The Traditional British Seaside Holiday

As we approach summer and people start thinking about holidays I thought I’d take a look at the traditional seaside holiday in Britain, particularly the era of my childhood – the 1950s and 60s.

I’ll start by filling in a bit of background.

Although rich people were taking breaks by the sea from the 1700s, and entering the water using ‘bathing machines’, the working population still worked a six day week with no paid holidays and had no access to transport for long journeys. This changed with the coming of the railways and in 1871. The Bank Holidays Act declared that certain days throughout the year were official holidays (when banks and offices closed). The speed of railway transport meant that people could then travel more easily to the seaside. Coastal towns like: Blackpool, Scarborough, Llandudno and Brighton quickly grew into popular holiday resorts. In the UK, the Holidays with Pay Act 1938 gave workers whose minimum rates of wages were fixed by trade boards, the right to one weeks’ holiday per year.

I never heard of anyone going abroad on holiday when I was a child. I lived in a farming area so most of the families we knew couldn’t leave the farm for a holiday. Every year in the summer our village ran two day trips to the seaside for mums and children. One was just known as the village trip, I have no idea who organised it. Perhaps a group of parents got together. The other was the Sunday School trip. A coach would be hired and we would all pile onto it outside the village post office armed with picnics, buckets and spades, swimsuits etc. We sang songs on the coach and had a brilliant day out even if it rained. If it was too wet for the beach there was always the funfair and the shops in the town where we could spend the little bit of pocket we’d been given. We thought Woolworth’s was heaven!

A coach belonging to our local bus company.
A Woolworth’s toy counter.

Our family holidays were always taken by the coast. Devon and Cornwall were our nearest coastal destinations outside Wales. We have some great beaches in south west Wales too which are nearer to where we lived. We used to go to those for family days out on fine Saturdays in summer. The annual two week summer holiday always saw us going over the border to England.

Traffic jams were a big part of holiday travel at that time. There were no motorways or dual carriageways, towns didn’t have by-passes and had very few roundabouts and traffic lights. Now you can travel across the country sweeping past large and small towns on a motorway, ring road or by-pass. Not then. It was such a pain that we often set off for a holiday at night, arriving at our destination early in the morning. We children thought that was so exciting.

A P.C. on ‘point duty in a town centre before the days of roundabouts and traffic lights.

Back then, everyone took picnics to the beach. Sandwiches and flasks were the norm. Deck chairs were available for hire but most people sat on rugs or towels. We knew nothing about long term sun damage. If you got burned your mum would apply calamine lotion to the burnt skin at bedtime.

At some point in the day there would be a visit to the ice-cream van. What a treat! Homes didn’t have freezers then and neither did the shops around us. When we were small ice-cream was only associated with day trips and holidays. I loved 99’s – and still do!

Credit to Wikipedia, Google Images and woolworthsmuseum.co.uk.

I make every effort to avoid infringing copyright. If, however, anyone objects to my use of an image please contact me and I will remove it.

Pets

I was talking with some friends the other day and the subject of budgies came up. We all remembered so many households where there was a pet budgie. It always fascinated me that if you wanted the budgie to be quiet you put the cover over the cage and it immediately thought it was night and went to sleep. Most of the ones I knew seemed to be called Joey. I don’t know anyone with a budgie now. This got me thinking about how the change in pet-keeping since the 1950s and 60s.

Budgies – or Budgerigars, to give them their full name

I haven’t seen a budgie for many years now but when I was a child they were very popular pets. I often used to see them in the homes of elderly relatives we used to visit. I’m sure there were other names but I used to know a lot of budgies called Joey. They were either blue or green. People used to train them to say a few words. I wondered whether I don’t see them now because it’s illegal to keep them so I looked this up and found that it’s not against the law to keep a budgie as a pet. The decline in numbers is simply changing fashions in pets.

Tortoises

I never had a tortoise but they were very popular pets in the 50s. Children in storybooks and comics often had pet tortoises. I remember reading about owners painting their initials on the shell in case the tortoise ever escaped.

