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31/05/2018 / hbrowne4

Kids Holidays in 1950’s Bray by Ronnie Moore

Joe poured tea for his sister and her husband in the Blue & White Pagoda tea cups. They talked together for almost two hours about their problems at work and mostly about their plans for summer holidays next year. Their summer holidays were always spent in Bray in a house they and their parents had always rented in August each year.
The house was a small cottage and in the garden was an old train carriage which the owner Mr Byrne had decorated as three bedrooms and a toilet. the steps up to the carriage were wooden and very slippery if it rained, but it seldom rained in Bray. There were two very large green gates to the road outside which led down under the railway bridge to the harbour.
There was also a small gate for people at the side of the big gate.
It was very cosy on holidays here in the house and some of the cousins would spend a lot of their school holidays together here even if their parents were not in the cottage at the time.
It was very nice playing in the garden with the other cousins and being brought to the beach for a swim.
In the evening times there were films shown on a big screen on one of the band stands.
They were all black and white films with no sound other than a recording of a person playing the piano. You could watch the short films from the back of the band stand for free but to watch from the front you would have to pay for a seat.
Sometimes there was a travelling group of players who put a large marquee in the small park beside the ballroom and the train station and they would have people playing on guitars and mouth organ and drums and a bass which was made of an old tea chest and a brush handle and strings.
They would also have a small play almost a fairy tale and a raffle or spin the wheel and then some more music. The shows were great fun. When the show had finished everybody would stand to attention for the national anthem some people would raise their fist in the air during the anthem, but not too many people.
Leaving the big tent was like leaving the company of the show people and out to the dark night air. They would walk the short distance home to their house and to their beds. They seldom went straight to sleep when they went to bed they had lots of fun talking to each other.
They would sometimes sing some of the songs from the show. At other times they would tell each other ghost stories and then huddle together to sleep. These were magic times for the children. Sometimes on Sundays other member of the family would visit on a train trip from Dublin or their uncle Peter who had a car that he had from work would drive down. He would sometimes bring all the children for a drive to the chip shop for chips for the dinner time and they all enjoyed his jokes and the sweet treats he would give them.
If they were on a day trip to Bray and not staying in a house the family would get chips in the chip shop and a pot of a tea from a tea shop who gave their dad a big brown tea pot that they had to return before they went home.
When the children were old enough their dad would let one of the children bring it back to the shop.
On the promenade there was a red hand cart with a wooden canopy painted red and white like a fish shop the man had white trousers and a white short coat and an apron of red and white stripes and a white rimmed hat with a red ribbon.
His stand smelled pleasantly of vinegar and he sold ready to eat shell fish like periwinkles which came in a small brown paper bag and he would give you a small badge pin to remove the periwinkle from its shell.
We all liked periwinkles and he also sold Oysters and cockles. There were other shell fish on his stand but only the older people knew what they were. The prices were 3 pence 6 pence and a shilling for a portion. These prices were written on a large sign on top of his hand cart.
He also had some sauces in large cockle shells also for the shellfish.
There were some small white kiosks along the promenade selling ice creams rock and lemonade sometimes they would also sell pink or white candy floss on a long wooden stick.
They would put the stick in to the round candy floss machine and turning the stick in the cloud of candy floss it would look like a large piece of cotton wool on the stick.
It was very sweet and melted in your mouth like sugar. Their parents did not encourage them to eat this but occasionally they were allowed to share one between a few children.
When they came home from Bray after a day or a week they would fall asleep on the train or in the back of the car with lots of nice memories.


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