For one week every summer, it was always the third week in August, the family would go on holiday. The first two years, 1934-35, we went to Vange, now part of Basildon, where we rented a bungalow from a friend of my mother. There were only two bedrooms and there were eight of us, as well as the occasional friend of my elder brothers. My brother Jack was a Rover Scout and he was able to borrow a bell tent, or even a small marquee, to house the excess bodies.
It was almost like camping. My father used to take me with him to the butcher who then had a shop on the approach to Pitsea Station. There, for about three shillings, he could buy a large leg of mutton. On holiday, it was always my father who bought the meat. All the vegetables were bought in Vange.
There was no running drinking water at the bungalow, but, across the road in Timberlog Lane, there was an old London tram, wheels removed, in which we could buy a bucket of cold water for a penny. We had a white enamel bucket and one could see the purity of the water.
Each day we would get the train from Pitsea to Leigh-on-Sea and spend the day on the beach. Well, it wasn’t a beach exactly, but it consisted of smooth rocks built up as a defensive wall. We were able to sit on that. When the tide went out it revealed a small strip of sandy beach where we could dig holes and paddle in the sea. Any further out and you were wading in mud.
Once again, we were fed with great sandwiches made with fresh-baked bread except that here at Leigh on Sea, they would be augmented with a serving of cockles bought from “The Sheds” further along the beach. A tub of cockles , enough for the family, was only few pennies.
We would all go along to the Sheds and watch the men cooking the cockles and then separating the shells.
On the food front, little changed during the next few years with the exception that Price’s, our baker, delivered sliced bread for the first time around about 1938. Although it had been introduced in the States in 1928, we did not see any until ten years later.
Next Chapter: Chapter 12 World War Two Commences