Colony Holidays and Tubby the Tuba

Colony Holidays

{Added on 30/8/19: Tens years since I wrote this piece.  CCHS’s successor, ATE, has been functioning well with a website at …. Now read on…}

 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.

Typical ATE Centre (Bredenbury Court, an original Colony Holiday location)
Typical ATE Centre (Bredenbury Court – actually my first colony holiday CCHS one!)

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….

I’ve just read this article in the Telegraph which describes the organisation and all the real fun and confidence that children get from it.  True, my children had their times at our local council’s place, Kilve Court Residential Educational Centres, but when I visited – well it just wasn’t the same.

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.  ATE seems to be keeping it all going!!

Tubby the Tuba

Chris Green (Tubby the Tuba) - an original from the Council for Colony Holidays for Schoolchildren
7 December 2006 Martin Humby
Chris Green walking the Malvern Hills on 1 January 2007 to raise money for the Malvern YHA appeal.
Contact: Chris 07870 235 607

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;

  • Bredenbury Court
  • 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!

Nutty Tunes

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.


All things run around the ecosystem called Facebook these days.  There is a “group” called “Colony Holidays Remembered” for those that went on the original CCHS holidays.

By Strangely

Founding member of the gifted & talented band, "The Crawling Chaos" from the North-East of England.


  1. I went on 4 Colony Holidays between 1974 – 78. I’m also from Ashington and was the last one off the bus / train. I was also a monitor from 1982 – 1987.

  2. Hi
    Good to find this.
    I was lucky enough to go on 5 colonies as a kid (including Stornoway,, and yes, I do remember singing Tonga as we left on the ferry) then did the weeks’s training at Linden Manor and worked as a monitor for 3 years (including Featherstone Castle in the snow at New Year). Magical memories, freedom, friendship and fabulously creative week long wide games. Some of the best times of my childhood without a doubt.

  3. I went on Colony Holidays in the mid 60s. To Welshpool and somewhere near Scarfell. My patents would put me on a train and wave goodbye!! I remember having a fantastic time. Wide games, crafts and spending pocket money on sweeties. Also, sleeping on a dormitory.
    Happy days

    1. Hi Lucy – I went on a colony holiday to Eskdale Outward Bound Centre in the lake district. During the great fun time we were there we climbed Mt Scafell! And like you, I was put on a train as parents waved goodbye! What an amazing adventure and a time that only elicits happy warm memories. I cant remember exactly but believe it was somewhere around 1963/64/65. The very early days of the colony holidays.
      I am so wondering now, why I did not send my own children on one of these glorious weeks!!

  4. Linden manor 76,one of the best holidays i ever had with my mate lee conlon from Newcastle upon tyne.Met the first girl i ever really fancied fiona moon from hitchin herts,but i did have a couple more on the side.Lol.I wish i could just see her on more time in my lifetime.Ahh the memories.

  5. What an interesting site. I was a Monitor and Assistant Director on about 6 colonies. I did Stornoway in 1976 when the summer went mad and Featherstone castle where I played the villain in the Wide game and where I had to push the coach up the drive in a six foot snow drift (it was January). I actually broke my foot on the second day of a Birmingham Settlement Colony in Kidderminster which was under canvas. I had to spend the colony as the ‘spare monitor’.
    I remember attending courses at Linden manor as well as their summer fates when everyone seemed to turn up. Some names I remember from those days were of course the lovely Chris Green, who was very reassuring to me over the phone when I heard about the death of Dick Orton (whose house I had stayed at in Leeds one weekend)Bruce Liddington, Phil Baderley, Chris Shute, Jane Orton, Sheila Booth and Corinne Green. Does anyone remember the Jacaranda tree which was outside the main hall at Linden Manor? I’d never seen one before or since. I can remember trying to chase bats out of the dormitories at Linden Manor, something you could never do these days. Really nice to see this site, it is a shame that there are very few holidays like those colonies these days children today don’t know what they missed. I must look again at this site to see if there is anyone I know or remember. Lovely memories of songs and games, I’m sure I have some photos somewhere and I do still have copies of the Linden Tree magazine that used to be sent out every quarter. I’ll have to scan them sometime. Take care

