Andrew Martin: You always remember the first time

The thing is...

Share
Related Topics

The thing is, according to research just published, children are taking their first foreign holidays aged, on average, three, whereas their parents first went abroad when they were 13. My teenage son is not going abroad this year, and is feeling aggrieved. "But you've been to France, Greece, Italy and Canada," I point out. "Too young to remember," he says flatly.

I first went abroad when I was 13: a package holiday to Lido di Jesolo with the British Rail Touring Club, and I do remember. My dad was experienced at "abroad", and I quizzed him about it for weeks beforehand. "What will we have for breakfast in Italy, Dad?" "Continental breakfast," he'd say. "Probably bread and jam." Bread and jam... on the face of it not wildly exciting, but this would be Italian jam. "You'll probably have fresh orange juice," he added, and that was wildly exciting. We never had fresh orange juice in York in the Seventies – I don't think it was actually available. "Remember," my dad would say, "it's a cocktail. You sip it."

We crossed the channel by Sealink ferry, and those were not the floating car parks of today but proper boats, by which I mean that everyone on them was violently seasick in the toilets. But I wasn't! So I was able to order a sandwich, or should I say, a baguette, because the ferry was slightly tainted with Frenchness. I prefaced my order by asking, "Do you take sterling?" and was disappointed that the steward just handed over the funny-looking bread and said, "35 pence, son".

The Gare de Lyon had palm trees in tubs on the platform, and every man seemed to be a secret service agent, and they would all insist on talking French. They seemed so much better at it than me that I began to feel a fraud for having been consistently near the top of the French set in my Secondary Modern. At midnight on the train, I opened the blind from my couchette bunk and saw a log cabin, a mountain and a man in a strange hat. "What's that?" I asked my dad. "Switzerland," he said. "Now go to sleep." Fat chance of that.

Lido Di Jesolo turned out to be a place I should have been living in all my life. Nobody laughed at my Bermuda shorts (which they had done when I'd road-tested them in Rowntree's Baths, York), and the breakfast jam did not disappoint. It was apricot, and I have never dared eat it since, just in case it is not the ambrosia of my recollection.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer

£22000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper

£23000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing boutique prac...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Executive

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Retail Buyer / Ecommerce Buyer

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Working closely with the market...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Daily catch-up: religion, politics and roads named after dictators

John Rentoul
 

Letter from the Education Editor: This shocking abuse of teachers should be taken seriously

Richard Garner
War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

War with Isis

Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

A spring in your step?

Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head

Hack Circus: Technology, art and learning

Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head. Rhodri Marsden meets mistress of ceremonies Leila Johnston
Sevenoaks is split over much-delayed decision on controversial grammar school annexe

Sevenoaks split over grammar school annexe

If Weald of Kent Grammar School is given the go-ahead for an annexe in leafy Sevenoaks, it will be the first selective state school to open in 50 years
10 best compact cameras

A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
Paul Scholes column: Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now

Paul Scholes column

Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now
Why Michael Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Why Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Manchester United's talented midfielder has played international football for almost 14 years yet, frustratingly, has won only 32 caps, says Sam Wallace
Tracey Neville: The netball coach who is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

Tracey Neville is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

The former player on how she is finding time to coach both Manchester Thunder in the Superleague and England in this year's World Cup
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?