, rather romantic date. There were lots of families up there, all having midnight picnics in the cooler night air. Green space is at a premium, and families also had picnics on roundabouts in the middle of the main road, stepping over wires meant to keep them off.

I also took my daughter who had MS, while she could still walk a little, and she too was welcomed warmly. I am so glad we did it, as she soon had to use a wheelchair all the time. Now that the Grand museum is being built, I would love to go back while I can still get about myself, even take my nine-year old great-grandson; but the current situation, including a very recent bomb attack on a tourist bus right at that very building site, sadly makes it a too dangerous choice at the moment.

I am loving this early posts. DRSask, I have never seen the Smokey Mountains. Your childhood memories are wonderful. I love the image of your grandfather burning off the tic. Horrifying!. Lancinggirl, your images are those of my childhood. I am from County Laois and I remember so well the pony traps and the house and carriages. My grandparents had horses on our farm. I might well write that book!
Keep the memories coming, please. Carol x

How lovely to have author Carol Drinkwater @Carol-OliveFarm take time out from her busy schedule to drop by and say hello to Silver Travel Book Club members. Thanks so much, Carol…I know you’re in the middle of travelling widely to promote your new book and this month’s Book Club read ‘The House on the Edge of the Cliff’, so it really is appreciated.

Here’s the challenge we set Book Club members to win a copy of your book, set so vividly in Paris during the 1960s, and later in the South of France, where you’ve lived for many years yourself:

There are passages in ‘The House on the Edge of the Cliff’ which take place in Paris during the 1960s. What are some of your own best holiday memories during that decade? Or what travel experiences have you had in beautiful Provence?

We’ve already had some great comments, and thanks so much @Lancinggirl and @DRSask for your own captivating travel memories.

Looking to see loads more as the month progresses, and I’ll be dropping by to quote some passages from ‘The House on the Edge of the Cliff’ as I read it myself.

Happy reading and happy travelling.

The holiday I remember most from the 60s changed my life dramatically. A quiet shy girl of 17 I went with two friends to Ireland to go on a horse drawn caravan hoIiday. It was totally unlike me to speak up and volunteer but we something made me. We had the most amazing holiday travelling around the Ring of Killarney in this gypsy Caravan. We had to chase the horse round the fields to catch it in the mornings, walk up the hills to take the weight off for the horse and walk down the hills to hold the horse back. In effect we walked the Ring! We stopped at farmhouses for fabulous meals and in the pubs at night for the craic. Music and singing with the most amazing company. You can’t beat the Irish for a good night out.

My friend had enjoyed it so much she said she was going back the next year to work in Dublin after going north for a year: did I want to go with her? I said yes, not expecting her to turn up, but she did a year later and we went to work in Dublin. Two weeks later I met the man who was to become my husband. What happened after changed the course of my life in so many dramatic ways it would make a book in itself! Maybe Carol can ghost write it for me?

Worthing

I haven’t read any of Carol Drinkwater’s books but I will rectify that soon. They look very interesting! I have yet to make it to Provence but do love Paris which I have been to a number of times though not in the 60s as it was the 90s before I went to France. The most memorable travel experience for me in the 60s was when we immigrated to Canada by sea however it wasn’t technically a vacation. The severe weather and resulting sea sickness aboard would have qualified it as about the worst vacation! The following year we went by bus from Montreal to visit family in North Carolina. My aunt and her family had immigrated to the US a few years before we left the UK and we had not seen them since their move. Coincidentally, my paternal grandparents were visiting them as well and did not know that we were going to be joining them. I do vividly remember surprising them as my grandfather was burning a tick off my grandmother’s skin – a method no longer recommended. It was a lovely little family reunion in the heat of summer. I was only a child but I remember spending a lot of time outside. We camped at the lake where they sailed their little boat, had picnics, and watched a fireworks display. I also recall a trip with them to see the Smokey Mountains and they lived up to their name. I wish I remembered more about the trip. We don’t have many photos to look back on but the few we do have help.

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