  6. dear all,
    I googled colony holidays as they were such fun as child and I loved it. I went on one in Norfolk some where and one on the welsh borders called Dunfield house I think-all in the 1970s I remember the music , art and drama. None of these topics engaged me at school but the holidays made it all about fun and not competition and managed to have me hooked in no time. They were fab care free times. Songs I remember were the vista song and tonga as well as “poor cow sitting on the railway line”
    In grown up life I have always worked with children from disadvantaged back grounds and those less fortunate than my self. I have worked as social worker, probation officer and more recently as CBT therapist, I am fairly certain that somewhere behind the scenes colony holidays influenced my choice of career! I’ve loved every minute so thank you colony holidays for being part of my destiny. In fact I still have a secret desire to move to a commune on the welsh borders.I wonder what influenced that…..guesses anyone?

  7. I never experienced the joys of Colony Holidays but was introduced to the echo song ‘Tongo’ (from the Puffin Colony Song Book) when involved with the ‘warm ups’ for Derby Playhouse’s production of ‘Oh What a Lovely war’ back in 2003. I have just bought a second hand copy of the song book from Amazon. What a marvelous collection of songs. As a singing teacher, I am now using it with my students – whose ages range from 7 to about 40!

  8. Hello!

    i just wanted to let this site, and any ex-CCHS visitors, know about the 50th anniversary celebrations at Moor Park nr Ludlow 24-25 August 2013. ATE (current CCHS incarnation) is putting on a weekend celebration to mark the 50th anniversary of summer time adventures (CCHS being set up in 1963) Chris Green will be there and loads of old and new faces.

    For more info do email – you don’t need to come for the whole weekend; mornings, afternoons and evenings are all permissible!

    Many thanks.

  9. Hi Chris.

    I thought I’d reply here to the contents of the email you received.  It IS a scam as you’ll see from these links which describe it – the emails are exactly the same as the one you received!

    Now here’s the email they sent you:

    • Subject: Internet Keyword & Asia/Cn domain name registration

      Dear Manager,

      (If you are not the person who is in charge of this, please forward this to your CEO,Thanks)

      This email is from China domain name registration center, which mainly deal with the domain name registration in China. We received an application from Hanson Ltd on September 17, 2012. They want to register ” strangelyperfect ” as their internet keyword and China/Asia (CN/ASIA) domain names. But after checking it, we find this name conflicts with your company. In order to deal with this matter better, so we send you email and confirm whether this company is your distributor or business partner in China or not?


      Best Regards



      General Manager

      Shanghai Office (Head Office)

      3002, Nanhai Building, No. 854 Nandan Road, Xuhui District, Shanghai 200070, China

      Tel: +86 216191 8696

      Mobile: +86 1870199 4951

      Fax: +86 216191 8697

      Web: ‘

    Exactly the same, huh!


    So, Chris (and anyone else that get rubbish like this).  Do what you normally do with rubbish – bin it and forget it!
    And especially, do not reply to the email – it will just attract more spam!


    As to why Chris got the email – it is because his email address shows on the page . Normally these are protected by code within the website, but the code is not infallible since the bad guys are always looking for new tricks. In this case, they may have actually come to the website and copied the email address from it – more usually, spambots scrape websites looking for email addresses to harvest for spam and scam purposes.

    To counter this, I’ve changed a plugin that prevents (or makes it hard work for) spambot email address scrapers to a different one that seems to work better… Wait and see, huh!

  10. I thought I had your e-mail address but seem to have mislaid it. I have had an e-mail from someone who controls the distribtuion of domain names in China, wanting to use the name Strangely Perfect, bu saying it conflicts with “my” domain name. If you can kindly remind me of youyr e-mail address I will forward the e-mail from China to you for you to deal with.

