I must have been about six or seven when I went on my first holiday. It was March and we waved goodbye to my Dad as the train pulled out of Tilbury station on its way to London. I remember feeling that I had abandoned him as he disappeared into the distance. He had stayed at home to save money.
When we reached London we caught a taxi - the first time I'd ever been in one - from Paddington to King's Cross station and boarded the train to Edinburgh. My mum was terrified in case we wouldn't get a seat. The train was busy all right but I was lucky and someone let me have a seat by a window. The journey was supposed to take around ten hours but when we reached Scotland the train got caught in a snowstorm and we sat for hours waiting to be rescued. The heating went off in the carriage and it was freezing cold.
When we eventually reached Edinburgh we dragged our suitcases across Princess Street to the bus station and caught a bus to Haddington. From there we took another taxi to the tiny village of Humbie in East Lothian where Auntie Mary and Uncle George lived. I had never been in the countryside before. Uncle George kept chickens and every morning I helped to feed them and collect their eggs which I loved doing. Auntie Mary cooked porridge for breakfast made with salt and served with cream off the top of the milk. I had never tasted porridge before -my mother rarely cooked. Then Auntie Mary would give us boiled eggs with toast and butter. We stayed for a fortnight and almost every day my mum had a row with Auntie Mary. Although they were sisters they didn't get on. Auntie Mary said my mum had airs above her station and was lazy. Auntie Mary worked in service as a cook for a gentleman who lived in a big house in a nearby village. She caught a bus there and back every day.
When we got home again my mum's nerves were shattered with all the travelling. She started fighting with my dad as soon as he returned from work that night. It seemed to me that somehow she blamed him because the holiday hadn't been as good as she had dreamed it would be. She always blamed him for everything. I tried to calm her down but nothing I said made any difference. She never listened to reason. I'd been hoping things would be better after the holdiday but nothing changed. She was just the same as she always was.
I was glad to get back to school when the holidays were over. I wrote an essay about my holiday and the teacher said it was really good. Especially the bit about the chickens. No-one else in my class had ever been as far away as Scotland and I was proud at how daring me and my mum had been travelling all that way on our own.