Do you remember counting down the days to the long summer holiday when you were at school?

Nothing compared to the joy you felt when you heard the school bell ring for the final time. Weeks of freedom stretching out ahead of you – what could be better?

Back then, we didn’t have televisions to watch or computer games to play. We spent our summers outdoors and there were adventures to be had everywhere.

From trips to the seaside and donkey rides on the beach, to dinners cooked on the camping stove and staying out until tea time. Here are a few of our best memories.

A trip to the fair

It was always exciting when the fair came to town! The chairoplanes, the helter skelter, the carousel…the hardest decision was what to go on first, although our favourite fair activities probably wouldn’t pass a health and safety inspection today! We could never convince our parents to come on any of the rides with us, but that didn’t slow us down.

We’d test our strength on the high striker, try our luck at hoopla, and stare at our distorted reflections in the wonky mirrors. Before we went home we’d spend the last of our pocket money on a big ball of candy floss on a stick. Even now, the smell of hot sugar takes us back to those carefree days of summer.

Buying candyfloss from a stall
Buying candyfloss from a stall. Image: Express / Getty Images.

A day out at the seaside

If there was a bit of spare money to go round, the whole family would head off for a trip to the seaside. Everyone took the train or the coach, and we didn’t have mobile phones or laptops to stare at, so we all fought for a window seat.

Once we were there, our parents would settle into their deckchairs while we dealt with our soggy knitted swimsuits. We’d either take sandwiches (which always ended up full of sand!) or, if we were lucky, we’d be treated to a portion of fish and chips. They tasted best fresh out of the fryer, hot enough to burn our fingers and of course, eaten out of yesterday’s newspaper. If it was a warm day, our fathers might join us for a paddle. They’d take their shoes and socks off and enjoy the waves at the water’s edge, but their hats and jackets stayed on!

Holidaymakers padding in the sea
Holidaymakers paddle in the sea at Great Yarmouth. Image: Conde Nast Traveller / Alamy.

Camping and caravanning

The simple holidays were the best. No one stayed in hotels and staying in a B&B meant you had to contend with a strict landlady, so we packed everything into the car or caravan and headed off for a week by the coast. We took board games, a pack of cards, and enough tinned food to feed an army. Once we arrived at the campsite, we’d be straight off to explore.

In the evenings, we’d all come together and enjoy a meal cooked on the camping stove before snuggling into our tent for the night. You just had to hope you didn’t get lost trying to find the toilet in the dark!

Relaxing on a campsite. Image: WGSN Insider.

Making our own fun

It didn’t matter where we were or what the weather was doing, we could always find something to keep us occupied. We didn’t need much! We climbed trees, swam in rivers, and rode our bikes for miles armed with nothing more than a flask of squash and some jam sandwiches. The boys re-enacted scenes from their favourite Westerns and the girls played skipping games and hopscotch for hours. All we had to worry about was making it home in time for our tea.

Playing cowboys and Indians. Image: Seattle Municipal Archives / Via Flickr: seattlemunicipalarchives.


What did you get up to during the summer holidays when you were young? Do you miss the freedom we had as kids back then? Head over to our Facebook page and share your memories with us!

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