    Warmest good wishes  –  Chris Green

  11. Oh, my goodness  -such memories! Brettenham Park, the one in Rugby, Little Appley on the Isle of Wight, Talybont on Usk (just seen Steve Pickstock on a Civil War programme on TV – he was a monitor there,) and Balla-cloan on the Isle of Man in 1980.

    The best fun you could have in 12 days – no frills, no TV, no video games – just you, your new friends and your imagination.

    i love the way this site comes up when someone does a Google search – probably, like me, after a glass of wine as the happy memories start to flow.

  12. Oh such happy days.

    Care free wide games, 40,40, midnight feasts, singing songs and learning some strange dancing which I think has scarred me for life, but such fun at the time.

    I did quite a few and fell in love with so many places, Falcon Manor, Featherstone Castle, Kingston Manor (I think) amongst others there was one near Rugby but the very best was at Lynmouth. some of the boys slept in what can only be described as glorified garden sheds, absolutely brilliant. I remember going into Lynmouth and having a frothy coffee, in the days when cappucinno had not been heard of.

    I have often thought of and looked for Colony Holidays on line, but have not found anything before so it is fantastic to read all of the comments above. I have often thought about 3 people that I met on 4 or 5 Colonys, I would love to meet up with a guy called Mathew Macdonald (P,nuts) (from Putney), Sue Stokes, a bit of a rock chick that always reminded me of Suzi Quatro (from London I think Wanstead) and Francesca Nelson (from Gravesend Chatham area). On the off chance that you read this you can find me on facebook under Nic Banner.

    A message to Chris, I can't thank you enough for the wonderfully happy times that you helped to make for me. Colony Holidays were an escape for me from a far from happy childhood, you could never know how much of an oasis you created for some of us, as I am sure I am not the only one. You really are a true gentleman and one of lifes true stars.

    To Strangely, Thanks for brightening my day.

    1. Dominic,

      I also remeber Sue Stokes and her sister Jane but couldnt recall their surnames until I saw your post. They were from Buckhurst Hill when I met them on CCHS at (possibly) Featherstone.Perhaps you and I did Featherstone together .. cant recall.

      One of the great things about CCHS for me now is the appreciation we all have for what Chris Green and his colleagues did. I hope he takes great pride in what he did and the benefit those attending got from it.

      There is a Facebook page now for CCHS that is getting more members (or whatever they are called ) it would be great if everyone who attended signed up to the page to give some cohesion to our recollection of the benefits of CCHS this might in some small way help Chris with his campaign.

      Further thought based on your and my recollections; perhaps there is a latent Sue Stokes (and of course we would include sister Jane) appreciation society! composed of what were undoubtedly spotty youths; its difficult to see this as an attractive proposition from her prospective!

      Great times

  13. Having spent my childhood in the 70's waiting for the next colony holiday, it's so nice to read of others memories.i went to Bredenbury Court in '73, Balacloan, Ramsey(?) in '74, Talybont-on -Usk, Herecroft Hall and maybe a few others up to ''79. such incredible times and easily the best time of my childhood….tho the reunions at Linden Manor came a very close second. My eldest son is just starting his monitor training and i'm going to ask him to read everyone's comments.

  14. I can really foresee how Mr. C. Green survive all these years. He is really a smart survivor on the path called life. Keep it up Sir!

    (this was a hack attempt – I've left it to show the insidous nature of these things – SP)

  15. i googled colony holidays and got to your site, i loved colony holidays when i was a kid in the 80s im 37 now i went on a few colony holidays i remember getting the brocure and picking the holiday i wanted , i only remember linden manor but went to about 4 colony then when colony finished i went with LCHO , but colony holidays were brilliant i remember one were about 6 older american lads were there and we had breakdancing lessons off them i remember a capture the flag game were everyone had cards of military rank (i loved being a spy !) i remember making rafts on rivers, death slides , arts and crafts ,one centre had a outdoor swimming pool,going out camping and making huge fires , i loved staying in big manor houses with huge fireplaces (just like Hogwarts)!!! in our dorms singing then down to a roaring fireplace were we would sing all the colony songs drinking coa coa or hot chocolate ,sneaking to the girls dorms meeting kids from around the country, and the girls !!! , and going to some loverly towns , so thankyou to whoever runs this site my email is here im james cullen im from liverpool and had a magical experience when i was a kid so thanks to the monitors and management for the good times

