When I was little we didn’t actually go on holiday in the modern sense. In the summer we went up to Scotland to stay with my Aunt and my cousins for a couple of weeks and twice we went to Brighton to stay with my Uncle. The other school holidays were spent at home, going to the park or playing out with my friends from the same building as me. Yes, believe it or not small children played hopscotch unsupervised on the streets of Ladbroke Grove! We used to play with the children in the next street too and came home when we could hear our mums shouting our names out the windows. My mum was a cleaner and worked odd hours so then my grandma would look after me. In those days the holiday abroad was rare among the people I knew, we didn’t have much money and a holiday was seen as luxury not a necessity. I still have that mentality today, I love going on holiday but I don’t expect it, if I can save enough then great, if not then the park and swimming it is. My mum took me abroad once when I was seven, to Malaga, it was amazing! the sea, the beach, the food, it felt incredibly exotic.
From the age of eight my mum used to make me go and stay with my father abroad, where he lived, for two weeks in the summer and it was absolutely awful. I didn’t know my father or his family, we didn’t speak the same language – literally – and I hated every minute, they were mean to me, they made fun of me and they ignored me. I missed my mum so much that it hurt and yet every year, for my years, as the summer holidays approached I knew what was going to happen and that sense of foreboding and misery really tainted a lot of my child hood holiday time, I dreaded being sent away.
Apart from Spain the only other ‘proper’ holiday I had was when my mum and my aunt took me and my two cousins to a house that they had rented in Walberswick,Suffolk, from the friend of the woman my mum cleaned for.
It was the best holiday ever! The house was on the green which had swings, you could walk to the beach and there is a bridge where you go crabbing, having picked up the lines and bait of bacon scraps at the local Spar. There was very little traffic and you could rent bikes from the garage to go whizzing around the country lanes. There was even a chap with a rowing boat who would row you across the estuary to Southward for 10p each, bikes extra. It was like the Famous Five made flesh. Picnic lunches of white bread cheese sandwiches on the beach, making sand castles with one of my cousins who was a year older than me while the other, who was 14, would wander up and down the beach looking wistfully out to sea in the first bloom of teen angst. Her brother and I laughed at her a lot, after all what more do you need to make you happy than an ice cream and a set of swings right in front of your house?
I have lots of not so good memories from my child hood but that holiday and that place stir memories in me of pure happiness. We never went back after that trip but then I had Lulu and wanted her to experience the same sort of fun as me so I started taking her to Suffolk too. When she was about six months old my ex and I rented a gorgeous house in the midst of the forest in Orford and took our mums with us, a good friend also came to stay for a few days. Then a short time later we rented a cottage in the middle of an apple orchard near Saxmundham with our god child and her parents. A few months later it was a cottage in Orford and some of Lulu’s godparents came to stay. Then last summer I took Lulu on our first single parent holiday to a cottage in Walberswick, my mum came too and the three of us had a whale of a time.You could see the sea from my bedroom and it was perfect.
In April this year I rented larger house in Walberswck and M came along with his two children, as did my mum. We have rented the same house for two weeks at the end of August for us and the children again, and of course my mum! It is magical amazing place, we all go crabbing on the bridge of my childhood memory, we cycle to the Co Op (the Spar is long gone) for papers and milk, we get in the little row boat across to Southwold, we play on the beach, get sand everywhere and then go to the Anchor for dinner and Adnams ale. It is exactly a I remember it as a child and I adore going there. I hope that when Lulu grows up that she has as many fond members of Suffolk as I do and if i’m really lucky I may be able to take my grandchildren there too.