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Christine Upton

School Holidays in Banbury in the 1950s

Watch the clock. Four minutes to go until four o'clock. Get on with it! He keeps droning on about the work we've done, and should have done. My old books are piled up, ready to take home. I always like the smell of the fresh new books we get in September. Put away the hymn book until then too.

We've done the end of term show for the parents, (I fell over during the Country Dancing bit, got up quickly – perhaps no one noticed?). We did the P.E. demonstration, the choir sang a few songs. I just want to get out of here for a few weeks. I bet the teachers feel the same.

At last! The bell has rung and we are away. Back through the wreck. There will be conkers falling when we go back.

Do I get a lie in? You're joking. Mum is up and vacuuming at 7.30. Singing away – what is she singing? – I can never recognise it. Doris Day? Matt Munro? Who knows. She's been at work since 6.30, so it must be time for her elevenses.

I know what she's going to do in a minute. She will fling my window open, (still singing), and pull the sheets off while I'm still in bed. Not too bad in July, but try it in November! She is always opening the bedroom windows really wide, even when there's snow on the ground. You only get a fire in you bedroom if you're ill. There's ice on the inside of the windows in winter, and we put dad's old overcoat on the bed, to keep warm.

What will this summer holiday have in store? Going down to be with Gran, Uncle Cyril and Uncle Harry, to Bognor, I expect, to join them for their second week. It's quite nice really. We go to singalongs, and the end of the pier shows. We spend lots of time on the beach too. I love swimming in the sea, although I get a bit worried about getting out of my depth. Also I have a bit of a thing about fish. I worry they could be swimming round my legs, stupid really, it is the sea after all!

Gran sits in her deckchair, with the canopy over her head, but sometimes paddles in the sea with me. She tucks up her skirt, even as high as her knees sometimes! Uncle Cyril loves to make sandcastles. He makes boats, castles, animals, anything really. I am getting a bit old to be making sandcastles, but it's still good fun.

We stay in a Bed and Breakfast. We have to stay out all day, but we always find something to do. We will all travel back together on the train at the end of the week.

The rest of the summer holiday will probably be a mixture of visits to the swimming pool, long country walks, usually to visit relatives in nearby villages, and if we are lucky, a couple of visits to the seaside. I'll probably go out later, meet up with the rest of the gang and perhaps go up the fields. We usually make a camp somewhere. I hope I don't get stuck up a tree again. I don't think I'm built for tree climbing. We might go newting, or tiddler fishing. I need to get out of the way, or mum will have me gardening, or decorating or moving the beds around. She's always up to something.

I can smell the washing. She's boiling up my socks again. My mother boils everything, hankies, pants, socks, tea towels. If its not screwed down she boils it.

Perhaps we'll have a game of rounders later. The four trees are in exactly the right place. With all the kids out we can get up two good teams.

The only problem with playing in the street is that some one will stick her head out of the window and shout "go and play up you own end – my husbands on nights." So we do, then some one else shouts the same thing from the other end of the street!

We could play rugby. Although I'm not keen. Last time I got knocked out after hitting my head on the path. The boys have to put up with girls playing as there are more girls than boys.

'British Bulldog' involves a lit of lifting people up, (and shouting "British Bulldog"), but with all the different ages, it could be very hard or very easy, depending on who you are chasing.

Perhaps we will go down to the swimming pool? Mum will make up jam sandwiches, and give us a bottle of squash. We can watch the boys showing off down the deep end, trying to impress the girls. We can spend all day there. Getting wet and drying off. On the way home we can go to the paddling pool in the park and mess about for a bit. The little kids have usually gone home by then, although the water sometimes looks a bit grubby by the end of the day!

Maybe we will all go down to the seaside for the day, during the holidays. It's a very early start, but worth it. We even take the dog, she loves the sea. It takes about four hours to get there. Mum makes enough sandwiches to feed an army. Last year we stopped in a caravan in Yarmouth. Who poked a hole in the gas light, while trying to light it?

Maybe I will go away with my Aunt and Uncle, just to keep my younger cousin company, travelling around from B+B to B+B. We left our clothes on the beach at Littlehampton last time, only to find the sea had come in while we were swimming. My little transistor radio got soaked – but still works, thank goodness.

Sometimes I go to stay with them during the Summer Holidays. Living in Grimsbury you go down to the Lido in Middleton Road. It's a great little swimming pool. Other days we go to Spiceball Park, and fish for minnows under the bridge.

Occasionally we all go on a bus trip. Usually it's a works trip, or Midland Red. Because it's booked you have to go, even if it's raining. Yes, I have made sandcastles in the rain. "We're here now, so your going to enjoy yourself," is the usual comment.

Oh well, better get up I suppose. These old army blankets get very itchy without any sheets on!

Written by Christine Upton