  16. It has been lovely reading through all the postings and remembering the songs and wide games. I was an Assistant caterer and a domestic on various Colony Holidays. We had the opportunity to join in with things once our duties were done. Another song I remember is Mr Rabbit Mr Rabbit your ears are mighty long. and Poor Old Cow that started 'Terrible collision on the railway line'.

    I remember dressing up as a ghost for a wide game. I stayed in Featherstone Castle and as the catering team we slept in the tower which was supposed to be haunted. I woke up in the middle of the night so petrified I couldn't move! Also went to Red Hill, Moreton Hall and others – I would have to look up where else. I am a hoarder and still have the wage packets given to us somewhere! My Nanny, Enily Horn introduced me to Colony Holidays. She was a caterer. I came across the book Go! a book of games for sale and bought it but unfortunately have since lost it. I use to use the games for the Brownies to play in the Pack I run. There was one widegame which name escapes me at the moment but it involved one team having crosses put on the face using cocoa powder mixed with water and circles on the other team. I think each team had a base and had to try to win players from the other team. This was done by 'challenging' and who ever was rated with the highest number of points one the challenge and joined the other team.

    This is a brilliant site. Thank you!

  17. I went on several colonies from 1967 – 1974 (the last 2 at Towcester as a monitor)I went to Shepherd House, Dall House,Rannoch, Harecroft Hall(4 week one) Inverliever Lodge & Ballacloan…then Linden Manor for my Monitor traing in '72. What great times loved Battleships in the dark and have recreated that at a New years eve party, my guests were sceptical at first when I gave them their plans to fill in before the night but everyone had a geat time.

    I also loved the wide games… we once had to get 10 of us & our monitor in a phone box and sing very loudly to whoever was on the other end. I too have my home made song book, games book a couple of copies of "Interplay" and a papier mache mask & balsa wood head made in handicrafts.

    I agree with you all on here that these holidays shaped how I am today.they gave me confidence. Unfortunately I have discovered too late that they still exist in the form of ATE and all my children are now too old.

    I have contacted a lot of people through friends reunited and there is a page on Facebook for Colony.

  18. Hi there

    I went on a colony holiday when I was little and I have great memories of the wide game, getting covered in mud from head to toe, making great friends and having the best time!! I still sing 'Mr Moon, Mr Moon' and 'When a Pigs a failure' to my children and they sing them now – particularly when the moon comes up too early!

    I ended up working for a children's activity holiday company, but I just don't think anything anything could beat the freedom and madness of Colony!


  19. I went to Colony Holidays between 1968-1973, including the first one held in Stornoway, Rannoch, Talybont, and a couple 'up north' somewhere. I then trained as a nurse and went back as matron for a couple of years – remembering with fondness one lovely summer in Wales. My main memory was the amazing kindness of Chris Green, who always seemed to visit, and the way a complete group of strangers could end up best of friends.

    1. That's what I noticed too. Tubby the Tuba (a.k.a. Chris Green) turned up to every one I went on! And I always had a heap of friends, mostly in a very, very, short time!

  20. I went on a number of Colony Holidays as a kid. The one that stands out most clearly in my head was the one to Featherstone Castle in 1977 when I was 11. It was an amazing time. Themed around a haunted castle, it was a great thrill. I remember being woken up along with the other kids to go easter egg hunting and running away from the 'eggburgler'. lol My sisters and I were the only black kids but I never for a moment noticed that. It was all about the fun!

    1. That's right Stan! It was all about the fun. Well said.

      The depths of creativity to which the organisers stooped knew no limits! Eggburgler indeed….

