Here's a photo of my dad, me and my brother Alan by the pool at the Sandycroft Leave Centre. Like many people in the forces at the time, we took our holidays there every year. I would think that this photo was taken in about 1966. Seems such a long time ago now!
We would have a great time there. There was an arcade I remember just in the background and also a cinema where I remember me and Alan going to see, 'Born Free'. I'm still reminded of Sandycroft everytime I hear that song.
I remember us all sitting to the right of this picture having our breakfast. There was a small cafe nearby. Suddenly, everyone came running out of the water and it was like a scene from 'Jaws'. Someone had thought that they'd seen a shark and shouted out to everyone in the water and it started a panic. As we watched, the 'sharks' started jumping out of the water and it turned out it was just a school of dolphins. Everyone had a good laugh once they realised what was happening but had been pretty scared previously.
Some days, we would tour around Penang. One day we went to the Snake Temple where I had snakes put around my neck, much to my parents' displeasure! We also went to the Penang Hill Railway - great views from the top - and we also visited the Botanical Gardens. I loved it there because of all the wild monkeys. We made sure that we had plenty of bananas for them before we went in! I was scared of them but, I suppose at the time, I wasn't much bigger than them.
On some days, all the Naval people would hire a boat and we would go on a banyan to a beach or island somewhere close. Dad always seemed to have a barbeque on the go and there was always plenty of Tiger Beer to hand. A huge parachute would be set up on the beach and we would all shelter from the sun under it, in between swimming and playing in the sand. I remember one beach that we landed on and there were thousands of starfish everywhere.
The first year, my dad drove up to Penang in a hire car. It must have been one of Toyota's first cars and certainly their smallest. Dad had his legs up around his chest! It certainly seemed to take a long time getting there and was quite a journey, broken up by wild tigers and working elephants. We needed a holiday by the time we got there! The following two years, we flew up by plane instead.
I also remember visiting Ayer Itam Temple and seeing the turtles there that were hundreds of years old.
Unfortunately, Sandycroft is now long gone. Dalat School stands in its place, though parts of the old leave centre can still be recognised. I think that some of the huts might still be there. A few years ago, the beach at Tanjong Bungah was hit by a Tsunami but the area has now been rebuilt.
Looking on the internet, it's all certainly changed over the years and seems to be surrounded by high buildings, mainly hotels. I bet we all wish that we had a time machine and could travel back to those happy, relaxed, blissful days!