Monday 25 July 2016

Divine Magazine's Summer Hop



Summers always seemed longer when I was a child, and summer holidays lasted so long you could even get bored and look forward to returning to school. When I became a teacher, I swear those summer holidays were much shorter. Now I’m retired, summer is more of an amorphous blob, stretched over odd days, and certainly not a block of weeks.

Anyone who is my age - mid fifties – and British - will remember the summer of 1976. This summer has reached almost legendary status in this country. We had weeks of hot weather, so hot that fires broke out on the abandoned land behind my house, and also on the common ground nearby. There was a hose pipe ban and eventually water supplies were cut and they delivered bottled water to our estate, or others had to use stand-by pipes. The ground was as dry as a bone and the grass yellow and wilted. But I was lucky. I lived by the seaside in the town of Barry, famous then for Barry Island, Butlins, the funfair, a huge outdoor swimming pool and several beaches. Now, it’s famous for the programme Gavin and Stacey filmed there, and the Island has undergone a recent revival. There are multi-coloured beach huts, new cafes, the funfair has been renewed, and the area has been renamed @BarryBados on twitter. Look up the page and you’ll find lots of lovely pictures of the beaches.

Back in 1976, the heatwave started before we broke up for the summer. My school was huge – nearly 2000 girls with around 300 of us in each year. Towards the end of term, the school was empty. You could have taken a bus to the beaches to round up those kids who were truanting, or mitching as we called it in South Wales. One afternoon, with about twenty of us left in my year group, we had the school pool to ourselves with a few teachers - much more fun than a crowded beach.

Once school had ended, and I don’t know how those poor souls got through their exams in the heat, we spent the holiday at the outdoor pool, or swimming in the sea at the nearby Pebble Beach getting sunburnt on more than a few occasions. In those days our parents waved us off in the morning with our bus fayres and sandwiches. The gang of us would spend all day having fun, finally returning home when it was getting dark, or we were hungry.

But all things come to an end and that summer ended with spectacular thunder storms. Forked lightning flashed across the dark skies and rain lashed down on the hard ground creating waterfalls down the steps near our house. Suddenly, the summer was over and it was time to return to school.

Then summer meant fun at the beach. Now, I’m afraid I’m one of those people who whinge about the excessive heat and not being able to sleep. But it is good to remember those carefree days when I was young and the sun shone brightly every day.

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Links to the other blogs can be found below



  1. I'm from the UK to, I don't remember that much about 1976 I was in junior school then and I do remember having PE in playing fields and the teacher tell us to sit in the shade once we had our turn at batting as we were playing cricket it was 100f even then in the shade.

  2. Funny how that goes, right? We used to swim all day and come home at night with appetites like hungry wolves. Now I hug my air conditioner and dream of autumn. :-)

  3. Thank you for sharing. It's funny how things like that never bothered us as kids but now we can't stand the heat or just want to sit in and relax.

    1. Hi booklovez - your name was picked to win. I hope you see this.

  4. I remember loving the beach in summer...apart from when shark sirens had us scrambling out of the water at a million miles an hour! lol
    have to admit I don't enjoy the beach so much now..

  5. Lovely post! We hear about Brighton in the US sometimes, but Barry Island is new to me...

    Trix, vitajex(At)Aol(Dot)com

  6. Thanks for your participation in Divine's Summer Blog Hop 2016