  21. I loved Colony Holidays did 5 or 6 including Balacloan (ramsey IOM) twice, The Abbey Malvern, Featherstone Castle, and one in the lake district name escapes me between 1974 and 1979.

    Made some great friend had some wonderful times sung some sloppy songs! MMM MMM I wanna linger!!!

    All the best Paul Knight from Bedford

    1. Thanks Paul.
      A lot of people have very, very fond memories of the CCHS. For myself, the best was four week summer at The Abbey in Little Malvern when I was 14. I also did Ramsey on the Isle of Man like yourself. My sister did Featherstone Castle (which is still used by ATE).
      No-one has said anything bad about them, at all, apart from Chris Green when he described the collapse of CCHS and the politics behind it. For former children, I've not heard one bad word.

  22. Can today's version of Colony Holidays possibly be as free and easy as in my time ( 5 holidays mid-70's)?

    This was their magic, but in today's regulation happy risk assesment crazy climate..well I have my doubts.

    My Colony Holidays were without exception all wonderful experiences. We were close to the monitors, and I never once saw or heard of anything untoward ever happening at any of the camps I attended. Indeed the monitors, though just a few years older than us, often gave a sympathetic ear and invaluable advice to those of us with crushes on either them or other kids. Growing up is confusing and hormones don't make things any clearer ! Would such close relationships be allowed today ?

    Camps I attended were Fetherstone Castle ( twice), Ramsey (IOM), Tal Y Bont ( Wales) and one in Herefordshire, the name of which escapes me.

    Songs ( aah the songs !)..not sure of all the titles but a few random lines..

    Now Into Plow Shears Beat Thy Swords ..

    Dip Dip And Swing Her Back ( a canoe song)..

    and my absolute favourite, the old Leadbelly tune, Jean Harlow, which I play and sing to this day..

    mama gonna walk, mama talk

    jing a langa jing a langa

    etc etc

    Heartfelt thanks to all those involved in Colony Holidays, you made a difference, believe me.

    1. – oh every man neath his vine and fig tree shall live in peace and unafraid . was it linden manor? How amazing were those holidays x

      1. Hi there I have just found this website and these stories of CCHS. I went to several in the 50’s/60’s, I have a twin brother and we often went together. They were the happiest time of my childhood. You have just’ reminded me of that song ‘o every man’ I remember singing it and many others which I still sing today. ‘I let me tell you a story bout a man named Charlie’ is one that comes to mind. My name then was Erica Thiemann and my twin Victor. Thankyou for this opportunity to talk about these amazing holidays we went on, X

