Wednesday, July 03, 2013
Family Summer Holidays- Part 2
Just looking at the road map and in particular the route to Frinton along the A120 evokes a lot of memories for me. Mention of the names of the places along the route, such as Baldock, Buntingford, Puckeridge, Bishop's Stortford and so on wakes up a lot of memories. I knew the route well enough as a child and then again in the early 1970's when I used to drive it when I was an A.S.M. at Colchester Repertory Theatre and used to use this road when I went home for the weekend. (Colchester Rep is no more. It was replaced by the Mercury Theatre in the early 1970's The foundation stone was laid by Eric Porter, who played Jolyon Forsyte in the 1960's BBC series."The Forstye Saga". I remember this from when I was working there. The old rep building, which was in the high street, had been an art gallery before it was converted into a theatre, and is now a building society or bank, I can't remember which.) It probably was quite dangerous in those days, particularly late at night (I used to leave Colchester after the evening performance, which would end around 10.30 p.m.) so driving on the A120 wouldn't have been been very safe as I don't imagine there were many street lights along the long sections through open countryside.
I do remember that there was one thing that sticks in my mind. Somewhere in Dunmow or Coggeshall there was a tree at the side of the road which had been shaped into what appeared to be a table. I don't know whether it is still there, but it was something that, as children, we always managed to point out on the journey. I imagine you wouldn't be able to find it now, if it is still there, as it's most likely to be in the centre of a town and you now use a by-pass and not see it. That's one of the drawbacks of by-passes. You don't see the sights that you would have seen if you drive through the centre of places and by-passes always seem to be routed through cuttings with high banks so you never see much of the surrounding countryside.
We had another sort of 'game' which was whoever saw the water tower which was near the entrance to Frinton and whichever of my brothers saw it would get a bag of sweets or something. Silly now, I suppose, but I imagine my mother, who would be driving the car, needed something to keep us occupied on the journey.
To enter Frinton you go through some gates, which are in actual fact part of a level crossing which goes over the railway line, and Frinton's railway station is one of the first buildings you see when you enter. As such, the railway line is the sort of 'outer wall' of the town, if you like. You drive in and down Connaught Avenue, which is the main shopping street and runs right down to the beach. There is a sort of air about the place as if you've stepped back in time. Probably then, but not so sure now, as I haven't been there for at least 30 years. It's sort of stuck in a timewarp of the 1930's. Very genteel, and dare I say it, middle class. When we used to visit there were no pubs. I can't remember if there were any fish and chip shops, which seems very odd, considering it is a seaside town. You always associate the 'seaside' with fish and chips. Well, at least I do. There were bars in the hotels, but these seem to have been frequented by a very select few. A sort of feeling of one of those Agatha Christie mysteries. If not the setting for one, you can imagine a television or film production company using it for the location of something set in that period. A lot of the houses are built in the classic Art Deco style. Somewhere, also, you can imagine Noel Coward frequenting. Perhaps being the setting for one of his plays such as "Private Lives" although I know that was supposed to have been set on the French riviera.