Thursday, 4 September 2014

The Grand Tour...and more! ;-)

Now this story, above, is really interesting and obviously there is much to debate and not forgetting the many pros and cons of taking your children on such a trip!

However, I know that a similar experience hugely benefitted me!

When I was about 11, my parents took my sister and myself on a journey. However, we 
did this during the 6 week summer holidays, rather than take a whole year. And so off we went on our 'Grand Tour' of Great Britain. Taking a rough course of,  'up one side of the country and down the other', (with slight deviations every now and again) we must have covered a good number of miles in our Ford Consul, which was almost identical to this; same colour, different
number plates :

You see, my dad was a bit of a history fanatic! He taught history; he lived and breathed history and he lived in the past (actually, he was steeped in history and he lived in the past for most of his life!)  Thus, we visited almost every cathedral in the country and we descended upon castles (Bamburgh Castle left a lasting impression on me!) and ancient monuments, galore. We trekked along Hadrian's Wall, (joining the Romans for dinner at Housesteads!) ; stood ( roughly) in the place in The New Forest where King William 11 (Rufus) was shot (ouch!) ; re- lived a similar incident in Battle, where King Harold was shot in one eye (supposedly) ( ouch!); we stood at that spot where Thomas Becket was murdered in Canterbury Cathedral (another ouch!) and we went to Runnymede where The Magna Carta was signed (in 1215) by King John. We said our pretend, 'I dos' at Gretna Green...and oh, there was so much more!

Yes, I've been, 'where it's all happened'! ;-)

I  do know that, at the time, I didn't appreciate it all, but I now see that the benefits for my future were absolutely immense.

But that's not all! As well as our 'Grand Tour', on other occasions, my mum and dad took us to see the Tall Ships; we experienced the thrills of power boat racing off Portland Bill; we put on a united cheer as Sir Francis Chichester sailed into Plymouth;  we've watched the QE2 sail in and out of Southampton and we've watched in awe and wonder, at Loch Ness, hoping to see the elusive, 'Nessie'. And there were so many other things nautical....the highlight being punting on the river in Cambridge, (where my dad didn't have a clue what he was doing)...and this will definitely bring a smile to the faces of those who knew my dad! My dad and a punt, just shouldn't be mentioned in the same sentence, let alone let him loose on the river, with one in his hand!  My dad was an incredible sportsman in his younger days but that didn't include rowing or punting! Ventures into all things nautical went a little too far at that point ; I was glad to get back on dry land! We all were. Hairy or what?! But it remains in my mind as one of the most amusing highlights of my childhood! And I live to tell the tale. Incidentally, I also know a bit about the Cambridge colleges, as we 'traipsed' around those too!

My mum and dad took us to quite a number of sporting venues such as cricket at The Oval, where we watched  Gary Sobers (or 'Sir Garfield' as he is now known)  lead a fantastic 'West Indies',  as they walloped England. ( I have never seen so many balls 'hit for six' in my life and that was when cricket, for me, became less than was nothing short of superb.) After England won 'The World Cup' in 1966, my mum and dad took us to a match where we were close enough to touch (yes touch!;-) the arms of Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters, as they got off a coach to get ready to play for their club, West Ham. We did the many sights of London,  the  Radio and Motor Shows at Earls Court and the Children's Show at Olympia. We stood at the top of The Post Office Tower and marvelled at the city below as it revolved...well it seemed like it!

As we grew older, we were taken to the theatre, the cinema, the ballet, tennis at Wimbledon. You name it... I was very fortunate, I think. It was my parents who introduced me to the wonders of The RHS Chelsea Flower Show and RHS Wisley. 

I  have to admit that I somewhat shuddered when, in my early 20s, it was suggested that we re-visit Cambridge for another nautical experience ... but it was ok, my fears were quelled as this time it was to watch the Cambridge University 'bump races'...and that's a fascinating experience if ever there was one! My dad took no part in that , save to jump out of the way when the cyclists flew past shouting ' Tow Path, Tow Path.'

I've seen battlefields, bridges, spires, burial places, stately homes and famous people's abodes,  I've visited gardens, museums, sporting venues and oast houses ( I had to mention those as they always fascinated me as a child) and the Blackpool Illuminations which were...well, illuminating! I've visited historical buildings with roofs and historical ruins without.
I've walked on those very places where history has been made, making my own history in the process! 

I know my own country and the counties within it, pretty well, I think...thanks to my mum and my dad. My dad always said that you should know your own country. I think he was right.

And so, if those children in the newspaper report are half as lucky as I was, then they will be very, very fortunate indeed!  Their experiences will last them a lifetime...just as mine have.
I only wish that I could  'tag along'!  ;-)

1 comment:

galant said...

How wonderful to have parents who truly educated you and your sister, Sal, with the glories of our kingdom. What a wonderful 'world tour' of the UK you had!!! Similarly, my parents ensured that, even though they were in business so couldn't take time off for holidays (your father, as a teacher, obviously had the long summer holiday) they did make sure I didn't lack for culture in my education; I was taken for walks and shown wild flowers, taken to historic buildings, visited the museum often, and of course, living in a newsagent's shop, had my fill of books, magazines and newspapers (and comics, of course!) And even though they couldn't take me on holiday because of their business, I was taken to London to stay with a friend of my parents (accompanied by a school pal) and had a wonderful time there, seeing all the sights and even attending a matinee at Covent Garden (the American ballet.) How lucky we both were, Sal.
Margaret P