Vacations In the 60s

Teignmouth

By Derek Jones

As an expat now residing in sunny Florida I look back with some warmth at the life of yesteryear. As a young father just out of the RAF after 3 years guarding East Coast missile sites, I had settled down to married bliss. We had worked our way through the Council housing system from a flat on Pemberton Ave , St Julians, then a 2 bedroom semi on Thirlmere Drive. After the birth of our second child we were overjoyed to move round the corner to 121 Cell Barnes Lane, the numbers may be wrong, forgive me it was many years and memories ago.

Anyway the vacation of this particular year was to be a week or maybe two in a caravan in Teignmouth.  Now selecting Teignmouth was like throwing a dart at the S.E. corner of England and then shopping for the best apparent value for money. Teignmouth was the winner after this exhausting detailed investigation. Off we went in our little family car, a Jowett Javelin I think.  The journey back then was the equivalent of an African Safari, routes had to be determined, adequate resources for this trek needed to be loaded, maps needed to be secured and my wife had to take a crash course in navigation. 

The journey went well, the children were for the most part well behaved and for the other time a few threats like “don’t make me pull over” sufficed - the kids had come to realize that dad had his breaking point. So after 8 or 10 hours we arrived at our chosen destination, and were quickly ensconced in our 26 foot caravan.

The next morning we rose late and surveyed our new home and its location.  The Caravan Park was situated at the top of quite a long steep hill which I vaguely recall from my exhausted yesternight. All the amenities promised were close by, of course it wasn’t Butlins.  Disappointingly the day was cloudy and damp.  The kids were not amused by our plan to stay at home and wait for the sun to burst through.

Wifey went to the camp shop and purchased all the things we needed to survive for a few days while I broke out the toys and games in our spacious new home. We didn’t see the sun at all that day though it seemed like it may appear at any time.  I resisted many pleadings of “come on dad let’s go to the beach”. As a father I had to protect my young-uns from disappointments, and having to abandon their first day at the beach because of the rain and chill was something I determined I would avoid. So the day wore down and after dinner and some TV time I promised that tomorrow would be a new adventure.

The next we all rose bright and eager to start this wondrous vacation in earnest, “but blow me down” the day outside was a carbon copy of the one before. Now I could begin to sense a stirring amongst my troops, rebellion was just around the corner. I gathered my second-in-command and we formulated a strategy to offset the pending insurrection.  I would take the kids down into Town to the cinema while my adjutant would adjust the accommodations and prepare a feast on our return.

Reluctantly our kids (with much muttering) agreed to the day’s plan B, so after lunch off we went down the hill into Town. As we descended the hill it got brighter and brighter so that by the time we got to the cinema we had full blown sunshine. We looked back from whence we had come only to see a solitary ominous cloud hovering at the top of the mountain and low over our Caravan Park .

I swear that if the cinema had not been showing Chitty Chitty Bang Bang I would have been executed on the spot, but the little darlings hadn’t seen this much vaunted movie and my life was saved. Oh another incredible aspect of this vacation was, after being a nail biter all my life, in the busy (how can I keep the kids amused) mode I forgot my nails. And I have never bitten them again…..yes folks you too can break these evil habits, just find a cloud and go cold turkey. 

This page was added on 16/05/2010.

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