Opinion: Christine Tongue – You don’t have to go abroad to have a good time

Coats on the beach!

Probably like most of you I’ve been doing archaeology in my own house – searching cupboards, reading old letters, finding ancient photo albums. Remembering holidays from the distant past brings home to you what we could have here in Thanet if we just turned around our vision of holidays from the Mediterranean to north Wales in 1950.

Growing up in the industrial Midlands, our nearest coast was North Wales. Spectacularly beautiful, mountains and sandy beaches, castles, forests – even a foreign language if you went far enough inland!

And with global warming, now you also get heat and sunshine.

But in my day, your holiday was often week-long drizzle! I remember sitting in a tea room in Llandudno while rain streaked down the windows and my uncle trying to sound optimistic: “it’s the clearing up shower!” for me and my cousin Rita, sitting with our buckets and quite ready to go and make sandcastles in the rain.

We had simple tastes, being together was good, a beach in sunshine or a paddling pool and a funfair was heaven.

Rita is a year younger than me – and still alive! We’ve checked recently as all us oldies have. You ring your friends to see if they’re surviving the virus. But we’ve all been reminiscing about the past.

In days of yore you travelled by train and went to guest houses and it was all very communal and jolly. The factories all had a “works fortnight” where everybody had two weeks off at the same time. Different areas had different weeks.

As we got more affluent my uncle would hire a car and six of us would cram in and go off to cram into a caravan in Wales. More rain – I remember all of us playing cards with rain pattering on the tin roof. Communal toilets, fetching water, and mud!

More uncles and aunts and grannies would turn up and cram in as well from time to time.

We kids had enormous fun. The funniest was when we abandoned Wales and went to Blackpool to see the lights. You didn’t book accommodation you just looked for Vacancy signs when you got here.

Blackpool was popular! All six of us had to share a room divided by curtains, me and Rita in one part. We spent the whole night laughing as one by one the adults started snoring and talking in their sleep. It was a great weekend. Oh, and the lights were all right too.

What’s the lesson for post lockdown hols? First of all you don’t have to go abroad to have a good time. Why drag your family through airports to take our virus to places more sensible than us, who got rid of it sooner.

I see kids on our beaches quite happy making castles even in winter. Let’s plan for all weather facilities, covered swimming pools, butterfly farms, aquariums, cafes in conservatories full of orchids, indoor games areas. Me and Rita didn’t need all that to have fun but we would have loved all of it. Pleasurama and Dreamland would have been right up our street – kids don’t want blocks of executive flats like is now –  being built on Ramsgate seafront.

Thanet could be heaven! You don’t need the Med or the Caribbean. Our skies and roads have been amazingly free of pollution as we all stopped travelling. Shop local! Holiday at home!


  1. Lovely memories, Christine. Very like my own but mine involved the rain in the West Country rather than the rain in North Wales.
    I think that I have agreed with nearly all your posts that I have read but—sorry—I have got to disagree this time.

    I LOVE holidays abroad! Not just for the weather, but that helps! When it’s always sunny, you know you can choose whatever you like to do. In Britain, the weather will restrict you.

    Recently, we have taken to using the train to get to France, Holland, Italy and Switzerland. Easier than airplanes and better for the environment.
    We are the envy of the country just because we live in the east of Kent with ready access to the Continent.
    No need to fly unless you are aiming for southern Spain or Greece.
    I used to be a keen supporter of Manston airport as I thought that this would give me easy flights to sunny climes but this was never on the cards really as there aren’t enough people in this area who would use a flight locally when Gatwick is so close to most of Kent.
    Now I can see that Manston is doomed to drag on with no future except as housing for Londoners with the money to buy expensive homes out of the capital.
    I think we should invest in more high speed trains to further afield on the continent. Straight through to Amsterdam or Berlin or Madrid.
    Keep Ashford International open, rather than drive all the way to Ebbsfleet.
    If Brexit means a wet week in Weymouth for a holiday, they can keep it!!!

  2. We have some beautiful beaches from Cliftonville to Broadstairs. Unfortunately there is such an enormous amount of seaweed covering these beaches it is not somewhere that is enjoyable to spend time. Years ago our beaches were kept clean and farmers would take the seaweed as fertiliser for their fields. Today only the main beaches are kept clean for people visiting the town.Come on Thanet Council give the local people clean beaches back especially the ones from the Lido up to Walpole Bay.

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