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Camping in the 1950’s – A Time for Reflection
Back in the 1950’s camping holidays in England was a wonderful experience as there were quite a few campsites for other farmers’ fields that you were likely to stand next to. of a cow ruminating over the wind, or, possibly, something worse. Thank you to our parents for being aware of the dangers of Scabies from lice and is a good reason for our camping holidays in France.
My first memory of a camping holiday, (I mean “proper” as opposed to a weekend or two completely soaked in English rain) was in the summer of 1957 when I’m just 10 years old, my sister Liz is 15 and three. the parents planned a three to four week jaunt to the darkest part of southern France; is a recognized all over the years as you will read on.
Of course today this trip is pretty much the same place and we do, or a similar self-drive vacation almost every year, but in the 1950’s things were just a tad different. For those of you whose geography lessons include making paper airplanes to flick around the world in class it will interest you to know that the UK is an island – which means there is a sea around it, ok?
That is the case, if you want to cross the channel to France for your vacation then it means sailing – similar to the ones that are used now but about a third of the size and not there is stability, which means in a cold wind (must be cold in the Channel) the boat, ship or whatever the ghastly thing is called, wafted from side to side like a drunken sailors, and those who are now robust customs change a bad shade of puce before rushing. to hurt the side. There are some exceptions to that rule!
There are no Motorways in England so it takes us most of the day to get to Dover from our home in the Midlands to where the ferry is based on a 22 mile crossing. Equally, there are no Autoroutes in France so a journey of nearly 800 miles or 1200 KM took several days.
Does that sound long to you? Well ok, but just think that don’t wear clothes make the area like today, the road has passed through all the towns, villages, cities and towns on the way, and not only that but but the road to them, the road from them and for the distance on the other side of them were cobbled! They probably haven’t reappeared since before the War!
The last time I did that before the start of the Autoroutes was ten years later in 1967 and nothing had changed.
Now our Dad was in the army in WW11 so he has been to some bad places and seen some good sights, in France and other countries, but I will remember when he told us about the WW1 cemeteries that were on the line. the road south of Calais for many, many miles. Thousands, hundreds of thousands of white crosses are to be seen on both sides of the road, and each one represents some poor person who died in the line of war. It is a time of deep reflection, even for ten years.
We finally made it to the south of France after stopping for a few nights on the way. Dad focused on a small place called Frejus, near another village called St Raphael. They’re pretty much joined at the hip now but back then they were both sparsely populated, dusty little villages, geographical areas that other Brits didn’t have much of, something to be proud of our parents because they prepared this business as a learning curve for us. as much as the rest of the day.
Both Liz and I started learning French at school around the age of 5 and the next weekend is a “test” where we think we will test our (non) conversational French Unexpectedly, and because Dad is ex-military, then the holiday is about some of the most important exercises to prepare for our future. Things like being able to cook, put the tent alone (which comes later, much later), but most of all can stand on your own two feet and withstand many events.
Thanks to our parents who had a big car that day as Dad is what we would now call a Fatcat Legal Eagle, otherwise we wouldn’t have been able to carry our tent and all other equipment such as stove, sleeping bag, food and so on. Everything was bigger and heavier at that time, especially the tent which took a lot of time to assemble.
Well, the tent weighed a ton and I couldn’t lift it by myself, so Dad got in and held it while the rest of us tried to make the pole into the other pole and tie the guy the rope on the thick wood that was banged. to the ground with a large wooden hammer that I have said for countless times is a mallet, not a hammer. Unfortunately, Pop up tents and tent machines have not been developed yet!
The best thing about the south of France, apart from it being “abroad” as it were, is the sunshine that seems to make you have breakfast until 7 in the morning and stay awake continuously in the big blue sky until almost sleep.
Right or wrong, our parents took us not only on vacation but to learn about other cultures, and so Liz and I both learned a lot about France, their way to live, (some) of their words and many things about. their history.
We have a lot of fun and education is not as good as the lessons, so our parents are so wise in their knowledge of many history, that they make the day seem very short when we are still thinking ask questions and check out the buildings inside. Romans a few thousand years earlier.
We are also encouraged to travel during the holidays so that we can pick up the history of past civilizations – in this case the Romans who settled in southern France and the Cathars who settled in Languedoc Roussillon and those who have been removed from. the Catholic Church.
The Cathars reject the old and the new evidence, are anti-drug, pacifist, and critical of the corruption of the established church, and therefore, in 1208 the Pope , Innocent III, declared all Cathars as heretics, and urged the emperor. launched a crusade to crush them, which he and his successors did for the next 30 years. There are many things for Christians in those days!
But back to camping and holidays that everything has come full circle a few times since 1950. I got married in the early 1970s and the result of that was a couple the kids that Pam and I went camping across Europe with when they were young, and who are now following in the tradition of their grandparents by taking their kids to some hole. places they themselves visited years before.
The best thing about this is that Pam and I are often invited to go along, and as we are still fit we can do hiking, swimming, snorkelling etc. with our children and grandchildren, but our days in canvas are numbered. and today we like the more comfort that mobile homes or shelters bring.
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