treasured something very special
fantasic really good, wonderful
reflected to see it again, like in a mirror
crockery plates, bowls, cups etc
canvas a very heavy material, kept the water out
camp stretcher a folding bed
gallon 4.5 litres
roller skates see the picture
tent pitched the tent was on the grass, pitched on the grass
dawn ` day break just getting light
Ohope name of a place phonetically said, Oh hope ee
I remember the holidays we used to have as young children. This was before dollars and cents, before television, before the internet, ipods, ipads and computers. It was when our technological pride and joy was a large wooden party line phone on the wall in the hallway.
Dad insisted that February always had the best weather, so we always missed the first two weeks of school to have our holiday at the beach. He was right too, apart from one or two days of rain, the weather was fantastic.
We borrowed a tent from Uncle Harold. It was white canvas, heavy and old. We also borrowed the camp stretchers. I can’t remember if there was anything on the floor and we certainly didn’t have camping crockery, we took the old dinner plates from home.
These were the days when petrol cost about 3 shillings and sixpence for a gallon. We didn’t get much pocket money during the year, but for our holidays my sister and I were given one pound each (£1) an absolute fortune. Today it is the equivalent of $2.00, probably not enough for one ice-cream.
In the 1950’s my treasured £1 lasted me the whole two weeks. Each afternoon I would treat myself to a huge ice-cream cone for four pence, equivalent today to 3 cents. I allowed half of my money, or ten shillings for roller skating, one of my favourite pastimes. The holiday camp had a skating rink and to hire the skates for the whole evening cost two shillings a time.
We usually shared our holidays with several other families, the sort of lifelong friends that families have, so my sister and I had other playmates. We went to a beach called Ohope beach, in the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand. These were carefree days of safety, when children could play on the beach and our parents knew no-one would harm us. The beach was very safe for swimming, but we knew we were not allowed to go swimming without a parent being there.
Dad loved fishing, and every evening he would be on the beach with his huge long rod. During the daytime he would take us rock climbing and oyster gathering on the rocks, where rock oysters were plentiful.
Although in my mid 60’s now, I clearly remember one morning when I would have been maybe 10 years old, and I had slept so well I couldn’t believe I had been asleep. I went to sleep and the next moment it was morning. I still remember the feeling of amazement I had.
Our tent was pitched about two steps from the sand, and about 20 steps from the high tide mark. I remember waking one day just as dawn was breaking, lifting the side of the tent and lying there watching the slow emergence of dawn, from a velvet blue diamond sky, to the tinges of pink and gold to the full rising of the sun over silken waves, the water so calm everything was reflected in it.
The only really scary memory I have is one night hearing noises that terrified me. I was convinced there was a lion in the hills behind the camp, roaring in the distance. I knew the closest zoo was a long way away, but it was the only thing it could be. I found out after a few nights, that it was Ian, Dad’s friend, snoring.
There were fish and chips for tea sometimes, and Mum cooked Dad’s fish other times. Every year she cooked a Pumpkin Cake. This was her pride and joy, a huge, heavy, dark fruit cake that included several cups of mashed pumpkin. It was the tastiest, moistest, most fabulous cake. It was a full day’s work to make this cake, and we could guarantee that every year one was packed into the car.
Dad was a motor mechanic and had access to welding gear. Every year he made a brand new trailer for our holidays, each successive model an improvement on the last. He built square metal piped framing, and had a fitted canvas cover made. It was exactly the size of their double mattress, which was laid on the bottom and was their bed for the holidays. When we got home he would sell the trailer and the proceeds went towards next year’s holiday.
Dad has long since passed away, and Mum, at age 92 with dementia can’t remember these times, but for me these were times of safety, love and life-long friendships. These are cherished memories from the past.
Questions for review.
- When did the family go for their holidays?
- Where did they go?
- What was the noise she could hear?
- What was it?
- Can you find that on a map of New Zealand?
- How much money did she have to spend for the holiday?
- How much is that worth today?
- What kind of cake did her mother make?
- What did her father make each year?
- Describe a trailer.
Lana Kerr www.englishstoriesforfun.com