Saturday, July 29, 2006

Our first real holiday. (Part 4 The Traffic Warden)

The following day, Sunday, we went to Eyemouth, a small fishing village over the Scottish border, where we had called at previously on our long weekend. We had lunch at the Lobster Pot Inn. It was a very pleasant place and the food was excellent. All through our stay, the weather still held good and we made the most of it. We swam in the sea; we lazed about on the beach. (This time, Iris made sure she was protected by sun-tan cream!) I remember that there were swans swimming in the sea; it was that calm. In the evenings, we would go back to the ‘Ponderosa’ as the locals called the pub and we would join in games or just natter away to friends we had made. We had also discovered a tiny social club tucked away in a back-street in Berwick but more of that later. We were really enjoying our first holiday together.
A remarkable incident took place when we went to Eyemouth. As we approached the small harbour, we saw the road had double yellow lines freshly painted there. Parking was only available in a handkerchief-sized ‘square’ near the harbour. It was a time when the licensing laws hadn’t changed in Scotland and the pub was only open on Sunday lunchtime if the tide was right for the small fishing fleet of about four or five boats to enter harbour. We stopped near the square but it was choc-full of cars and vans, (about eight, altogether!) As we decided to pull away, a traffic warden knocked on the window and asked if we were staying. It was the last place I thought I’d see a traffic warden. They were a common sight down in Cornwall but up here at the back of beyond??? He was a smallish tubby man of indeterminate years; anything from fifty to seventy. I replied that we wanted to go and have a drink in the pub.
Get this… He said, “That yon van there is going in a couple of minutes, give me your keys and I’ll park the car for you.” I was amazed at this; In a semi-trance, I gave him my keys and we went into the pub. It was very busy and eventually we got served just as the traffic warden was pushing his way towards us with the keys in his hand. I thanked him and asked if there was any charge. He replied “Aye, thanks, I’ll have a wee dram wid ye!” I got him a measure of scotch and the landlord pulled a pint as well.. He told me “Auld Wullie likes a taste o’ beer with his dram, ye know!”.. Auld Wullie was the only traffic warden in my life that I have bought a drink for!!!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Holiday romance

This is a poem I wrote one day in Berwick while Iris was sunbathing on the beach. She looked so wonderfully attractive in her bikini. I just had to capture the scene as a reminder of our very first holiday together. I took lots of photographs of that holiday but alas, they were lost along with a lot more stuff.

To my darling on our holiday July 1973

I saw you barefoot as you walked along the sand,
The rolling wavelets gently lapping round your feet,
And I was there beside you walking hand in hand,
The splendid magic of that moment was complete.

That summer’s day with you was one of heaven sent,
We had no cares, no doubts, no fears to cloud the day.
Sharing our hopes, our dreams, where ere we went,
It seemed as though we were a thousand miles away.

And later, in the stillness of the evening air,
With loving arms around you; how I held you tight,
So closely now, to smell the fragrance of your hair,
And lay beside you there until the morning light.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Our first real holiday (Pt 3 "Don't touch me!")

Although we’d been lazing on the beach most of the afternoon, we were both a little tired from the journey and the early 5 am start.
We had a light dinner and went out to a pub we’d been to on our previous visit. Iris said she was feeling a little hot round her upper arms and shoulders and opted to wear a light sun-top. The pub was called the Meadow House Hotel and was on the English side of the border. Mine host was a jovial character, Peter Elliot, but known to all and sundry as Jock! He was a man who had been around quite a lot and had a fund of yarns to spin. There was a bell on the bar; every week, he would take it down and polish it. Occasionally, the clapper would strike the side of the bell accidentally. That was the only time anyone would ever hear it ring! Over the years we became very good friends and many a time we would walk, sorry, stagger, out of the pub in blazing sunlight early in the morning.
The first night we went in, we sat and had a quiet drink and chatted to some locals who made us feel very welcome. It wasn’t the sort of pub that tourists or holidaymakers went for but we liked the place from the start.
Around midnight, we were just about dropping so we left the pub and walked back. The caravan was within easy walking distance so we could have a decent drink without having to take the car. I remember Iris saying how she enjoyed the cool night air as we walked back.
Iris was ready for bed and I joined her later after a last cigarette. I was feeling quite romantic and I was looking forward to a cosy night of nookie. I slid in between the sheets and reached out for Iris. She gave a wild shriek and cried “Don’t touch me, I’m burning up!” I saw that her shoulders were raw from the sunburn. She had left it too late with the sun-tan oil! I resigned myself to a celibate night; there was no other option! Fortunately, with the aid of calomine lotion, (who still uses that, these days?) her shoulders lost the burning sensation and a couple of days later, she started to develop a gorgeous tan.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

