'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!

Dunblane SC Amateurs :formed 2016

Dunblane SC Amateurs were formed in 2016. Saturday 4 June 2016 to be precise, at the India Gate restaurant. The night was intended to be a reunion of the ’96/97s team, a year after our last match, a 3-2 triumph to win the cup at the Recs, Alloa. It ended up alot more than that.

I had started to help coach the ’97s lads in 2004 and coached them through their primary school years, from fun fours to 7-a-side. Saturday mornings taking a carload of 8 year olds to Sunnyside in Camelon and Park Primary in Alloa. Once the lads reached high school many of them signed for Stirling Albion or Stenhousemuir but most returned within two years.

In August 2012, we took the lads to St Andrews and had a great 2 days which set us up for a tremendous season (under 16s in Forth Valley league). Despite being 11 points behind with 8 games left that season we won all our games in May to set up an amazing finale. First on Sat 1 June 2013, we won the cup final at Alloa on penalties v Cowie after a 0-0 draw. Two days later we travelled to Kilsyth needing one point to win the league. Seafar were the opposition, the team we had trailed by 11 points. We won 5-1 and were presented with the trophy after the final whistle amid jubilant scenes.

The next season was barren and in our final season we merged with the ’96s. In the league, we chased Sauchie Juniors all the way, beating them on their own patch but we finished 2nd. We did however win 2 cups and in our final ever match in May 2015 we came from 0-2 to win the cup v Riverside. It was a great way to finish youth football.

So, our reunion was intended to be just that, a reunion. However after a few beers and chatting to the lads it was obvious most of them had fallen out the game. We asked the lads on the night if they would be interested in starting an amateur team. The reply was a resounding yes.

We were admitted to the Stirling and District League and after some friendly matches we played our first competitive match on Saturday 13 August 2016. Our opponents were Laurieston Lions who had recently achieved notoriety in the Daily Record for losing 37-0. We were 1 down in 30 seconds, a bad start to our journey to say the least. We recovered to win 14-1.

That first season was a big learning curve as we had an average age of 19 whilst our opponents were all hardened amateurs. One match in particular our lads had a quiet laugh at the opposing centre forward: he was a big lad. Well, the big lad scored a hat trick as we couldn’t handle him. Another lesson.

In our first season (2016/17), we finished fourth in the league but our journey as an amateur team had begun. More was to come in 2017/18 (to be continued)….

Dunblane Bypass

The Dunblane bypass was opened in 1991. Hard to imagine Dunblane without it now but long ago all the traffic heading up and down the A9 would thunder through Dunblane.

There were fatalities in Dunblane, perhaps that brought it to a head. There were protests too. I recently met a lady who had protested. “I lay down in front of a truck” she said, her face beaming with the recollection “it was on the STV news”. I was well impressed and told her so. “Well, I was alot younger then” she added.

I looked it up. In the ’70s they wanted to make the Perth Road a dual carriageway, knocking down houses to enable this I assume. Sounds crazy but there was alot less traffic in them days. Dunblane would have been split in two. There was a flyover proposed from the golf course down to the High Street. Now that would have been mental, you have to be impressed by the planner who dreamt that one up : southbound cars fleeing off the slip road, over the dual carriageway and zooming doon to the High Street, pedestrians running for their lives.

In hindsight, maybe it was the ’60s, because that idea could only have been born with the aid of recreational drugs.

So the western bypass was really the only sensible solution although the other idea was a bypass to the east. No idea how that worked – cut across the golf course, Glen Road, behind the hydro ?

I remember going for a jog along the bypass before it opened. That was a bit surreal, jogging along an empty motorway type road. Dont try it now, folks.

My uncle was up from London one time and he made a prediction. Once the bypass is complete, he said, they will build houses on all the land between Dunblane and the bypass. Well, in the 29 years since they have built the Calas, Montgomery Cresent, Clement Loan, a new Dunblane High School/Maurice Wynd, Balmyle Grove, Daniel Avenue/Lawder Place ,extended Grant Drive and now Victoria Park. Spot on with that prediction, eh! (not even mentioned the proposed Hillside Farm development).

So, as a result of the bypass, Dunblane is a better place but is its head getting too big for its body?


My gran was born in 1897. My mothers mother, her name was Anne Hall. I know this because my niece has done research into our family tree. I also know because at Dunblane Primary School in the 1970s my teacher asked us to bring in something Victorian. I went home, told my mum and she laughed and said “take your gran in”. True story.

In the 1970s gran lived in Roman Way in Dunblane. If I was sick I would stay at grans and later my dad would bring me a comic or marbles when he came to collect me.

