A day at the Seaside – by Charabanc!

Len Strong recalls memories of a drive to Southsea in Mr Vickers’ coach, known then as a “Charabanc”.

As far as I can recall I don’t think the workers had a mandatory annual holiday in the 30s. I know my dad never had a weeks holiday, he seemed to always be at work 52 weeks of the year except for the odd day off at Easter, Christmas etc, but one Whit-Sunday, Grandad hired a charabanc and took the whole family on a day trip to Southsea.

With my Aunts & Uncles, cousins, mum and dad and grandma and grandad we were about twenty-five in all. Mr Vickers who ran a bus service from the Dean in Alresford, provided the charabanc. Gran, Mum and Aunts provided a picnic lunch and dad put a hat-pin in his jacket lapel. When I asked him ,’what for’?, he said “That’s for my winkles!”.

We all piled aboard the old bus and settled down for the thirty odd mile journey to ‘Pompey’. After passing through Petersfield, and up over Butser Hill all our eyes were on the horizon to see who could be the first to catch a glimpse of the sea.

Finally we pulled up by Clarence Pier and disembarked all agog and anxious to get on the beach but had to be restrained till deck-chairs had been sorted for the ladies and Dad and Uncles had called at the shell-fish stall for a pint of whelks or winkles and we kids had persuaded parents to buy us a bucket and spade.

Eventually we got to take off our clothes and into our bathers and were able to run down the beach and into the sea with constant warnings of  ‘Don’t go in too far’ and ‘Watch that big wave’. The beach at Southsea is mainly pebbles and shingle so to make sand-castles we had to go right down to the water’s edge to find any sand which meant as fast as we made castles a wave came in and washed them away, but we enjoyed ourselves. Mum and several Aunts relaxed in their deck chairs and Dad and the Uncles used their hat-pins to prise the winkles from their shells, the sun shone and we all suffered from sunburn and all too soon it was five o’clock and Mr Vickers was calling, “time to go”.

On the way home we called at a pub “The West Meon Hut”. We kids had a packet of Smiths crisps with the little wad of salt in a blue paper and glass of lemonade and the grown-ups had their suitable refreshments and the rest of the journey was accompanied with an impromptu sing-song, ‘Show me the way to go home’, etc, and by the time we reached Alresford, most of we kids were fast asleep. Happy Days!!

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