Thursday, July 04, 2013

Family Summer Holidays- Part 5

The beach at Frinton, as I have mentioned elsewhere in this blog, is really the town's best asset. The sand is washed by the tide twice daily and comes right up to the promenade. I was really good at making sandcastles, even though I say it myself. I also made quite elaborate towns and landscapes on the beach and some of them had a network of rivers which were fed from pools of water left when the tide went out. My younger brother, Sandy, has always been interested in cars, from an early age, and had a vast collection of model cars, both Dinky Toys and Corgi. He used the roads I had built to play with these cars. One day he must have lost one of these cars and we spent some considerable time hunting for it. The following day, I was digging another sandcastle and there below the surface of the sand was the lost car, a little sandy maybe, but safe and sound. Some time later, when the sand was removed and it was dried out, it became as good as new.
I do remember one incident which occurred when unfortunately some child with whom I went to school and his family came to stay in Frinton and had a hut only a few huts along from  ours. He attempted to destroy all my hard work and effort building a castle or road lay-out but me and my brothers managed to prevent too much damage. It is somewhat unfortunate that I don't remember his name but I think his father owned or ran a shoe-making business in Northampton if my memory serves, but he was obviously a spoilt little brat if that was the way he treated other people's work and effort.
Then there was Radio Caroline. This so-called 'pirate radio' station was set up and broadcast on board a ship which was moored in the North Sea just off Frinton. You could see it from the beach. This was outside what I think they call 'Territorial Waters', several miles out to sea from mainland Britain. They were, in effect, illegal, but that didn't stop them broadcasting. Something to do with interfering with broadcasts for such things as coastguard patrols, ambulance etc.  The then-government made several attempts to put a stop to their activities, but I can't remember exactly how these 'pirate' radio stations were closed down. In the end the BBC set up Radio One and all the BBC radio stations changed their names from Home, Light, Third etc to Radios 1,2,3 and 4. It wasn't until the 1980's that the Conservative Government bought in legislation to set up legal, local, commercial stations such as LBC, Capital Radio etc etc. I'm not exactly a pop music fan, but it was quite a newsworthy incident when the Radio Caroline ship was set adrift during a very heavy sea one night and drifted on-shore to  be beached on the Frinton shore. It was in all the newspapers and other media at the time.

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So, what else do I remember about holidays in Frinton? Shrimping. Using nets purchased from shops in the town, somewhere along Connaught Avenue. Collecting the shrimps in buckets and then cooking them on the Calor gas ring in the beach hut and eating them. I also recall a lobster, not one we'd caught ourselves. I think my father had been given it by some fisherman or something and taking it back to the house and it being kept in the kitchen, with it's claws tied together to stop it nipping all and sundry and then being cooked. I don't think my mother relished the idea of killing it and then boiling the poor thing. But I like lobster and I suppose you don't think so much about how they are killed when you are younger. I  was probably not aware of this, having been bought up on a farm and rearing calves, pigs and lambs and then sending them off to the abbatoir.

Then there was the very violent thunder storm over Frinton one night. It seemed to go on for hour after hour, the lightening causing a fire along the top of the cliffs and seeing the grass scorched the next day. The thunder sounded, from what I remember, very much like  a railway train running over rails, extremely loud and very frightening. I suppose I would have been nine or ten at the time.
Something else. Kite flying. My brother Sandy had been given this amazing box kite. Unfortunately he wasn't in the least interested in flying it, but I was. The Greensward at Frinton, as mentioned earlier in another post, is a grassy area that runs the entire length of the town's shore-side and as the winds are perfect for flying kites, blowing in from the sea and it was a perfect clear space, all adding to the perfect conditions. When out at it's furthest extent on it's line, it must have been really high. I don't think I've experienced kite-flying quite as good as at Frinton, perhaps the nearest to it would be at Dunstable Downs, just along the road from Whipsnade Zoo. It certainly kept me amused for many hours.
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