A Trip to the Seaside
"We're going to the seaside." Aunt Vi said.
I wondered what the sea was like. Grandma Allen let me listen to its low moan in a shell, the sea, captured like a genie in a bottle. Excitement kept us bubbling, laughing, jumping. We were going on one of Dad's buses but he wouldn't be driving. I was so excited my tummy kept clenching and I was so scared I'd be sick and not be able to go.
Harry tried to tell me what it was like.
"We'll make a castle in the sand and put sand pies round it, then we'll dig a trench and fill it with water."
"Where will we get the water, is there a tap on the sand?"
"From the sea silly. We'll paddle and fill our buckets."
The grownups bustled: Lemonade and Sandwiches to be made, Colwick cheese and cucumber for the grown ups, jam for the kids. Mam called through the scullery hatch door. "Are we all ready? Tell the kids to have a pee", she shouted as she put the flask of tea in the bag along with the sandwiches and homemade lemonade.
We kids were beside ourselves as we boarded the bus. Soon we left the town behind. The bus was full and all the kids kept shouting "Are we nearly there?" "Are we nearly there?", one after the other, every ten minutes. Noses pressed to windows, cries of, "look, moo cows", "look bobbos", "look baa lambs".
We had to stop for someone to be sick and then for a pee behind a hedge. The men just turned their backs to the bus. At last the shout, "There's the sea." A blue grey strip visible on the horizon quickly followed by "We're here!"
Our first stop was at the boarding house where we unloaded the huge cases Dad and Uncle Bill had carried on their shoulders. We put our pyjamas under the pillows and took out some towels and our bathers. Mam and Aunt Vi changed into beach trousers that Mam had made. They were blue shiny cotton with a stripe pattern.
"Right," Uncle Bill said as we stopped outside the shop on Lumley Road. "big uns can have spades and little uns buckets."
Harry chose a big red metal spade and dragged it along the road it made a lovely noise. Red tin buckets decorated with yellow fish were chosen for Billy and me. I wanted a spade so Aunt Vi said Billy and I could share a little wooden one.
"Tek deep breaths, smell the ozone", Uncle Bill instructed.
"Is that what it is? I thought it was shrimps." Aunt Vi laughed.
The huge beach of yellowy brown sand stretched before us and beyond it the sea. The beach was crowded with trippers and it took a little while to find a space. Uncle Bill fetched two funny canvas chairs. He said they were called deck chairs. I supposed it was because every time he tried to set them up they collapsed. Dad soon sorted them out and he and Uncle Bill went for a drink while Mam and Aunt Vi sat in the deck chairs.
Soon they were settled and we were happily digging. Mam took my bathers out of her holiday bag that matched her beach trousers. I didn't like them. They were red and had puffy bloomers with elastic round the legs and a bib front. They weren't proper bathers and were worn over the top of my clothes.
"I want to paddle."
"You can't go in the water yet. Eat up your sandwiches and get acclimatised" Mam said.
Mam settled back in her deck chair, eyes closed against the unfamiliar brightness. The wind carried sand to whip our legs and cheeks
As always I was the one who had to spoil things. Harry made a castle and put a pie on top. I helped to dig a moat round it. Harry dug deeper and deeper and water seeped up.
"We need more water" he said.
I grabbed my bucket and toddled off towards the sea. I stood and looked at it. I wasn't exactly afraid but I wasn't sure I liked it. It wasn't blue like in Harry's picture book.
It was grey and it was swallowing up the sand. I don't know how it happened but it took some time to fill the bucket. I had to keep pouring the water away to get rid of the sand. At last I was satisfied and started back.
Where were they? The beach was full of strangers. My bottom was wet and making my legs sore. Away from the water the sand was dry and gritty. I started to cry as I ran. A lady caught hold of me.
"What's the matter duck are you lost?" She took my hand and the bucket.
"Don't cry we'll soon find your Mam."
We did. Mam ran towards the sea calling "Joany, Joany." She groped in the water like a mad woman and frightened youngsters by peering into their faces sobbing and screaming. She had left her glasses on the deck chair.
When I reached Mam she took hold of me and shook me.
"You little madam", she sobbed. "I need eyes in the back of my head."
"Steady on Mrs. You're frightening her."
"Yes well. She's frightened me. Come on."
She pulled me back to the others scolding all the way. "I don't know what your Dad 'll say."
It was funny because I knew what he would say and I was right.
When Dad and uncle Bill came back Mam and Aunt Vi went to the shops. They had to buy the food for the landlady to cook tonight and tomorrow for the shops would be closed on Sunday
That night they had another row.
"Nought else t' do. Why weren't you watching kids."
"Oh yes and what about you? What were you watching?"
I hid my sobs in the pillow. I was always causing trouble between them.
Sunday was a magical day. Aunt Rose came on a day trip with Ken and Joyce. We were on the beach early and when the bus was due Dad went to meet them. We played ball games on the beach and we all went for a paddle. Harry and Ken just turned the bottom of their trousers up and got them wet.
At dinner time we all went to a pub named "The Ship". The grown ups went inside and we stayed on the doorstep with a bottle of lemonade. Then we had a bag of chips for dinner. How I wished we could have stayed the week.
Vin, Harry,Me, Betty and joyce
Me in my bathers.