A Summer Holiday Fantasy

16 Jan A Summer Holiday Fantasy

First published in the NZ Woman’s Weekly – cover date 16.1.23


A Pacific island resort, a ski trip to Aspen, a tootle around the East Cape… These are all options for a summer holiday, but are you thinking big enough? Because a friend has been fantasising about taking her annual break in – wait for it – the 1970s.

I see her point. Simpler times – or that’s how we remember this orange-and-brown corduroy of a decade. Those of us who were there can picture it and, for those of you who weren’t, let me paint you one.

You would drive into your 1970s holiday in a Morris 1100, the car we all had then unless we had a Morris 1300. White, usually, with red upholstery, manual gear stick and wind-up windows. There’s a handy tow bar so you can borrow the neighbour’s trailer for that essential holiday activity, a family trip to the dump.

This is where you fill the trailer with bits and nonsense from the garage, the shed, and from “underneath the house”, a space we used to have in houses built on sloping quarter acre sections where you would put broken and unwanted things for a kind of “cooling off” period.

Occasionally, something might make it back into the house for a bit – a coffee table might get a second chance as a DIY project, and your older brother might be over David Bowie but that poster would look great on your wall. After some unspecified period, though, it is agreed things are ready to move on to landfill.

You queue up at the tip with all the other Morris 1100s pulling borrowed trailers on unsealed roads navigated by dads who fancy themselves as terrifically good at this sort of thing. They deliberately place themselves in situations where they can demonstrate their trailer-reversing skills – you don’t need to back up to the edge of the abyss, but they all do.

It is January so it is stinking hot, and also stinking because it’s a tip, and in these cars without air conditioning (it’s the 70s) there’s a pointless back-and-forth about whether you should wind the windows down (to let in cool air) or up (to keep out the smell). In the end you just give in to the stink and to the shriek of seagulls tearing around, looking for something delicious amongst the old mattresses and broken chairs, and finding it often enough to keep them this far inland.

On the way home there would definitely be an ice cream or – because it is a holiday after all – a stop at the local pick-your-own strawberry farm where you’re allowed to eat as many strawberries as you like and just pay for what you’ve got in your punnet, though there will be obligatory jokes about weighing the kids on the way in and the way out and charging mum and dad the difference, ha ha!

Some of this 1970s realism may be tricky to recreate where you live, but I bet you can manage a family trip to the local playground with – for authenticity – socks and sandals for dad, and a towelling bucket-hat. And for mum? A bit of a night off for the missus with fish’n’chips out of newspaper (those seagulls will be back if you’re doing it right) and then home for board games and the inevitable family fight.

What joy! The only tweak you’d want to make to a purist’s vision of the 1970s would be slapping on some actual sunscreen rather than SPF-free coconut oil. Otherwise, you’re ready to groove.