This is a follow-up to Colony Holidays and Tubby the Tuba where I talked about Colony Holidays (the CCHS), Chris Green’s part as Tubby the Tuba, and my fond memories of such a formative part of my life.
Chris Green, one of the two full-time driving forces behind the original CCHS, is now using his retirement to push forward the agenda for proper summer camps, ideally modelled on the CCHS concept, with modern changes suitable to our era. (Currently, the ‘camp’ business is stuck at a crossroads of uncertainty, direction and funding. Chris sees things in a much more positive light, as you’ll see from his booklet below.)
As part of this, he is asking former CCHS/ATE people and anyone else with an interest in the well-being of children, society and thus the world, to lobby their local MP by telling them about their positive personal experiences about CCHS, and other views on the matter.
He’s encapsulated his agenda in a booklet which I’ve reproduced here, (How Summer Camps Could Change Britain), along with the original PDF files for download. Please read and use these.. Their links are below:
For myself, I’ve already mentioned the high regard in which I hold Chris Green and his work with the CCHS in the post Colony Holidays and Tubby the Tuba, and how, in reality, it has formed a large chunk of my current persona.
I’ve also found a Facebook group here called Colony Holidays Remembered. This is worth a check for any former Colony Holidays folk…!
I’ve just had a hit from someone looking for Colony Holidays… Sooo I’d better write this down fast! I’ve been meaning to do it for a while.
A few years back I fished around on the web to find out what had happened to the CCHS, Council of Colony Holidays for Schoolchildren. I wanted my final child to have a crack at it. I found it had morphed into ATE by getting in touch with Chris in his last tenure of office, but to my eternal chagrin, all my kids have now grown up and missed the benefit of a Colony Holiday like I did, something that I went on half-a-dozen times when I was at school. The last child never made it and is now too old….
It lacked the joie and the vivre. The madcap antics and bizarre quests. The nutty tunes, most of which I can remember, and the practical tasks and games.
Tubby the Tuba
Chris Green is a genius, and a very hands on genius at that! He’s now 74-ish I suppose. The picture is taken on our beloved Malvern Hills back in 2006.
I spent many a time up there on bizarre hunts and quizzes. In total I went to;
The Abbey (Little Malvern/Malvern Wells) – 4 weeks at that one, the best year of my life.
Ramsey, Isle of Man (forgotten the name)
Inverliever Lodge, Argyll
I think I had one other but it’s slipped my mind.
The important thing, I now realise, is the amount of work that Chris Green did. The centres were dotted all over the country, and usually three or four were on the go concurrently – all summer if need be. I think at the peak, maybe seven centres were running at the same time. You could tell this from the catalogue.
Someone once said to me, “Hey. I bet Chris Green is coming. He always comes to every camp. He makes sure of it.”
I said, “Who’s Chris Green?”
He said, “It’s the guy that runs it. He’s Tubby the Tuba and nobody is supposed to know!!!”
It was at this point I realised that I had indeed seen Tubby the Tuba running over the Malvern Hills to British Camp, hiding (not very well) in bracken and heather around Inverliever Lodge, and yes, even on the Isle of Man. True, he’d be doing his checks, staff and all, but it was the effort that I noticed at that point.
When I say Tubby the Tuba – it really was the same man, dressed almost head to toe in stiffened gold foil, face hidden, arms poking out the side, hands playing the valves at front, making muffled farty noises as he passed on the next clue.
The ramblers and holidaymakers didn’t know what to say… it was just sooo funny. A bit like Gert Frobe in “Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines” – but covered in a gold tuba costume, of course!
So hats off to Chris Green and Tubby the Tuba. A life well spent!
When I get time, I’ll write some ‘lyrics’ out here and try and get the tune out as an mp3 to give a taste of them. I well remember doing the tongue-twisting ‘Poor Old Man Crossing the Road’, ‘Old Abram Brown’ and others on the platform of New Street Station on the way home with my new found friends. Then, as the journey lengthened, the party would get smaller and the volume quieter until eventually there was only me in Newcastle.
I’d stop singing then.
It gets a bit daft singing “steam engine with a chimney that sends smoke signals to Ceylon” repetitively on the 403 back to Ashington.
Four men, old enough and with enough experience of life to be able to look after themselves, have gone missing in Loch Awe. Two have been found dead and the search is still on. This of course is tragic, but I can well understand their situation.
When I was 16, I went on a “Colony Holiday” as it was called, run by the ‘Council for Colony Holidays for Schoolchildren’ (CCHS). It’s got a new name now… This holiday was at Inverliever Lodge, some log cabins a short way above Loch Awe, facing south. It’s a wonderful, verdant, fresh place in summer. The mosses and lichens grow to immense size on the rocks, oaks and birches in the little river valley close by. The river flows into the loch with a little alluvial fan (see map) made of small flat stones, a few inches across.
On a fine warm day, in with a group of others, I was plodging around the water in the loch on this alluvial fan. The water was lovely and warm. On venturing further out into the loch, and when the water reached my thighs, suddenly the stones on which I was standing gave way – as if on the edge of a cliff. I fell backwards in the same way as when going down a rock scree or sand dune.
I then became shockingly aware of this deeply unbearable, penetrating cold…
The water below about 80 – 100 cm is absolutely freezing, so I very quickly had to swim to the shallow as I realised the water was very cold and very deep.
Later, on checking the Ordnance Survey 1″ map, I found that the water only half a football pitch’s distance away was well over 100 feet deep! It’s a classic case of an alluvial fan emptying into a glacially over-deepened valley, in this case, full of freshwater.
Men in Boat
The chaps in the loch, venturing out in a small boat, at night, before the equinox, in a Scottish Loch, in fog….? If the boat tipped or because of some bravado, foolhardiness or accident they ended in the water, I can well imagine the shock they felt in the freezing darkness. The water is of almost Arctic coldness, and being fresh not salt, it is not as buoyant as the sea so swimming in clothing is even more difficult. It’s truly awful, and yet so close to shore, as the loch isn’t that wide.
Yoga, Leeches and More
When I emerged, freezing, from the lake, a leech was stuck to my leg. I pulled it off, stuck it in a jar and took it home as a pet – it lasted about six months. Not knowing much about leeches, I gave it bits of meat, which rotted and stank.
Colony Holidays are still going under the ATE.org banner, Chris Green (tubby the tuba) retiring a few years ago, he told me.
The lodge (somewhat changed), is used for various activities.
This yoga group describes it as, ‘… a new Yoga retreat Centre based on the principles of environmental awareness and the ability to source our energy and inspiration from the natural world. On the South facing banks of Loch Awe, surrounded by cascading waterfalls and forests, Inverliever Lodge is a place of high resonant energy, morning sun and glorious peace.’
The EcoYoga webcam picture at the right gives a more realistic view of March weather which is wholly different to the summer weather I’ve witnessed, on such sites or seen in the Liever valley shot. Something like this, but at night, is what the men ventured out into…
Postscript 7 Sep 2009
The two missing men were found over two months later. Chief Inspector Andy Mosley said afterwards: “We believe at this stage that these two men may have been trapped under the water for some time. Remains in these circumstances often resurface after a period of time due to a number of factors, including water temperature and movement on the surface of the water. This process can also take longer in cold water lochs due to the extreme low water temperature. We are satisfied that our search has been as extensive as possible.”