        1. I am pleased to discover that I’m not too late to add my experiences to the others. Having worked as a Monitrice at three Colonies de Vacances in the early 1960’s, I wrote to enquire if Anglo-French colony holidays existed. I was teaching French in a Northants secondary modern school, many of whose pupils could not have participated in a traditional educational exchange. Their home circumstances would have prevented it. It stuck me that Anglo-French Colony Holidays in the U.K. might provide a solution. [I had twice, as a teenager, stayed at the Essex Education Board’s international youth camp on Mersea Island and been able to practise French, German and Spanish on my foreign counterparts.] I too came from a permanently hard-up family. I had been a patrol leader in the Girl Guides and had helped run a youth club in Dagenham. My letter was forwarded to Chris Green, at St George’s School, Harpenden. He invited me to become a Monitor at the CCHS Colony for girls he was about to direct at St John’s School, Tuttshill, near Chepstow. My French monitor’s diploma and experience were deemed sufficient credentials. I rode to Harpenden on my Honda 50. Chris stowed it in his van and we travelled to the colony site together. I seem to remember that the holiday lasted three weeks. During subsequent summers I was a monitor at an Anglo-French girls’ colony at Tuttshill ; at an experimental colony for boys and girls, on behalf of the Manchester University Settlement , at Lledr Hall in Snowdonia and one at Featherstone Castle, near Haltwhistle, with Mike Wilcox as Director. That summer it was warm enough for us to swim in the South Tyne (after I had checked the river bed for the sites of dangerous pot-holes!) We held the wide game in the grounds around the river and I was the mysterious ‘stranger’ the children had to track down. Both Mike and I came from Essex and were the product of teacher training colleges, so we worked pretty well together. Just as teachers learn much from their pupils, monitors and directors enjoyed the fun and games atmosphere of a well-run holiday with youngsters. I still do much singing : I may be responsible for the introduction of ‘In Springtime in Austria’ to the colony repertoire (or Chris Green might have invented the English words, it was a long time ago!). I learned the original ‘German Cuckoo Song’on a cultural exchange between Bristol and Hanover in 1961, with much thigh-slapping, hand-clapping and finger-clicking as the number of cuckoo-calls increased with each verse. In the 1980’s I sent my children on Colony Holidays: my husband and I visited them at Green’s Norton (near Towcester). That was when they learned the extension to ‘There were ten in the bed…’ and the culinary alternative words to ‘Fee, fee fi, fee, fi fo,’ (Feed, feed us, feed us food… Pizza! Eggs and beanies, chips and beanies, ooh-ah , a lot more beanies. Beetroot, bubble and squeak, ev’ry single day of the week’. )Charlotte attended a Christmas holiday colony at Featherstone Castle and went sledging in the snow. Jonathan went to one in 1982 at Morton Hall near Bury St Edmunds (for some reason, the one he’d wanted to attend on Orkney didn’t happen) and later Charlotte and her cousin Jason participated in an Anglo-French colonie in Brittany: she and her mates went busking in the market-square! My grandchildren have not had the colony holiday experience, but perhaps there’s still a chance that the two youngest might give the modern equivalent a try, in spite of all the health and safety inhibitors .

          1. Wonderful tale Barbara.
            If my kids ever get the urge to provide me with the next generation I will certainly be pushing them to get ATE Superweeks into their systems. My own kids went on a similar sort of thing to CCHS at Kilve Court in Somerset and I’m pretty sure they reflect on their times there with affection. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find anything on CCHS when my kids were at the age.
            I’m remembering Springtime in Austria, but the others …maybe we didn’t do them…or I’ve forgotten!

  23. Wow! Amazing to find this site. I went on 3 – Ballacloan (the one in Ramsay you mention) in 1980, Beachboro' 1982 and Pittendreich, Bonnyrigg, Edinburgh in 1983.

    So many memories and such a happy carefree time. We had so much freedom – railway carriages on the steam train in the Isle of Man WITHOUT a monitor, midnight feasts, etc.

    I have taught my kids many of the songs – which have a habit of sticking in your head years later! 'This old hammer, killed John Henry' Old Macdonald with a twist ('Have you ever seen a cow with a green eyebrow down on the farm). Remember the 'Austrian went yodelling'…! 'Snaefell, Tinwell, Ben Macree, 40 ships have sailed the sea' 'Smugglers song' (Five and Twenty ponies) and the infamous 'When the Pig's a Failure' which I've shared with a few nursery classes!

    'The Wide Game' was a brilliant concept which involved a man coming into our dorm – via a window with a ladder! – dressed as a cat in the dead of night, clues leading to a random phone box in the Isle of Man (we had to ring a phone number which led us to an OAP's terraced house later in the day). The finale was us chasing a man dressed in black (and the man dressed as cat made a re-appearance) and chucking several buckets of icing sugar over them!

    It was a sort of long running, week long, adventure game that

    I am not sure our parents would have approved of but it was absolutely brilliant! I am sure it would never be allowed today.

    The wisdom of having 17 year old boys (monitors) looking after groups of 13 and 14 year old girls unsupervised was perhaps a bit dubious. I fell madly in love for the first time! Very happy memories…

    1. Wow. Excellent details there Julia that's helped convey some of the spirit of the setup – "The Wide Game" takes some beating, from your description. As for the "wisdom" comment – I had a similar experience with a young female monitor in our bunch of 13-15 year old boys! Nothing bad happened, it was all just a barrel of madcap, whimsical fun really. I think the supervision was there though, in the near background, and the activities and experiences led to a remarkable group-self-control IMHO, with an inate sense of right and wrong that wasn't disrupted much from my memories.

