Photos Copyright: Maggie May.
In my last post when I wrote about 7 things, I found myself remembering the time when we went to the Lake District every Summer Holiday and I felt I wanted to expand on that.
I was six years old and my brother, Eddie Bluelights
, was 4 when I remember our first camping trip, but we may have gone before that, I don't know.
We had a grandfather, his two sisters and a brother, as well as my Dad's disabled cousin who rented a farm house in the Lake District. The farm was called Bark House because it used to be a tannery and they used bark in the process of smoking the leather. However, that was long before my assorted relatives moved in.
As we lived in what is now Cheshire, but used to be Lancashire, we went to visit the relatives every year, as it was considered fairly close.
However, getting there was no easy feat, though by todays travelling it would be fairly simple. Of course that was in the days before Motorways were even thought of and the journey took hours and we had to go through major towns like Preston and Lancaster on twisty roads with masses of traffic lights, where we got held up for ages.
I think my brother and I were privileged children in so far as we had a few more material possessions than most. (In the area where we lived, that is), but my father spent much of his money on his hobbies, such as photography, his huge record collection, and of course his car and any technical piece of apparatus that caught his fancy. My mother had to make do and mend when it came to clothes and other luxuries and we didn't ever seem to have enough things to wear. Anyway, it was post war days and lots of things were rationed. There were not so many people who had cars in those days either.
We looked forward to the Summer Holidays for weeks beforehand but from my point of view, these holidays never seemed to come up to my expectations even by the time we got home. I was always glad to get back to our little house that I loved.
Typically, at the beginning of our holiday, we ended up after a tremendously tiring journey, in a stark field with very few other campers. There was very little there except a stream that branched off a fast flowing river on the other side of some land that separated the two. The field was a reasonable walk away from Newby Bridge and we were about twelve miles away from the nearest town of Ulverston.
In other words it was in the back of beyond.
We had a tiny tent, which wasn't wholly waterproof.
Our drinking water had to be collected from a tap at the end of a field.
The toilets would send todays Health and Safety into a frenzy because they consisted of two boxed in seats, side by side in a kind of shed and whatever was dispelled from our bodies, ended up in a pit underneath. The smell was horrendous as lots of families used it and everything was swarming with flies.
My mother was constantly worrying about us getting polio because there seemed to be an outbreak of it in other parts of England and there were no vaccinations against it. I think it was a real worry, but thankfully we managed to stay well.
There were no washing facilities.
We used to go to Bark House once a week and have a bath.
That seemed the norm in those days, a weekly bath and hair wash.
My mum cooked bacon and eggs on a small paraffin stove when it wasn't raining, as the stove could only be lit outside our flimsy tent.
We bought our supplies daily from a nearby farm. The man there (who knew my grandfather), gave us honey on the comb, from the bees that he kept.
We ate copious amounts of this, on bread.
Eventually, we upgraded to a caravan that was called *The Cub.* It was rather an ugly thing, I thought, but at least we were fairly dry when the rains set in. My dad's little Morris Eight, seemed to find pulling that van up hills, a major struggle and my mother used to carry an old fashioned flat iron on her lap for the duration of the journey, just in case she needed to quickly pop it under a wheel to stop us being dragged down a hill backwards.
I seem to remember it raining continually for the duration of our three week stay.
We regularly went into Ulverston to collect exercise books and crayons and things that might keep us amused, but the rain went on and on.
We were kitted out with souwester hats and wellingtons. We must have had raincoats too but strangely, I don't remember them. I think we had gabardine school macs which were only shower proof.
My mother constantly worried that the stream would flood with all this rain and sweep us away in the night. Looking back, I think she was justified.
However, in those days a woman didn't have much say in the running of things, so she just had to put up with whatever came her way and my dad didn't move the van.
She used to call the Lake District the *Leak District*. Those lakes had to be kept filled.
By now we used to bring a cousin with us, who was my brother's age and together with our spaniel, we were extremely cramped when we battened down for the night, though there were no black beetles in the van, like there had been in the tent.
I remember a little girl whom we had befriended, called Sheila and one day, we were all crossing the stream on a little wooden plank, which was slippery after rain, so that we could get to the land between the stream and the river, in order to play there.
Sheila was only about four years old and I remember very clearly that she slipped off the plank and was swept slowly down the stream under the water, and her little white wellingtons were the last things I saw of her. I ran as fast as I could and told a man who was coming out of the toilet shed, that Sheila had fallen in.
I remember he was doing up his flies, but he quicky ran to the stream and hauled her out. She was being dragged slowly towards a Mill Race (whatever that was) but the grown ups kept saying how dangerous it was. There was an eel trap in that area and we had stood and watched them squirming while they were being skinned. Apparently there had been a few cases of children drowning during past years at this place, so the man who owned the place said.
Looking back, I cannot for the life of me think why we were allowed to run wild like that but all the children of that time were allowed freedom to explore and do quite dangerous things by todays standards. It was the norm then.
Sheila was confined to bed for the rest of the holiday as she had swallowed a lot of water. However, I think her aunty, who was bringing her up, thought we were a bad influence. Maybe that was why she was kept inside. We all thought that it wasn't fair because after all, I had got help for her. No one said thank you.
I now feel very sorry for my mother who had to go on these holidays that were obviously very stressful, year after year. I think her endurance was remarkable.
I am sorry that the photos had to be put on the blog via my camera as I don't have a scanner available.
What dangerous things did you do as a child?