Back to school tales

Many parents are breathing a sigh of relief as school resumes and the long summer holidays come to an end. Kids will be trudging back to school after having shopped South Centre to death to get new outfits for the first day. The pressure on kids these days is quite overwhelming and I can’t remember ever being so pressurised to be the “in kid” when I was at school – but then I was at school in England and we all wore uniforms so it didn’t really matter what brand of jeans you had at home. No one saw them.

The most pressure I can remember at the start of a new school year was the sharing of “what did you do over the holidays?”. OK, we did have a few rich kids in the class and they would tell tales of holidays in Spain or going up to London to see a show. I could never really understand why they would want to go away when we lived in such a gorgeous place – right on the wild and beautiful coast of Cornwall.

We would spend whole days down on the beach every day during the summer – it was absolute bliss. Of course we had our favourite beach that the tourists couldn’t get to. We didn’t like the tourists who visited our village – they were called holidaymakers and they were usually loud with big hats and red faces. Local people are so snobby about the delights of their home town or village. I bet the people who live in Banff feel the same way when they see the hoards of tourists milling up and down the main street. Sadly, many of these villages and towns depend on tourists for a lot of their income and we saw how covid affected local tourism. So I guess there is some rejoicing going on now and tourists are looked at in a whole different way.

I remember asking my mom and dad what vacations they used to go on during their school holidays and they both just laughed. They didn’t go on holidays – they had jobs to do around the house or, in my mom’s case, on the farm. She used to have to look after the chickens and became quite attached to them, giving them names and playing with them. She told me it was very hard when one of them would go “missing”. Her mother would just go out to the chicken coop, pick up a chicken and wring its neck. Sounds terrible, doesn’t it? “To hell with poverty” she would say “let’s kill a chicken”.

Very different to going into Safeway and buying a polystyrene plastic-wrapped tray of chicken breasts? Hmmmm.

When not cleaning out the chicken coop she would also be roped into bringing in the peat to store up for winter fuel. The men would dig a deep hole in the peat swamp and then proceed to dig out chunks of damp peat which they would swing up from their spades to the waiting arms of the women and children. It was a wet tiring job but it had to be done.

She always said she was quite glad when the school holidays ended and she could get back to school.

By Lesley Keyter

Lesley Keyter is the face of travel in the fast growing city of Calgary. Every week since 1997 she has has featured live on the Morning News Global TV.


  1. Another great post. I always tortured my kids by singing, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year! for the week before.


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