There is something unmistakable about holidaying in Britain, and this time of year brings up memories of childhood trips with surprising fervour. I believe it may be partially due to the weather, which seems to change its mood hourly; the smell of rain mingled with cut grass and sunshine, wet sandal-footed feet and BBQ’s that end with in a crowded kitchen, or sheltering under a porch. This June I’ve found myself looking at holidays in Devon with a kind of longing, whilst mulling over old photographs and doodling vintage-style caravans decked with bunting and flowers. The caravans and trailers owned by parents and their friends were always decorated and altered with personal touches, in honour of their travelling days.
Having a dog throughout most of my childhood meant we felt compelled to take relatively local trips which allowed our furry friend to join us, and so I have a great nostalgia for British holidays. I can safely say that those planned for July and August share the same possibility of being dictated by the weather as those booked for June. Alongside that, however, they equally have the potential for some amazing memories. On the occasions where the sun shone and the heat was almost unbearable, we would hike to high places so that the deep blue of the sky stretched for miles around, or make dens in the fields surrounding the campsite or play hide and seek in apple orchards and have picnics on chequered blankets. The rain tested our innovation and our ability to conjure up new ways to make fun; board games were always a firm favourite, building forts from the chair cushions, or making up stories, like that one time we were oceanographers and our caravan was a submarine lost in the Atlantic. In later years we got Gameboys, and would trade Pokémon and narrate our adventures; when the rain cleared again, we would explore the long grass.
I am certain things were not always so rosy as I remember – a bunch of children in a confined space is never wholly pleasant – but the boredom and childish squabbles are easily forgotten and only the wonderful bitter-sweet moments remain in my memory. Such is the nature of nostalgia.
A few years ago a small group of friends and I stayed in a caravan in Devon for a week in June, and a half-hearted attempt to celebrate our collective childhood British holidays. That June bought thunderstorms and torrential rain instead of the usual intermittent drizzle and showers. We spent half the week in a caravan with water pouring down the windows, busying ourselves with games of scrabble and Artist Charades, (in which the players use famous artworks – installations, paintings, sculptures, sound and video, – instead of the usual books, films and TV shows,) and when the clouds cleared we donned wellingtons and took walks across country fields, discovered secret beaches, explored rock pools and ate cheese sandwiches under the shelter of oak trees.
Although I have no time for a holiday this year, I have been looking for some kind of caravan escape for next summer, or even scraping together some impromptu weekend camping before then. Last night I discovered a website for an enchanting campsite in Cornwall, which offers some truly beautiful converted vintage vehicles as accommodation, which I feel is definitely worth perusing by anyone considering a holiday soon. In the mean time, I wanted to make a bag that would encompass these happy memories, which I could take on my outdoor wanderings to carry my spare leggings and jumpers for when the weather turns! I found it difficult to decide whether I wanted a blue or mustard colour on the illustration, and settled with making both so I could mix-and-match depending on my outfit. Even when it is raining I am now able to have cheerful little reminder of summer with me.