Friday, 15 May 2009


So far, our beautiful new car had been a blessing, enabling us to travel back and forth between Kent, Great Ormond Street Hospital and Oakfield Road. I can’t even begin to imagine how we would have coped without it. It was as though it had been sent by providence, to help us survive our ordeal. It was, however, now time to use it for the purpose that we had envisaged when we first set eyes on it. A holiday.
And what a holiday that was. We packed so much into those two weeks. Our base camp was to be in Somerset, where we’d rented a holiday chalet. We all bundled into the car, with our dog Rusty sitting in the front seat with me. He loved travelling with his head out of the partially opened window, his fur and ‘chops’ billowing in the wind.
Our luggage, which comprised of a large expanding suitcase (a left-over from our honeymoon) and several bulky egg-packing boxes, was all securely strapped to the roof rack with webbing straps ‘borrowed’ from Midland Bank.
We were all in a happy holiday mood, as we set off singing at the top of our voices: ‘We’re all going on our summer holiday’.
We arrived at the site tired and hungry, so I made something quick to eat and we relaxed till the next day.
The car was parked under the trees next to our chalet and, after breakfast, we all packed into it ready for our first outing. It wouldn’t start! We were horrified. In those days, we hadn’t yet joined the Automobile Assn. And, as I said earlier, Arthur knew next to nothing about the mechanics of a car.
The God of Automobiles was still with us, however. In the next chalet was a family group consisting of two married couples and a young girl of about twelve. It was the two men, however, who had been sent from heaven. One was a train engineer and the other a car mechanic. Without any more ado, they took off their jackets, rolled up their sleeved and disappeared under the bonnet of our car. They were obviously in their element. Their womenfolk looked on happily as the men flung oily rags, spanners and feeler gauges around.
Arthur and I were understandably worried that this might herald the end of our touring holiday and, as more and more of the engine was dissembled, we became increasingly fearful.
Philip sat on the grass at Arthur’s feet watching the unfolding of events, and then uttered one of his most memorable remarks ‘Dad, I can see all the hairs up your nose.’ It wasn’t only the way that he said it, but his completely inappropriate timing, that lifted the gloom of the occasion and reduced everyone to helpless laughter.
In no time at all, the car was miraculously repaired and running better than ever. We couldn’t believe our good fortune, and all offers of payment or reward were absolutely refused.
The young girl, whose name now escapes me, became quite attached to Lynne and the boys. Her family left a few days before we did, and she bought sweets out of her pocket money and ceremoniously handed them out to out three children.
During that holiday we visited the Cheddar Gorge, Wookey Hole, Castel Coch, Cardiff, Stonehenge, Exeter Moors, Newport, and lots of other places. The children saw the wild ponies on the moors, and witnessed wild pigs trotting up and down a village street, in and out of front gardens. They visited the place where cheddar cheeses were made, and went down into deep caves with beautiful stalagmite formations. See pictures above.

On one of our car trips during the holiday, we inadvertently came across Aberfan where, in October 1966, an avalanche of black coal slag demolished the school in a matter of seconds, killing 116 children and 28 adults, following the collapse of an adjacent slag heap. Because Aberfan was a small mining village this disaster removed almost a complete generation from it’s midst.
Although this had happened a couple of years before, it still sent an overwhelming feeling of horror and sadness through me as I saw the school site and the empty cottages opposite, still half full of dried sludge. I quietly hugged my three children and thanked God for them.
To be contd…


Swubird said...


A very interesting chapter in your life. Thank you for sharing.

You know, some people I talk to say they have nothing in their lives to write about. They complain of a boring existence. Their lives have been too dull. Well all I can say to them is to read your blog. I mean, The God of Automobiles! Really wonderful, and a long way from dull. You provide an excellent example of how people can take a single day in their lives and turn it into a fabulously interesting story. Well done.

Another wonderful trip down memory lane.

Happy trails.

granny grimble said...

Thank you so much Swubird for your very generous and kind comment. Perhaps through your comments I might get a couple of new readers, who knows!
It's not what you say, but the way you say it, and that's why I love your writing so much. Thank you onc again.

Babs-beetle said...

I still remember the Aberfan disaster quite clearly, and it seems like it was only a handful of years ago!

They were such fun holidays back when 'Globe trotting' wasn't the common thing to do.

granny grimble said...

Yes time goes by so quickly as you get older! Those children, had they lived, would be in their fifties now.
I've had camping hoidays when it never stopped raining, and holidays when we were so hard up in the last week that we spent the whole evening huggng half a pint of shandy! But they were such fun. Do you remember the laughs we had at The Warren?

Jay said...

I think Aberfan was the first disaster to really sink in and clutch at my heart. I was thirteen at the time, and still at school, so I could identify with it on that level too. Such horror. :(

On a lighter note - '.. all the hairs up your nose'! ROFL!! That is so funny! And you description of the holiday brought back many happy memories of Devon holidays, too. I dimly remember being taken into Gough's Caves as a small child, and the sense of wonder at being deep in the earth, and with such beauty around me!

granny grimble said...


In those day, we didn't 'trip over' distasters and horror stories on every page of the newspapers like we do now. It really shocked the whole nation. Seeing the aftermath as we did, really grabbed at your heart and squeezed it so hard.
That remark about nasal hair still makes me roar with laughter. It was so 'out of the blue' and out of context.

weechuff said...

We have had such smashing holidays together on a shoestring budget. Was The Warren the house in Norfolk?

granny grimble said...


No, The Warren was a camping site in Folkestone that we went to with Babs and Mo on several occasions. Didn't we have fun in the pouring rain camping in Wales though:0)

Croom said...

Sorry I am so late in reading your blog Leeta. I found it fascinating as usual.

In those days nearly every family that managed to 'get away' did it on a shoe string ah! But what fun, blackberries picking, scrumping, farmers shouting after you and taking pot shots at you.

granny grimble said...


I don't know what kind of holidays you had, but I never had Farmer's chasing after me with shot guns !! :0)