An Alphabet Of My Life: H


Some of my earliest memories are of going on our annual summer holidays when I was a child. They were always in Britain, and usually by the coast, or an easy drive to the sea. I was constantly car sick as a child, and with no motoways then, the trips from London to Cornwall took so long, we stayed overnight on the way. Cornwall was favoured, as we could stay with one of my dad’s relatives in Penryn, a man I called ‘Uncle John’ who was in fact my dad’s oldest cousin.

It always seemed to be sunny and hot in those days, and our two week holiday consisted of sand castles, ice cream, and huge beaches like Praa Sands, and Newquay. Evening meals would often be fish and chips, or the famous Cornish Pasties.

Then when I was 11 years old, I went on a school trip to France. That gave me the bug for foreign travel, and I eagerly went back on more organised trips to places further south in France, like Biarritz and Royan. Those trips were always by sea ferry followed by train-travel, and I loved how everything seemed so different to England, and more exotic.

By the time I was 14, I considered myself far too old to go on holiday with my parents, and they travelled without me. But as my mum had no desire to leave the UK, they continued to holiday there. As a result, I spent a considerable time not going anywhere on holday, and just stayed at home.

When I met my first wife, she was incredibly well-travelled and had already been to every continent except Antarctica. She was eager to introduce me to places she knew, as well as those she had not yet visited. I went on an aeroplane for the first time at the age of 23, to travel to Tunisia. Once we were married two years later, we could afford to take two holidays every year, and my travels really began. We went to Greece, Crete, Turkey, the Soviet Union, (Moscow, Leningrad, and Kiev) France, (three times) East Germany, West Germany, (Berlin) and Kenya.

After we split up, I lived with a much younger woman for a time. She was also interested in travel, and we took a long trip to Soviet Central Asia and a part of Mongolia, including Tashkent, Samarkand, Dushanbe, Ulan Bhator, and Alma-Ata. With the holiday starting and ending in Leningrad, I got to go back there too. We also visited the WW1 battlefields in Belgium and France, staying in Ypres and Arras.

Then I married again, and with my second wife I visited Egypt, taking a Nile cruise. We also had a long weekend in Amsterdam, and a week in Paris. Other holidays were closer, including the Cotswolds and Pembrokeshire. We also went back to Cornwall, but had a rain-soaked holiday in Looe. One highlight was a trip to Northumberland, taking in Seahouses, Alnwick, Holy Island, and Bamburgh. Whitby provided another holiday location, and we explored North Yorkshire from there.

Following a second break up, I travelled with a girlfriend to Bruges, Normandy, and Edinburgh. Then I went to China alone, to visit a friend who was living and working there. He lived in central Beijing, and that offered me a memorable stay in and around the capital of China, where I finally got to see The Great Wall.

Once I met Julie, we had to consider her children. We took two of them (the younger girls) on enjoyable holidays to Somerset, Bulgaria, and Turkey when they were still at school. But we were also able to get away alone later, going to France, (Carcassonne) Morrocco, Singapore, Malaysia, Barcelona, Ghent, Rome, and Prague.

That trip to Prague in 2011 was the last time I left England. I retired the following year, moved to Norfolk, and we got Ollie. Holidays were now something to also accommodate our beloved dog, and since then we have returned every year to the Lincolnshire coast, save for one year when we rented a cottage in Kent.

I had finally lost the urge to travel abroad, and allowed my passport to expire in 2016. We didn’t want the hassle of airports any longer, and the problems of car parking and dog-kennels. We had seen some great places, and were now content to stay in England.

My holidays had finally turned full circle.

London, 1954: Kids Playing On The Streets

During the school summer holidays of 1954, photographer Thurston Hopkins went out with his camera to capture the antics of young children on the streets of the capital.

This boy is hiding in a drain access. He has removed the metal cover, and is standing on the step inside. Dressed as a red Indian, he is firing his cap gun at unsuspecting passersby.

A street, and an old piece of rope to use for skipping. All they needed to have fun.

This girl is chalking on a wall. She has even added her name and self-portrait to the artwork.

Playing ‘War’. The boy on the pavement is pretending to have been killed.

These boys have made home-made bows and arrows from garden canes and string. They are firing them at a street sign. Five years later, I was doing the same thing.

The little girl is content with her ice-lolly.

This well-dressed youngster is taking her nice dolly for a walk in its pram.

These girls have constructed a primitive ‘sun lounger’, using old crates.

Boys taking turns driving a metal pedal-car.

Friends playing on a derelict bomb-site from WW2. Something I did every year as a child.

