In 1970 we went on holiday twice, the first trip in March was to Paris for ten days or so. Of course we visited all the usual tourists’ sights… but on foot. I was 12 years old and not used to the amount of walking that was expected of me and it wasn’t long before I was nicknamed ‘The Paris Limp!’. We had a small hotel just off from the Place de la Concorde and over the road was a little restaurant that we visited on a number of occasions. The wine came in a little brown ‘pitcher’ (jug) which was my first real experience of ‘getting tipsy’. Returning to England by hovercraft, we then embarked on a road trip around England, as the roads in those days were not crowded so driving was quite pleasurable. Armed with a guide to farmhouses that offered Bed and Breakfast we decided where to go next on a daily basis, which was spontaneous and much fun.
Later in August of that year we again returned to the UK by air, but this time we did a ‘stop over’ tour. Leaving Nairobi, we spent a night in Addis Ababa, a night in Cairo, two nights in Cyprus and two in Istanbul. The first two ‘stop overs’ were courtesy of the airline. At that time, if the airline couldn’t book a direct flight for you, they would accommodate you overnight in a hotel. With a bit of forethought, my father organised flights using different airlines that meant at least the first two ‘stop overs’ were paid for by the airline. Two memories stand out in my mind. The first was that in Nicosia, the glamorous and well endowed film star, Rachel Welch was staying at on our hotel, a delight for a 12 year old! The second was at a restaurant in Istanbul where the first night we were the only patrons, so the belly dancer cancelled her show. This was a great blow to a young boy like me. However things looked up the following night when the restaurant quartet attempted the 1812 overture. The overture is best known for its climactic volley of cannon fire, ringing chimes, and the brass fanfare finale but bless them, the quartet did what they could!
Our last family holiday together was in 1975 when we did a river cruise down the Rhine. Again family legend has it that we spent most of the time dozing in the recliners on deck, lazily drifting past one Schloss (German castle) after another. My father always had an off beat sense of humour, and would make up rumours about the various other passengers. He pointed out one Japanese gentleman who always seemed to be taking photos of what looked like industrial units on the river bank. My father decided that he was a spy and was taking pictures of cement factories. The unfortunate gentleman didn’t speak much English and near the end of the trip happened to ask my father a question in broken English, to which Dad replied that he didn’t know the answer but told him ‘we have got a cement factory in our toilet!