Remembering English Summers

Three sisters at the shore.Painting by Kay Crain.

Mid October and I’m still going to the beach everyday, that’s Greece!

This past week the weather has been splendid, I’m spending as much time as I can on the beach, making the most of  summer’s end.


Balmy days, not a leaf moving: a magical mist hovering over the sea in the early mornings.

How much longer will it last?

A sea mist.where does the sea end and the sky begin?

If the weather is anything like last year, you'll find me on the beach, for at least another month.

I remember because I was swimming everyday until the fifteenth of November.

How do I remember?

Trust me, anything to do with the sea and me, I remember!

 I have loved the sea since our first family jaunts to the East coast of Yorkshire when my two sisters and I were small.

Living in Leeds you don’t see much sea! So we really looked forward to our annual fortnight in Filey.


What excitement setting off for an idyllic couple of weeks.

The car boot was packed to bursting, Dad driving, Mum pointing out cows and sheep in the fields and the three of us in the back waiting to see which one of us would be the first to see the sea.

 Once we had passed by Malton and York we knew we were nearly there.

We invariably rented the same bungalow for two weeks in August.

 The weather was not always on our side, English summer and all that!

 I can remember being on the beach in my coat, we have a priceless picture of my youngest sister wearing a jumper under her bathing costume!

My youngest sister,A jumper under her bathing suit and wearing slippers!

All three of us wore that bathing suit at some time or another and our cousin wore it before us.

It grew with us it was so stretchy!

We spent everyday on the beach, building sand castles, collecting shells and of course swimming, usually in a freezing sea!

The three of us with my Mother.Me on the right.

I always wanted a shiny tin beach bucket but my Father always bought us the rubber ones, so they wouldn’t rust.

 The spade was useless, too soft. It didn't dig into the sand like the tin ones.

The tin bucket and spade I always wanted

This is what I got:rubber!

I never did get a tin bucket. I can’t even buy one for my Granddaughter they are all made of plastic now.

 Every year my Father bought a kite, it was for us three girls but I remember he always seemed to commandeer it!

The tail had to be weighted properly with pebbles, to make it fly better and he had a special bit of wood, it looked like the end of a broom handle, that he wound the string around.

Did he search out and take this bit of wood with him every year?

He charged up and down the beach trying to launch it with three little girls running behind him, screeching with excitement!

Let's go fly a kite.

We always had nets for shrimping in rock pools, I can't ever remember catching any!

We also had a new sunhat every year, not that we would catch sun stroke from the English sun!

Sun hats. Me on the left.

Don't forget the sunglasses

Late afternoon we packed up and headed back to the bungalow, it had no bathroom and only an outside loo.

  Apart from a quick swill down in the kitchen sink now and again, we spent the whole two weeks covered in a crusty layer of sea salt.

 What was the point of washing it off, we would only be back in the sea again tomorrow!

Fun and games.Me on the left.

The evenings were spent in the centre of Filey,.

A real treat was having an evening meal in the “Corner café”, other evenings it was fish and chips in the paper sat on the promenade.

 Most evenings we had eaten before heading for town.

Transport:my youngest sister doesn't look happy!

Fish and chips.

Another treat was having a ride on the little train that ran all around Primrose Valley,

 We were  aboard every year!

Happy holidays.Me on the right.

We took day trips out from Filey to nearby Scarborough or Bridlington

 I can still smell the fishing boats tied up at Bridlington harbour!

"99" ice cream

My Father would give us a few coins to “Get rid of” in Corrigan’s amusement arcade and we always, always had a “99” ice cream.

All year we had saved our pocket money for the holiday in Filey.

 One year I bought my Mother a present, well what was left of it having spent it on coveted treasures.

I bought her some scent in a bottle shaped like a thatched cottage.
 She was delighted with it.

Once home it was kept on her dressing table. I secretly used it now and again, topping it up with water so that she wouldn’t know.

When she died, I found it in one of her drawers, she had kept it all those years.

With my Mother

 The last day was always a bit sad, but we did look forward to seeing our friends again, we had gifts to give them, a stick of rock or some unidentifiable animal made from sea shells, sometimes a gilt bracelet that turned green within a week.

 Once home, the rest of the summer was spent sticking our fingers in the tar that had melted at the edge of the road, if it had been a particularly hot day.

Playing in various gardens, riding our bikes or just laying on the lawn making daisy chains and worst of all, going to bed while it was still light!

It never seemed to get dark on English summer evenings.

I do remember one summer’s evening:

 My Mother took us for a walk in the woods near my Grandmother’s house, stepping close to an old stone wall, to stroke a horse in the adjoining field, she trod on a wasp’s nest.

Wasps gone wild

It was as if all hell had been let loose, all of us were stung: any part of us not covered by clothing was covered with stings!

My Grandmother had just the remedy, gentian violet!

She more or less swabbed us down with it: gentian violet takes a long time to wear off!

Gentian violet

Whatever we did in our childhood summers, we were always outside.

I am so thankful for these memories.

I am so thankful we had no computers, laptops, ipods, tablets or mobile phones.

I hope my children’s memories of their childhood summers are as happy as mine are.

Yiannis & Nais Greek beach

Yiannis & Nais Loutraki

For sure they will remember the beach, for that is where they were raised!

 I am thankful that my children had their carefree childhoods, before technology had raised it’s head, to rob them of it.

This could very well have been the start of my love affair with the sea!

The three of us, me on the right
.Happy memories.

See more of my childhood memories at the links below:

70s;Growing up in Leeds

70s; Growing up in Leeds part 2. Christmas

Meraki: Greek Word of the day; Doing it with love, passion and a lot of soul;

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