Holidays………Fifth July Blog. Holidays………..have you had yours? It is a long time since I went on a holiday/vacation of any kind. I suppose, if I think back hard enough, my last holiday was when my daughter was about ten or twelve. They were pretty unremarkable. Coastal caravans in various places, east coast, Kent, Sussex, Hampshire, one week at a time. We took the dogs so we had to accomodate their needs. I liked the areas we stayed in, all different in their own way. All very English too. Mostly the time was early September and the weather is not always kind at that time of year. Our cat had to stay home, but do not worry folks, my father went to the house every single day and fed and watered him, played with him for a while. He was fine with that, and safe too. That was quite a few years back, like about 36 years. The East Coast was bracing and not my favourite. Kent was OK, and we went there more than once. I think, of this series of holidays, I preferred Hampshire, The New Forest, to be precise. It isn’t all forest, as you may assume, there is scrubland where low-growing yellow gorse dots the somewhat sandy soil. Lots of small creatures live in these areas, grass snakes, vipers ( England’s only venomous snake), lots of unusual butterflies, birds and othe insects. This is where the New Forest ponies live. Not wild, as one may assumre. They are owned by local farmers who round up the ponies at certain times of year, brand the new babies and set them loose again or sell some on. They have a legal right to graze their animals on common land. This is why there are often horses and cattle along the various roads in the area. I have seen small ponds surrounded by woodland too, very quiet, very still with May flies and dragonflies hovering above the water. Dotted with pond weed too. Birds in the treetops above are silent in the heat of the sun. There are lovely little towns in and around the New Forest. Pleasant little places that take you back in time. This wa all so many years ago. These holidays leave markings in the memory. My fondest memories though, are of when I was single. My first trip on my own, was to Canada. I have a friend who used to work for the same Company. Lunch times, we would take our sandwiches, walk across the road and sit on grassy lumps of earth ( the area used to be brick fields in its day). We would talk and eat and then go back to our respective departments. Good sunny days then in the late 1950s. Then her family decided to emmigrate to Canada. I became very ill, getting Meningitis. About a year later, i moved to another Company. After three years. I qualified to get special air rate reductions. This meant I could go and see my friend in Toronto, Ontario, where they had set up home. This was my very first holiday on my own, my first air flight, my first travelling across the Atlantic. Suffice it to say that due to an Olympic Games coinciding with my planned flight, I did not get a seat on this particular aircraft. I was not senior enough to get the only seat left. I managed to get a seat on a flight the following evening. London (Heathrow ) Airport, was quite small then, and I boarded from a comparatively small building on the North Side. Long since demolished to make way for better prmises. The aviailable seat was upin First Class, because that was where the space was. Believe me, it was the way to travel. However, it was a jet prop aircraft and there were lots of stops all the way to the north of England and finally, to Scotland before heading north west to Canada. It was magical, the dark skies, the lights on the ground far below where there were towns and cities, the dark spaces inbetween, where only countryside existed. I cannot remember the A la Carte meal, but I did have a wonderful starter, real caviar and little biscuits with champagne. I felt like a queen. The first stop on the other side of the Atlantic was Quebec. I had seen the sunrise behind the aircraft and it chased us ll the way to Quebec. The aircraft flew low over a suspension bridge, lit up like fairyland, or so it seemed. To my eye, it looked magical. We all had to disembark and go through customs. As I was going on to Toronto, I just had to hang around the airport until it was time to board again for the last leg of my flight.. I was worried because my friends thought I would arrive the previous day. But it was OK, they queried it with the airport and found that I would arrive 24 hrs later. They were there to greet me, I was so pleased to see them all. Thought I was going to have to try and find them myself. Much of what we did escapes me. But we did drive to Niagara Falls. Go on the Maid Of The Mist boat that took us all fairly close to the Falls, covered in heavy black rubber coats to the ground, to keep us dry. (The boats have different names now, I believe, and when I was there in 1997, we had short blue plastic covers which really did not keep one dry. My friend and I slept late, had enormous breakfasts of cereals, raspberries and canned squirty cream, which did not squirt very well. Then very thinly sliced belly bacon, fried crispy, lots of rashers and eggs etc. We went to High Park in Toronto, the Toronto Zoo and York castle where we saw the huts used by soldiers and saw their beds. Very short, as men were mosly short in the late 1700s. Another trip we made was 600 miles north to North Bay. We passed through Muskoka, a wonderful natural area of rocky outcrops along the side of the highway. We saw woods and streams that led to narrow but high waterfalls. We followed one to where it cascaded down the rocks into quite a large lake. There were people camping in the distance on a sandy spit of land. We could see a camp fire, its lazy tendils of smoke wending its way up into the sky. Another magical scene. We stopped at the house belonging to the Dionne Quins, then at relatives of my friend’s boyfriend and their farm. This meant a night time woodland bear hunt. Yes, I know. We never saw or heard a bear. Would have had trouble running away in the trees, in 60s clothes and heeled shoes. But it was fun, for the guys anyway. And something to write home about. I had many other holidays in the 1960s, but that is all for now. Do you have fond memories of special holidays/vacations. Why not mention them in the comments section? Be good to each other and to yourself, until my next blog. Evelyn


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