      My kids also know some of the tunes which I'll still slip into at odd moments – it's funny what triggers them into one's head! Most of what you mention I don't know, so it looks like the repertoire changed over time.

      1. Hello to Strangely and all the others who have said such lovely things about their Colony Holidays experiences. This is Chris Green, and yes, I am now 74. However, I have not stopped campaigning for kids' holidays, and am in the process of a mass lobby of MPs. If any of you would have the time to send your MP your recollections of colonies, and notably what you think they did for you in your growing up / social development / education, it would be very helpful. I have sent every MP a copy of a booklet How Summer Camps Could Change Britain. I do not have the technical expertise to put the text onto this site, but if anyone can tell me how to do it I could do so. Do reply if you have any comments or can help me. Very many thanks for all the kind things you say. Love to all – Chris Green.

        Booklet link added to this comment for Chris on 1 March 2010 (SP):

        1. Hi Chris, and every former Colony-Holiday-er who has contributed to this post!

          I offered to display the booklet for Chris on this website, and now, it has a page of it's own! See here:

          The original inline PDF file I've now transposed into the webpage with it's original pictures and some judicious cut/copy/paste from myself to make it look right on screen. The hard bit was getting the carriage returns correct… LOL.

          I hope everyone can contribute, in some way, however small, to help Chris with his mission. Writing to your MP seems a good idea and a suggested format is in this word document. Depending on your local election result, we could have to do it twice this year! Double bang for your bucks!

          Best of all (for me), apart from the caring intent of the document, is the comment from President Sarkozy near the end!!

          1. Can't write to my MP who unfortunately died on Boxing Day and there are no moves towards a bye-election yet! But I've loved reading everyone's reminiscences. I think I did 8 Colonies between 1969 and 1975 and have such good memories. Still have the song books I wrote by hand – and no one has yet mentioned the indoor games. I still mystify people with "scissors crossed", "the moon has a big round face" and "whoops bunny". Shooting rabbits also came in use for kids parties!

  24. I went on a number of Colony Holidays. Beeston Hall, Bilton Grange,a place in Dunkirk and a couple of others. I went on my own to most of them, took a friend to the last one, but we were put into different groups (mine stayed up slightly later at hot chocolate time!).

    Colony Holidays were the highlight of my year, and I got so much out of each experience.

    The songs were fab and the friendships better!

    Happy memories…

  25. I went on one Colony Holiday- to an all girls one at an all boys boarding school near Guilsfield (Welshpool)in 1969! I remember the wide games in the grounds, the sing-songs ( Whip-poor-will) and a monitor who asked for the Levi labels off jeans to stitch on her own denims!( I couldn't oblige as I only had ski pants with stirrups which came back into fashion again years later!) I also remember that one of the other girls was the daughter of an actress in Compact an early BBC soap but I can't remember her name. It was fun but a bit pricey £16 rings a bell!

    1. Hi Jill

      My sister went to the Guilsfield site around about that time. She also went to Rannoch and Featherstone Castle if I recall.

  26. Today a thought popped into my head….I wonder what happened to Colony Holidays…..I googled it…and found this site!

    I was one of the monitors all those years ago and did about seven colonies altogether. It was great fun….especially one year based on Star Wars and Darth Vader. My favourite song was 'An old Austrian went yodelling'……… I think I still have my training folder and the songs!

    It is great that others have such good memories too.


    1. Ha Ha. It's not intended to be a reference area for old CCHS folks! Like you, I was day..and just decided to put pen to website! I couldn't find much out there and it seemed that Chris Green's work needed a bit more appreciation.
      I remember an Austrian tune as well but I think it was different to yours – and I went on CCHS hols quite a few years before Star Wars came out, which proves, if anything, the topical creativity going on in the organisers' minds.

