16 April 2009


the picture above, was taken in the late 70s, somewhere near the spanish/french border.

each august we'd pack up, and drive somewhere around europe 3 kids in the back of the car, 1,400 miles, 3 days later we arrived. i can remember travelling some nights after eating dinner, which normally consisted of local chicken, smash, savoury rice, luncheon meat fritas, corned beef, mmmm. we would carry on driving in our pjs, windows open, hearing crickets, looking at the clear skies with twinkling stars. i felt safe, secure. like this was how its meant to be.

when we arrived we spent a month, swimming, building sandcastles, walking, laughing. everyday was spent at the beach. i would put my mask on, i could never master the snorkel. walked to the waters edge and dive under, i could do this for hours, or it seemed like hours. i would examine the small gold sand particles. be amazed when there was a ledge in the water that made a dip. i loved going in when the sea was a little rough and jump the waves, or disappear under them.

my dad had a tiny boat, which i called molly after reading a topsy and tim book. we'd go out in it. drive round the coast, with no life jackets on( strangly we would only wear life jackets in england!) put the anchor down, and just jump into the water, i was only seven. i would see coral, swim with small fishes ( something i could never do now), then pull into a cove and have lunch. mum wouldnt normally come as she couldnt swim, and she was scared of the water. its a weird feeling being so far out , with just sea surrounding. like nothing matter. everything seemed small and unimportant.

we used to have great times, i remember so much, drinking robinsons orange juice from warm plastic cups, having pastries for breakfast, allowed to drink coke everyday. keeping the passports and cash in the glove box and no one must know! having a £20 budget to stick to each day. not touching the animals in case of rabies, not having television for a month. seeing princess diana get married on a neighbours black and white television screen. smelling breakfast cooking in others tents. making friends, penfriends. living out doors, wearing next to nothing, and when i came home feeling so restricted in clothes. flip flops, fanta orange,sweets that were like pebbles, crossiants, i can still remember the smell of pesato notes, and our passports, puig shower gel. drinking calin and morphine, and night nurse if we were unwell.

then packing up, we would spend the day at the pool, while the awning was put away. last night chicken and chips. driving up the coast waving goodbye to the sea for another year. as we travelled back the weather would cool, past village catalan, the houses would change shape. into france, narbonne, carcassone toulouse. sometimes stop of in andorra. up towards paris, should we go east or west? first to see the eiffel tower. then to calais. onto sealink. home.


Sar said...

That was so wonderful to read- I have random photo's on my fridge taken on holidays as you describe here- old photo's from family camping holidays in France etc of me & my brother, pasting cheap pate jars onto white bread (as we did on camping holidays) and washing up at the little table in the field in a grey plastic tub and so on- we were just toddlers/ kids and we did this year in and out for years. that makes me so happy and secure when I see them- and feel so sad too, for wanting those days back so badly, just for the safety and innocence of it all. I've just been away at the weekend, to Swanage, I'm going to do a post later today with lots piccies, I only hope my son feels the same in later life, when he looks at my pics, only not so sad.

Anonymous said...

Those sound like fantastic holidays Alice. No wonder they are still so vivid in your mind. I really wish I had had holidays like that. It all sounds like a big adventure.

All the best


alice said...

hi sar,

you too had holidays camping. what adventures, where abouts in france did you go? i wonder why it made us feel safe? i liked being around people that i didnt understand, we could for a month without hearing english people and i loved that.

im sure your son will have the good memories, you seem creative, and enthusiastic.

did you go to brownsea island? i loved walking round the island seeing the red squirrels.

alice said...

hi nechtan,

i think looking back on things you miss out the less fortunate moments. like running out of water and gas. the car breaking down and having no breakdown cover,( although a bunch of italians lifted the bonnet up and tried to figure things out!) and no health cover, when we got ill. but something always turned up.
maybe we lose sight of this, miles from home, yet we had no worries. thats the irony really, i felt more comfortable travelling then at home!

Robert said...

What wonderful holidays!

My family went camping 2 or 3 times a year, sometimes only about 100 miles from home, and other times as far away as Rome! We (my sister & I) met lots of kids from lots of countries. What wonderful carefree times! No worries about our carbon footprint either.

We had no idea, in those days, just how good those times were...

Sar said...

We used to go to Normandy, I can't remember the names of exact places but I remember making friends with a french girl, I was about 8 and I had taught myself 1-10 in French which was the only conversation we had but it seemed to work somehow!!
I'm still trying to work out where the 'safe' feelings come from... I think I might know why and am going to talk about that in my post today- wierdly though, my borderline personality dis. evolved largely out of the same experiences and the way in which my parents conducted their lives and our lives, so is a bit of a confusing one- in ways it also makes me angry that I felt safe when some things were indeed, very wrong.
Didn't go to Brownsea this time although with the beautiful weather we had, we should have done- it would've been fantastic! Xx

alice said...

hi robert,

i think its so healthy being outside with nature. no tv, papers, no judements. as a kid i just loved it. it was normal. and like you said, had no idea how good those times was, so true.

alice said...

hi sar,

brownsea island is such a peaceful place to go. couldnt recommend it more. i felt quiet and serene there, i would love to live there. i think possibly i should of been born in a more slow, peaceful time! maybe my mind would of coped better.