7 things we used to take on holiday

It’s prime time to be on holiday- so this week, we’re reminiscing about what our parents used to pack to head off on the annual family holiday. Obviously, we’d be setting off at 4 am to “beat the traffic” and arriving at the holiday venue five hours early, with nothing to do but sit on the beach in the rain. But it was fun, right?


  1. Address book

Crucial, because your Mum had to write postcards to everyone she’d ever met, in a mad dash to get them all written and posted in the hope they’d arrive before you were back home. Copying the same message to everyone was cheating, so it took her most of the holiday to describe the hotel in tiny writing, and carefully copy out 37 different addresses.

  1. Fishing net

It was almost unheard of to actually catch a fish, but the green net mounted on a bamboo pole was essential. Dad would insist it came back home (“No point wasting good money”) and sat in the shed collecting spiders for a year. Then there’d be a row because it wouldn’t fit in the car, and when you got there, you mainly used it to catch your little brother’s head and make him cry.

  1. Headscarf

Second only to an address book in importance, every mum, gran and auntie had a headscarf to keep their hair nice when it was blowy along the front. A coloured chiffon would do for daytime, but if it rained, they might pop a Rain Deer plastic hood over the top.

  1. Plastic sheet

Beach towels existed, but most parents were evangelical about the power of a plastic sheet. Crinkly, odd-smelling and an embarrassingly noticeable colour on the beach, it was ceremonially unrolled for every picnic on grass, sand or concrete, to “keep the damp out.” Annoyingly, it worked, though it was like eating lunch in a room that was about to be decorated.

  1. Summer special comic

There was huge excitement when the Summer Special version of your favourite comic was bought. You may well have had to beg for it because it cost more, but the Dandy, Beano, Tammy or Bunty Summer Special was packed with fabulous things, included a free gift (X-ray specs or a plastic ring) and promised an entire week of story-reading and craft-making. It was never quite as good as the anticipation; but almost.

  1. Cool box

Because your Dad refused to pay good money for soggy pies at the Dick Turpin Café, you had to take food with you everywhere you went. Dry food travelled in a checked plastic laundry bag, but cold food, excitingly, had its own box made of hard plastic with a carrying handle. The main thing was, you were never allowed to open it till you got there in case “everything melts.”

  1. Savlon

Every child ended up covered in Savlon on holiday, due to its reputation amongst mums for curing everything short of amputation. Cut knees, prickly heat, insect bites and sore bottoms were slapped with a handful of Savlon, and if you hadn’t stopped crying by the time you smelt like a chemist’s shop, you were probably overreacting.

  1. Windbreak

Your parents knew that sitting on the beach wasn’t going to be pleasant, so a windbreak was a necessity. It would take your dad and possibly an uncle several attempts to get it upright, bashing the poles with flat stones to stop it listing violently sideways. Then you’d huddle next to it with sand blowing in your face, till someone pointed out they’d got the wind direction wrong.

What did you take on holiday? Let us know, @facebook.com/Candisfan


3 Responses to 7 things we used to take on holiday

  1. frank Smith says:

    So, true! You always had to buy a bucket with towers at the corners. It came home with you, but was never seen again, hence the need to purchase a new one next year.

  2. Jeannie says:

    We weren’t posh enough (or rich enough) for a cool box, more like a flask and sandwiches in greaseproof paper, cos clingfilm hadn’t been invented yet. Also, no mention of a beach ball which blew away the first day. We never had Savlon either, only TCP which my dad seemed to use for everything and which you could smell half a mile away!

  3. Vicky Robinson says:

    All so true! I’d forgotten the comics Summer specials! We always packed a beach ball and a frisbee too. We had the cool box for picnics, usually consisting of some very uninspiring sandwiches of meat, cheese or peanut butter, budget crisps and a rapidly melting Kit-Kat! My parents often carried flasks of tea so as not to waste money, but they also had what they called “the lobster pot” for us kids, a huge insulated flask for cold drinks (usually very watery orange squash) with a push button on top for dispensing. My mum used Germolene as our family cure-all, not Savlon – it was pink, highly medicated and cured everything, but the local anesthetic bit gave it the edge over Savlon! It also had a very strong smell too!
    We also packed kagouls, water-proof coats in a little carry pouch as we knew that the British Summer was likely to turn on us at less than a minutes notice!

Leave a Reply

Please login or register to leave a comment.

Please wait while we process your request.

Do not refresh or close your window at any time.