Goldfish

It was very common to see goldfish in bowls when I was a child. One common practice, which is still legal here and shouldn’t be, was the winning of goldfish at fairs. This was still happening when my children were small in the 1980s but is far less common now. The ‘lucky’ child was given a small plastic water-filled bag with a goldfish swimming in it. If it was going back to a household which didn’t already have fish there would have been no tank or bowl and no fish food so the chances are the poor fish would be dead by the next day.

Whilst researching for this post I learned that just last year my nearby town, Wakefield, banned fairs from giving goldfish as prizes to children.

Cats and Dogs

I lived in a farming village so most of the families we knew were farmers and they all had cats and dogs. These were working animals. The dogs were sheepdogs and were trained to work with flocks of sheep. Most of the ones I knew on our local farms were called Fly, Moss or Belle. Cats were there largely to keep the mouse population down in the hay barns. These weren’t indoor pampered pets. They lived outside and in the barns and outhouses.

When I was 13 we moved five miles from our village into the small town nearby. Here there were more people with pet dogs who were taken out for regular walks on leads. We acquired a pet dog, a Golden Labrador, when I was 15 and we all absolutely adored her.

Perhaps the range of pets available in the 50s and 60s was greater than I’m remembering. It could be that my experience was different from others from that time because we didn’t have a pet shop anywhere nearby. However, this is how I remember things and I am only speaking from personal experience.

Credit to Wikipedia and Google Images. I endeavor to ensure I am not infringing copyright when using photographs obtained from the Internet. If anyone objects to my use of a photograph, let me know and I will remove it.

Tea

When I was a child, the drink everybody drank was tea. There was hardly any coffee around in the 1950s, not where I lived, anyway. Children drank milk (warmed in winter, cold in summer), orange squash or weak tea with occasionally cocoa, Horlicks or Ovaltine at bedtime. Adults drank tea (most of them took sugar in it, unlike now) and sometimes a warm milky drink at night. People didn’t drink water the way they do now. In cafes and restaurants you were never offered water with your food and many would refuse if you asked for a glass of tap water. We knew nothing about caffeine or about the importance of keeping your body hydrated. This post focuses on just tea, that quintessentially British drink. I really fancied using the word quintessentially, for some reason!

The Tea we Drank.

There were no tea bags then and very few brands to choose from. Tea leaves were the only form the tea came in. I remember Broooke Bond being around and in some grocery shops you could buy loose tea weighed out on scales. Once home, you transferred your loose tea to a tea caddy. Green, decaffeinated, herbal varieties etc. didn’t exist.

The Tea Pots we Used.

Of course, loose tea can’t be made in the cup so we all used teapots. Stainless steel ones didn’t come on the scene until the mid sixties. The everyday family teapot was a sturdy earthenware one, usually dark brown. When anyone came to visit a more decorative china pot would be brought out, often part of a ‘tea set’. A lot of people had a very best set which had usually been given as a wedding present and which never left the glass-fronted china cabinet.

Cups and Saucers

It’s hard to believe now, but nobody drank out of mugs in the 1950s. Every hot drink was drunk out of a cup and saucer. Everyday ones were fairly robust, best ones prettier and more fragile. I have a lovely tea set from the 1920s which was my grandmother’s.

Other Essential Equipment

In addition to the ubiquitous teapot, everyone needed tea strainers to filter out the leaves. As with the pots, there were plain everyday ones and fancier ‘best’ ones. Tea cosies were essential for keeping the tea warm while it brewed in the pot for the standard three minutes. Tea caddies stored the loose tea leaves and there were special little scoops for measuring out the right amount of tea into the pot.

Credit to Google Images and Wikipedia. As always, I have endeavored not to infringe copyright. However, if anyone objects to my use of an image, please contact me and I will remove it.

Primary School Learning in the 1950s and early 1960s.

The school I attended from four years old until eleven was a very small primary school in a remote rural village. The year I left to go to the high school there were 28 pupils in the school which gives you an idea how small it was. Because it was such a rural area, some of the children from outlying farms came from a mile or two away. I was mostly happy in school, I liked the teachers and I worked hard. Many years later, in my early forties I trained for a second career as a primary school teacher. The differences between learning in the 1950s and decades later when I was teaching are many! I thought I’d look at some of the subjects, how they were taught and what we learned. I’m not criticising my teachers. That was just the way it was then and we were not at all disadvantaged by the education we received.

