Sunday, 22 August 2010

Born Free

Whenever I hear Matt Monro singing 'Born Free', I'm taken right back to 1966 and our holiday at the Sandycroft Leave Centre. The Leave Centre had its own cinema and I remember Alan taking me there on one sunny day to see the film. The place was full of kids, all excited and jumping about. I was only about 5 at the time. Before the main film there were several cartoons including Road Runner and Bugs Bunny. I think that someone served ice lollies and drinks before the cinema quietened down and the main film came on. Nowadays, I can't imagine that I'd spent a warm sunny day inside watching a film when there was so much to see and do outside. I remember enjoying the film and can't really remember much about what happened but Alan said that I was upset and cried when the lion died at the end! Mum and dad met us when we came out at about 3pm and I think we went to the nearby cafe. I think they spent the couple of hours, while we were watching the film, meeting up with friends at the centre. At only 5 years old, I still believed that I could come across tigers and lions while we were exploring the nearby estates at Jalan Wijaya. There probably were tigers in the jungle a bit further on but watching programmes like Daktari made me think that they were just around the corner! We saw many other films at the cinema in Sandycroft but Born Free is the one that really stays in my mind.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

More photos from the Sandycroft Leave Centre, 1965

Here's a few more photos from our stay at the Sandycroft Leave Centre in Penang in 1965. 

The first one shows my mum and Alan sitting on the railings opposite the cafe and the arcade that Alan and me spent so much time playing in. Below can be seen the beach which features in our cine films from that time. I can still remember everyone running out of the sea nearby after a school of dolphins was spotted. I've mentioned before that everyone thought that they were sharks!

The second photo shows the Butterworth car ferry that took travellers from the mainland over to the island of Penang. I'm sure that many people will remember the bright yellow ferry which was in use for many years after we returned home to England. I was fascinated by it at the time, none of us had ever been on a car ferry before and it was very exciting for a kid.

The third photo shows Alan, mum and me paddling in the children's pool again at Sandycroft. I think the building in the background housed the arcade with its many slot machines and shoot-em-up games. I think there were some chalets on this level but we were on the next level up. I wonder if this photo was taken early in the morning because the pool is empty and would be full up with kids later in the day playing with their inflatable toys and lilos.
The final photo comes from a day trip we took on the island and shows me and my mum. I'm not sure that the tanks were real and were probably just scaled down models for kids. I remember that there was also a small helicopter there to play in. Anyone watching our cine films will see a horse peering its head through the window at us. It scared the life out of me at the time but we were soon sat on its back pretending to ride it! Penang's changed so much over the years and the Sandycroft Leave Centre has now unfortunately long gone.

Friday, 6 August 2010

School Milk

All kids were given milk at school at one time. Some hated it but I loved it. When we got back to England in 1968, we were just given white milk and quite often, there seemed to be something floating in it! Anyone who was in Singapore and Malaya will remember that we were not only given white milk but also chocolate and strawberry. Kids were amazed by this when we told them back in England. I always had chocolate milk or, if they ran out, strawberry. I didn't understand the kids who always drank the white milk but there was always plenty of it. I think that the teacher would always take the order for milk beforehand to see how many wanted chocolate, how many wanted strawberry and how many just wanted plain milk. Flavoured milks are commonplace today but back in the 1960s, to me anyway, it seemed very unusual. I don't remember that it could be bought in the shops anywhere at the time although you could always order fizzy, flavoured milkshakes in the local cafes. Of course, the days of school milk are now long gone. I'm not sure if the kids of today are affected by this or not. I don't remember much about my school days, just a few memories of being in the classroom, catching the school bus and taking part in assemblies and watching the Nativity plays. Though, I think like all kids then, I'll always remember that they once gave us chocolate and strawberry milk when we went to school.