Sunday, 30 October 2016
When we holidayed in Spain in the 60’s we stayed in hotels. My memories of those places are mainly about playing in the pool, learning to swim, making friends with children who spoke strange languages and getting very sunburnt. The younger children had a meal earlier in the evening than the parents and it was considered perfectly acceptable and safe to leave your children alone in the upstairs bedroom while the parents were at dinner and later dancing the night away in the hotel’s disco.
By the time I was seven or eight though I was eating strange Spanish foods at dinner with my parents and joining them for the evening’s dancing. One year there was a song that everyone requested, sung in Spanish but the chorus was easy and sung with gusto by alcohol happy Brits. A couple of months later it was the big summer hit in the UK charts, words now in English except that one line that all the holiday makers had sung so loudly - E Viva Espana!
As a child I made friends with German and Italian children staying at the hotels, as well as British. It didn’t matter that we spoke different languages as smiles and laughter are a universal tongue and our own inventive sign language made up the rest.
Over the first two summers my father taught me to swim, ironic as he himself at that time was still a non-swimmer. I repaid the favour years later when on holiday in Rhodes and helped him take his first hesitant stokes in the Aegean Sea! The hotel pool and beach were the focus of these early holidays.
Memories of a young traveller
Spain is a place of happy childhood holidays. Our first visit was the week following my 5th birthday and Spain was exciting and different, and the beginning of a life-long love. I’d been on planes before, we flown to Northern Ireland regularly, sometimes twice a year. Dad had friends and business clients who owned a hotel and an early memory for me was one cold Easter helping clear snow from car windscreens with my older sister while standing on some sort of box so I could reach. We would have our tea in the kitchen early as we were so young, and got told off for running around the hallways, all the staff knew us.
We toured Ireland too; it was there I first rode a horse, first threw pennies into a wishing well and nearly got washed into the Atlantic by a freak wave. We always had a holiday somewhere in England as well but my Mum longed for warm sunshine and package holidays to Spain had just begun, so Spain it was.
When flying to Ireland as a toddler I have a clear memory of worrying about the propellers spinning off and Dad reassuring me they couldn’t. So my first memory of seeing a plane with jet engines is wondering where the propellers had gone! No propellers was very worrying!
I wasn’t a ‘good traveller’, in fact I’m still not, plagued by motion sickness and ear problems all my life, flying can be a painful and unpleasant experience, but planes get me from A to B quickly and boats just make me feel ill for longer! My parents and fellow travellers must have been very patient with me.
Spain in the 60’s didn’t have high rise buildings, air conditioning, kiss me quick hats, larger louts, fish and chips or pubs. What it did have was terrible roads, strange food, lots of donkeys in hats pulling carts along dusty tracks, hot sunshine, warm sea and wonderfully friendly people. We seemed a very long way from England or Ireland that first visit – to me, a little 5 year old, we had entered a whole new world.
Thursday, 20 October 2016
My first visit to Ibiza was probably before 1970. In those days the island was a lot less ‘touristy’ and less well known than Mallorca, which by the end of the sixties was already established as a holiday hotspot. This was evident the moment we arrived as I remember the old airport terminal was little more than a long white single-storey building with palm trees planted along the front. Wandering down the car-less lane towards the beach we passed the white mountains of sea salt waiting to be transported and were able to collect handfuls of the rough crystals – no fences keeping children out! The whole island seemed very laid back and relaxed, a far cry from the 18-30’s party island image for which it became known a couple of decades later.