Kaz Hocking
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Kaz Hocking - Eskdale, The Lake District, 1963

I remember the train stopping in what appeared to be the middle of no-where. Just fields and trees, I don't recall seeing any roads or houses, or even whether there was a station building. It was definitely no train station or stopping point that I had ever seen - hence my memory of it probably! A little daunting but very exciting, as this was the first time ever that I had been sent away - a long way away - without parents! Recent ‘investigation’ has revealed that the place we went to was the Outward Bound Centre at Eskdale. Whenever I recall adventures and experiences there, they elicit only happy memories. We were transported from this train stop (somehow, I don’t remember how) to a very large and beautiful old manor house, which I had believed till now, was a boarding school.
We were allocated dormitories, with separate girls and boy’s corridors. There were the inevitable ‘midnight feasts’ where ‘goodies’ had been purchased at the one and only local village shop, and the boys would creep into the girls corridor and bang on the door and run off. I do recall one night, that a bat appeared in the girl’s bathroom causing great fear and excitement amongst us all.
I was also absorbed by the fact that we were all from so many different areas. Everyone was so friendly, and at that time I remember the wonder I felt that even the adults in charge were kind, friendly and fun. I came from Chichester, Sussex, and believe I shared a dormitory with a girl from Catford, a girl from Hertford called Margaret, and a girl called Carole from New York, USA, each of us promising we would write after the holiday. I can’t remember whether we did, but it didn’t continue.
I also can’t recall all of the activities we did, but I still tell anyone who mentions Mount Scafell, that we climbed it. Luckily, it was a lovely day rather than the damp, misty greyness I have seen in some photographs. Our packed lunch was normal, except that we were all missing a bottle of water or anything to drink. We were informed that the handful of grapes in each lunchbox was our ‘drink’!
There were outside activities everyday. We did a lot of singing, particularly around a campfire. There were songs I had never heard, and it was only after many years as a children’s nanny that I realized that the songs I was singing to each of my ‘charges’ over the years, were from this adventure holiday. Also games and crafts that we had been taught I was passing on to the children.
My memories of the house, grounds and lake were, I thought, romanticized and recollected through rose tinted glasses. But, having looked them up on the internet, they are indeed, exactly as I remember. Stunning!
I have no idea whether we were there for a week, 2 weeks or even longer – time being irrelevant at that point, and whether it was 1963 or 1964. As I would have been 11 or 12, it would have been during the summer school holiday period, end of July or sometime during August.
It would be great if anyone has memories of this time and can fill in any other details.