It was a hot sunny day in the middle of the summer holidays in the late sixties, and I would be about eight years old. My Dad said he had a surprise for us, so to make ourselves presentable ... my lovely Mam busied herself getting us ready (there were four of us, so no mean feat) and off we went in the car. Mam, Dad, Uncle Johnnie (my Godfather, and the kindest, most patient man you ever could meet) and the four of us. Seat belts not required in those days, and overloading didn't seem to exist either ... we only ever had small cars, either Morris Minors or an Austin A40, certainly nothing like a people carrier! Three adults and 4 children crammed into a small car probably designed to contain four people comfortably; but no-one seemed to mind ... we were off on a jolly!
Our first stop was the Co-op Cafe. We entered its hallowed portal and walked up the red carpeted stairway. It was a lovely, old school cafe with white linen, polished silver and waitresses in black with starched pinnies. Nowadays, children are used to eating out on a regular basis. Then it was a very rare occurrence. Holidays and high days were very special occasions, and this was completely out of the blue, I think that's why it's ingrained in my memory.
Fed and watered, we once again piled into the car to go home. But we didn't go home. With cries of "where are we going?" ... "are we nearly there yet?", we were told to just wait and see. Our destination was Morecambe, across the bay from where we lived. The afternoon was spent in amusement arcades and Louis Tussauds waxwork museum. Our Aunty lived in Blackpool, and we were lucky to holiday at her house every year, but Morecambe was not so familiar.
I never did find out what prompted this impromptu treat, we often went for runs out in the car, to the the beach, The Lakes, Chester Zoo, Blackpool of course ... but we always took a picnic, which was a treat in itself, and we were very fortunate that we had a car and could do these things. It was the lunch out at a posh place that was so eventful! Children nowadays would probably roll their eyes as eating out is so commonplace, and hardly viewed as a treat at all ... how different it was then ... and how special.
After a late tea of fish and chips on the prom, we rolled home, tired but happy, storing away memories of A Grand Day Out.
Love Claire xxx