Take a moment if you will. Sit. Close your eyes and cast your mind back. Not too far as I am not that old but back to the 1990’s. From 1990 – 2000 I went from age 5 to 15 with my sister trailing two years behind me. I worked hard at school, did lots of extra curricular activities that kept me busy throughout the year and I enjoyed myself. However, my favourite time of year, like most children was summer. I count myself exceedingly lucky for the summer holidays I had – as they were always so special. I hear you saying why? What was so special?! Well, I can tell you that it wasn’t foreign holidays as I didn’t go abroad for the first time until I was twelve and it wasn’t even simply playing in the garden at home. No, for 2 weeks every summer for as far back as I can remember, my mum would pack my sister and I a suitcase each and we would bundle in the car with a pillow each, a few toys and our suitcases and make the long drive from our home in Dorset to the home of some of my favourite childhood memories… Bexhill-on-Sea. My sister and I would sleep most of the way, opening our eyes occasionally to sing songs with my mum and step dad or eat a snack or look out for familiar landmarks which would let us know how close we were getting.
We’d wake to find ourselves pulling up outside a very familiar house and I would jump out the the car, teddy in one hand and go racing up the path to the open door and stood there with open arms would be my wonderful Nanny and Great Auntie Edie (though we called her Dede!!) Waiting for us inside after our long journey would be the most delicious and crispy jacket potatoes and steaming plates of goooey cauliflower cheese – without fail! They tried to change our welcome meal once and we objected so much that the mere suggestion of changing it was never mentioned again. What were we doing here? Well my sister and I were about to spend two glorious weeks in Bexhill with my Nanny and all our cousins and Great Aunts and Uncles whilst my mum and step-dad returned home. We felt very grown-up and special about being left and knew we were in for a good time whilst poor mummy had to go back to boring old Dorset (of course now that I am older I realise how much of a holiday this must have been for her too!!)
After our delicious lunch we would wave goodbye to mummy and within minutes would be unpacking and settling in. One of us would be sleeping at Nannys and one of us at Auntie Edies and then we would meet up first thing and spend the days together playing. So, what on Earth did we do? Well, what didn’t we do! We would pack up picnics every day and head out on our adventures. Sometimes this would see us at the park riding on wooden horses that my mother had once ridden on when she was a child. Or heading down to the beach and paddling in the surf and popping the odd 2 pence into an arcade machine – though we never stayed long as Nanny always used to say those things were far too noisy. One of my fondest memories is that every year we would visit the De La Warr Pavillion on the seafront and go and watch “Barry & Alison’s Magic Show!” We went every year and it got to be that they would remember us and call us up to help with their tricks – it also meant they had to come up with new tricks as they said we knew their old ones! We’d go for day trips on the bus or our older cousins would come and pick us up and take us to fantastic fun fairs or evenings at the fair on Brighton pier with chips in paper and ice creams dripping down our chins! There would be great Uncle Bill throwing us in the air and Great Uncle Ron tricking us once again by pulling off his own finger!! We never wanted those holidays to end and even now those times seem truly magical to me and in this technological time I find myself living in I hold those much simpler holidays very close to my heart.
I’m sad to say that in the last few years I have lost be precious Nanny and Auntie Edie but I am so very fortunate to have all those wonderful memories. We also still have cousins, second cousins and a few aunts and uncles still living in Bexhill and it just so happened that a few weeks ago, my mum suggested taking a road trip for a few days and going to see some of them. So mum, Alyssa and I hopped in the car and spent two lovely days back in my childhood summer town. It was wonderful to go there with Alyssa and sit on the promenade looking down at the beach I used to play on and driving past the De La Warr which still looks exactly the same. So much has changed – there are different shops, different people, the horses in the park have gone and the wooden horses are no more. However the essence of those summers is still there. Don’t get me wrong, I am the first person to say that I adore getting on a plane and jetting off somewhere hot with a pool for a week or two and really relaxing but actually I wouldn’t be adverse to spending a week or two down at the seaside like I did back in the 90’s when I was a child.
I look down at Alyssa and think that she has so much to look forward to as she grows up and whilst I cannot believe a year has passed already I don’t want her to grow up too fast and be swept away by new technologies and exotic locations when the summers I used to have were, in my mind completely perfect. Of course, I look forward to showing Alyssa the world and all the wondrous things it has to hold, but I will be sure not to forget my own home and childhood and the wonders that I have to show her here too – let’s go back to the 90s!
Why not visit the Cotton Traders look back through time by clicking here – keep a look out for yours truly featured in… yes you guessed it the 1990s!!