To talk about holidays past brings with it so many memories of family trips to the Central Coast of New South Wales, where as a kid we went as a family every year.
It was a week away from the humdrum of our everyday lives, a break from the endless cricket matches we played in the back yard.
It was also an opportunity for us to experience coastal living, the coolness of the afternoon sea breeze, which sadly never seemed to make its way to out place but stopped about ten miles from the coast, tough when we lived twenty.
The place we stayed at was called The Entrance, cleverly named, as it was the entrance to huge lake system. But it provided us with memorable holidays, hours spent in our old rowing boat out on the water trying to catch the elusive fish that we were told inhabited the waters we were fishing in. The story of the day dad caught twenty fish, only to discover the bag he had slung over the side of the boast had a hole in it and when he pulled it in there were three fish only in there. He joked that he had caught them six times; they kept swimming out of the bag and jumping back on his hook.
There were evenings when dad would take us prawning on the edge of the lake. For some reason dad was of the belief that prawns ran in huge packs and that you would be scooping them up into the bucket we took by the pound load. He was acutely embarrassed by us kids yelling to each other, “There’s one, there’s one.’ Needless to say we caught barely any, as we didn’t a great net to trawl with and to make it worse a man came along and said to dad, ‘You better not be standing in the water too long mate, you might get pelican itch.’ I didn’t know my father could move so fast as he did that night, out of the water in one movement and into the back end of our boat.
There were times when we were allowed to explore for ourselves the shallows and in amongst the sea grasses that covered vast areas of the lake much of it close to the shore, it was here that I first saw my first sea horse. What amazing creatures they are, so delicate, and fluid in their movements. I never tired of watching them as they glided effortlessly among the sea grass, constantly on the look out for what ever it was they ate.
At night we played cards, at least the adults did, my parents and Dad’s two sisters who would holiday with us. If one of us was lucky we would be invited to play, but woe betide you if you didn’t play correctly or as they would say dared to play ‘unorthodoxically’.
We had no TV and usually on Boxing Day in those days there was a Test Match Cricket game to listen to on the radio or Australia was involved in the Davis Cup tennis, for we were the leading Tennis country in the world back then.
No matter where we might be there was always the Sunday mass to be attended. So without fail, whatever was the earliest Mass on Sunday morning off we would go.
They were wonderful days in so many ways. The house we stayed in had a large picture window in the front of it and so we looked out over the Pacific Ocean and could observe the goings on everyday including the large groups of fishermen who would congregate on the beach chasing the whiting that swam about just off shore. Sometimes we would go down and join in, but we were careful not to get to the close to the more serious fishermen who were not averse to letting you know if you got in their way.
Of all forms of fishing, beach fishing was always my preferred form, I think because I saw it as an exciting way to spend the afternoon, with the surf rolling around your ankles and the prospect of landing a decent fish. Whiting always gave me a thrill in the snaring of them.
So for me the holidays of the past are the ones I most remember where as a kid there were endless days exploring and learning the craft of fishing and surfing, and how to prevent your body from being pounded by the surf into the sand.
Thankfully those holidays were always safe ones, save for my brother standing on a puffer fish one day, we heard him coming from a long way off as they can give you a terribly painful sting.
Oh the memories and the fun we had, the people we met each year, the places we went, the time we spent as a family, never to be forgotten.
We had holidays with no TV and thankfully mobile/cell phones were years away from getting into our lives.
How did you manage I hear you say???