History

I have no memory of finding out about any world history in primary school. As a teacher I loved teaching children about Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, The Vikings, World War II and so on. Our history in the 1950s was very Britain centred and consisted of learning about famous people and heroes like Scott of the Antarctic, Florence Nightingale, Nelson etc. There were no opportunities for finding things out for ourselves by looking in history books or encyclopedias. We were told their stories and we copied out passages from text books.

BBC - History - Scott of the Antarctic
Florence Nightingale - Wikipedia
Scott of the Antarctic and Florence Nightingale. Two of the historical figures I remember from primary school lessons.

Maths

I didn’t come across geometry or algebra until high school. Our maths from four to eleven was strictly arithmetic. Times tables were learned off by heart. This was done by the whole class reciting them together first thing every morning. Other tables which were recited were the weights and measures ones such as ‘Twelve inches to a foot, three feet to a yard, one thousand seven hundred and sixty yards to a mile, eight eighty yards to half a mile, four forty yards to a quarter of a mile . . .’ and so on. This was repeated for weight and time. In our final year we had to sit a test called the ‘Eleven-Plus’ to decide on where you went for your secondary education. The maths we did was all geared towards this test. We had to solve written problems, work out fractions and percentages and even learn how to calculate simple and compound interest.

Exercise book
All our school exercise books had these tables on the back cover.

English

My main memories of this subject are of handwriting practice, comprehension exercises, spelling tests, writing ‘compositions’ (stories, we’d say now) and learning very serious, old-fashioned poems off by heart then reciting them. In readiness for the eleven plus we also had to learn proverbs off by heart. ‘All that glitters is not gold’, ‘A stitch in time saves nine’, etc. were learned and we were tested on them.

Music

Like our history lessons, the music we did in school was very traditional and serious. We learned to play the recorder which I loved. The songs we learned and sang – or played on the recorder – were hymns, in both Welsh and English, and songs like ‘Over the Sea to Skye’ and ‘Hearts of Oak’.

Vintage Recorders for sale | eBay
My recorder was exactly like this one. My granddaughter now has it.

Science

The only science-related activity I can recall doing is when, on a fine day in spring and summer, the teachers would sometimes take us all out for what they called a ‘nature ramble’. They pointed out various flowers, trees and birds and we picked flowers and leaves to take back to school. But I mainly remember how lovely it was to be out of school, enjoying the weather and walking along the lanes around the village. There was hardly any traffic around so road safety wasn’t an issue.

Art and Craft

We did sometimes have art sessions but the only medium I remember using was powder paints. I don’t recall any lessons on colour mixing or technique but the painting was fun. I learned about colours at home from those lovely tins of water colours we used to have back then with the names of the colours written under every little square of paint. I loved the wonderful names they had like ultramarine and burnt umber. Oh, the joy of getting a brand new paint tin for Christmas! I also enjoyed the knitting and embroidery lessons in school.

Vintage Paint Set Divers Design 1960s Children's Paint image 5
I never see paint boxes for children now with the names of the colours written under each block – and I have looked!

P.E.

We very rarely did PE although there in a storage area there were a few boxes of coloured bean bags, balls and quoits. We used to look at them longingly! A few years into my time at the school we acquired a new school radio. Once a week one of our two teachers would tune into a BBC programme called Music and Movement. For fifteen minutes we would follow the instructions on the radio and move around the classroom in different ways. Sometimes we were asked to imagine we were different creatures or to stand still and look like a tree. We absolutely loved it!

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image.jpeg
How we would have looked when listening to the BBC’s Music and Movement programme on the school radio.

R.E.

Religious Education consisted of singing hymns first thing in the morning while a teacher played the piano and saying prayers . Being a Welsh school we also learned the story of our patron saint, St David. We all went to church and Sunday School and learned more about the stories in the Bible there. We were completely unaware of any of the other faiths in the world such as Islam, Buddhism, Sikhism etc.

Saint David Biography - Childhood, Life Achievements & Timeline
St David, the patron Saint of Wales.

As always, credit to Wikipedia and Google Images. I make every effort to ensure that I do not infringe copyright but if anyone objects to my use of an image please contact me and I will remove it.

