I did something unusual this week. Well, unique for me at least. I signed an ‘online’ petition. It’s not a thing I would typically do, in fact, I can’t recall ever signing one before. This particular petition is to have a complete ban on disposable barbecues. It’s been seen over the past weeks that these items can have devastating consequences when the land is as dry as it is currently. So it did make some sense. Also, I’m not a particular fan of the “Bar-B-Que”. I just don’t like the smell of burnt food mixed with charcoal and that hint of lighter fuel, and I often think we are just trying to keep up with our Antipodean friends.
I remember, back in the day when I was young (humming the music from the old Hovis advert) we never had a barbecue when we went to the country. No, we had a “picnic”! It’s funny, I remember stuff like this so well. Picnics were always the same. We kids had either meat paste or polony sandwiches. Always white bread and always cut into quarters. There were crisps, with the little blue bag of salt, ready salted crisps came later. And bottles (glass of course) of dandelion and burdock pop! Parents would have egg sandwiches. Sliced boiled egg, none of this fancy ‘egg mayonnaise stuff, with maybe a smear of salad cream. Or there would be tomato sandwiches, with sliced tomatoes and again a smear of salad cream. The adults drink would be tea! Poured from a vacuum flask (never heard it called a Thermos flask) into the cup that doubled as the lid. The tea would already have both milk and sugar, so it was too bad if you didn’t have a sweet tooth.
One of our favourite places to visit was the small market town of Otley. With Dad working on the buses, a trip to Otley was a reasonably priced day out. The day out was always the same. We would go into Leeds on the bus and then wait for the Otley bus to arrive. This was at the “Red Bus” station, where buses that were going out of Leeds would depart from. We would all have to visit the toilet (mandatory before any bus journey) whilst waiting to board the bus. Usually, it was a ‘double decker’ but quite often when the day wasn’t a busy one, we have a ‘single decker’. These were not as much fun.
Once we arrived at Otley, we would make our way to the local riverside park. There was a paddling pool here with some sheltered seats. This was the picnic area. We kids would spend a long time playing in the pool whatever the weather. That’s what kids did back in the early 1960s. After the picnic, we would have a walk along the riverside path for what seemed to us, miles, but was actually only about half a mile. We used to stop by the tennis courts to watch whoever was playing, but that was never very interesting.
Then it was back to the bus to get home just in time to watch Coronation Street on the telly.