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School days holidays always remembered fondly on return

By West Briton  |  Posted: July 31, 2014

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THIS time of year reminds me of the beginning of those long summer holidays from school, when we returned from playing in the countryside – hot, grassy, itchy and brown as the dirt itself.

For two glorious weeks out of the six, every year, three families or more would fill up the caravans with gaudy plastic toys and beachwear you wouldn't be seen dead in at home, ready for the two-day expedition south to Cornwall.

Before the M5 was finished I distinctly remember queuing for hours and having a picnic in the "fast" lane.

Once over the border into Cornwall we could have been in another country. We often overnighted on Bodmin Moor, with a mystical, foggy start in the morning. In fact, the first time the Cottons camped in Cornwall we borrowed a large unwieldy, green canvas tent. When we arrived at the cliff top of Kennack Sands there was a gale blowing and torrential rain. The people in their steamy caravans watched our young family struggle as they ate their gourmet camping food and clinked their glasses of wine. No one came to help.

After a soggy start the hot weather appeared and we had fun, however, by the following year we also had a caravan. On the way home from that adventure, somewhere near Bodmin, my father bent over to hammer a peg in the ground and a curious donkey, watching him through the fence, bit his derriere. When passing this spot even now we always mention the "ass" story.

A few weeks ago a friend and I spent the weekend at Kennack in the same campsite. It no longer has touring vans but the large static caravans of my childhood are there, looking a little tired and shabby.

The entertainment was an impressionist from Britain's Got Talent. The impressions were great, the blue jokes in front of the young families were not. He mentioned the holiday camp and his audience of 15 on the programme.

The beautiful golden sands were washed away in the winter storms and part of the cliff had fallen where we had our own little rock pool as children. Funny how everything was bigger and better when you were young.

My small salty sea dog enjoyed the break, and like a small child cried all the way home.

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