Magazine article The Spectator

End of an Era

Magazine article The Spectator

End of an Era

Article excerpt

The end of an era this year for the Cashmore family. My mother sold her holiday house in Sutton on Sea, a small, unassuming seaside place (not resort) in Lincolnshire. From 1956 onwards we went there every year. Many of my contemporaries had their favourite holiday destination, but theirs always seemed smarter or trendier -- Rock in Cornwall or Aldeburgh in Suffolk. We had Sutton. Not picturesque, not lively, but a sandy beach, bathing huts and, above all, glorious simplicity.

My father always made the same joke packing the car before the drive from Nottingham.

'How many months are we going for?' he used to say as my mother wobbled out with another duffel bag or famously, in 1973, a big bowl of beef dripping which she couldn't bear to waste.

All six of us crammed into the Austin Cambridge which had a wonderful bench seat in the front. We were allowed Five Boys chocolate but had to listen to my younger sister saying, 'Are we nearly there yet?' for most of the journey. We often stopped for cheese cobs just over the Nottinghamshire-Lincolnshire border, but one year we were late setting off so had fish and chips in West Bridgford, less than two miles from our home.

The first evening we always took a stroll along the front, admired the beach and the flat North Sea and felt the healthinducing wind battering our faces, but really we were more interested in the 'changes': repairs to the sea defences, erected after the floods of 1953, or the appearance of the crazy golf next to the bowling green. In 1970, I actually wrote a postcard to my grandmother announcing the appearance of 'garrish' (sic) red chairs in the Corner Cafe (or 'Cayfe' as we pronounced it to make it sound more upmarket).

Sometimes we rented a huge house called Norbury and shared it with another family; the Tansleys or the Marwoods. I love that putting of the definite article in front of the family name. It reminds me of the story of the keen gallery attendant at Tate Britain who helpfully asked a lost-looking family, 'Are you looking for the Turners?' and they stared back in amazement and said, 'But we are the Turners.' We spent hours on the beach digging huge walls to 'beat the tide'. No poncey sandcastles for us. Although the poncey factor went up when the Tansleys, egged on by my elder sister, arranged a beach wedding ceremony. …

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