Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside: Tenby

Did you use to visit the seaside when you were younger? Here, Gill James from Bury remembers adventuring in Tenby, Wales.

1967. O-level year. It had been a hard slog and we deserved a break.

“We should go on holiday,” said Sheila.

“Where could we go?” I asked.

“Tenby’s nice,” said Sue.

Of course, our parents would have none of it. We were only fifteen. We’d taken O-levels a year early. In fact, Sue was even younger; she’d come to the Grammar School a year early as well. No way would three young girls be allowed to go on holiday on their own.

“I’ll go with them,” said Sheila’s mum.

“We should go to the boarding house our lot went to last year,” Sue suggested.

I’d heard a lot about seaside landladies not being particularly friendly. Our family preferred self-catering holiday. I’d not felt that comfortable when I went to a boarding house with my grandmother; too many rules and regulations and you were worried all the time that you might break something.

Sue’s mum wrote to the landlady they’d used the year before and soon everything was booked: a coach there and back, and seven nights bed, breakfast and evening meal in a boarding-house just a few metres away from the sea.

I needn’t have worried about the landlady. She was a young woman who had to small twin boys to look after. She was friendly and warm and gave us lots of tips about what there was to do and see in the region.

Sheila, Sue and I shared a room. Sheila’s mum had a room to herself. We had one double bed and on single bed in our room. We took it in turns sleeping in the single bed which was not all that comfortable.

The boarding house was actually very pleasant and the food was nice – plain but well–cooked and there was plenty of it. Nevertheless we were always hungry. We ate lunch every day in a café situated just above the North Beach.

They had the most delicious fruit pies. Back in our room after dinner, we’d eat chocolate biscuits even though we’d just had a three course meal. Was it the sea air that did it?

Maybe it was also the sea air that made us sleepy. We were in bed by nine o’clock every evening.

I don’t think the sun actually came out at all during that week. But even the sea was pleasantly warm and we were able to swim every day. It only rained one day, our last day there, and as we were in our swim wear when it started, we just legged it back through the streets as we were.

We didn’t bother getting dressed. We attracted a few comments. That was our last afternoon there anyway. And despite everything we went home with respectable tans. I remember as well though that the sun did come out on the day we left. Still, at least that made the scenery even prettier on the way home.

Tenby was a delightful place then and remains so today. I’ve been a few times more recently. The North Beach is great for bathing and for sandcastles. The sand is glorious there. The South Beach is also very pleasant. The harbour is pretty and you can buy fresh fish there. A visit to Caldey Island is imperative.

The trip over by boat is quite exhilarating. The island is the home of some Cistercian monks and their products are for sale on the island. You can also make prayer requests via their website.

Tenby has an interesting shopping centre. Back in 1967 there were a lot of what we would call new Age shops today. These were a delight for us; we thought we were Hippies.

Back then, Guest Houses were still called Boarding Houses, and Hostesses were Landladies. But a change was coming about. We were treated so very well. We were definitely Guests in the eyes of our Landlady. Sheila’s mum was a real sweetie; she tagged along with everything we wanted to do and only occasionally told us to be careful when we went in the sea.

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