      Keep well Gill! Good, and great memories, especially the one at "The Abbey" when Kim ate an annoying wasp "that showed it!", and then matron had a fit and whisked him off to drink vinegar or something.

  27. Hello there,

    just stumbled upon your website whilst doing a search for all things colony holiday related and felt it was only right to say hello. I currently volunteer for ATE and was just looking through an old colony songbook, made me curious to see if there was much out there about the holidays. I also only learned 'Poor Old Man Crossing the Road' this summer and have not heard the “steam engine with a chimney that sends smoke signals to Ceylon” verse so will be adding that one to my repetoire! Hope this finds you well, all the best.

    1. @Alex

      Grand old tunes to keep you amused. From memory, the poor old man (as we were taught it), went:


      Trolley Bus wire-wiper

      Fish 'n Chip Potato Cart

      Corporation water car with a tube that sucks water out of holes

      Steam Engine with a chimney that sends smoke signals to Ceylon

      I'm sure there was another line, but I've forgotten! But all tongue-twistingly-tabulous!

      Other tunes were things like 'Old Abram Brown is dead and gone', 'In springtime in Austria', 'One man went to mow, etc, with his dog, ruff!'

      All totally daft, but fun.

      Keep well mate.


  28. Hi, I too have treasured memories of colonies. I went to 3 I think in total, Linden Manor, one in Norfolk and then Stornoway, Isle of Lewis where I had my 16th birthday so I guess I just scraped in to the colony before I was too old. Strangely, 4 years later, I moved to the Isle of Lewis and have now lived here for nearly 29 years! The colonies were fantastic, I feel so sad that I've lost contact with all the great friends I made on them plus there are all the people who worked so hard to make each one a success for each child. I wish I could thank them! All the best.

    1. @Joanna
      Thanks, and all the best to you too! I visited Linden Manor as it was just over the hill from one that I was at. We all turned up on the doorstep to say hi one day en route to doing some madcap chase or something. And it's VERY strange that you ended up in the Hebrides, given all the historical outward migration from the place AND that you'd only just been there.
      How far did you have to travel to get to the various places i.e. which part of the country were you from? For me (and many others), part of the adventure was the big journey that I did, some of it almost alone, and all of it new and exciting. Aah. Happy days.
      It can be seen as sad to be out-of-touch with all the many people we've met in our lives. Myself? I hardly contact anyone even though at times I've known people very deeply. Others seem to keep in contact for ever even though it's obvious the friendship is only cursory. Maybe that's the difference between living the moment or building a history? You must be the former like me, enjoying company when it's there and oneself when it's not…
      People are just different, that's all.

      And you're right about the staff. It's only now, that I'm older, that I can see the things they did and the effort put in. Bravo.

  29. Being ex-CCHS interested to see your post. I guess you know there is a 50 year celebration between ATE and Bredenbury Court on Wednesday Aug 26th 2009. Looking at your list of centres I went to some of the same as a child and monitor in the 70s, there must be many ex colony folks out there … the follow on for 16 year olds after Inverliever Lodge was at Stornoway – Isle of Lewis.

    1. @Jan
      Wow! I didn’t know about the celebration. I’ll see what’s on, but I’m pretty sure I’m booked! Bredenbury was my first. It was an Easter one. I vividly remember the oil-drum raft thingy in the little lake and hundreds of toads that turned up from nowhere for 3 days for a mass mating session – much to everyone’s amusement. They would grab onto sticks or anything, making huge chains trailing toad-spawn in their wake, completely oblivious to their own personal safety.

      At Inverliever Lodge we had a big hike in the boiling sunshine across several bogs to Ardfern. I thought this was real expedition stuff! In retrospect, from what you say, that Stornaway course looks like an expedition just to get there! Did you go on that, and if so, how did you travel and how long did it take? !!

      My siblings also went on a few. Featherstone Castle and the place just up from Welshpool on the Guilsfield road spring to mind.

      Keep well.

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