Dirt, and a discarded wheelbarrow. Ideal playthings.

This boy is playing cricket, but he doesn’t have a proper bat. He is using a stick instead.

Who knew that pushing a cardboard box along the pavement could be so much fun?

Play Streets were closed to traffic at certain times of the day so that children would be safe.

A boy in a pedal car, wearing an oversized chauffeur’s hat.


Playing on a parked coal lorry.

These naughty boys are actually throwing gravel and small stones at passing cars!

Two boys on home-made wooden scooters. I had one just like those, which my dad made for me.

Reading comics. I used to be bought The Topper every week. One of the boys is reading that.

World Travel: Different Perceptions

I was thinking about my mum today, and smiling as I remembered something she once said.

In 1978, my mum was 54 years old. She had never been outside of Britain, happy to spend all her holidays at seaside locations in England, or visiting friends in Scotland. She had never been to Wales or Ireland, and was content not to have done so. At the time, we still had a shop in south-west London, an off-licence. I had taken a full time job, got married the previous year, and she employed a full-time assistant to help her run the business. I helped out whenever I was free.

One weekend, I was looking though some newsletters, and found one offering a trip to Rome for anyone who held a licence to sell alcohol. It was a five-day tour, escorted by guides, and included all flights, meals, and accommodation. I suggested to my mum that she should go. There would be other single people taking the trip, and it was a small group who would all have something in common, of owning a pub or off-licence. She had never flown in a plane, or owned a passport, but she had seen the Audrey Hepburn film ‘Roman Holiday’, and had previously mentioned a desire to see Rome.

Once I assured her that I would take time off from my job and run the shop for her, and that my wife and I would move back into the upstairs accommodation for the duration of her holiday, she gave in and applied for a passport, sending off a cheque for the deposit on the holiday at the same time. So in June that year, she headed off with a small suitcase, taking a taxi to the airport to meet the tour organiser at the terminal. I was envious, as I had never been to Rome. (I eventually got there in 2002.)

On her return, she looked less than excited. I asked her if she had a lovely time, and she shrugged before replying.

“It rained twice.”
“The food tasted funny”.
“It was too hot, even at night”.
“Everyone hangs their washing out over the street”.
“All the buildings look shabby and run down”.

I reminded her that the buildings she was referring to dated from as long ago as 300 BC. But she shrugged again.

“Well they could do them up a bit. It’s a long way to go to look at someone’s washing and some ruined temples”.

At that point, I gave up.

Many years later, (2009) when I was working for the Police in London, one of my colleagues booked a holiday of a lifetime to Egypt. A full tour of the ancient sites, including Cairo and The Pyramids, and a luxury cruise down The Nile to Aswan. As I had visited Egypt in 1989, I told her what to look out for, and added that I was envious, as I had not seen Cairo or The Pyramids on my trip.

When she got back to work, looking very tanned, I asked her what she thought of her wonderful experience.

“Well, there are lots of stones, beige stones. And beige columns. Once you have seen one, all the others look the same. The food on the ship was good though”.

Our Holiday: The View From The Porch

As I have mentioned, our holiday cabin is situated in the grounds of a hotel, and had a covered porch that I spent much of the time sitting on, with Ollie.

I took some photos of my daily view, one that changed constantly as guests and customers made use of the large beer-garden. These are the last of my holiday photos for this year.

(All of my own photos are full-frame, and can be clicked on to enlarge them.)

The view to the right. The white building is known as ‘The Cottage’, and we have stayed there twice previously. That was before the cabins were erected.

To the left is the non-smoking covered area, adjacent to the main road running through Sutton-on-Sea.

A closer view of the main hotel and the benches of the beer-garden.

This photo is not mine, it is from the website advertising the cabins. It shows all five cabins at the back of the hotel grounds. It can be enlarged too.

If anyone is interested in staying there, here is a link to the main website.
(Scroll down for all the pictures.)

Favourite months

With gales blowing outside, and the local river overflowing its banks, I felt it was a good time to reblog this 2012 post about my favourite months. Only one reader left a like and comment at the time, so it should be new to most of you.


Tomorrow is the first of September, and I always look forward to its arrival. It heralds the end of the summer, and the start of autumn, and is one of my two favourite months, the other being March. This is mainly because March is the month of my birthday, and because it is the end of the winter. I have always enjoyed my birthday. It is personal, unlike Christmas, which is for everyone.

