This season is set to be a memorable one for our industry, which set me thinking back over summers that have been.
This new summer of ours, this summer of 2021, feels full of echoes of summers gone by. It feels as if it harks back to times when a long-haul holiday meant driving down from the Midlands to the South West, when Super Soakers and inflatable paddling pools turned every garden into a water park and caravans and camping were the accommodation of choice.
The travel companies and the airlines might be missing the delights of long haul flights and overseas hotels but I’m not sure that everyone is in accord with that.
I rather think that a lot of people are enjoying our new, old-fashioned summer.
The 60’s and the beach boys.
My first real summer memories are from the late 60’s, me and my brothers all packing into the back of Dad’s VW Transporter and heading off for long, hot lazy days at the beach, swimming, dune jumping and belly boarding.
I can remember sand so hot it was painful to walk on, Hockings ice cream topped with a delicious crown of clotted cream and rock pooling for hours without a care in the world.
The down side, of course, was being dunked in the bath at the end of the day and then being smothered in a good coating of Calamine Lotion that dried to a pink crusty finish.
Swopping 70’s package tours for our own pool.
For us, summer holidays abroad were rather thin on the ground – we lived in Devon after all – but we eventually joined the jet set and duly packed our suitcases for visits to France and Spain but in the summer of ’78 we made a decision that looks like a foretaste of today. We left our passports in the drawer and started to build our own in-ground pool.
I was only 16 but my first taste of swimming pool construction led me into the industry and that pool was the seed that my father grew into Golden Coast Swimming Pools. It was a staycation with a lasting impact.
Remember the 80’s?
Just into my twenties and I’m working at a seaside café by day and as a nightclub barman and every moment of spare time was spent on the beach or in the sea. The sky always seemed to be blue and the sun shone down on days full of promise and excitement.
As the decade rolled by I got some of the wanderlust out of my system travelling and working in the Middle East and by 1984 I had joined Peter Geekie – later to become Certikin – and fully immersed myself in the Wet Leisure Industry, most noticeably by jumping off the roofs of the log cabins into the show pools during well-earned lunchtime breaks..
90’s and noughties.
I enjoyed road trips through Europe and holidays in Greece – and this at the height of the long-haul boom when, for a lot of people Mauritius and the Maldives simply weren’t far enough away – but I think what was most memorable for me was getting back to my Devonshire roots.
Spending long hot summer days at my parents house enjoying hours of fun with the kids in the pool, playing football in the garden or throwing boomerangs and Nerf balls in the fields followed by great big barbecues.
Here we are then.
Whatever the summer that we remember, it seems as if it always had the best weather and the forecast for summer 2021 is a scorcher, hotter than normal and drier too.
We have gone back in time to summers before holidays were all taken abroad and the English beaches are our destination once again.
‘Bed and Breakfast’ has become Airbnb but the idea is broadly the same. Campsites are overflowing with tents and the lines of traffic heading south are full of motorhomes replacing the caravan processions of yore.
English gardens are becoming water parks again with hot tubs and spas becoming ‘must have’ items and families spending the year’s overseas holiday budget on a new pool that will last a lifetime. Garden furniture and barbecues are sold out of the garden centres. Summer, like football, is coming home.
This time next year.
It’s an unfortunate truth that overseas holidays are the wet leisure industry’s biggest competitor, especially during the summer months.
Holiday’s abroad will come back, whether they will ever be as popular remains to be seen. The staycation has the benefits of home, health and wellness and people’s attitude to those qualities and how they value them has changed considerably.
At the moment, our industry is riding a wave and we should make the most of the opportunities we are given. This situation may last a year or two; I have heard some people talk about five years. Whatever happens the country’s stock of pools and spas is increasing and simply in terms of maintenance and service that can do us nothing but good for years and years to come.