Tuesday, January 14, 2014

A Holiday Prize- Part 1

In 1967 I was still at school. It was the year my younger brother, Sandy (Alexander) won a prize in a competition run by the company Trutex, who made shirts. The competition had been run I seem to remember in conjunction with ROSPA, something to do with road safety if my memory serves. We bought all our school uniforms from Braggins (now Beales) in Bedford and the shirt wasn't actually part of anyone's school uniform, as it was brightly coloured and short-sleeved and the competition was printed on the cardboard which was used for the packaging of the shirt. Sandy wore it for a few years after the competition and the prize holiday  had faded into memory. I don't remember what you were supposed to do in order to enter, perhaps the main part was to identify items that would be unsafe in a picture of a house or something, but I remember there was a tie-breaker which was to write a slogan for a safety campaign and the one which was made up (most likely by my mother) was 'careful kids keep cops catching crooks.' Anyway, whatever the rest of the competition was, Sandy won, as he got a letter telling him he'd won and the prize was a holiday for four to Italy! You see these competitions regularly, usually on the back of breakfast cereal packets, in magazines or other everyday products you buy, and you often think 'how many people actually win?' But to actually win one yourself is quite a shock, to say the least.

As I've written in earlier posts on here, our holidays were always in this country and never abroad. We always went to the same place every year, to Frinton-On-Sea in Essex, so the thought of actually winning one and to somewhere ABROAD was really exciting. Sandy went to a prize ceremony in Braggins store in Bedford (I think I must have gone with my mother and possibly my father, but I can't honestly remember exactly.) and the prize consisted of two weeks at a place not far from Venice called Rosapineta Lido. Don't ask me whether it's still in existence. I doubt it, but I expect a Google search would find it, one way or another. We were to travel by coach, and leave from London and then go down to Dover and cross to the Continent by ferry.

I have done a Google search and, yes, the place still exists. The map on the website shows it is situated between Venice and Padua in the north of Italy. From what I have seen in the photographs on the website it looks very different from what I remember, which would suggest that it's been revamped over the years since we were there, which doesn't surprise me. I would imagine that it is more like a Centre Parcs holiday centre than what you would call a holiday camp in the tradition of Butlin's or Pontin's.

Our party consisted of myself, Sandy, my mother and my grandmother. I don't know why my father didn't come with us, but I don't think he would have enjoyed it that much, particularly the journey by coach or the ferry crossing. We went down to London and met the group of other prizewinners at a hotel and it was from there that we boarded one of two coaches which were to drive us across Europe and eventually into Italy and then on to the place where we would stay, Rosapineta Lido.

They always say that you should never look a gift-horse in the mouth, which to some extent is very true. We were more than lucky to win the holiday, which must have cost a fair amount, and it was a real treat. But it wasn't without it's problems, the first being the fact that we had to travel down to Italy by coach. The company which was responsible for the transport had only ever arranged tours around Britain and in particular, London. Such a long journey down through Europe by coach was something they weren't experience at, and they had arranged the itinerary by driving down the route by car. This meant that the timing of the itinerary was wrong. We were supposed to arrive at such and such a place at a given time but due to the fact that the coaches couldn't travel as fast as a car we got to places we were supposed to get to, such as hotels for over-night stays a good deal later than planned. So on one occasion we were supposed to be at a town in  Germany at around 7 p.m. but didn't get there until well past 11 p.m.  My grandmother was a diabetic and she needed to take her insulin and other medications regularly and on several occasions she needed to take sugar lumps or some form of sugar, usually as a sweet to prevent her going into a coma due to the fact that she didn't always remember to inject herself at the correct time she was supposed to.
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