Young and Carefree

John relives a memory of going to Bridlington with his friend after working a shift at Hickleton Main. He writes of pitching up their tent and hiring a cheap rowing boat.

1947.

After a Friday noon shift at Hickleton Main,
We cycled to Bridlington Bay once again,
With tent and warm bedrolls we left at midnight,
When roads were illumined by vivid moonlight.
We arrived on the cliffs at about half past three,
And drew from our thermos a grand cup of tea,
Pitching the tent was our next gladsome task,
To sleep in a ‘palace’, what more could man ask?
I could say sweet dreams, but no such descants,
We’d set our tent squarely on a nest of red ants!
To move further along was the best thing to do,
But the sun was then up and sky brightest blue,
And that being so we were well beyond sleep,
So we strolled into Brid for an early morn peep.
We enjoyed ham and eggs in our favourite café,
Then ambled onto the harbour in leisurely way,
Where a chap was hiring his ‘cheap’ rowing boats,
We gladly jumped in one and threw of our coats,
“Turn right,” hailed the man, “as you enter the bay,”
But we knew much better and took the left way,
With the wind and the tide, “it’s so easy,” we said,
Little dreaming right then of the problems ahead!
Oh, what a struggle when our path we’d retrace,
Against a strong ebbing tide and wind in our face,
Our coordinates we took from a house on the hill,
We weren’t moving at all but just standing still!
A tense situation and with all thoughts on haste,
We divested our clobber and stripped to the waist.
The boatman had charged two and six for the length, 12&1/2p
We must get back in time, but had we the strength?
Yet with backbreaking effort we mastered the sea,
And hugely relieved arrived back at the quay.
The owner, unhappy, we can still hear him bawl;
“After all my advice you went wrong after all!”
Then a man on the cliffs gave us quite a surprise,
As he laughingly told us with tears in his eyes;
Of how he had seen through his grand telescope,
The two of us straining with every oar stroke;
“You looked,” he said, “like a pair of Greek Gods,
As you battled the current and defied all the odds.”
And then further on to our great consternation,
Our tent had vanished from its ‘firm’ situation!
“Wonders,” we echoed, “they just never cease,”
It was down on the sands yet still in one piece!
Blown there by the wind yet no damage at all,
We retrieved it and nursed it, how well we recall.
Like so many others ‘twas a wonderful spree,
When we were young and completely carefree.

— John Davison