Pictures of ladies in old hats and coats
with floral-print scarves tied under their throats
laughing and smiling whilst seeming at ease
seeking out shelter from the cold summer breeze.
The old ladies sit as the young need no seat
away for the day to a coastal retreat
catching up with the gossip that goes all around
heard on street corners in each seaside town.
Most arrive early some before nine
cramped carriages creak along old railway line
where clickety-clack meets rickety wheel
for mum it’s a chore but for the kids a big deal.
A kind of adventure where treasure’s the goal
but you can’t tell your mum or one living soul
you know they’ll betray you so it’s best not to say
because all those fine jewels must be hidden away.
So it’s into the station and the children now rise
complaining of hunger, sleep still in their eyes
then out to the street just two minutes there
taking great mouthfuls of refreshing sea air.
Shepherding children whilst trying to wake up
drinking tea in a cafe from a small pyrex cup
outside the weather is clearing up fast
as the town tries in vain to recapture it’s past.
High upon street lights some bunting still blows,
faded posters on walls advertise long-dead shows,
street sweepers are busy with no time to lose
picking up stone-cold chips wrapped in yesterdays news.
Headlines that speak of death or of scandals
are dumped into bins beside bottles and sandals
meanwhile the baker, up the road from the Station
is dressing his shop front with a fancy creation.
A large wedding cake is the windows new star
and all for the price of a family car
collecting belongings they head for the door
counting the money that they wish was now more.
Crossing the road that leads down to the sand
buckets and spades now firmly in hand
children now racing ahead of their mums
greet other small kids their soon-to-be chums.
Trousers and skirts are removed in a flash
to the edge of the sea with a 100 yard dash
squidging through seaweed and stepping on stones
so far so good there are no broken bones.
Mums roll out towels and take off their shoes
close their eyes from the sun and try not to snooze
small yachts glide on past but well out to sea
as mums on the beaches are pouring their tea.
Shouting out to the kids to come get their sarnies
repairing the cuts and the bruises from barnies
the sun now so high that the day seems to quicken
wolfing down spam and pieces of chicken.
Cake will be eaten, chocolate then pop
for kids like to eat but don’t know when to stop
then it’s back to the largest sandcastle there’s been
where chivalrous knights are saving their queen.
Battles commence and continue all day
where a moat and some turrets keep marauders at bay
rockpools are searched for crabs that don’t bite
toes tucked away safely just in case they might.
Drawings are made with a stick and some stones
shells are collected plus assorted fish bones
the water now colder is lapping to shore
covering all that there ever was to explore.
Above and unseen by the children at play
lies the first sign that marks the near-end of their day
winds are now changing and clouds roll on by
as the dark shadows show on the sand from on high.
Small numbers depart but most shall remain
until battered by wind and soaked through with rain
children run over and start to get dressed
some mums are ignored and plenty get stressed.
A quick tour of the shops and a small toy to remind
of a day at the seaside when the weather was kind
the it’s off to the station to catch the train home
the adventure now over and there’s no need to roam.
So many years later and we look at these snaps
of the old-fashioned folk in their faded old caps
yet we feel deep inside that something remains
of ourselves as small children on the day away trains.