Isn’t it a great feeling, knowing that you’re just about to go on holiday somewhere with your family, sometimes to a favourite old venue or, if you’re lucky, to visit somewhere new! For the Lee family it was always something of an adventure, to be anticipated with pleasure. Not that we went to exotic places, it was just the thought that there was another adventure in the offing, wherever we decided to go. To explain part of the excitement, perhaps I should first explain some of the basic details of our annual trip to… somewhere!
To start with, the phrase ‘the Lee family’ is a bit misleading, because there was, as you might expect, Jacqui and me, plus our three children Kerry, Vince and Ross, plus the dog, blessed with the unenviable name ‘Grotty’. That was just the start of the list, because it usually included my widowed mother Hilda, and Jacqui’s parents Elsie and Bert. Then add to that the friends our kids insisted on bringing along as well, so that by the time we were ready to set out there were 12 of us, including Grotty; exactly the right number of people to fill a 12-seater bus – the largest vehicle I was legally permitted to hire and drive. Even with a bus of course, once we had packed in everyone’s luggage, we had a well-filled vehicle!
Then we would be off, heading for the seaside village of Croyde, many miles away in North Devon. Croyde was a favourite place of ours, mainly because there was very little there. That may sound a little unusual when looking for an ideal holiday resort but it’s not quiet as it sounds. Croyde is a beautiful little village, sporting a glorious beach, nearly a mile long and 300m wide, famous as one of the better surfing beaches in England. On top of that, the beach was backed by massive sand dunes, which the kids loved to play on when they got bored with surfing, being ‘tuaregs’ or any other of a long list of Sahara Desert dwellers. Finally, for the use of we adults there were delightful, long walks along high cliff paths offering stunning views over the sea, plus a couple of decent pubs where adequate refreshment could be found.
The Croyde pub was nearly always always full of friendly people, visitors and residents, and it offered very good food, such as ploughman’s lunches, pies, pasties and many other delicious bar meals. There were also a couple of gift and souvenir shops and a village hall that was also the cinema a couple of nights a week. That was about it as far as Croyde was concerned! The surrounding countryside was dotted with several other small villages, and beautiful broad beaches, most of them served by roads that were about the width of a car, with passing places cut into the high banks every hundred metres or so. Ideal for an ‘away-from-it-all’ holiday!
As you must have guessed by now, there was little or no holiday commercialisation in that part of North Devon, which was exactly what made the area so desirable to us. We had discovered from experience that the highly developed holiday resorts of the South Devon coast, places like Torquay, Paignton and Teignmouth, were overrated, expensive, and offered nothing for the children to expand themselves in. Most of the entertainment was provided in ‘slot palaces’, fun parks, holiday camps and fairgrounds, all of which had to be paid for. Above all, we soon found, after a couple of years of going to one of these ‘resorts’, that within a couple of weeks of going there and coming home again, the kids had forgotten all about it, whereas a couple of weeks in Croyde was memorable, and lived on in their heads right up to the present time, some 40 or more years later, simply because by going there, we encouraged them to make their own entertainment and think about what they were doing.
An important factor in taking kids away on holiday is, I believe, to remember to let them do the thinking, where games, etc., are concerned. If you do it all for them, using just cash and machines, they really won’t thank you for it in the long run!