Whitsun ExcursionsJune 3, 2010 at 11:25 pm | Posted in Cycling, Travel | Leave a comment
Tags: Billy Coke hat, Billycock hat, bowler hat, E McKnight Kauffer, Five Go to Billycock Hill, London Transport posters, Mersea Island, West Mersea, Whitsun
Ah, Whitsun week, a holiday that provides the backdrop for one of my favourite FF adventures, Five Go to Billycock Hill. At the start there is much excitement as the Kirrins set off on bicycles and make for the titular hill, so called because it is shaped like a Billycock (‘Billy Coke’, or bowler) hat. They plan to indulge in a spot of camping and meet up with Julian and Dick’s schoolfriend Toby who lives on Billycock Farm. Luckily for them, it is gloriously hot and a jolly time is had by all – well not quite all as Toby’s airman cousin Jeff is suspected of treachery when both he and an important aeroplane disappear one stormy night. As you can probably guess, everything comes right in the end. Jeff’s name is cleared, the boys are promised a trip in his aeroplane, and a massive celebratory feast is consumed.
The Five are not the only ones to venture away from home at this time of year. A number of London Transport posters from the 1920s and 30s extol the joys of out of town travel at Whitsuntide. This E McKnight Kauffer poster is one of my favourites and dates from 1933. ‘Whitsuntide Holiday Off to the countryside by Bus Coach Train Tram’. Indeed. If you travel from London to East Anglia at the weekends it is certainly quite possible that all four of these methods will be utilised in the course of one journey. Tomorrow I hope to catch a single train and take my bicycle to Colchester. From there it is a mere 10 miles or so to Mersea Island, a place renowned for its oysters, sandy beaches and tendency to get cut off from the mainland at hightide.