A series of anecdotes with or without any connection to the running of a restaurant.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Cry Freedom...
















At seventeen, I became what the French call "Un moniteur de colonies de vacances" something like a summer camp supervisor.
Most companies usually sent their employees young children free of charge to summer camp for three weeks at a time.
I, among other students of my age went on a two-week "moniteur" course, passed the exam and was awarded a diploma allowing me to supervise children in these camps.

My first camp was in a beautiful seaside town, El Kala in North East Algeria.
We were housed in a school. The classrooms had been turned into dormitories each housing seven or eight children and their Moniteur. The sponsor being a nationalised mining company could only offer a no-frill package for its employees children. Just the bare minimum. The food was just passable but none of us minded. We were happy to go to the beach at least once a day, long walks in late afternoon and play games and sing around camp fires in the evening.

Those were some of the best, carefree holidays I have ever had.

I played moniteurs three summers on the trot. Not a worry in the world and I was getting paid to have a good time!

Why Ché?
At the time, Algeria's socialist authorities did not allow foreign goods into the country and though a healthy contreband thrived, designer clothes still cost an arm and a leg.
That summer while at camp, I made my own designer t-shirt by drawing him with black felt tip pen.

Have you ever had a budget holiday that turned out to be memorable?

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27 Comments:

Blogger la bellina mammina said...

That must be really memorable for you. Am sending my eldest to his first summer camp (3 weeks)in Malaysia - he's excited, I'm starting to worry - and miss him already, even though he's going only in June!

4/5/07 2:12 AM  
Blogger lettuce said...

we used to do (go on and later help to lead) long distance walks for young people in Yorkshire and Lake district - sleeping on village hall floors and eating a lot and getting soaking wet and blisters. They were fabulous holidays.


I loved the Pollock.

4/5/07 8:16 AM  
Blogger Cream said...

Wow, Bella! Summer camp in Malaysia! It sounds absolutely amazing! What an experience for your son!

Ah, Lettie! The Lakes! Fantastic! It must have been when you lived in Durham.
I love the Lakes. Especially Buttermere and Ullswater. Those are holidays to remember.

4/5/07 9:07 AM  
Blogger Akelamalu said...

I went to camp in Junior School - I hated it I was homesick!

We used to take the children to a caravan in Abersoch, Wales for a week. It didn't cost us very much, luckily because we didn't have much money, but the three years we went were the best holidays we ever had!

4/5/07 10:15 AM  
Blogger Queenie said...

My best holidays have been budget driven. I like to eat when I want, sleep when I want, do what ever when I want. So the middle of nowhere with no time-tables are my retreat, and often the cheapest.

I remember making my own designer t-shirt, I was really pleased with it. I went out in it one night, and got caught in a downpour of rain. When I arrived at my date I could see his eyes starring at my t-shirt (I thought mmm hes obviously impressed). When we arrived at the bar, I went to the loo, to my horror I saw that my design had washed from my shirt, down my white skirt and down my legs!!!
He never asked me out again, I wonder why???

4/5/07 1:53 PM  
Blogger Queenie said...

Me again, is it me or is there a code in your post. No ignor me, I'm cracking up!!!

4/5/07 1:55 PM  
Blogger Cream said...

Just goes to show, Akelamalu, that the more money we have the less we seem to enjoy ourselves.
Have you read this?

Queenie, I can imagine the toilet scene! hahaha!
My black Che Guevara faded after a couple of washes and I got wrong off my mother for spoiling a t-shirt! If you're asking about the last post, yes. It was Queenie in Morse.
I must be ready for loony bin! I'm cracking up too.

4/5/07 3:13 PM  
Blogger Queenie said...

Get to the back of the queue....

4/5/07 3:26 PM  
Blogger Akelamalu said...

That sounds like the perfect way to spend your childhood cream!

One of my undying memories of when I was a child (when Adam was a lad!) is my Grandma giving us a stick of rhubarb from her garden and a paper bag full of sugar. We'd sit there in the sunshine dipping the rhubarb in the sugar and savour every bite! We never had to be given laxatives!

4/5/07 3:29 PM  
Blogger Cream said...

Yes, your Majesty!

Akelamalu, my son is called Adam. He's only 25.
Natural laxatives! A runaway success!

4/5/07 5:12 PM  
Blogger phoenix said...

oh rhubarb and bags of sugar, I loved that as a kid. Sitting in the back garden in the summer holidays with a wee white paper bag full of sugar and a rhubarb stick fresh from the garden,bliss.:-)

4/5/07 5:37 PM  
Blogger Aunty Marianne said...

Hello sweetie. I have finally blogrolled you. I'm sorry it took so long...

