It may be because just at the moment the only travelling I am able to do is from the patio doors to the bottom of the back garden.Or perhaps because I have been chatting to my Little Sister, via FaceTime, about the holiday
our two families took together back in 1977 all the way down to beautiful Lydstep Haven. Whatever the reason, I have been pondering on Journeys I Have Undertaken.
the first page of the diary I kept, chronicling the events of that 1977 holiday, I have reported on the preparations our family made before setting off. The most evocative of those far-off days when life was comparatively simple is the description of the children’s
“journey boards.” I had forgotten all about these until I opened up the diary but now I remember that they were an essential element of any long journey we undertook.
Basically each journey board contained a list of things to look out for along the way. A dog on a lead, a woman with a shopping basket, a man with a walking stick - these were just some of the “sights” which would earn a point on somebody’s
journey board. We must have left behind some majorly puzzled people wondering why the mere sight of them provoked such excitement among the occupants of our car. According to my diary, the Eldest of the Darling Daughters managed to earn points for 62 coaches,
46 petrol tankers, 43 pillar boxes (though she was pretty sure she missed lots of these) and 11 dogs (of varying sizes and breeds) on leads. For all you younger readers, the journey boards were the equivalent of the IPad, the X-box and the PlayStation which
keep kids occupied on long journeys these days.
It was not until the following year that Our Foursome discovered Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat,
the Eldest of the Darling Daughters having chosen this as an outing for her twelfth birthday. All four were transfixed by the story; Our Boy, then aged five, confided “It’s exactly the same story as Mrs Gassion (his Reception class teacher) told
us!” We immediately bought a cassette of the show and from then on every long journey we undertook for several years to come was enlivened by Singalong A Joseph. The Middle of the Darling Daughters has been known to despair that her street cred among
her pupils when she was still teaching in a large comprehensive school in Merton was sorely dented when they somehow discovered that she could sing the whole musical word perfect. Ah, Joseph, you and your Dreamcoat helped us out on many a long, long car journey.
You were even better at tackling the Youngest of the Darling Daughters’ car sickness than barley sugar...
Less pleasantly memorable was the fact that our
holiday journeys always started so very early. Mr B who, as the driver, had the final say on Time of Departure, liked to get on the road well ahead of any traffic which might also have dared to travel the same route as us. When I say “early”, I
mean Stupid O’Clock - on our 1977 holiday we were up at 3.30 a.m. and on the road by 4.30. Generally we fared well over the early miles but inevitably got caught up in traffic somewhere along the way. We would then invariably arrive at our holiday destination
several hours before we were able to collect the keys to the caravan which would be our home for the next week or fortnight. While Mr B caught up on his sleep in the car after his long drive, I would find myself in charge of four manically excited young’uns,
determined to explore every inch of the beach, and generally attempt to cram every holiday activity they could dream up in the four hours before we could claim our holiday base and start unpacking.
I am reflecting that, given the latest guidance which suggests people will not be able to travel on holiday this year - and maybe next - to far-flung and exotic locations, many families will be following in our Seventies footsteps.
More and more will Holiday at Home. They will be arming themselves with barley sugars, packing their cars with camping gear and buckets and spades and setting off early in the morning in a bid to “beat the traffic.” It will be just as it was for
us in 1977.
Whether journey boards will catch on is quite another matter...