New Year, New Diary.

Happy New Year to anyone reading this!

When I was a child, a new diary always appeared at Christmas. Sometimes I found one in my stocking, other years it might be a present from a friend or relative. It was so exciting starting a new diary!! I loved filling in the details inside the cover and I always enjoyed looking through all the ‘useful’ information in the front. Back then, we had diaries to record daily events as they happened rather than to note things happening in the future. My mum loved writing. She wrote stories (several were published), she really loved writing letters and she wrote a daily journal into old age. On January 1st, once we’d written our thank you letters and New Year’s resolutions, we were encouraged to start filling in our diaries. From time to time as the year progressed, Mum would remind us to write in our diaries. I still have a few of mine and most years my daily entries only lasted the first few months. However, some of my 1960s diaries are full for the whole twelve months.

My 1959 diary was an Enid Blyton one. Even though it was pocket-sized and slim it had roughly 70 pages of ‘useful’ information before the dated pages started. Looking at it now, I see that I didn’t record much in it beyond March but I can clearly remember trying to learn Morse Code, Semaphore, the hand signing alphabet and knots from the pages shown. There were pages, too, on First Aid, history, wildlife, recipes and pocket-money making ideas.

My 1964 diary was titled Lett’s Schoolgirl’s Diary. Also a slim, pocket sized one it still managed to pack in approximately 70 pages of information thought to be useful to schoolgirls. In it there are log tables, conversion charts, lists of French verbs, weights and measures charts, embroidery instructions, photographs of famous people and much more. At the end of each week’s double page there is a snippet of information with a drawing. A small selection of these pages is shown below.

The diary below is from 1963. My sister had a matching one in red. We thought they had great covers! It’s one in which I wrote every day for the whole year, often in some detail. The interesting thing about this one is that the first two months and the first week of March are a detailed first-hand account of what’s now known as the Big Freeze. Because we lived in a remote part of mid Wales it affected us more than it did some other parts of the country. Most of the roads are narrow and twisting and became blocked when it snowed. As well as road problems we had burst pipe and boiler problems in both the village school and the secondary school I’d just started in which was five miles away. There were only three weeks out of those first nine when I was able to attend school for the full five days. I record the rain washing the last of the snow away on the 7th of March.

No credits this time as all the photographs are mine – hence the poor quality!

Christmas Memories

First of all, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all my readers and especially to my regular followers. Since starting this blog a few years ago it has been viewed a total of 164 500 times world wide. That makes me very happy and is way beyond what I was expecting when I started it. Also, I thought I would run out of ideas after the first year or so but every so often something strikes a chord and I think ‘I could do a blog post on that!’ Sometimes somebody suggests a topic I hadn’t thought of.

What follows is a brief summary of some thoughts and memories of Christmases when I was young. I’ve done similar ones before at Christmas but I didn’t want Christmas to pass without a mention.

The 1950s Christmas

History of the Christmas Broadcast | The Royal Family
Image 1 - Vintage Spear's Ludo Board Game
A 1960s Christmas - Historic UK

The war had only finished in 1945 and rationing was still in place in the early fifties. People weren’t well off and there wasn’t the same choice of consumer goods as there is now. I remember the Christmases of my childhood so clearly and every one was magical. Turkey wasn’t yet the UK’s main Christmas meat. Chicken was still quite a luxury at that time, before the days of mass produced chicken, so that was often what people ate. Everyone made paper chains and paper lanterns. I remember making them at school and at home in the 50s and early 60s. Gifts were mostly things you needed and were often home made. Board games were hugely popular in homes and were often given as gifts. Children were given art and craft sets too. I don’t remember any of our toys needing batteries or cables. Moving toys were mostly wind-up and, when I was little, often made of tin. Bigger dolls and baby dolls like mine were still made of pottery. Plastic ones arrived soon after. I still have the one I was given for Christmas when I was about eight years old. It’s amazing she has survived because she wasn’t a shelf doll, she was payed with for many years.

Here she is!

There was always a circus on TV on Christmas Day in the afternoon. And everything stopped for the Queen’s speech! In the fifties, in our house, this was listened to on the radio. It was first televised in 1957 but we didn’t have a TV until 1962 when I was 10.

