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Where my journey had started
I start my story of Butlins at my former home in West Hendon, London. The estate is called Tyrellway and it's no longer here as it was removed for a regeneration project, which features news homes in its place. Living on the ground floor, I had always remembered the time when we received great news. My parents, Annette (my mum) and Paul (my dad) would shout to me and Robert (brother) "BOYS COME DOWNSTAIRS TO THE LIVING ROOM" We have always thought that we had done something wrong. Going down the stairs, my mum would be smiling as me and Robert sat down on the floor and looked at them. I was hoping that this was going to be some good news "so we have to tell you boys something and it will involve you doing a lot of chores" It was at this stage that I was thinking so very hard "please, please and please be Butlins" with a smile on my mothers face, she would say "you need to save up for pocket money as we have paid to go to Butlins"
The excitement that went through me is hard to explain but if I was to put it into words, I believe "YIPPEE!!" would be a good way to explain it. I would start the task of behaving and doing what is expected of me to get that important spending money for when I went to Butlins in Minehead, known as Somerwest World at this time. Every night, I would think about the camp I loved so very much and what new areas might be planned this year. As each day got closer and closer, so did my excitement about the holiday that my parents were taking us to. As it came to the last night before we went, I remember finding it so very hard to sleep and relax, knowing that the next day, I would be making our way to Butlins Minehead, my second home.
Its the day we travel....
Getting up in the morning, it was time for us to start the trip to my second home as we were dressed up in new clothes that our parents got us. Doing as I was told, we would close our door and make our way to Paddington Station. Traveling via the London Underground, via cab or via a friend who is giving us a lift, I remembering looking at all the people as we went by and thinking to my self "hahaha, I am off to Butlins and you are all stuck here, I am so very lucky". Getting closer and closer, we would eventually drive into the station when there used to be a drive-through at the time. Going onto the main area of the station, I would smell the train fumes and the sounds had got me excited knowing that it was only a matter of time.
As we waited, I would keep an eye on the board that had all the information about our train "which one dad?" "its the 09:59 one", well maybe not that time but he would tell us "keep an eye on it Mark and get ready to go when its time". I remember looking around and thinking "they are all going to the same place as me, I need to make sure I get my seat as I want to make sure that I get there first". As I looked up at the board, I waited patiently for the board to flip over and tell us the platform. I was so very impatience at this time as I would hear the device flap over to show you the number "that's it, let's go!" We raced down the platform to our coach, which if memories are good was coach D on most trips as that was the smoking car (my dad smokes). Sitting down, I was very excited about what was coming as I looked at the window and see the platform.
Still waiting for the train to move, I would continue to see more people come onto the train as I thought "more people coming to Butlins with me, so many want to join us" Then the magic happened as the loud noise of the engine had started and the train would move slowly. The platform was starting to disappear as my excitement grew much larger as I knew the journey to my second home was on happening, here and now.
As we sat down on the train, I would listen to the announcements "oh, only five stops until we get to Taunton" I would check the time and keep count of each station. My mum and dad had always packed a feast for us for our journey to Butlins. There were card games to play and we were allowed to go to the window if we wished at the doorway but we were not allowed to stick our heads out, it was very dangerous to do. I remember the wind hitting my face at an angle as I closed my eyes and enjoy the noise of the train and the feel of the fresh air from the countryside. Opening my eyes, I could see the fields as I knew I was truly in heaven, it's such a lovely feeling to have. Below is a video I made in 2014, showing you the feeling of the travel you see above.
The photo shown above was taken by me in 2014, however, the station has not changed a great deal since my last visit. As we stood on the platform, my mum and dad would check that all items were with us and that they had the documents needed for the next part of our journey. For me, I was looking around to see the sun shining, the train leaving, and a platform of a time of joy. As the train departed, we could see the other side of the station and I can remember looking over at the children there with their parents. I have to admit, that I would often think "HAHAHAHAHA I am going to Butlins and you're leaving" oh wow that made me laugh as I can remember that a great deal. The passengers opposite might not even be coming from Butlins Somerwest World but to me they were and I could not help but think that I was the most important one there.
We would start to move down the platform towards the exit and just outside was a special bus service that was available to us. This was a direct bus from Taunton to Butlins with no stops and was a double-decker green bus. Oh wow, I type this with a smile on my face, the bus was already paid for as it was part of the travel plans as my Dad would show the documents. All our luggage was taken to the back of the bus where there were members of staff here taking it from the emergency door. They would place it on the seats at the back on the ground floor and kept a close eye on how many customers they were allowed on. Going up the stairs on the bus, we would sit down and it was very hot as the windows were very small but I did not care, I was in heaven. Looking around I would often think "please move, I don't want anyone else to get on", I have to admit that I wanted to be there now and the excitement was too much. to hande.
Then the moment had started, the engine would start as my mind could not take much more "Ohh....its happening, we are going". The doors were closed and then we moved, it was at this moment that my mind completely forgot about West Hendon and London. I would often look around to see key moments that would tell me that Butlins was not far away from us. As we got closer and closer, I remember seeing people from the public putting their hands out at bus stops to get on but the driver would drive past and most times, the guest within would cheer but not all the time. Then the moment had arrived, Dunster Castle "ohh, we are nearly there" as the excitement just grew stronger. I have two memories from this point that I would like to share with you.
The long and original route
The bus used to travel where the 28 bus does today and I remember this greatly as the bus would travel along. It was when we reached the top of Minehead town that my excitement was so very high as I looked around to see what has changed. As the bus got further down, I would see the beach "oh wow" and then K's arcade, the Strand cafe, and then Merlins. The moment has arrived, the long time that I had waited for had finally arrived.
It was at a time when a new change arrived at Butlins and they created a new route to Butlins and Minehead town by cutting across the fields to the road you see today. I remember being fascinated by this change.
The Bus would continue until everyone had seen the entrance to the magical place of Butlins, the picture that was always on my mind at home and on the journey.
This postcard that I own is published by Goldenshield and shows you one of the key moments that I have on my mind with every visit that I make to Butlins. I know it's changed but this is all I can see at all times. The bus has one last task as the driver takes us into the main reception area and I could not wait until I got off. As I went down the stairs, the excitement and happiness were very hard to not be shown as I smiled so very much. Getting off and touching the ground, I could hear the excitement from the Sunsplash swimming pool and the smell of the sea air hits me. The only way to explain this moment is that I had zoned out and that I was truly at home. The joy is very hard to explain but I can tell you that I was not the same person who was in London, here...in Butlins, I am who I want to be.
Going into the main reception, my mum and dad would drop off the luggage as I could smell the building of Butlins and this was only the first couple of minutes of being here. Every moment was so very important to me as we went on our tour of Butlins Somerwest World. The only way to describe this very moment is...
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