A few days ago I had a visitor from New Jersey. It was great to see my cousin Irene who I hadn't seen for several years. It's true that these days we can keep in touch via email or on facebook but it isn't the same as actually seeing someone in the flesh and chatting and giving each other a hug. Interesting, her middle sister lives miles away on the west coast of America in California, New Jersey is on the east coast. Two scousers who have chosen to live near the sea when they emigrated. It's in the blood. My mother was fond of saying that Liverpudlians have salt water in their veins. Their eldest sister lives in Liverpool. My eldest brother, Ron, when he went south, ending up living in Westcliff -on- Sea, on the outskirts of Southend in Essex. my other brother, Don, went to sea, following in the footsteps of our maternal grandfather.
When we were kids we used to go camping to Towyn, nr Rhyl, N. Wales. Our mothers being sisters meant we were all very close and those camping holidays remain strong in our memories and we remind each other of those happy days whenever we meet up.
This time my cousin said to me, 'You were always singing when we were on holiday.'
I thought 'Always!' I know I love music and have been in various choirs in my time and never miss 'Songs of Praise' and singing along if I can but I'd soon be sat on if I never shut up by my menfolk. Then my cousin reminded me of the times when we had a choice of catching the bus from Rhyl to the campsite or walking and having a bag of chips. More often than not we chose to have the chips. On the walk I would start singing 'Take me back to the Black Hills, the beautiful hills of Wales,' to the tune of the Doris Day hit, 'Take me back to the Black Hills of Dakota,' from 'Calamity Jane'.
She had been reminded of that the other year when my cousin who lived in California and her husband decided to go on a road trip and asked her along. When looking at a map they spotted Dakota and immediately my cousin recalled those days in Wales and us singing and eating chips as we walked home to the campsite from which we could clearly see the hills of Wales dark against the sky, so straightaway, Dakota was one of the places they had to visit.
It was my brother, Don, who reminded us of visits to the outdoor swimming pool of Rhos-on-Sea, nr Abergele, and how we dared each other into climbing higher and higher until we stood on the uttermost highest diving board. I do still remember jumping from it but no way would I have dared to dive. Another place we liked to go during the evening was to the penny slots arcade near the beach at Towyn. We never had much money to become addicted to gambling and some of our money went into the juke box. One of the hits of the time was 'A White Sports coat and a Pink carnation'. He and my elder cousin Maureen recalled outings to the Pivvie after Christmases to see a pantomime when part of the entertainment was a sing-a-long to words on a sheet dropped in front of the stage.
At times as we remembered those days so long ago for a while we forgot our health problems, the hip replacement, the new knee, high blood pressure and stroke and were
back together as children and the Atlantic ocean that separates us can never take that away.