Sunday, 29 August 2010

Didn't we have a loverly time...

Here in England, it is that time of year again for the August Bank Holiday.

In the old days, when I was a child without a bank account, it was invariably a weekend of incessant rain, unless my father was forced to take us out in the old Ford V8 Pilot, when we would spend almost the entire day in a lay-by in the sweltering heat, trying not to upset him further by talking, as he struggled to fix a burst radiator-pipe with Elastoplast and a spanner. We would all be stuffed into the back of the car, gagging on the smell of the hot leather upholstery, as thousands of other holiday-makers with new cars swept past, making the car gently rock in their wake. Occasionally, his head would appear - swathed in steam - at the side of the huge bonnet, as he took a couple of seconds off to tell us all to SHUT UP. After the repairs were done as best he could, it would be time to turn around and drive home again, never having seen the sea, let alone paddle in it.

We always spent one week in Brighton though, where his sister lived, and I would spend the entire time between the machines on the Grand Pier, and watching the Mods and Rockers fighting on the beach below, with always one visit to the Prince Regent's Pavilion on the other side of town.

These days, banks don't really take holidays. They still work whilst you are asleep - the meters ticking over nicely, clocking up huge interest on overdrafts and tiny percentages on savings. It was almost as if the populace were told that - unless you were an animal farmer - there was no point in working when the banks were not manned, or the banks had decided that you need a day off for the sake of productivity.

Not being a church-going God-botherer, I really don't miss all those dead sundays with closed shops, pubs and cinemas. They were so depressing. On the negative side, now that everyone owns at least one automobile, the traditional August Bank Holiday traffic cues are even worse than they used to be, so it's nice to be able to decide for myself when I am going to take a holiday, without some gnome from Gringott's telling me when I can or can't.


  1. Our gnome works for Travelocity, but I think he has an English accent, so I bet we stole the idea from you guys (again).

    I like the image of your father working on the car, and the smell of the leather with everyone stuffed into the hot back seat. Doesn't it seem those type of moments are what vacations are all about: the smell of a hot car, elbows, roadsigns, parental figure cussing at something, and of course, pit stops?

  2. Love the image of you father working on his car while you kids waited in the backseat....weren't those family excursions a treat.?

  3. We once travelled off in the car to see the Queen (of England) drive by in hers, and my dad thought he would avoid the crowds by going to a different road. We sat on the roadside for hours, waiting for a Queen who never passed.

  4. About 10 years ago I was walking along a small back-road near to our Brighton gaff, when along comes 'guess who' in a big shiney car! I was alone in the street so didn't know quite what to do. I just stood still and smiled; Liz was very gracious and smiled back. I think she appreciated the bizarre nature of the moment.

  5. I was almost run over by Princess Margaret in a similar situation, almost outside the house. Her driver was doing about 60 miles an hour, and I literally had to throw myself out of the way. Her mum seems a bit more polite, from your story.

  6. The good old days! We used to have a car like that. For some unknown reason I can still remember the number plate - JC4343. Probably because that used to break down a lot as well!
    Here's to Cornwall!

  7. The Pilot was GOT 450 - That plate would be worth a few quid now. Cornwall! I've just dubbin'd my walking boots....

  8. KTP413
    Zephyr Zodiac.
    Dad used to write the plate number on our arms in case we got lost on our trips to Mudeford.

  9. At least he didn't tattoo it, J! I thought that Zephyr and Zodiac were two different Ford cars? We had a Zephyr once - it rolled around like an old bed on water.

  10. You are probably right Tom, I've quite likely muddled them up in my memory. I'm not much of a car person, so I can't comment on the ride of the thing, I just know it was the first car we owned and I loved it!

  11. My mother's open-top Austin 7 was WD 597.

  12. Hi we drove out of Bath this morning and I saw all those cars backed up for miles trying to get into Bath! Beautiful city you have there...I can see why others love it too. You must look forward to the times of year when you can have it to yourself.
    Thanks for your very kind offer to give me some tips of things to do and see. We rolled into town and kept on going. I am saving the finer details for my next visit and hope to take you up on your offer.

    There were many things I enjoyed but I have to say we loved seeing the Roman Baths at night. We popped in on Saturday night around lines..just walked right in and it was magical. We stayed right thru closing at 10:00 pm. When we saw the lines around the building the next day we felt quite pleased with ourselves :)

    Thanks again for your comment!


  13. I'm glad you had a good time, Jeanne. I actually don't mind the tourists, I like them being around - until a coach-load stands motionless on a street corner as I am trying to get past.

    The baths are great at night, aren't they? I don't know why, but we hardly ever go when they are open at night, even though I live one minute away from them. The last time we did, our local Carribean heroes, 'The Rainbow Steel Band', were playing classical music down there. It was magic.

    See you next time, maybe.