A trip to Africa…
Excitement mounts for young Sheila Pennell as a trip to Morocco beckons
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!