Nights on the Street
Now on Pete Grafton/You Tube.
Postcards to Mrs Pye is part of the “Occasional Postcards” series.
Mrs Pye, along with Mr Pye, lived in Brandville Gardens, Ilford, Essex, nine miles to the east of London.
In the late 1950s, when this small collection of postcards starts, Ilford was still part of the county of Essex.
By the end of 1965, when the last postcard in this collection was sent to Mrs Pye, Ilford was no longer in Essex. It had been absorbed into Greater London.
Package holidays to continental Europe from the UK didn’t, literally, take off in a big way until the mid 1960s.
It took a bit of money, and a bit of initiative, even if booking through Thomas Cook & Co to travel and stay in Paris, or Switzerland or Italy before the mid 1960s. These Technicolour countries of wine, street markets and foreign sights and smells and customs were usually glimpsed in films such as the 1955 David Lean directed Summertime with Katherine Hepburn falling in love in Venice.
Or Paris with Gene Kelly in the 1951 An American in Paris.
A free-wheeling Gene Kelly in Paris… well, in a Hollywood studio set, but the establishing ‘shot on location’ shots gave an authentic taste.
And then there were the saturated Kodachrome pages of National Geographic magazine in the 1950s that in between head hunters in Borneo would feature a spread of the castles and steep vineyards from the perspective of a Rhine cruise boat.
In the postcards that follow, the house number of the Pyes in Brandville Gardens has been brushed out to protect the privacy of the present occupants.
“Lovely little village with beautiful walks all round…..”
“Arrived here 1.30 pm… after delayed journey due to London train being late… and missing our connection at Paris!…. Plenty of sunshine and not excessive heat.”
“The more I see of Paris the more I like it….Can find my way easily on the Metro now….Have taken Valerie up the Eiffel Tower…. she is thrilled with it all.”
“Weather still “scorcher” although had 3 short thunderstorms. Tonight, hundreds of bonfires burning on mountain tops to celebrate mid summer’s day…..”
“We are going on this little railway this afternoon…. “
“We are enjoying a lovely holiday & think Lauterbrunnen a delightful spot… “
“… We have had several drives through the forest of Xmas trees. Yesterday we had a barbecue picnic in the Jura mountains We collected our own wood, made a fire & roasted our meat. Grand fun… “
“We left Luxembourg yesterday having spent 5 days with my cousin and family… Greetings to all the grand girls.”
For the British, travelling abroad has changed tremendously since the 40 or so years since the postcard from Aachen was sent to Mrs Pye at Brandville Gardens, Ilford. Countries and continents that were exotic, and unreachable for millions are now one cheap flight away. In 2015 Majorca and Tenerife were the most popular holiday destinations for the British, followed by the Algarve, Ibiza, Lanzarote, Orlando in the Unites States, Gran Canaria, Benidorm, Crete in Greece and Disneyland Paris. Snapping on their tails are developing tourist hotspots in Turkey. The top five countries for holidays by the British, in order, were Spain, Greece, the US, Portugal and Italy.
Remarkably, London, nine miles from Ilford, is now the most tourist visited City in the World, according to the annual Master Card Global Destinations Cities survey. The Top Four visited cities in 2015 were, in order: 1. London, 2. Bangkok, 3. Paris and 4. Dubai.
But some things don’t change. Lauterbrunnen in Switzerland is still regularly visited and is very much as it was in 1962….
……and the Sporthotel in Igls, Austria is still there, still run by the same family, the Becks.
Different motors, though….
The small collection of postcards to Mrs Pye sent between 1958 and 1965 were found in a bric-a-brac shop in Exeter in 2014.
Next in the Occasional Postcards series: Postcard from the Eastern Front, due Winter 2016 – 2017.