Gran had a colour TV. It was tiny…but it was colour! That’s why, on 12 October 1977, we went to grans for the crucial Wales v Scotland world cup qualifier. I was only 9 years old so I must have been allowed to stay up late as we qualified for Argentina ’78. In hindsight, poor my gran : 80 year old and we gatecrashed her hoose for the football because she had a colour TV!

Sadly, in later years gran had Alzheimer’s disease and I remember her phoning us to say she had set the table, dinner was ready and where were we ? Very upsetting. She died in 1986, aged 89.

Born 7 May 1897, gran was brought up in Halfway House, Paisley Road, Glasgow. She went to Cardonald Primary School. She was one of ten children according to the 1901 census. She was engaged at a young age I was told, but tragically her fiancé died in WW1. She then married James Dyce in 1927, gave birth to 3 girls (including my mum) and a boy. Her first born girl, named Winnifred, died at the age of two however. In WW2, they were all evacuated to a wee village called Terregles near Dumfries and attended the school there.

It still amazes me that if some German (I assume) had not shot (again I assume) my grans fiancé in WW1 then none of us would be here.

Sobering thought, eh.

PS This blog is for Kim, who has done alot of research on our family history, climbing the family tree!

PPS This is also for Sean and Amy, so youse know your family history thru my blethers.

Hampden in the '80s

Hampden is iconic. Though I never saw a match with crowds of over 100,000 I did witness some amazing Scotland matches in the 1980s, all whilst standing on the terracing in the Rangers end. No seats in those days, just folk packed in behind the goals. Stories tell of drunken folk pishing down the back of your legs but I must have been lucky because that never happened to me. Unless I was the drunk….?

My first Hampden experience however was not a Scotland game, it was the 1981 league cup final. I remember being disappointed the stadium was smaller than I imagined. I’d been at Ibrox in ’78 to watch Stirling Albion and it was huge, a massive bowl. So Hampden seemed small in comparison.

That day in November ’81, Rangers scored twice in the last few minutes to beat Dundee United 2-1. I remember the stoor (dust cloud) drifting down the pitch from the Rangers end (we were in the north enclosure) following both goals. The terracing was blaes and timber you see. The crowd was 53,777.

I was back in ’84 for a World Cup qualifier v Spain, beaten European finalists. We were stuck in traffic at Stepps when the Scotland team bus passed us with a police escort. Crazy. That night in November 74,299 fans crammed into the ancient stadium. Kenny Dalglish scored an amazing goal to clinch a 3-1 win. I lost my mate for five minutes after that goal. The crowd would all surge forward, you had to be careful not to fall down or you would be trampled but folk always helped you back up after. I remember leaving the stadium that night was scary, such was the crush of bodies. You were literally swept along, feet off the ground.

I was back the following May, in ’85 to see Scotland beat England 1-0. A Richard Gough header in the pouring rain was enough. Only 66,439 at this one, maybe segregation was needed for some strange unknown reason? The atmosphere was incredible though, very hostile towards the English fans who, in the ’80s had a terrible reputation.

My final classic match was in March ’89 when we beat France 2-0. France had finished 3rd in the Mexico ’86 World Cup but we won easily. 65,204 fans watched in pouring rain that night as Mo Johnston scored both goals. Good times tho we got totally soaked getting back to the car that night.

From the sublime to the ridiculous, in ’86 I watched Stirling Albion lose 1-0 to Queens Park in a near empty stadium, a surreal experience. The same day Rangers drew 4-4 with Celtic at Ibrox (only 41,000 at that).

I feel lucky to have caught the end of an era, both in footballing terms and old fashioned (decrepit) stadiums. I saw Dalglish, Cooper, Miller, Strachan and Souness all play. Scottish international football has never since reached the levels of ’80s and Hampden was made an all seater stadium in the late ’90s so we’ll never see these crowds again in our national stadium.

I’m going to Hampden this week for a league meeting, train from Central to Mount Florida. Hopefully it’ll be quieter than those crazy nights in the ’80s.

Family Traditions

Our family is odd. We have strange code words only we can decipher, family traditions only we can understand. Maybe we’re not odd, maybe every family has the same (but different) quirks ?

For example, mum used to chap our door and walk in, shouting “Yoohoo!”. A stranger may think this is odd but I now do this regularly when delivering medicines to auld yins. They should recognize my knock by now but the “Yoohoo!” is hopefully reassuring.

Another phrase is “right, that’s me”(abbreviated from “right, that’s me away”). Our Amy shouts this on her way out the door. Again a stranger would be like wtf? That’s you what..?

Once our English cousins were up. Mum asked them if they wanted a piece. “A piece of what?” was the reply. That was more a cultural thing tho, not a family quirk.

