Pullyman: Let’s have a summer picnic

Michael Cowin

Michael Cowin

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As the year progressed, there were different things to look forward to.

Winter always meant snow. And snow was fun. Kids in Pulrose enjoyed snow.

There were the usual snowball fights and snowman building but the best fun of all was sledging.

In those days, there was no traffic to contend with. The only motorised intrusions into our world were usually predictable.

The yellow buses, the Friday fish van from Peel, Shakey Craine with the fresh veg, and Randles batteries on Saturday afternoon.

Milk was delivered daily but that was more risky for the horse than it was for us.

In those days, the wireless, as we called it, was powered by a battery. These batteries were called accumulators and were re­chargeable.

Randles Accumulator Company, from Glen Falcon Road in Douglas, would hire out batteries and each week, in our case on Saturday, would collect the old battery and deliver a fully charged replacement. Dick Barton, special agent, was guaranteed for another seven days.

Back to the sledges and the snow. There was no bus if there was snow. If there was no bus, there was no traffic, and any kid with a piece of metal or wood that could be sat on, had a sledge. Fantastic.

There was just one snag. We still had to go to school. If there was no bus we had to walk. But nothing is perfect.

Winter would slowly slide into spring. Easter would be next with painted eggs and school holidays, and a certain air of anticipation would start to stir the senses of all red blooded Pully kids.

The excitement would slowly build, money boxes would be emptied, counted, and re­filled. The days were marked off on imaginary calendars. It was getting closer by the day. The Sunday School picnic.

In those days most kids went to Sunday School, and one of the highlights (not as far as I was concerned) was the Sunday School anniversary.

We’d be scrubbed and polished, lined up in front of our scrubbed and polished parents, and sing a scrubbed and polished version of ‘All things Bright and Beautiful’. But the reward was worth the effort - The Sunday School picnic.

The picnic was always on the Thursday following the anniversary and the weather was always perfect.

To a small boy it seemed as if there were hundreds of picnickers but in truth that was probably just an impression.

We all had a favourite destination for the picnic, and get there by coach or steam train.

If we went by train we would go to one place for the day but if we went by charabanc (what the private coaches were called), things were more flexible.

In these days of car ownership a day out is no big deal, but in those times no­ one owned a car, and a day out to somewhere as far away as the Mooragh Park in Ramsey was an adventure to be relished.

And to have your tea in a cafe was a once a year treat.

Not only the fact that we all sat together at long tables, but we had food that on any other day would only be a dream.

In the years following the war times were tough. Every family budget was stretched to the limit, some foods were still in short supply or on ration.

A triangular sandwich to a Pully kid, was the height of sophistication and trifle with cream was dreamland.

Taking into account the numbers involved there was a reasonable choice of venues.

We could go to the Mooragh, Silverdale Glen, or Glen Wyllin. These were always popular. They were accessible by steam train and they had boating lakes. And somebody was going to fall in.

These days there is instant, on demand entertainment, on­line shopping, and Face­book.

We had Sunday School picnics, Ramsey Joke Shop, stink bombs and severed thumbs in matchboxes.

If you ever went on a Sunday School picnic you’ll know what I mean.

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A decade ago Pullyman – aka Michael Cowin – was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, a condition that affects people in different ways. Michael discovered writing and Island Life is featuring some of his musings. Sometimes topical, sometimes nostalgic, read about life as seen through the eyes of Pullyman

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