A trip to Africa…

Ex­cite­ment mounts for young Sheila Pen­nell as a trip to Morocco beck­ons

YOURS (UK) - - Inside -

Iwas young, di­vorced and liv­ing in a high-rise coun­cil block with my daugh­ter Sam when the three-day week came in. I was work­ing in an of­fice to make ends meet and, at the end of the day, after col­lect­ing Sam from nurs­ery, a climb up the cold, dark stairs to the ninth floor awaited when­ever the power was cut.

We did a lot of shiv­er­ing and I’d dream of a hol­i­day in the sun – but doubted I could ever af­ford one. There was no equal pay and no fam­ily al­lowance for us.

The only ‘hol­i­day’ I’d had as a grown-up was two weeks off work to give birth and, when Sam was eight years old, I still han­kered after that elu­sive and ex­otic away-from-it-all hol­i­day.

Then a brochure dropped through my let­ter­box ad­ver­tis­ing Young World hol­i­days at Camp Africa in Asi­lah, Morocco. And they were re­ally cheap – prob­a­bly be­cause all the Brighton­based firm promised was the flight from Heathrow, a mud hut and a mat­tress!

Thrilled at the prospect, I phoned my mum to ask if she’d have Sam for a fort­night. She was a lit­tle wor­ried as she’d heard ru­mours of ‘free love’ on these hol­i­days, but she agreed. Once the hol­i­day was booked, ex­cite­ment grew. I’d never even had a tan be­fore. And flick­ing through a mag­a­zine, I saw a gold cro­cheted bikini. ‘I must have one of those’ I thought, and sent for the pat­tern.

On the evening I ar­rived in Morocco it was 104°F in the shade. I met up with the other ‘young worlders’ at the re­cep­tion party as the warn­ings of what we could and couldn’t do were spelled out by the reps. No drugs and drink plenty of tea. No men­tion of free love!

Most of the hol­i­day­mak­ers were sin­gles, but in twos, threes or fours, so once I plonked my case in my dark mud hut, I felt a bit lonely. But then two Ir­ish girls I’d met at the re­cep­tion party passed by and called: “Are you com­ing to the disco tonight Sheila, just for the craic?”

I’d never heard the ex­pres­sion, but soon got the gist. And once I’d sur­vived a cold com­mu­nal out­door shower and got dolled up, I was bo­ogy­ing away un­der the stars in the Tim­buc­too disco un­til the early hours. Heaven!

De­ter­mined to make the most of the trip, I booked for a beach trek, choos­ing a camel to ride. When he stood up I was so high in the air I went dizzy and clung to the guy in the ‘front seat’ for dear life!

And the gold cro­cheted bikini? Not good for the sea or for the tram­po­line, but great for pos­ing. As for the free love… well, aren’t all the best things in life free?

‘The gold cro­cheted bikini? Not good for the sea or for the tram­po­line, but great for pos­ing’

Sun­set over the Moroc­can beach. Be­low: Sheila en­joy­ing a bit of re­tail ther­apy!

Camels wait­ing to trans­port Sheila – once she’d fin­ished tram­polin­ing!

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