The 1960s Christmas

1960s Christmas - BBC Archive

Image 1 - Sindy Doll 1960s New Look Side Part
BEATLES 1960`S NEMS Jigsaw No 4 + Box Walt Howarth Complete Puzzle Ex Box  VGC- - £120.00 | PicClick UK

The Sindy doll was launched in the early 60s followed by Action Man in the late 60s. There was also a short-lived doll which was popular in the UK called Tressy. In the first half of the 60s, the Beatles arrived on the music scene. My sister and I were nuts about them. My sister was given a Beatles wig one Christmas which she loved. It was moulded plastic, hurt her head and made her frown but she didn’t mind. She was about eight or nine years old. She also had a Beatles jigsaw. The second half of the sixties were my teenage years and I remember the joy of being given records as presents. Perhaps the latest Beatles or Stones single (on a 45 vinyl) or a new album from my parents. One year I really wanted a Beatles sweater for Christmas and was bought one by my mum and dad. A Beatles jumper was just a black polo-neck. Bath cubes were very common presents when I was young. Grannies, aunts, mums and teenaged girls all loved using them. You never see them now!

Many, many thanks to all of you! Have a great time.

Church was massively important at Christmas when I was young. It was so exciting to we three children to walk to the other side of the village to the Christmas morning service, sing carols, celebrate the Christmas story, see the extra decorations in the church and greet all our neighbours.

Credit to Google Images and Wikipedia. If anyone objects to the use of any image in my posts, please contact me and I will remove it.

When Tea was Tea and Bread was Bread.

This could be subtitled ‘Another Way in which Things have Changed’. It’s not a complaint, more choice is mostly a good thing. I’m just making a comparison.

Last week we were visiting relatives and whilst with them we made a trip into their nearby city. When we were ready for something to eat we dived into the first café we saw – it was pouring with rain! – to get some lunch. It was a lovely café and we were all able to choose a light lunch from their menu. When it came to choosing our drinks we looked at the drinks menu. There were eleven different teas and seven coffees to choose from. I know this is an unusually large selection but it occurred to me that even the simplest of small cafes will list three or four different teas and in the likes of Costa and Starbucks the choice of coffees is bewildering.

THEN . .

Typhoo tea vintage advertising

And NOW

UK Companies Prepare to Stockpile for Christmas Time No-Deal Brexit

Back in the 1950s and 60s, when I was a child, visits to cafes were usually associated with day trips and holidays. The drinks to choose from would be tea, coffee, orange squash, lemonade and milk. Perhaps a milk shake in some places. Then we come to the milk you put in your tea or coffee. Whole, semi-skimmed or skimmed? Oat, soya or almond milk?

THEN . . .

1950's Memories - The Milkman | Colin Pickett | Flickr

And NOW

Milks of Human Kindness | Veggies

I could cover so many menu items which are different from the 1950s but the next one I’m going to look at is bread. I never, ever remember brown bread being offered as an option when you bought a sandwich in a café. Bread for sandwiches was always white sliced bread. If you ordered a hot meal like fish and chips there was usually a plate of bread (white sliced bread) and butter served with it. In a café or restaurant now it’s normal to be asked if you want white or brown bread. The more up-market you go, the more choices there are. It’s quite usual to see a list of different sandwich fillings and a footnote saying served on white or brown bread, ciabatta, panini or baguette.

THEN . .

Cheese & Tomato – southdownscoffee

And NOW

Chicken ciabatta sandwich recipe | Schwartz
Baguette sandwiches filled with tomato, mozzarella and rocket - Stock Photo  - Dissolve

A 1950s ‘Woolies’ cafeteria. One kind each of tea, coffee and bread. I loved those cafeterias! We never even hear the word cafeteria now.

1950s Woolworths Restaurant

A few more memories of British cafés in the 1950s to round this off. Salad was lettuce, cucumber and tomato. No rocket, peppers, olives and certainly no salad dressing. The only thing which was ever put on salad was salad cream. Tomato sauce was often on the table in a red, plastic tomato-shaped container. Pickle meant Branston, Piccalilli or pickled onions. Egg sandwiches were made with salad cream and some cress and were not known as egg mayonnaise sandwiches. Cafes and restaurants rarely offered tap water as a drink option and would even refuse it if asked.