What did you think of my prize menu? A bit heavy, isn't it. I think I'll try for a sorbet at the end instead.

4/5/07 5:53 PM  
Blogger Akelamalu said...

Well I could pretend that I'm only 30 ish but I can't tell lies! :(

4/5/07 6:22 PM  
Blogger Cream said...

You know what, I only discovered rhubarb years after I arrived to this country. So, I am sorry I missed out on your childhood delights, Phoenix.

A.M, at last!!! Merci!
I thought the menu was very good but then you would need a few hours at the table to get through it. Yes, maybe a light dessert instead of the tart, but don't skip the coffee and Calvados.

Akelamalu, you can't lie to save your life!

4/5/07 7:12 PM  
Blogger Hayden said...

humm, I loved eating rhubarb growing up, but never tried it raw. We kids harvested it and mom made a compote - we ate it morning noon and night through the season.

all of my vacations are budget. When I have more money I just go further or stay longer. I love lazy, unplanned time to discover a new place.

5/5/07 4:02 AM  
Blogger Cream said...

My kind of holiday, Hayden.
Voyages of discovery.
Discovery of places, people and myself.

5/5/07 8:47 AM  
Blogger Edvard Moonke said...

all my holidays are budget and all are equally memorable. actually, no. we never count what we spend. we start out with a ball park figure but invariably go way past it.

p.s. what's this about bungeless jumps? hmm?

5/5/07 12:09 PM  
Blogger Cream said...

No fear my dear Marcos. I bounced back up...

5/5/07 12:22 PM  
Blogger dip-dop-crabtree said...

J’ai été colon pendant toute mon enfance ! Juillet - août et ce dès l’âge de 6 ans jusqu’à l’adolescence ! Spécialiste dans les kermesses, des guirlandes en papier crépon, des paniers en rotin, ou encore comme ces poupées en coquillages les transformer en œuvres d’art admirables, dont nul ne saurait se lasser !! Et j’en passe !
Et mon premier amour 40 ans déjà!! Qui est maintenant mon épouse .
Les jolies colonies de vacances
Merci maman, merci papa
Tous les ans, je voudrais que ça r'commence
You kaïdi aïdi aïda.

5/5/07 5:47 PM  
Blogger Cream said...

Eh ben, Dip-Dop, vous avez une bonne mémoire!
J'ai passé deux colonies de vacances en tant que colon avant de devenir moniteur.
C'était formidable! Les feux de camp, les chants, les jeux, etc...
Félicitations pour vos 40 ans ensemble!

5/5/07 6:29 PM  
Blogger Caribbean Colors said...

When my kids were small I didn't have money, but somehow I always found enough for summer camping and trips to the beach. Later, when they were all grown up I asked them if they realized how poor we were, they all said NO! We always took vacations, somehow. When they were in high school we would usually vacation at a friend's condo in Mexico. We tried bringing other people with us but more often than not the "friends" were complaining and unhappy. Our most memorable vacations were just me and the 3 girls in the beach condo in Mexico, eating corn flakes for breakfast and ramen noodles for lunch, saving enough money for a nice dinner out.

5/5/07 7:23 PM  
Blogger Mary said...

El Kala looks like my kind of place!

5/5/07 11:42 PM  
Blogger Cream said...

Lee, it is refreshing that some kids still think of the "experience" itself rather than how much it cost.
I have had holidays like the one you had with your girls on a shoestring budget.

Mary, El Kala was even better in the seventies... Totally unspoilt!

6/5/07 8:37 AM  
Blogger Daphne Wayne-Bough said...

Summer camp in Malaysia!! We used to get a week on the Isle of Wight.

I once stayed at an Algerian holiday complex, I think it was at Zeralda, the kids' holiday camp next door was called CLUB SAHEL - like Club Med, only without any food.

Thanks for these little vignettes of life in post-1962 Algeria, they help people understand that Islamic countries are not all like Saudi Arabia. Algeria is one of the most relaxed.

6/5/07 12:06 PM  
Blogger Cream said...

My last holiday camp was next door to Zeralda.
It was with a shipping company and the food, the facilities, the day trips were amazing!
Yes, Algeria is a beautiful country. It could be even better if those in charge looked after it.

6/5/07 1:46 PM  
Blogger Christine said...

I'm so excited that summer is almost here. My favorite trips were camping trips. Jumping off of 50ft cliffs into water, walking through small waterfalls swimming all day, roasting marshmallows at night! It's also where I fell in love with my husband.

7/5/07 10:18 PM  
Blogger Cream said...

Christine, you make the whole thing sound like a movie! And you are a romantic!

8/5/07 8:19 AM  

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