’70s Summer Holidays

Growing up in Dunblane in the 1970s our holidays were only ever in the summer. Easter and October school holidays were stay at home : play wi yer pals doon the Lechills or in the school field or in the skinny woods behind Bruce Avenue. October fortnight was tattie howking for many bairns. I went to Hillside Farm one year that was hard work.

My first summer holiday story is one I don’t remember. They say one year, maybe 1972 when I was 4, we were all ready. The car was packed wi deckchairs, beach towels, footballs, clothes and 3 weans and we were off. Maw turned round to look in the back seat and said “wheres Alan?” Car screeches to a halt (I like to think).I was happily sitting on the garden wall at Murdoch Terrace going ladida oh look a butterfly.

Our holidays were always to the beach and always in a caravan. Theres a classic photo somewhere of me on the caravan steps eating my cornflakes. Early 70s I think we went to Stonehaven, Cruden Bay and Banff and Macduff. Don’t remember these really but do recall being stuck in traffic going through Auchterarder and then crawling up the Kinkell Braes behind huge HGVs.

It was exciting living in a caravan, the salt air, new pals wi funny accents, bucket n spade on the beach, fishing nets in the rockpools, gobstoppers n ice lollies. My mums summer holidays had been 4 weeks on Bute at Kilchatten Bay each year so I think we were continuing that tradition just like most Scots.

In ’76 tho, we went to Aviemore it was scorchio and new and exciting, almost like being abroad (apart fae the midges). We were there with our cousins from England, probably like The Broons (seven weans) and I reckon the adults got the caravan and we got the tent. I mind of my dad blowing tobacco smoke from his pipe into the tent to get rid of the midges. Then in ’77 we travelled for 9 hours in a heatwave in the Morris Oxford, legs sticking to the leather seats. Our faraway destination? A caravan on a farm in the Lake District.

That holiday was memorable for many things. I discovered clegs are worse than midges and that I was allergic to horses (rushed to doctors). All the kids played rounders at night and I belted the ball so far it smashed a windae in the farmhouse.”Run!” someone shouted. “To the caravan?” was my reply. I never did get in trouble for that.

In 1978, aged 10, I was at BB camp in Leven then I think we were at Carnoustie in ’79. We never went to the Ayrshire coast coz nana and papa lived in Ardrossan and we visited them on weekends.

So that was my ’70s holidays but in 1980 we broke the tradition and went abroad! The midnight train from Suni Duni (Dunblane) to London, train to Dover, ferry to Calais, overnight train to Brive-la-Gaillarde then bus to St Céré in the Dordogne. Once the ground stopped moving (2 days travelling on trains/ferries/bus) and we acclimatised to the hot weather it was a lovely holiday. We cycled to wee villages nearby and saw Rocamadour, an ancient fortress type town plus caves n shit. There was a thunderstorm most nights too which was exciting. Mum loved seeing the gendarmes with their uniform and guns and we all practiced our bad French and ordered diabolo fraise in the cafés.

As adults we continued the Scottish seaside tradition, staying in cottages. In the 2000s, we took our two to Skye, Barra, Arisaig, Calgary Bay, Dornoch, Tiree and of course Harris. On Harris we couldnt get a cottage for a week and got a decrepit caravan next to Luskentyre beach for £150! What a location but the caravan…. oooft!

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