THEN . .

And NOW

8 Healthy Salad Dressing Recipes You Should Make at Home | Wholefully

Pictures sourced from Google Images and Wikipedia. As always, I go to a lot of trouble to avoid infringing copyright. If, however, anyone objects to my use of an image please contact me and I will remove it.

Things people don’t do, see or say any more.

First of all, there are exceptions to ALL of these! But here is a brief rundown of things we just don’t come across any longer. It should raise a smile among those of you who are of the same vintage as me. Some have been mentioned elsewhere in various blog posts of mine from the last few years.

Motoring.

When I was a child people had special gloves specially for driving in. They were known – predictably – as driving gloves and they had leather palms and woven string backs. They made great Christmas presents for those dads and uncles you struggled to buy for. Cars were still a relatively new phenomenon and not every family had one so people often gave driving-related gifts to others. People also had car coats, car rugs and some (my mum for one) kept certain shoes for driving in.

60 Christmas gift ideas for classic car fans | Classic & Sports Car

Cars had to be ‘warmed up’ after standing overnight. My dad used to go out and start the car up five minutes before he left for work.

In the countryside, at the top of a mountain road, there would always be a car or two parked on the verge with the bonnet up and steam issuing forth from the radiator. Once the car had cooled down, the journey continued.

On the TV

There were many hours in the day, and at night, when no programmes were broadcast and if you turned the set on you would see the ‘test card’.

Anyone recognise this test-card? – Black & White Television – VRAT Forum
The first test card I remember, in the early 60s, was like this.
The history of the BBC trade test transmission (part 1/4) - Clean Feed
This test card appeared with the dawn of colour TV in the late 60s/ early 70s.

After the last programme of the evening had finished, the National Anthem was played. I only heard about that, never saw it, as I was a child and was never up at 10.30 or 11.00 when the programmes finished. When the set was turned off there was a white dot on the screen which very slowly shrank until it disappeared.

TVs often suffered from interference due to the weather or transmission issues and the effect on the screen was always referred to as ‘snow’.

Early TV presenters all wore evening dress – dinner suits and bow ties for the men, an evening dress for the women (of which there weren’t many in the 50s!) – and they often smoked whilst conducting an interview.

Answering phones

Households only ever had one phone in the 1950s. I remember huge excitement in our house in the mid-1960s when we acquired an extension! Everyone answered their phones with a greeting followed by their full number, complete with exchange. A made up example would be ‘Hello, Hightown 363.’ To digress a bit, our first telephone number was 9. There was a small telephone switchboard in our village Post Office (it’s now in a museum) and you called them (they were 1) to ask to be connected to other numbers. We were the ninth phone in the village – hence the number!

Taking Photographs

Remember the joy and anticipation of collecting your latest pack of prints from the shop or receiving them in the post? Remember too, the disappointment when some of them hadn’t turned out well – finger in front of lens, subject moved, over-exposed etc.? But they all had to be paid for, and the film had to be bought in the first place. We were so careful not waste shots!

127 film - Wikipedia
Everyone my age will remember winding the start of the film onto the spool in the camera, taking great care not to let light into the film accidentally.
Kodak Brownie 127 Film Bakelite Camera with case and manual  image 0
My first camera was like this and was a birthday present in 1960. I still have it.
Zenit E Vintage Russian 35mm Film Slr Camera with Industar image 0
My second camera was bought in about 1975 and was one of these.

Wearing Hats and Gloves All Year Round

In the 50s, when I was very young, most men didn’t leave the house bare-headed. Men in hats vastly outnumbered hatless men. They were always taken off indoors. Most women also wore hats outside. My grandmothers, for instance, never left the house without a hat – felt hats in winter, often straw or linen in summer. My grandmothers always to wear hatpins in their hats,

Working class Brits did not ditch the Labour Party … it ditched them
Readers reply: when and why did men stop wearing hats? | Hats | The Guardian

I also remember that women all wore gloves to go out, especially when going to church. They had winter gloves and summer gloves. In the 1950s, when girls were dressed in small versions of what their mums wore, I remember me and my sister having to wear white cotton gloves with out best summer dresses to church.

