I had a good mix of holidays as a kid, mostly around England and Wales, but one in the south of France when I was 9, and then one in Benidorm when I was 11.
The ones on home soil were all pretty varied. Pontins at Blackpool when I was four with my Grandparents, where they bought a bag full of sticks of rock, and when we returned to the chalet that night, the drawer that they'd put the rock in was crawling with ants.
That's my sister looking proud of herself with the ball, and my Gran looking like Ronnie Corbett in the doorway.
We also stayed in Blackpool in 1983, but in a hotel this time, The Phildene. It had a fancy (in 1970s terms) bar in the basement with lots of dark varnished wood and a tabletop Space Invaders machine that I pestered my parents for 10p to play on, and lasted all of about 20 seconds. The hotel was notable as it was directly opposite the Seaview, which was the basis for a childrens TV show that started just as we returned.
It's easy to pin this as as 1983, as this is when I bought my Princess Leia (in Boushh disguise) and C3PO (with removable limbs) figures. This was also the holiday where I got stung by a wasp at Blackpool Zoo and had to go down in the accident book as an "animal related injury".
The Doctor Who exhibition was still next to (and underneath) Woolworths, which was awesome. I got a Tardis pencil case and a pen with a clip on the top, which I still have somewhere. I was eyeing up the postcard of Nyssa from the Terminus episode, but as my Mum had the money, that wasn't happening.
I remember there being quite a few foggy mornings where the top of the tower wasn't visible, and one day where the fog was so low that you couldn't even see the bottom of the legs, as if it had disappeared.
I still love Blackpool. It's not what it was, but it's got piers and shelters for you to eat chips in while it's pouring down, like a proper seaside town should. I've got two weeks residential in Bolton coming up, so will no doubt use that as an excuse to pop over one evening.
Two years in a row we went to Hunstanton, once in the trailer tent, and then once in the caravan. The first year was notable in that David Prowse made an appearance at a toy shop in his Darth Vader outfit, and I got to visit a modern swimming pool for the first time, with a waterslide and jacuzzies, instead of the Victorian ones back home.
The second year it rained constantly, waterlogging the field that the caravan was in. This was the first year we had the caravan though, so it felt better being out of the rain than in a tent where you can see the roof starting to dip. On one of the few days that we had sunshine, we figured it would be a good time to try the outdoor pool (another first for me). I was a decent swimmer, so ran and jumped in without thinking to test it with my toe. For whatever reason I assumed it would be the same temperature as an indoor pool.
Not by a long shot.
It was so cold that the shock knocked the breath out of me and I had to be rescued by some random woman.
We did some Butlins and Pontins in the days before they were redeveloped, which at the time still seemed amazing places to me. Bognor, Minehead, Pwllheli and Seacroft for my 9th birthday.
This is me and my sister at Pwllheli, which thanks to my Dad's preference for black and white film in his camera, looks like it was taken in the 1940s.
The fact that the sites still had the old style dining halls, chalets and clubhouses meant that I used to think Hi-De-Hi was set in the present day.
The pools were the real kings of Butlins. Bognor had the big indoor one with the glass panels in the side so people in the cafe/bar underneath could look at your legs, and if you were a cool kid like me and had goggles, you could dive down and look through the windows at them.
Minehead's outdoor pool was nothing short of amazing. Slides, water cannons, fountains, big bucket dropper things, crowned with the monorail going over the top of it.
And in another incident that contradicts my claims to being a decent swimmer, the first day in this pool I went down one of the waterslides with way too much enthusiasm, legs up in the air and came off the end almost upside down and got a lung full. As I clung to the edge of the slide spluttering, my Dad had to wade into the pool to rescue me, still wearing his leather sandals (which caused the dye to stain his feet black).
I remember one year staying at Great Yarmouth with my Scottish cousins in scorching weather, which would have been great had we not spent the entire week picking greenfly out of our hair and our ice creams. This was the year I learned about friction burns, as we went into Wally's Windmill Playhouse and with it being so hot I took my vest off and went down a plastic tube slide.
France was a milestone as it was my first time abroad, the first time (probably the only time) I saw my Mum drunk as the constant refills meant she underestimated how much sangria she'd drank, and the spectacle of topless sunbathing. I remember one day we were at the kids club on the camp site and a bunch of us were up on the fence, discretely appreciating the natural beauty of a particular young lady on the beach next to it, when one of the bigger (bully) kids thought it would be a good idea to throw a handful of sand onto her.
The France trip was particularly great because for something to read on the way, my parents chose Zoids collected comics vol.1 which was all kinds of awesome. I also saw Brewster's Millions, which I didn't really get.
Benidorm was better though. We were in a hotel on the 16th floor (well, the 15th as there was no 13th floor), which was a good ten more floors than anything I'd been in before. It had a balcony with a view out to sea (where we could see Peacock Island silhouetted by the lightning), lots of marble and glass crystal everywhere, it's own little arcade area (with Super Sprint, Gryzor and another one that I forget) and a pool with a little island in the middle with a couple of palm trees on.
We were close to the main beach, but there was another one further up in a bit of a cove that we liked going to. It wasn't a great deal quieter, but it had a load of big rocks at the back that I could scramble around in, and some had quartz crystals growing on the underside.
We did the Pirate Adventure night, we played crazy golf (where one hole was deemed so difficult that it was agreed that if you did the first part on your first shot, you could deduct 1 point from your score. All Hell broke loose when I got a hole in one, and demanded that the deduction still apply, making it a "hole in none"), and I played Operation Wolf at the cafe next door.
There was also a market stall selling T-shirts where I was mesmerised by one with the artwork from Iron Maiden's Seventh Son of a Seventh Son album on it. So much so that hadn't even noticed the T-shirt next to it had a picture of some glamour model with her norks out. Of course, my Mum seeing me gawping at this rack of T-shirts assumed I'd fallen under the spell of said temptress and forcibly moved me away, not even slightly convinced by my claims that I was looking at Eddie, disembowelled in his icy wasteland.
I look at this photo of us, and I think "everyone looks so young". Except for my Grandad, who looks really old, but that's because he always looked old, even in his thirties.
Check my Dad trying to look a bit cool and casual, and me looking like a prototype Sheldon Cooper.