A brief interlude

I don't particularly wish to tear myself away from reminiscing about our first holiday, but with the gorgeous Summer we’re having at the moment, it’s a shame to spend a lot of time indoors hunched up over a keyboard.
I’ve decided to get out and about as much as I can while the fine weather holds. Nothing give me greater pleasure that to sit outside a pub in Derbyshire drinking copious pints of cool ale!
I’m off back up to Scotland shortly for another few days and I’m also going down south to visit an old friend in Brighton. I haven’t seen her recently and I’m looking forward to a natter about old times.
A drive to Scotland is always enjoyable; I usually break my journey en route and stop overnight somewhere. A Brighton trip is much more hectic especially in the holiday season when the M25 is snarled up. Why anyone up here would want to spend a holiday there is beyond me! For instance a trip to Scotland means an opportunity to stock up with various rare malts. What does one bring back from Brighton?

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Our first real holiday (Pt 2 The first day)

By the time we’d sorted everything out, it was coming up to midday. We drove into the town and found a snug little cafĂ© where we had lunch. We walked around for half an hour as neither of us had seen much of it before, apart from a brief visit when we had been here earlier just for a couple of days.
Coming back to the caravan, we changed into beach wear and went down to the sea. It was only a very short distance to the beach down the cliff path from the site. The beach at Berwick is mostly shingle but we found a comfortable spot to sit. It was a very hot day and even the sea felt warm when we went for a dip. We came out of the water and lay on a couple of towels we had brought. Iris looked absolutely stunning in her bikini. It had taken me a hell of a lot of persuading for her to wear it but the weather was ideal for lazing about in the sun. She had said that she felt that everybody was looking at her as we walked down from the cliff-top; in actual fact she was right! I was aware of the envious glances she was receiving from even teenage lads. Iris was 34 but looked much younger, I was so very proud of being with her that day.
The sun was blazing down and I was liberally applying sun-tan lotion on my shoulders and Iris was rubbing some on my back. I told Iris to put some on but she said she didn’t fancy being covered in greasy oil. I said she should get some protection as it really was a very hot day but no, she said she was fine. A little later, we had both dozed off; it had been a very early start that morning. Getting up at 4.30 was indeed a novel experience. 4.30am in my book is strictly reserved for stray cats and burglars! I came to when Iris was nudging me; she was asking for the sun-tan lotion. She said she felt a little warm on her shoulders. I looked and she was like a bloody lobster! I doused her in oil and suggested she covered her arms and shoulders for a bit. Later, we went back to the caravan for dinner and to change ready for going out that evening. I had suggested that we ate out but she insisted on preparing a meal for us. She said that she wanted to feel like a real housewife. I saw that it meant such a lot to her and I couldn’t possibly argue with that! Later, she confessed that she thought living in a caravan was a bit like playing ‘House’ as a child, only a more grown-up version. Nevertheless, she was loving every minute of it. I, too, was looking forward to the prospect of a fortnight with just the two of us, away from everyone and everything. We were in a world of our very own.

Historian’s note… Berwick has changed hands between England and Scotland over 16 times since 1147. Even now, Berwick Rangers, an English soccer team, play in the Scottish FA!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Where have you gone?

It was about this time in July 1973 that Iris and I had our first real holiday together. I am currently writing an account of this as you will see. I posted Part 1 a few days ago
I started thinking about it this evening as I was preparing Part 2 and I was feeling very sad at the memories it brought back.
I started doodling around and came up with a poem that illustrated my sadness. You may not like it; you may think it's soppy and over-dramatic.
You may even wonder why I continue torturing myself over someone who has been dead for 25 years?
Sorry, I'm still in love with her and I just can't let go!

Where have you gone? July 2006

The summer days we shared were always warm and bright.
They beckon; faded dreams, like shadows haunting me.
But you are gone away and vanished from my sight,
I stand alone where once we walked in loving harmony.
Where have you gone, my love?

The years passed by, the times we loved together
The many hopes we shared; the days we spent as one,
The happiness we had; we always thought would last forever
Those days have slipped away; now evermore, you’re gone
Where have you gone, my love?

Try as I may, I can’t forget the deepest love I had for you.
Those precious golden years; the years that meant so very much.
The things that we enjoyed; those things bring memories anew
So sad I’ll never feel again your warm caress, your gentle touch.
Where have you gone, my love?

