The sound of the rain on the caravan roof meant two things. One – that we would be playing card games and two – that my mum would start to go a bit stir crazy. She loved our holidays but wanted to be outside doing things, not inside listening to the rain. I never minded the rain.
There were other things we listened to in the caravan. The shipping forecast. My brother and I bickering. T J Hooker on the portable TV. When the curtain was drawn around the bunk beds literally every single noise my parents made while I tried to go to sleep. The footsteps, the whispering, the TV on low, the carpet being swept with a stiff bristled brush, the bubbling milk for Dad’s obligatory cocoa.
When we woke the next morning sometimes the rain was still pounding on the roof. Radio 4 tried to reassure us that it would stop sometime soon while we ate cereal chosen from Kelloggs variety packs. I only ever really wanted the Frosties. Mum and Dad would work their way through the stash of leaflets from the first day trip to the Tourist Information Centre trying to find somewhere to visit that had some indoors. Once we visited a honey farm in the rain – I can still smell the beeswax. I bought a candle with little bees on the side. I never lit it.
Mostly we went outside despite the rain. A trip to the shops if desperate, but more often than not something historical or a walk. If it was a walk then it was one with a book to tell you where to go (always a book) and occasionally we got lost. Or we just walked so far we moaned about the distance to walk back. On more than one occasion Dad went to get the car. He was my hero. I wouldn’t have done that.
One morning in Cornwall we left the caravan to go out for the day. Dad squeezed the car down narrow lanes passing other cars with centimetres to spare. We got to the car park and I didn’t have any shoes on. We drove back to the caravan and squeezed past cars twice more. I don’t remember him being angry. Just Dad.
I loved the day trips. The sea, the National Trust shops, the countryside. But I loved being in the caravan too. I loved tinned new potatoes and carrots. Sardines on toast. Tupperware plates. I loved the tasks like washing the lettuce under an outdoor tap in a mesh basket (even though I then didn’t eat the lettuce). Throwing boots in the boot box. Putting the beds away again like it was a magic trick.
There’s more of course. Annual caravan trips to regular places. The seaside with the calf deep boating lake. The country park where I spent my pocket money on thimbles and peg dolls. I wish I still had them – especially the monk.
The other thing we did in the rain was scrapbooking. We stuck ticket stubs and tourist information flyers in. Wrote passages about what we had done that day. Drew pictures. Recorded what things we had seen like the Mary Rose or Shakespeare’s house. Detailed the things we had bought like a toy combine harvester or Pippa doll, or the world’s best ice cream.
I wish we had things we could scrapbook about at the moment. Holidays, in fact different experiences of any kind ,are a long way off. The tent didn’t even make it out of our garden this year.
Makes you think.