When an ill wind blew and it really did do some good

South Shields beach in the cold wind, pictured here back in May 1986.
South Shields beach in the cold wind, pictured here back in May 1986.

It’s typical isn’t it? No sooner do the school holidays arrive – than so do does winter.

Well, that’s not strictly true (it is summer-time after all) but it feels more like October than August.

Little Kenneth Rickenton shelters under an umbrella from the poor weather at South Shields Beach.

Little Kenneth Rickenton shelters under an umbrella from the poor weather at South Shields Beach.

Is it just my “rose-tinted” memory, but weren’t the summer months generally so much more benign in years gone by?

Of course, living by the coast, we can expect it to be a bit cooler than elsewhere, but come on, we should be seeing kids in cossies and floppy hats (to keep the sun off their heads) not woollies and rain coats.

Still, we’re a hardy lot up here, and despite the miserable weather families continue to find ways of having fun by the seaside – as they always have done.

As colleague Billy Lumsden recalls, before the days of The Dunes, he and his mates could always find something to do on a wet and rainy day beside the seaside.

“A rainy trip to South Shields seaside was almost better than a sunny day because it meant we would more likely than not be heading to the arcades to keep dry,” said Billy.

“This was in an age before PlayStations and Xboxes, so the only place you could play games with top-of-the-line graphics was in the arcades (there were home versions on the ZX Spectrum 48k and Commodore 64, of course, but it was hardly the same, was it?)

“The Holy Grail was the original Star Wars arcade machine, which, if you were lucky, would be the sit-down version, built to resemble the cockpit of an X-Wing fighter.

“If I could have all the money back now that I spent re-living the famous Death Star trench run over the years, I’d have, ohhhh, £3 at least (things were much cheaper then, you see).

“Other favourites were Gauntlet, which allowed four people to play at once (don’t shoot the food!), Kung-Fu Master and the classic air hockey, which I still can’t resist to this day, if I ever see one.

“On a more sinister note, I vividly remember a laughing policeman at the Shields arcades that was terrifying, but for some unfathomable reason I kept feeding money into anyway.

“Inevitably, the arcade money (£1, if you were lucky) would run out and we’d end up on the sands anyway.

“It was wet, windy and miserable, but it’s what British summer is all about. And if I’m being honest, a Minchella 99 with monkey’s blood just doesn’t taste the same in the sun.”

What do you remember about your own days out at the coast – be it wet and windy or bright and beautiful?

And talking of bright and beautiful, I’ve got some smile-inducing sunshine pictures and stories from the past to help chase the clouds away. So watch this space!

Mind you, whatever the weather, it’s safe to say that here in this part of the world, we’re blessed to have such lovely places to visit.