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Holiday Heaven 1948

Posted by Big John on May 27, 2007

Having recently returned from a ‘SKIing’ holiday (as in Spending the Kids Inheritance), I got to thinking about a very different sort of vacation many years ago. In fact it was my very first, and I would have been  nine years old at the time.

My father worked on the railway and was allowed a number of free travel passes for him and his family to use during the year. This meant that usually we would use them for ‘days out’, for we could not afford expensive hotels and didn’t fancy the old fashioned traditional British ‘bed and breakfast’  boarding house, with it’s tea spoon on a chain and ten o’clock

As it happened my dad had a friend who owned a part share in a holiday caravan (trailer) and he agreed to rent it to my dad for a week.

The caravan was very small and never went anywhere. It just stood in a muddy field, with half a dozen other ‘matchbox’ sized caravans, just outside the seaside resort of Ramsgate.

In those days Ramsgate was very popular with Londoners who had previously been prohibited from visiting the beaches during the war. In fact it was still possible to see the remains of the coastal defences in the form of  ‘pillboxes’ and ‘tank traps’. Another legacy of the war was to be found in the presence of the United States Air Force at the nearby Manston airfield. The local pubs were full of ‘Yanks’ and the streets were patrolled by white capped military police.

I played on the beach and explored the surrounding countryside, a real treat for a kid from the back streets of Brixton. I remember visiting Canterbury, and never dreamed that one day I would live within it’s city limits.

Rationing was still in force at that time, and I suspect that my mum had saved up a few ‘luxuries’ especially for the holiday. I can still see my dad sitting outside the caravan on a warm summer evening drinking his Guinness and eating his supper of bread, cheese and home grown tomatoes, while I tucked into a pile of ‘Spam’ sandwiches … A far cry from the ‘Nouvelle Cuisine’ of my recent vacation … but an evocative taste …     

…  which I still enjoy to this day. 


2 Responses to “Holiday Heaven 1948”

  1. Terri said

    What a warm and memorable post, John. Such great memories of a special childhood time. I imagine just after the war not many families took a holiday. I had to recheck the date to see if my dad would have been one of those “Yanks” in the pubs….but, not in ’48. The war ended in ’45 and he was back Stateside by then.
    Isn’t it amazing how your holidays and residence changed so dramatically from childhood to adult…a sure sign of success and a life well lived.

  2. gawilli said

    Great story – Guinness, bread, cheese and home grown tomatoes. This sounds heavenly!

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