I look into the sky and wish in vain to see your face,
I gaze into the mist but you’re no longer there.
I search my heart but only find a void, an empty space,
I wait in constant hope; I want to see you everywhere.
Where have you gone, my love?

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Tiny minds

It would appear that some of the contents of my blog may be used to attempt to discredit me by a tiny group of trouble-makers. I know who they are and why they are doing it.
A blog is a personal diary and is open for all to see. I am perfectly confident that there is no material in here whatsoever that is of a controversial or damaging nature.
Obviously, some people with small minds may choose to think differently. All I can say is that I shall continue writing for the pleasure and enjoyment of those who appreciate it. End of!

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Our first real holiday (pt. 1 Arrival)

This will be a rather long account of our first holiday together. I make no apologies for this as it was such a very memorable and happy time.

I have explained previously that Iris had hardly been anywhere at all before we met. She had never been in a close relationship before and had been a rather solitary person. I think that this is why I took such a great delight in taking her places where she had never visited and showing her things of interest she had never seen.
Up to July 1973, I had taken her into Derbyshire for weekends, to Falmouth for a few days, to Felixstowe for a long weekend and to Berwick for another long weekend. She had loved all of these excursions. This holiday, however, was to be so very different and she was looking forward to it with great delight.
We had arranged to use a friend’s eight-berth caravan for two whole weeks in July. It was at Berwick-on-Tweed where we had recently spent a couple of days with some friends in May. This time, we were going on our own and for much longer.
Iris was so very excited about going away; she bustled around for several days before we were due to get off. She wanted to take a load of food with us but I explained that Berwick had shops there and the caravan had a large fridge!
I bought her a couple of summer dresses, some beachwear and a bikini. She’d never worn a bikini before although she had learned to swim at school. She tried it on the evening before we set off and she looked a picture! She had a small but very trim figure; just made for a bikini! I remember her asking the usual questions: “Do I look too skinny?” and “Does anything show that shouldn’t?” I told her she looked bloody gorgeous. She pulled a face and told me I was flattering her. That was Iris all over; she had never believed she could look attractive before we met.
On the Friday evening, I had a booking at a local club and my last spot finished at 10pm so we were home reasonably early around 11.30, after calling in at a pizzeria for supper. Iris was so excited, she wasn’t able to sleep; she kept waking up all through the night. Eventually, I decided on an early start and 5am saw us loading the car and setting off.
The sun was shining and the weather looked very promising. It was more or less a straight run up the A1 and we stopped a couple of times for a break. Once at a Little Chef, just south of Scotch Corner and again at Morpeth to pick the keys up for the caravan. That was where our friends lived. Iris was surprised when we went through the Tyne Tunnel; she’d never seen anything like it before, it was an entirely new sensation for her.
It was a leisurely drive up to Berwick, about 220 miles from home. We got there around 10 am and started to unpack our bags, etc. First job was to make a cup of tea. It’s surprising, isn’t it? A woman can be transported anywhere in the world and the first thing she wants to do is to make a cuppa! She was still very excited and marvelled at the thought of living here for a fortnight.
She wanted to look at the sea; she wanted to stroll on the beach; she was like a youngster on her first seaside holiday! I went over and gave her a great big hug! From that moment on, I knew we were going to have a wonderful time.

Friday, July 07, 2006


Happiness is easy to share; everyone is happy with you and it’s a great feeling.
Sorrow, however, is so very difficult to share. You need special close friends who will sympathise with you and comfort you.
I am very fortunate in having such close friends and even though I sometimes think I’m boring them with my woes, they always understand.
Those friends I’m speaking about read my blog and I would like them to know I appreciate their compassion. I am indebted to all of them, not forgetting the friend who encouraged me to write this blog in the first place. Another friend who has her own serious worries at the moment, still finds time to listen and advise. Other friends too, have their own problems but a problem shared is a problem halved. Such friendship is truly a wonderful thing.

Sunday, July 02, 2006


With the warm sunny weather we are having at the moment, my thoughts turn to the summers of yesteryear. I am reminded of all the places we went to and all the friends we made. I wish I could savour some of those days again.

I wish I could walk hand-in-hand with Iris along a country lane in Derbyshire.
I wish I could be with her in one of our favourite pubs together with friends.
I wish I could sit with her on the beach at Berwick, rubbing sun-tan lotion on her shoulders.
I wish I could lie with her and feel her arms around me.
I wish I could make love to her just one more time.
I wish…. I wish!

Am I so very stupid wishing for the impossible? Please leave a comment