Saturday, 12 August 2017

Trip to Morocco in 1959

Richard Francis writes of his memories of School trips 

"The extraordinary commitment by the staff to "adventurous activities" was exemplified by the number of Summer holiday trips they organised over the years. Perhaps the most memorable for me was the one we did to Morocco. Just a few tasters:-
The coach was provided by Oliver Taylor of Caterham and was driven by the son of the company head plus a helper.
We drove down through France and Spain, enjoying the outstanding - well, perhaps "upstanding" is a better word - loos that were then ubiquitous.
The ferry from Gibraltar was an ordinary ship, not a drive-on/drive-off type, so the coach had to be craned on board.
When near the Atlas mountains, lots were drawn to identify those to climb the Atlas! Yes. There was a guide. No. There were no boots, or any kind of mountain climbing kit. Health and Safety? I was not drawn to go but those who did had an interesting time of it including sleeping one night in a hut.
Returning through North Africa we drove through a sandstorm - no air conditioning, of course. The outcome of this made itself known when the coach started to play up to the extent that we were likely to miss the ferry to England. We drove through one night and the following day things were so bad we were overtaken by a cyclist - going uphill! All was revealed at Poitiers (the Leyland diesel agent) when it was found that the air filters were clogged with sand.

We were informed that this was the furthest any coach from England had ever driven at that time - and this with a bunch of school kids and some very intrepid teachers. 
One additional memory comes to mind and that is that our drivers lost their way in the backwaters of a Moroccan market place while driving the coach. It was a rare enough sight in those days in those places so it drew a lot of attention. It drew even more when, confronted with one of those situations when you are committed and cannot back out of it (at least, not in a Bedford coach!) the guys had to go forward. This meant we were driving down a very narrow part of the souk with stalls on either side, many of which had skeins of wool drying after being dyed, which were hanging from their frontages. Not for long! The coach carried a lot of them away, even going incredibly slowly and encouraging the stallholders to move the wool. Thus a multi-coloured coach followed out of the souk by multi-coloured language! How to win friends, etc..

This was around 1959.

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Fas et Patria

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