When I was a little girl sometimes I used to spend weekends with my Aunt and my grandfather. They were special times – times when I was happy – when I wasn’t frightened and knew that I was loved and cared for. Oh how I loved those weekends!
But this one – this one was going to be even more special. Aunty Min was going to take me for a day to the seaside and how excited I was, because you see, when you lived in London you were a long way from the sea and it was always a special treat for a city person!
I woke up early in the morning excited – please wake up Aunty Min we are going to Margate today – please hurry or we will be late for the coach. She laughed and we both got ready. I was too excited to eat any breakfast, I just wanted to go. I kissed my pop goodbye and off we went to the coach station. I had to sit by the window so I could see everything as we drove along. Finally, the coach went and we slowly left the city behind us. “Look Aunty Min”, I said, “There are some horses over there! Aren’t they lovely?”. I wished I could get out and stroke some but no, on and on the coach went – faster now as we were out of the city and not too much traffic around. Oh, there were cows some sitting down and others standing up, so I didn’t know whether it was going to rain or the sun to shine…we were always told that if it rained the cows sat down. However, I didn’t care! I was going to see the sea!
I remember getting a bit impatient. It seemed so long and now I had enough of the coach – I wanted to get out and look at things and sit on the beach and paddle my feet in the water. Suddenly I looked and there it was: the sea. It looked wonderful and I was excited. It was going to be the most special of days, I knew that!
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It seemed forever, but now the coach pulled into the station and out we got – finally we had arrived at our destination. As we got out of the coach I held my aunt’s hand and she wasn’t moving fast enough. I wanted to run really but she was old and couldn’t go as fast as I did.
“What shall we do first?”, I asked. She wanted a cup of tea so we went into a little place and I had a glass of lemonade with some toast and she had her cup of tea. Out we went into the sunshine. It was a wonderful day and so we went to walk along the beach and there were so many people sitting on deck chairs and basking in the warmth of the day. My aunt sat down in a deckchair and I pulled off my shoes and socks and I tucked my dress into my knickers legs and went towards the edge of the water, the sand squelching in between my toes. It was so soft and I bent down and picked some up between my fingers and let it float gently down. The breeze picked it up and blew it along the beach. I stepped into the water – gosh it was cold as the waves lapped at my feet. I looked back and waved and laughed at my aunt – she had a big smile on her face. I know she was pleased that she was making her special niece happy. She had an idea what life was like for me so this was very good. After a while I went back and sat in the sand beside her and made sandcastles. They weren’t that pretty but I liked building them up as high as I could and then jumping into them. I guess that’s what you do when you are a child.
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I was hungry so we went in search of food but I wanted to go to Dreamland – it was a huge place – something like a big fairground with rides and lots of things to do. A cacophony of sound assaulted my ears! It was crowded lots of people milling around queuing up to do the many things available. You could throw balls at soft toys and if you knocked one down the man would give it to you. I tried and tried. I wasn’t very good at that but we moved on to something else.
Oh the smells that assaulted my nose: hot chips mingled with the sweet smell of doughnuts cooking – I was starving. We sat down and then I had a plate of chips and a Knickerbockers Glory – it was just like heaven. The chips were demolished in double quick time and as I drank my drink, the straw made those funny sucking sounds you get to at the bottom of the glass, trying to empty every drop. “That’s quite enough now”, Aunt Min said to me. Then I saw the candy: floss sweet and sticky and so nice. Then we went in search of the ghost train. It was so scary: all of those things jumping out at you and I screamed with delighted fear as the skeleton leered at me. I was squeezing my Aunt’s hand so tight I think she probably had bruises afterwards! I went on a merry-go-round, up and down went the horses and I waved as we went around – it seemed like a beautiful dream.
We walked through the bustling crowds having to push a bit now and then – this was school holiday time so there were lots of children around. There was a fortune teller and she was saying “come, come and have your future told”. My aunt decided she wanted to have a try at finding out hers was. The fortune teller looked at my aunt’s hand and into a big circular glass ball. She muttered and looked and then my heart sank into my boots – I couldn’t believe what she was telling my aunt. She said that she would get married and have two children. Oh no it’s not possible, I thought. She was mine. I didn’t want her to have children…I was her child. My face became glum and she wanted to know what the matter was. I told her and she laughed, “Don’t be silly! She is only a fortune teller, they always spin tales of fantasy”. I felt better then and held tightly onto her hand while skipped along by her side.
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We were coming toward the end of the day and I had an ice-cream cornet and bit the bottom off it and sucked the ice cream through – it was just lovely doing that. All too quickly it looked like it was time to go and get our coach and head back to London. What a lovely day I had – wonderful in every way. Back into the coach the driver patted me on the head and remarked at what rosy cheeks I had – that was from the sun of course. I sat down and off we went. Suddenly, it seemed, Aunt Min was saying “Wake up, wake up!”. We were back in London. I was tired but so happy and I will always remember that day very clearly. I had the most fantastic time and it was a happy memory of my long forgotten childhood come alive for a brief moment in time.
It is joyous to remember the wonderful person that I had loved so much and had meant so much to me for all my life. Aunt Min then came out to live in Australia to be situated near me and my family until the end of her life. I tried to make her life happy as she had done to me when I was a little girl.
But I will never forget that memorable day we had in Margate.
Do you have childhood memories like Violet’s? What do you remember from your childhood and the happy times? Tell us your favourite stories below.