Childhood memories seem to fall into two main categories, those that are painful or hard to re-visit and those that leave you filled with a warm nostalgia.
I was never sure if my memories of our holidays when I was a child were seen through rose tinted glasses, although my little NHS regulation glasses worn from the age of seven onwards after a severe bout of measles never had tinted lenses and memories of having to wear them at school are still quite painful, but I think, on the whole memories of seaside holidays have a rosy glow.
Some of my most vivid memories are of holidays in Teignmouth in Devon with Mum and Dad and sometimes accompanied by aunts, uncles and cousins. We used stay in a bed and breakfast owned by a lovely couple called Mr and Mrs Lofty, he gloried in the first names of Milton Zacharia. Isn't it strange what details you do actually remember? They or their family owned a small shed like beach hut on the riverside of the estuary so my Teignmouth memories are more of this stretch of beach than the bigger beach and pier of the sea front. I went in search of the beach huts and I have a feeling that the little one may be the one. We used it as a base all week, we children playing in the sand and running in and out of the sea. Mum would make tea and sandwiches for lunch in the back of the shed which always smelt of slightly damp, old wood and salty seaweed, sandy wet bathing costumes and damp towels would hang drying inside.
I remember once my Dad getting me up very early and taking me mackerel fishing. We brought our catch back to Mr Lofty to be cooked for breakfast. I never liked them - too many bones for my fastidious tastes - but I loved going fishing well not the fishing as such but being on the sea. I don't remember where the bed and breakfast was but I do remember the loud gong which was sounded to summon us to breakfast and evening meal. I also remember the walk each morning down to our little hut clutching our buckets and spades, sun hats and fishing nets.
There was an ice-cream seller next door or next door but one to our hut so we always had a lovely creamy ice cream in the afternoon but my most vivid memory is of the ferry. It left from just nearby and we would lock up our hut, catch the ferry and go over to Shaldon. I remembered them being black and white and they still are. As Galant mentioned in her comment on my last but two post - the basic design hasn't changed much since Elizabethan times! We loved the ride and then the walk up by the Ness hotel and past a little thatched cottage with a pond outside it.
That was still there, too! Then excitement rising we would head for the Smuggler's tunnel for the walk down to the Ness beach. We children used to shout and listen for the echoes as we walked. It was cool and damp in the tunnel but all too soon you could see the sun again and feel the rising heat as we neared the end. Then it was out into the bright sunshine, dashing down to the sand to stake a place and set up camp for the afternoon buckets and spades at the ready.
I did notice that the tunnel had changed inside as the original exit had been shut off and another tunnel built alongside with steps inside - I don't remember steps in the original tunnel but maybe there were. Your mind can play tricks sometimes especially after 50 or so years.
One thing I did feel was that everything seemed smaller and more compact than I remember! This beach seemed endless to me as did the one on the Teignmouth side of the estuary. The ferry point seemed a longer distance from the old hut and yet when I saw it recently it was only a few steps away.
It was lovely to revisit these places and see that at least some of my memories were correct and that my mind wasn't playing tricks.
The photo above is of me and my cousin John, who was just two weeks older than me and sadly lost to throat cancer at the young age of 54, about to jump off the wooden stand onto the sand. It was taken not far from the old beach hut. We look happy and excited, everyday of the holiday laying down another cherished memory. I'm so glad I went back to take a peek at a life gone by but never forgotten.