We have a family whistle too. Stole the idea offof my mate. He was at a Rangers game away to Partick once. Packed stadium, stood on the terracing. Did his family whistle and within a minute 2 cousins arrived to greet him. So we have developed a wee curlew type whistle which we use if we’re separated, usually in busy railway stations, Christmas market in George Square but most often in Dunblane Tesco. So if you hear a weird curlew whistle in Tesco it’s just us.

We have odd words too, like cockney slang without the rhyme. If the tv is too loud (like blaring), we say its Tony Blair. We had been saying that for years since the tots were born(1997/98). Then one day, a tiny Sean came running into the kitchen shouting “Theres a guy on TV called Tony Blair !” Come to think of it, that may have sparked his interest in politics.

Another one is “I’m away to see Tom Kite”, usually mumbled as one leaves the room. That’s self explanatory. There is one saying that we dont understand though, dont know the origins. One day, when it was pouring, Elaine said “its a sin for a worm”. I thought this was hilarious, concern for worms getting droont in the rain. Puir wee worms. Who knows where that came fae as Elaine’s family are mystified too.

Anyway, hope your family has odd phrases/habits and were not total freaks. It keeps us different in a weird sort of way!

Still "Aff It"

So its Day 55 and ah’m still aff it, actually enjoying being aff it. At first I had sugar cravings and would eat chocolate or ice cream. If there was football on tv,I would get a couple cans of diet Irn Bru in as a substitute. It was indeed my other national drink.

Going out is no problem either. Still a good laugh but you feel sharper, notice things more. It’s only when folk start blethering nonsense or getting ‘tired and emotional’ that I glance at my phone and rattle my car keys. Being driver bear helps actually. Folk are not likely to give you a hard time for not drinking if you are giving them a lift up the road.

Keeps it simple too. I had Burns Supper recently after a busy day at the football. Normally I’d be rushing about, go co-op and get a cairry oot, fill my hip flask then we’d all need to walk to the Vicky Hall in the rain. Later we’d phone and wait for a taxi. Not now. Took the car. Door to door service, everyone happy. Simples.

Up at 0830 this Sunday morning too. Previously unheard of. Walk the dogs, kettle on for our guests. Our house has never been tidier. Still a midden but tidier because I’m full of energy, not hungover. And Sunday night visits to the Macrobert for a movie, again previously unheard of.

I’ve lost weight, maybe just a pound a week but I feel the difference. My hips not giving me grief now and that wee bit weight loss maybe is helping. Skin feels better so I feel more confident in myself. Aye it’s good. Saving me a few bob too.

And sleep. Getting really deep sleeps noo.

So that’s the first 50 days over. I’ve decided it’s my 50 day health plan. Other folk follow health plans, not their own, so when it goes pete tong they blame the plan. Well it’s my plan so the buck stops with me. And my first 50 days plan was simple: no alcohol.

The next 50 day plan is the same but also no fizzy drinks (except when I’m in the pub, wee treat) and no crisps. I’m copying Elaine’s slimming world plan by adding blueberries, strawberries etc to my porridge. And that’s it til 18 March. Oh and I’ve started doing 5 laps of the astro (1 mile) three times a week. Baby steps.

Baby steps coz this is a big deal. Over 30 years doing what our culture dictates. Take a drink. Here’s to Rabbie, take a drink. Bad day, hae a drink. Great result, let’s celebrate, take …a…drink !

So 55 days “aff it” is good going I reckon. First things first tho. I need to survive this coming weekend which involves a cocktails n cabaret evening and then a bus trip to Rothesay with the football team. I can hear it already.

“Take a drink!”

Pabbay 2011

The lads resumed work at Pabbay Cottage in Spring 2011, erecting the timber frame round the outside walls. Tricky work as the stone walls were not on the plumb to say the least. The floor insulation was laid, underfloor heating pipes on top and then the screed was poured.The first floor joists went in, then chipboard flooring and we had the start of the master upstairs bedroom.

When we arrived mid July for a working holiday, the upstairs became Sean and Amy’s den accessed via ladder only (they were 13 and 14 by then). Amy hated climbing down the ladder at first but soon got used to it. It also helped that we now had electricity and wifi ! My mum came up that first week and we had one lovely day on the beach at Scarista when we were in the sea with a toy inflatable boat.

There was alot going on that fortnight. The lads were erecting partitions on the ground floor, the sparky was doing his first fix and the stonemasons had arrived. I had sent them some photos of the ruin to give them an idea of the scope of the works but apparently when they arrived, saw it for real, they almost turned around and drove off again!

