Saturday, 26 December 2009

You need wheels

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With five children on board it was necessary to ferry the family around. Harry had been giving Geoff driving lessons and with great patience as always, guided Geoff through his driving test. We invested our meagre savings in a small car; it was a Hillman Husky which we named Bessie. Bessie, god bless her, opened our horizons and enabled us to visit some wonderful places; at least we thought so at the time. Later we bought a second-hand frame tent, the world became our oyster and were able to visit many places in the UK. We pitched our tent at lovely places in Cornwall, Devon and Wales. Our little car would be overloaded with camping gear, two adults, five children and yes, the kitchen sink. Anyone seeing the vehicle pulling off from 107 Station Road would shake his or her head in disbelief. Well, our five children soon increased to six and this scrawny little bundle became a very noisy little bundle. Fiona did not want to sleep at all and as she got older, she wanted to copy whatever her older siblings were doing, even though she was a few years younger. This proved to be early indications of her sporting activities in later years.

We always tried to take the family on holiday, these were taken under canvas, or if we were lucky, we would hire a static caravan. The old Hillman Husky would groan under the weight of eight bodies and our combined essentials. The little car would take us to such places as Devon, South Wales and Cornwall; we would choose remote seaside areas, miles from the maddening crowds. We would walk for miles along deserted stretches of beach, not meeting a soul and having it all to ourselves.

Years later, when our children were fully grown, I would accompany them to a beach, and they would collapse on the first few yards of sand they encountered. They would ask me why I had not followed this practice when they were young, instead of hauling everything for miles along empty beaches. I tell them, it was good exercise and made them healthy and strong ...and so it has.

As time went by, we started getting more adventurous and went across to Ireland. We stayed mostly in static caravans in lovely scenic places such as Bantry Bay, the Dingle peninsular and Galway. I believe that at the time we saw Ireland at it’s best and enjoyed some lovely holidays over there.

In more recent years, as the children started leaving home, we would go abroad on coach holidays, to Austria and Germany, these were really picturesque holidays. Our very first holiday flight was to Bovec in Yugoslavia, just prior to civil war and the break-up of that country. It was unspoiled by tourism and we shall always have fond memories of the visit.

Children occasionally get up to mischief as little hands do, although our brood were always well behaved at home and never caused any real problems. There is one funny incident that I remember and deserves a mention. It concerns Peter, Kathryn and one very expensive bottle of Chanel No 5 perfume. As I remember, Geoff had bought it for me to use on special occasions. Regardless, one afternoon when all seemed strangely silent in the house and I was busy in the kitchen, my sense of smell detected a strong aroma. I recognized it straight away, but too late, I flew up the stairs to discover the naughty pair of culprits having a lovely time, dousing each other with my precious Chanel No 5. I was just in time to salvage about a quarter of the scent remaining in the bottle. At the time, I was sad, but not cross and, as the saying goes, “no good crying over spilt milk” ...or perfume for that matter and I must say that the two rascals did smell sweetly over the next few days. Over the years, I have been lucky enough to receive many lovely gifts of my favourite perfumes from the family, but it was many years before I was lucky enough to get another bottle of No 5, from our son Denis.

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