1950s Woman In Hat & White Gloves Photograph by Vintage Images

Looking after vinyl records

Remember the care we used to have to take when handling records? Hold by the edge only. Wipe dust off with a special cloth. Always slide an album into the inner paper sleeve before putting away in the outer sleeve. A scratch on a record could render it unplayable. There were little brushes too for getting fluff off the needle.

VINYL RECORDS : ECO-FRIENDLYISH ? - Diggers Factory

Writing Letters

I have always love writing and receiving letters. There is something about a hand addressed envelope arriving in the post. We still write letters, in a way, but they are emails and it’s somehow not quite the same.

Paul Feeney on Twitter: "British postman in the 1950s. Two post deliveries  a day including Saturdays and no van or hand-cart. /bit.ly/1alhmZX  http://t.co/SVXgJutWly"

Having doorstep milk delivered in glass bottles

Remember the sound of the milk float, the clink of the bottles? Rinsing out your bottles and putting them on the step? Hardly anyone I know has a milkman now. It’s all bought from the supermarket in plastic containers. Living where I did as a child, we didn’t have a milkman We went to a nearby farm every evening at milking time with our washed out bottles and filled them up straight from the cooler. All my life, the sound of a milk float has reminded me of visits to relatives who lived in towns. I used to find town sounds and sights so exciting as a child from the countryside. I do have a milkman now and I’m very happy about it! But there as aren’t many of them around these days. I love the fact that I get my milk in returnable glass bottles and my eggs, which are free range, in recyclable card containers. So I’ve done this change the other way around and am one of the exceptions I referred to at the start of this post.

Former Milkman's book DELIVERS the secrets of the 'Romeos of the road' |  Books | Entertainment | Express.co.uk
Milkmen drove ‘floats’ like this which were powered by batteries and had a very distinctive, quiet sound.

Credit to Google Images and Wikipedia. As always, I have endeavored to ensure that nothing used in this post infringes copyright. If anyone objects to my use of an image, contact me and I will remove it.

Space Part 2 – the Music

Thank you to my readers and followers. I had some really lovely comments after my last post – Space. Also, last week I topped 150 000 hits which I’m very happy about.

I have always listened to a lot of music and since writing the Space post a few songs have been running through my head so I’ve decided to add Part 2. I wrote about our long-standing fascination with space and space travel and I mentioned several books comics relating to space travel, some of them published well before the first attempts at travelling to outer space. The same applies to music so here is a short list, in more or less chronological order, of pieces of music and songs which are about Space and Space travel. I apologise if I have missed any really obvious ones – or your favourite. Feel free to comment. I have crept into the 70s, 80s and 90s for this one!

Gustav Holst’s work The Planets Suite was written in the period 1914-18 and although not about Space travel, it reflects our ongoing curiosity about Space. He gives each planet a character related to the ancient Greek and Roman gods they are named after and he portrays the characteristics of that god as if they were also the planets’. For example, the planet Mars is named after the Roman god of war and the Mars part of the Planets is an angry sounding piece. Classicists, please forgive my layman’s explanation!

In 1954 Bart Howard wrote Fly Me To The Moon and there have been many versions recorded. The one we all think of when we remember this song is Frank Sinatra‘s version released in 1964.

Purple People Eater. I can remember this song from when I was a child. A novelty song, it was a minor hit for Sheb Wooley who released it in 1958. It was a favourite for several years on Children’s Favourites on Saturday mornings. People at that time still talked about ‘Martians’ and little green men and wondered whether there was life elsewhere in Space.

David Bowie‘s album Space Oddity album, released in 1969, is considered by many to be one of his finest works and even those who don’t know the album are probably familiar with the words ‘Can you hear me Major Tom?’ and are able to hum the tune if not sing the whole song.

Bowie‘s Life on Mars? came out in 1971.

Elton John‘s Rocket Man released in 1972 is familiar to all, I’m sure. The recent film about Elton John’s life is called Rocketman.

Also released in 1972 was The Carpenters‘song Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft. This one, like the previous three, was around at the time when Man was actually going up into space and even landing on the moon. Space was massive news.

