School’s out, people are on their hols and jetting off to sunnier climes. These days, thanks to cheap flights and the digital age, you can be somewhere sunny in just a few hours and share holiday memories in an instant.
In my childhood, in the 1970s, long before Easyjet and Facebook had even been thought about, just going to Butlins for a summer holiday was an event. It was a two and a half hour trip on the ferry from Larne to Scotland and then a drive to Ayr. The weather was unpredictable and there was no such thing as an en suite bathroom. We had to use communal showers and toilets that were a good hike from our room. The room was basic to say the least.
It doesn’t sound very glamorous, because it wasn’t. The whole place had the look and feel of an army camp – it might even have been one ! And yet, strangely enough, it’s one of my happiest holiday memories. I fondly remember dancing to Abba and Boney M at the evening disco and thinking it was brilliant to stay up as late as 9pm. I remember my parents and family enjoying a drink in the exotically named Copacabana bar with its river and fake crocodiles, everyone smiling, dressed in flares and having a good time. A time when brown was the new black !
I still remember having to queue for my dinner, like at the school canteen, and sitting down to eat with hundreds of other people at long refectory tables covered in 70s style oilcloths . I remember trying to choose postcards to send to friends back home. I ran around the place, not a care in the world, with my Coca Cola necklace and my Purdey style haircut (I was a huge fan of Joanna Lumley in the Avengers at the time). We took time out to visit Loch Lomond and Robert Burns’ cottage, taking pictures with a Polaroid camera.
Of course, back then there was no instant sharing on Facebook, no filtered pictures on Instagram, no deleting of pictures we didn’t like – you took a picture and hoped it would turn out ok. Then after the long journey home, it was a sit down at the kitchen table to have another look at what the pictures revealed, what pictures had ‘turned out’ well, who looked silly and who posed for the camera ! Then off they went into the family album, in actual hard copy, not left to linger in digital form on your phone.
I’m so glad some of those Polaroid pictures have survived – it’s made me remember what holidays are all about – having fun, spending time with loved ones, having new experiences and living in the moment.