Did you holiday at Corton Beach in the 60s?
PUBLISHED: 10:30 02 March 2019
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In the 1960s it was only the well-off families who went abroad for their holidays. Our columnist and her mum, dad and sister used to head for the East Anglian coast and the joys of the seaside caravan.
Before we set off for Corton Beach, in the mid-60s, when I was nine or 10 years old, one of the important jobs was to insert matchsticks into the salt and pepper pots so that the condiments didn’t spill on the journey.
We would also take a Kelloggs Variety pack of breakfast cereal - the only time we were so extravagant - and lime marmalade, another holiday-only special.
We took soap, flannels and toilet tissue... unbelievably, the caravan did not have a loo. There was, I believe, a toilet block on site and a stand pipe where my dad would fill up the water bottles. Inside the caravan, services were provided by courtesy of a gas canister. At dusk we lit the gas mantles.
The sleeping arrangements were mum and dad in the bed, which became a separate bedroom by opening a door across the gap. My sister, who was a toddler... um... I can’t remember where she slept but I’m sure she must have been there. I slept on a narrow “bed” which served as seating during the day. Underneath was storage. One of the excitements of a caravan holiday was opening the lids to discover flowery bed linen, towels and deck chairs.
Today, caravans are often connected to the electricity supply, sport awnings and feature a bathroom. That’s luxury for you.
Our next door neighbour, Doug, who worked at the power station and had a car, drove us up the A12 to Corton and stayed for a cup of tea before driving back. Making tea for the first time took at least an hour because, first, you had to turn on the gas, then fetch water, then put the kettle on the stove to boil over a flame that was not robust.
Doug left and I went off to explore the camp site and the beach - which I remember as being sandy although pictures indicate it was also stony. There was not a nudist stretch of beach, either. This was the 1960s when the only reason for going naked on an East Anglian beach was when the force of the North Sea waves whipping up the sand wrenched off your trunks or bikini. It could happen. As for coastal erosion, I knew nothing of it. Strangely, though, it is not playing on the beach that I remember. It is reading in the caravan. The weather could be inclement and when it rained, we sat inside the van. My mum and dad would read the newspaper and do the crossword and I would read my pile of comics - my regulars, Bunty, Diana and The Beano plus Judy and The Dandy which were extra for the holiday. I would also have at least two library books to see me through the rainfall. My baby sister would play with her bricks or nap.
Cosy in our caravan, the windows would steam up and run with condensation. It was magic.