In 1978 Sarah Brightman and Hot Gossip recorded I lost My Heart to a Starship Trooper.

DE3043 7"-45 giri" I Lost My Heart To A Starship Trooper VINYL -  Amazon.co.uk

The Police recorded Walking on the Moon in 1979.

Walking on the moon. The police song.

1986 saw Europe release The Final Countdown.

The Final Countdown (song) - Wikipedia

This song is a favourite at sporting events, often being played to rally crowds. On 2 October 1990 just a few hours before the German reunification, the English segment of international radio broadcaster of former East Germany RBI, played the intro of the song.

REM‘s Man on the Moon came out in 1992

R.E.M. - Man on the moon | Sheet music for choirs and a capella

In 1998 Belle and Sebastian recorded A Space Boy Dream which was about a boy who dreamed that he had the opportunity to fly to Mars with his dad and his sister but in three separate spaceships.

While I was drafting this post yesterday I heard on the radio that William Shatner had become the oldest person to travel to Space and back. Which led me to think that I haven’t yet covered films and TV programmes about Space through the decades. Possible Part 3?

 

 

 

Credit to Google Images and Wikipedia. As always, I have endeavored to ensure that nothing used in this post infringes copyright. If anyone objects to my use of an image, contact me and I will remove it.

 

 

Space

Those of us who were children in the 50s and 60s were witnesses to the dawn of space travel. I remember hearing about the Sputniks and being excited by the thought of anything travelling into space. When they launched Sputnik 2 in 1957 I was haunted by the thought of the poor little dog Laika being sent up there and not coming back alive.

In 1961, when Yuri Gagarin became the first man to travel into space, my school acquired its first ever television set specifically so that we could watch the lift-off live as a whole school – all 28 of us and two teachers! This was incredibly exciting.

The launching of a man into space was exciting in itself but this was at a time when many families, especially in remote countryside locations like ours, didn’t yet have a TV set in the home. We all know that next came the Explorer, Apollo and Shuttle programmes. Space systems continue to become more and advanced and now space travel itself doesn’t often make headlines but many facets of our lives, are influenced and even sometimes controlled from space. Just think of our SatNavs and Sky dishes!

Although space travel didn’t begin until the 1950s, people have always been fascinated by space and the possibility of extra-terrestrial beings. Here is a brief summary of some of the science fiction which predated real space travel.

The First Men in the Moon is a scientific romance by the English author H G Wells, originally serialised in The Strand. His work The War of the Worlds is a science fiction novel. Its first appearance in hardcover was in 1898. and it is one of the earliest stories to detail a conflict between mankind and an extra-terrestrial race.

H.G. Wells - Books, Time Machine & War of the Worlds - Biography
The War of the Worlds, by H. G. Wells

 Mr Skygack, from Mars is considered the first science fiction comic to feature an extra-terrestrial character in the history of comics. It ran from 1907 to 1911.

In 1942, Isaac Asimov published the first of his Foundation stories—later collected in the Foundation Trilogy in the 1950s. The books recount the fall of a vast interstellar empire and the establishment of its eventual successor. 

Image 1 - isaac asimov foundation series 6 books collection set - (foundation,foundation a

Arthur C. Clarke was a lifelong proponent of space travel and in 1934, while still a teenager, he joined the British Interplanetary Society. When originally formed in January 1933, the British Interplanetary Society aimed not only to promote and raise the public profile of astronautics, but also to undertake practical experimentation into rocketry.

In 1948, he wrote The Sentinel for a BBC competition. Though the story was rejected, it changed the course of Clarke’s career. Not only was it the basis for 2001: A Space Odyssey but “The Sentinel” also introduced a more cosmic element to Clarke’s work. 

Dan Dare was a British science fiction comic book hero (1950 – 1967), created by Frank Hampson who also wrote the first stories. They were set in the late 1990s, but the dialogue and manner of the characters were reminiscent of British war films of the 1950s.

Eagle cover 1989.jpg

Credit to Wikipedia, Google Images, NASA, ESA, BIS. As always, I have endeavored to ensure that I have not infringed copyright through the images I have used. If, however, anyone objects to the use of a particular image please contact me and I will remove it.