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Summer Holiday in Heacham

Just one week each year during the school holidays,

To a small thin-walled caravan for the five of us.

Within walking distance of the sea,

A brightly coloured illuminated bingo hall

And an ever-present queue for the chip shop,

It was like an exterior designers magic triangle

Instead of the sink, fridge and cooker of your kitchen

As kids, we played on the beach all-day

Sometimes the sea was so far out on the ebb

That it took half an hour to walk to it,

I often thought that if I stood at the tide line and waited

I could walk on to Lincolnshire when the tide turned

The foreshore is mainly gravel but there is some sand

Not castle-building kind of sand

But burying sister kind of sand

They deserved it, they were horrible to an eight-year-old boy

I collected frogs once to put in my sister's beds,

Over a hundred of them from the local stream,

Buckets and buckets of them

Wish I had realised the commotion that was going to cause

Mum developed a phobia of frogs for the rest of her life

And I, a phobia to the pain of Dad’s well-focused slipper

Mum and dad played prize bingo nearly all day and night,

They were good, they spent a fortune on boards

Winning forty-eight piece coffee and tea sets

Christmas present toys, that would be discarded by Boxing day

Spades, wind-up vacuum cleaners and cheap bottles of wine

I often thought that if they had won just a little bit more

Then one of us kids was not going home,

There’d be no space in our rather small rental car

I hoped it was Mandy left behind

Holiday nutrition was not a consideration during the sixties

Fish with chips was the diet of choice

Mum and Dad's choice

Realistically, our choice too

As Mum was no Dame Mary Berry

Beans on toast were mine and Dad's favourite meal

Dad always got the juicy beans

That were not stuck to the bottom of the pan

We had other things to eat too

Pie and chips

Ham and cucumber sandwiches

Sausage and chips

Cheese and pickle sandwiches

Fish cake and chips

As well as the ubiquitous bread and butter to make chip butties

With lashings of Tommy K’

Sometimes we would walk along the beach to Hunstanton

To play our pennies in the arcade slots

Then we would watch everyone else,

Just in case they dropped some coins

Or forgot to collect their winnings

Then home along the breakwater to the green and cream caravan

That Mum and Dad saved up for all year to rent from Mrs Brownlow

We went to the same campsite each year

At the end of the sea, sand, chips and bingo week,

We would pack up the little Ford Anglia, minus frogs

Head initially towards Kings Lynn to get on the A47

On the way home I would wave to Castle Rising

Promising I’d visit in the future

And become the dark knight for the day

I loved Heacham so much as a boy

That I’ve never been back as a man.

Except in childhood dreams

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