I have always felt that March was a good time to celebrate a birthday. The weather can be surprisingly good sometimes, so it is possible to plan a nice day out, to celebrate. It is far enough away from December, so not caught up in the festive hangover, and equally unaffected by the summer rush for outdoor activities. In England, most places of interest or traditional seaside tourist spots are still closed up, awaiting the season.


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Holidays At Home

The pandemic is still going to affect foreign travel, so it is a brave soul indeed who is prepared to book a holiday in some exotic location for 2021.

With much of the UK now in the same lockdown situation, holidaying in Britain might be the only option for many people used to seeking sun and excitement in foreign countries.

Fortunately, our own country does offer many places to enjoy, despite the unreliable weather.

But where to go?

I found this article online that has lots of suggestions. I have visited quite a few of the locations mentioned, but also discovered some I didn’t know about.

It does have some sponsored links, but they will be helpful on this occasion, so you can find out more.
(I get nothing for recommending this article, just so you know.)

This Covid-19 Saturday In Beetley

The New Normal.

Many people are not comfortable with that phrase, including me. But like it or not, we are going to have to embrace it, or suffer the consequences.

I have already adapted to wearing a mask when entering shops. It really isn’t a problem, and took less than an hour to get used to it.

Next week will see some relaxations in the rules, and new restrictions. Bowling Alleys, Beauticians, Live Theatre, and Concerts will be allowed to go ahead. Also soft play for children, all with the corresponding saftey measures adhered to. The restrictions come in the form of an extension to quarantine after travelling to certain countries, now including France.

This is a pointless and toothless ‘quarantine’, as there is nobody to police it. Does anyone else agree that we should have just stopped all foreign travel until 2021 at the earliest? Is a week’s holiday on a Spanish or French beach worth the risk of bringing home Coronavirus? You can guess my answer.

The French have said they will retaliate, enforcing similar conditions on their citizens returning from Britain. Good! There was no real need for anyone to have to go on holiday outside of their own country anyway. If this was The Black Death, and sufferers could be seen with pustules and buboids on their bodies, vomiting blood and dying in agony, do you think people would have chanced travelling to catch it, and bring it home?

But it is no less lethal, just because you cannot see it.

Is a week next to a swimming pool scoffing some all-you-can-eat buffet and drinking your ‘all-inclusive’ watered-down drinks worth the life of your parents or relatives? If you answer yes, there is no hope for you anyway.

So I am embracing that ‘New Normal’. I wear my mask in the shops, continue to wash my hands, and be careful who I meet. And my five-day holiday in September has been booked in Britain, just over two hours drive away from Beetley.

For those of you had just had to ‘get away’, I hope you live long enough before your tan fades.

And in case you were wondering.
No sympathy from me.

Postcards From Blogging Friends: Part Ten

This will probably be the last in this series for 2019.

I would like to once again thank everyone who took the time and trouble to post the cards to me, and to let you know that this series was incredibly popular. The posts have been some of the most-read during that past year.

Scottish writer and blogger Mary was kind enough to send me two views of her holiday destination, Gomera.
(She has a new book out, here’s a link)

Eddy Winko (made up name) is British blogger who lives in Poland.
He included a postcard in a box of soaps I ordered from his wife.
(Gosia makes wonderful soaps! Here’s a link to those)

Looking forward to lots more cards in 2020!

Holiday Time: Old Photos

As it is August, and the peak time for summer holidays, I thought these might be seasonally appropriate.

Taken between 1902 and 1907, these delightful old photos show people enjoying a variety of holiday activities.
And almost all of them did them wearing their best clothes!

In 1902, ladies did not get changed by holding a towel in front of them. They got ready in mobile ‘bathing machines’, which were then wheeled into the sea so they could get straight into the water without being ‘ogled at’ πŸ™‚

Some didn’t bother to wear any swimming attire at all, but went in wearing their street clothes.

This attractive elegant lady is posing on the deck of a cruise ship.
Her outfit is beautiful. Different times indeed.

Sometimes, just standing on a jetty above the lake was close enough!
I’m guessing the lady in the middle was either expecting a baby, or the wind had billowed out her dress. πŸ™‚

The braver ones might hire a rowing boat, and venture out onto the lake.
But they made sure to wear their best hats for the occasion.

This lady was photographed in Long Island, USA. She was admiring the waves of The Atlantic Ocean, and turned to pose for the shot.

Shell-seekers on a New Zealand beach, in 1904. Ten years before WW1.

Well-dressed holidaymakers thinking about taking a trip along the beach in a horse-drawn carriage. USA, 1907.

I was wondering what they would make of topless sunbathers, thong bikini-bottoms, jet-skis, and Kindle e-readers. πŸ™‚