My dad always ensured that we had a "fortnight's" family holiday each year. A fortnight was 2 weeks - ie fourteen nights. These holidays started in 1949, when I was seven and continued to up to 1958 when I was 16. In 1949 and 1950 we went to Bournemouth.
We stayed at the same guest house for each of the two years. It was in Portland Road, Bournemouth. The detached house was of 1930's design. The guest house was run by a Mr & Mrs Fox. Mrs Fox scared me. She was a stout woman in her fifties and had grey hair pulled back into a bun. Up close you could see hairs growing out of some large warts on her face which always wore a severe, unsmiling expression.
Inside, I remember only the dining room. It had dark furniture; and I recall a sideboard which Mrs Fox always kept locked. Remember, it was 1949 and 1950 when we stayed there and food rationing was still in existence. Dad had to give her the relevant coupons from our Ration Books when we arrived so that she could supply us with butter and eggs and meat during our stay.
Portland Road was quite a way inland from the sea. This meant having to take a bus each day. There were two ways of getting to the seafront, by motor-bus from a stop in nearby Pine Road which took you to The Lansdowne, or by trolleybus from Charminster Road which took you to The Square. I always preferred the motor-bus but Mum and Dad liked the trolleybus, as The Square was much more conveniently situated for the shops and the beach. So the trolleybus generally prevailed.
The Bournemouth beaches were, and still are, beautifully sandy, like a beach is supposed to be. As well as the main beach, it also boasts excellent beaches at the 3 nearby "chines"; Durley Chine, Alum Chine and Branksome Chine. We mostly went to Durley Chine as it was the nearest and could be walked to. Alum Chine was my favourite but we rarely went there. Branksome Chine was furthest and required a bus trip. I usually opted for this as my second favourite.
The bus was a green Hants and Dorset one which operated out of Bournemouth Bus Station which was a tremendous place, now sadly no more as it was destroyed in a fire in the 1970s. The real treat, however, was a trip to Shell Bay. Now this was a really great outing. Again the trip was by Hants and Dorset bus from the Bus Station, only the Shell Bay buses were special. They were single decker Bristol KG5's but because they had to use the ferry from Sandbanks in order to reach Shell Bay they had a very recognisable back end. In order not to scrape the ferry ramps when loading or unloading, the bodywork at the rear was "chamfered" at an acute angle. This made them instantly recognisable on the road.
Bournemouth holidays were always special because we regularly ate at the Forte's Restuarant. These resturants only opened after the war so were really new. They were chrome and formica affairs that sold not only fish and chips, egg and chips etc. but was also featured an ice cream parlour which sold milkshakes! I tasted my first ever milkshake in the Bournemouth Forte's. We used to go there for lunch and Dad would treat me to something with chips and a milkshake. An added attraction was the fact that Forte's was adjacent to the Bus Station. This meant that while the others were finishing their meals, I could nip next door to the Bus Station. It was a two-tier affair. Local buses used the road level area whilst long-distance coach services used the basement. It was from here that classic Royal Blue coaches destined for London used to depart. Oh, the joy of witnessing one of those Royal Blue beauties roaring up out of the basement, with its distinctive cream decals and double rear window was indescribable! The throaty sound of its Bristol diesel engine, sheer bliss. One of my regrets is that I never got to ride on one these coaches but only have the memories of seeing them in action at Bournemeouth. Better that than nothing at all. Thank you Dad - and thank you Bournemouth for such lovely memories!
A memory shared byon Jun 7th, 2008.
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