Bank Holiday Monday Part 1


Recently I told you about my Granddad’s old Bedford van, this got me thinking about Bank Holiday Mondays, when we would all crowd into the van and set off on a day trip to the seaside.
Preparations would begin several days prior to the actual trip, most of the furniture in the house would be moved into granddad’s van, tables, chairs, settees. Then food preparation would begin, there were my mom and dad, gran and granddad and brother and sister going on the trip but mom and gran would always do enough sandwiches for several thousand people just on the off chance that we met someone we knew. Cakes and pies were baked, pickles, jars of onions, bags of crisps were loaded onto the van, and finally several large flasks of tea.
Then we were off, but first came the scary part, my granddad cranking the engine of the van using a starting handle, at the time I had a small toy car which you would get to move along by twisting a little key which wound up an elastic band inside, when you released it, the car would move along a few yards. In those days I always assumed that real cars worked on the same principle, obviously they had a bigger elastic band so they could go further, the only difference appeared to be that it seemed highly dangerous winding up the elastic band on my granddad’s van as he always seemed to be injuring himself doing it. I remember one occasion when we were sitting in the van, granddad stuck the starting handle in, gave a thumbs up, turned it and was catapulted over the front of the van and into the veggie garden. He staggered out looking a bit worse for wear as my gran told him off for destroying her prize marrow, his dentures had shot out and it took several hours searching before they were found attached to a cabbage, anyway, luckily there were to be no such problems today, the engine started first time and we were off, zooming along at my granddad’s normal 20 miles an hour.
Us kids would start eating before we had left our driveway and the grownups would stop and have a cup of tea every hour, this all seemed to be part of the day out, another thing that seemed to happen every time we went on one of these day trips, was after about an hours driving, one of the grownups would suddenly say “Oh my God, we’ve forgotten the…………”, this could be anything, the shovel, the piano, the dog kennel. Whatever it was, it was always a matter of life and death that granddad turned around and went back and got it. This would have been a bit boring but what always saved us on these long trips backwards and forwards was the singsong, the singsong was a major part of the trip, the grownups would be singing “Roll out the Barrel” or “White Cliffs of Dover” sometimes my mom would get a bit raunchy and do a bit of Frank Sinatra although this was frowned upon by my granddad who thought that music like that could only lead to ruination. He certainly wasn’t happy about us kids singing in the back of the van, cause this was the 60’s, we were singing along to the Beatles or Gerry and The Pacemakers, obviously we kept well away from the Rolling Stones, we did not want to test granddad’s heart out whilst he was driving.
A Bank Holiday Monday in England is a strange thing, we were heading to Morecombe on the M6 motorway, and the strange thing was that on a Bank Holiday Monday, everyone else in Britain and indeed most of Europe would also head to Morecombe on the M6 motorway or so it always seemed. The traffic would get heavier and heavier until eventually we would come to a complete standstill, every now and again we would slowly move forward a couple of metres, this would be met by tremendous cheering, of course then we would stop for another ten minutes before we would move another few metres, the amazing thing is, if this happened now, I would go mad, I would end up leaving the car where it was and storming off, but for some reason in those days we must have been more patient cause it just seemed to be part of the day out. In fact after we had not moved for awhile, we would get out of the van and start chatting to people in other vehicles, occasionally if things were really bad we would get tables and chairs out and have a cuppa by the side of the road.
Eventually vehicles would start slowly moving and we would continue our journey to Morecombe………continued soon.

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