As it happened we chose three of the best beaches in the UK for our family holidays. Whitsuns were spent at Lee Bay, which is within walking distance of Woolacombe in Devon, where a scamper over the cliffs after supper with Don while Mrs Baston babysat the girls was sheer bliss. We also often stayed in a farmhouse at Marloes in Pembrokeshire where we learnt to surf. The annual trip to Mellon Udrigal in Wester Ross, where my parents had made their retirement home was an epic journey of 14 hours. We tried all ways: 600 miles driving over night - ruining the next day for me; staying in a hotel overnight on the borders; catching the motor rail at Kings Cross or Crewe and a couple of times going by train via Glasgow, Oban, Mallaig, Kyle of Lochalsh, Archnasheen, post bus to Laide, then final pick up by the parents. When the weather was good it was the best place in the world!
Even going up on my own for my mother’s birthday in December had its virtues. Out of the tourist season seals used to accompany me along Mellon beach with the occasional eagle soaring above. But Don, fighting the midges weeding the lily pond, regarded Scotland as a duty visit. When the girls were older we crossed the Channel to explore various ports. The children practised their French but we couldn’t get Don to. He and Katie though did translate the Latin commentary on the Bayeaux tapestry. People around dispensed with their earpieces to hear them. They had quite a queue following them by the end! In 1985 we spent a fortnight in Australia courtesy of my parents after dad decided he could no longer face the long journey.
Once the girls had gone to college we spent every year getting some winter sunshine on the Mediterranean and we spent a week in Antibes with my brother Richard and his wife Clare when they launched their Benetton yacht before sailing her back to Australia.
My parents always used us as their base down south. After my dad died, my mother came to live at the little house I found for her at 13 Newland Street, Eynsham. We had several happy holidays together. We went to Lake Lucerne and from our hotel pier we visited various places by paddle steamer. We went up Mount Rigi and Mount Pilates by cog railways, just as she had done with her mother 60 years before, when she could see for herself without me ‘painting’ the picture for her. On our visit to Llandudno we went up Snowdon. I left her at the bottom of the last climb and asked people coming down to tell the little old lady sitting on a rock below about my progress. She was never daunted by her blindness, In Venice during a severe flood we donned bin liners and walked round St Mark’s Square virtually on our own. Our trips to Iowa, USA, and Perth, Australia (with a stopover in Hong Kong), to see ‘Our Boys’ were great adventures.