The Great British Holiday.

October 1, 2011

It is the end of September, and here in England, it is filled with blue sky and sun shine. We felt the hottest September 30th, for over 100 years yesterday. I spent this hot day, at Weston-Super-Mare on the South West coast of England.

Every English man and woman cannot help but have an unbreakable love for the great British holiday. Blackpool, Weston, Camber Sands, Torquay, Skegness, Weymouth, the list goes on, and the truly iconic names that you associate with these holidays; Haven, Butlins, Pontins, make it something of a nostalgia for those of us who lived it as children year on year. They are an entirely different variety of holiday, from the typical hotel and beach get-away on the Costa-del-sol.

Thankfully, I was still a kid before Butlins introduced all its updates, so I remember the retro style. The old redcoats, and the glamorous granny competitions. The nobbly knees and the talent shows. The entertainment teams in the club house performing Grease. Punch and Judy on the beach. I would wake up in the caravan, to the smell of mum cooking bacon and sausage, sit on the patterned velvet sofas for breakfast, loaded with excitement for the day. The beach shops that had cheap multicoloured footballs and long inflatable dingy’s, with their buckets and spades and their flip flops on sale on the racks outside the shop, as you walked around them with an 99-er in your hand, had the unique ability to make a kid think they were at the end of a rainbow.

The club house would put on productions of musicals every night, but one night a week you’d be treated to a magician, or a comedian. Even by the 1990s, the comedians weren’t the comedians that Butlins and Pontin’s were famed for putting up; there was no slightly risky comedian telling subtle blue jokes. No Bernard Manning’s. But it offered something different. Cheesy posters would be up around the camp site a few nights before, advertising some overly tanned slick back grey haired, sparkly golden waist coated singer gracing us with his presence in a few nights. It came around once a year, and you loved it when it did.

It all started in the 1940s, because air travel, and holidaying abroad was the luxury of the super rich. And so an entire industry grew up on the most popular beaches in the UK. They developed an aura of their own, that has never died. The Grand Pier at Weston has stood since 1904. For over 100 years, the Great British Holiday has triumphed.

And we’d have no Bobby Davro or Shane Richie without the Pontin’s blue coats……. think about a World without Bobby Davro and Shane Richie. Hell, isn’t it.

As a kid you’d learn to fall in love with the music from the 2p machines, and the horse racing machine. Put 10p on red. Red wins. Win 20p. Run and tell mum that you’re now incredibly rich. Turn 20p into ten 2p’s. Put 2p’s in 2p machine. Watch 2p’s balance right on the tip. Push them over. You’ve now spent 18p of your 20p’s worth of 2p’s, but you’ve wont 4p back. Score!

By the look of Weston Super Mare yesterday, the Great British Holiday, with all the memories for years past, is still thriving. This is great to see.

A few of my photos from Weston-Super-Mare can be seen here.

Here are my memories from the Great British Holidays of the later 1980s and 1990s.

I believe here, i’m waiting for Punch and Judy to start on Weymouth beach.

My dad and sister. Weymouth.

Me, my mother, and Penny. I’m sure this is Devon. 1987?

This is definitely Devon, because that Sooty machine is still there.

My dad (whom I clearly get my lack of hair now, from), Alf (whom I still have. He’s treasured) and me in my damn cool shades, chilling.

70s dad!

Me and my dad.

Weymouth beach would not be the same, without donkey rides. When I was the age I am in the photo, I thought the donkeys were huge. Yesterday, at Weston, they were tiny. How perspectives change.

Me and my mother, watching Punch and Judy. 1990? Possibly 1989. Why did all women in the 1980s insist on having perms?

Me and my dad. 1986. He still has that horseshoe hair. 25 years later.

Weston-Super-Mare, yesterday. Me and my friend Lucy.


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