Holidays in England

Our holidays were always within the UK - only the rich went overseas - and always to the West coast, for a week.

Blackpool was our all-time favourite. It had wide expanses of sand (when the tide was out), reasonable shops, and cheap holiday accommodation. The highlights for us as kids were Blackpool Tower, the donkey- rides and Punch-and-Judy puppet shows, all on the beach, and the famous Blackpool Illuminations that stretched along the foreshore.

On one occasion, we arrived for our holiday, and while Mum and Dad went to unpack we kids went down for a swim (well, paddle). We had our "costumes" on under our clothes, and we peeled off our clothes, threw them on the sand and ran to the water. The tide was well out but on the rise.

The tide there as on most English beaches was quite large; sometimes it was quite a walk to get to the water. After the "swim" we returned and discovered all of my nice holiday clothes had disappeared in the water (everybody else's were still there)! Mum and Dad were not impressed, as we had to go to Marks and Spencer's to buy a new outfit.

Other favourite places were Fleetwood, Southport, and Rhyl.

Christmas holidays

Picture of snowman Snowman
Picture of children playing in snow Snow
Picture of group creating a giant snowball Snowball
Picture of boy enjoying toboggan ride Toboggan
Picture of Santa sled arriving Santa

In winter there was always the chance of snow, and when it came we'd drag our sled (tobogan) or, if we didn't have one, find a friend who had one, and head for a nearby hill.
In our case this was the "acid-tip", a large mound of material from an excavation, and we'd spend hours taking turns to ride down on the sled, finishing up on or beside the ice-covered pond at the bottom.

Snowmen and snowball fights were always on the menu. There were unwritten rules to snowball fights, the main one being that the snowball must be of clean, soft snow, not partly-melted snow or "slush" which became very hard when made into a ball.
The snowman came in many sizes and forms. Most had a ball of snow for the head and a larger one for the body. No legs were needed (as snowmen didn't travel very far) but small twigs were used for arms, a mouth and a pipe. If a hat and coat could be found (not often) these were fitted as well. Small stones for eyes completed the snowman.

Another activity was skating on the pond mentioned earlier (without skates - they were too dear for us), but if the ice was thin this could mean falling through into the water underneath. Not very deep, but rather cold. And then, there was the matter of getting dry before your parents found out, which needed a fire.
We were all expert fire-lighters, of course, having honed our skills in nearby woods for most of the year.

Of course, there was a different "level" of holiday-makers, those who went overseas to escape the cold winters, but I was never a part of that group.

Holidays in Australia

When we came to live in Australia, we settled in Carrum, Victoria and our back gate opened onto the beach. We'd heard that Australia was a place for year-round swimming so on our first day, which was a fine October day, we pulled on our bathers and went for a swim.

The first plunge into the water took my breath away - it was freezing! We'd been told that Australia was a land of perpetual sunshine, but we found it does have a winter too and this had just passed, leaving the water very cold.
Some other impressions we were given were that kangaroos roamed the streets, that virtually any patch of grass was home to various snakes and lizards, and deadly spiders waited under the toilet seat for the unwary (which is sometimes true).
Picture of an Australian beach

We were amazed by the distances travelled here. Some trips were 1000km or more each way, something you couldn't possibly do in England, although many were of course shorter.

The distances for our day trips were larger than for our annual holiday trips in England, but were comfortably achieved almost on a weekly basis. Places we went for day trips were Lakes Entrance, Philip Island where we watched the penguin parade in the evenings, and various beaches on the Mornington Peninsula where we caught whiting, leatherjacket and occasionally bream from the piers.
Holiday times at home were spent in various ways including "billy-cart" races, tadpole, frog and lizard hunts and fishing for eels in the local creek.

Aussie Christmas time

Christmas in Australia is in summertime, so quite a few things are different from in England. For a start, since it can sometimes be over 40deg Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) it's not always a good time for a roast dinner. We still like to have a roast, but this may be served cold with salad. Obviously, there's no snow around, so free days are spent at the beach or looking for cooler places to sit.
December is also fly season, snake season and magpie-breeding season. The flies can be quite annoying, and the "aussie wave" has become famous as we attempt to keep them from our eyes and mouth. Snakes, I think, have been over-rated as a danger, and are more of an interest item than a real threat (unless you're walking through long grass or climbing over rocks).
Magpies can be quite scary when they swoop unexpectedly 
  while walking or riding near their nests

Magpies, for most of the year, are quite placid, even friendly, and their warbling song is beautiful. But during November to January they have their breeding season and can be quite aggressive if you pass near their tree. It's quite unnerving to be walking along thinking about lunch and suddenly feel the slap of their wings on your neck, accompanied by a peck on the head from their sharp beak.
Sharks and jellyfish were, and still are real dangers at many Australian beaches, and some corals can cause serious injury when beach-combing in bare feet. Crocodiles are common in the Northern parts of Australia and can be a hazard, mainly for holiday visitors who are not fully aware of the risks when swimming in rivers and lakes in those areas.
Late breaking news: A four-year-old girl was attacked by a magpie in a nearby park yesterday ((Nov 3) and suffered serious injury to her left eye. She is in hospital and at risk of losing sight in that eye.

For more discussion on how and where we travelled, go to the Transport page, or for comparisons betwen English and Australian countryside, go to the Bushland page.

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