One evening, once we had finished our shift we sat out the front , the sun low in the west. It was a lovely soft evening, wee breeze. We were joking, four of us,having a beer. The joiner produced a bottle of J & B whisky which I’d given him as a thank you. I was protesting that it was his bottle but no, he opened it there and then, threw the cap away and announced “we’ll no’ be needing that again”. Well he was spot on and thirty minutes later the bottle was tossed away too.

As work progressed, I did what I could to help which was basically fitting wall insulation, doing trips to the skip, bagging sand from the beach for mixing mortar and fetching hot rolls from the butty bus. The stonemasons had gone to the beach before but got their van stuck in the sand and had to be towed out by tractor.

On the Saturday night we had a lovely meal in The Anchorage and fortified with drink, took a short cut to the bed and breakfast (Taylorhill) via the weir at the Millpool. Amy was ahead of us and cried out “otters!”.By the time I caught up all I saw were bubbles.

The second week saw the boys sleeping upstairs in Pabbay Cottage and the girls in B & Bs. To be honest it was quite stressful: chasing up suppliers, visiting building control in Stornoway, getting interviewed for a grant from Business Gateway (we got £5000) and picking up parts from plumbers merchants. Every time we went to Tarbert or Stornoway, we had a huge list of things to collect, buy or order. We were shopping for light fittings and bathroom suites whilst Pabbay was a total building site. There were, I admit, moments of mild panic especially over finances.

Later in the year, I drove up with a wood burning stove. Someone had advised me never to go up with an empty car, always take something. Well I cant repeat the lads comments when they saw it but it was along the lines of “now where do you expect us to stick that?”

Throughout this the locals were brilliant, helping taking deliveries when we weren’t there, giving the lads food when they were working late. One neighbour used Pabbay as a hide and would shoot rabbits out the back.

On 11th October, we fitted the glazed double doors on the upstairs bedroom. The opening had been boarded up for a full year so it was brilliant to suddenly have daylight flooding in. We worked til 8pm then headed to the Hotel Hebrides for Spain v Scotland game (that’s why I know the precise date haha).

During the year, the project grew arms and legs. We added a walk out balcony to the plans (originally this was just railings) and added the large shed with sink unit. These proved to be wise decisions but more money!

Two final funny tales: when we got the new balcony installed, Elaine was outside admiring the view. A gust of wind blew the door shut behind her and she was stuck. She managed to call for help and someone let her back in eventually. We now have an outside handle on that door to prevent this happening to one of our guests.

We also got the downstairs toilet fitted in 2011. It was a great relief haha. Anyway, one day Sean disappeared oot the back. When he came back I said where you been, he said for a pee. I’m like “we’ve got a toilet now!” Oh yeah.

In December we took a booking, our first booking. It set it out for us all, an ultimate target. We had to be finished for Saturday 5 May 2012. I like a target, a focus, a goal. 2012 was gona be fun !

Suni Duni late'70s

I grew up in Dunblane in the 1970s: a very small person at Dunblane Primary School, I was second youngest in the class. We lived in Murdoch Terrace just across from the school field. Beyond that was hillside: no Wallace Road, no Anchorscross, no bypass ! Just coos I think. And maybe a bull … dont wear red. The field next to it (now Buchan Drive) was a corn field I think. Great for hide n seek.

The hill at the back of Murdoch Terrace was great for sledging , unless you went flying into the barbed wire fence at the bottom. That was a sair yin.

There was no Tesco or Markies in Dunblane either. The fruit van and fish van both came round once a week and my maw would go to Bennetts for mince, beef olives and scotch pies. Saturday morning I would get my pocket money, walk down the high street to buy Roy of the Rovers and get my football cards. My folks would shop in the high street too: I mind my dad had to move his Morris Oxford to let a bus through.

My dads Morris Oxford may hold an unofficial world record when it took an entire football team to Doune. We were all young lads but it’s still an impressive feat.

Sunday morning I got sent to Ramzans for the Sunday Post. I would leave my bike roond the corner and run in to buy the paper. If I left it outside the shop someone would take it and I would be chasing after them to try get it back.

My bike was a skeleton of a thing. It was nicknamed ‘The Wreck’. I would cycle as fast as I could then jump off and see how far it could go on it’s own. Nae Netflix in thae days: this was our entertainment.

Summer holidays were spent playing in the school field, the skinny woods or doon the Lechills. One summer we played constantly on the putting green at Millrow. We also went picking strawberries at Auchenteck Farm. I earned £3.50 one day ! Some of the older lads put stones at the bottom of their punnets to help at the weigh in but I was too feart. October holidays was tattie howking at Hillside Farm. That was hard work. Both farmhouses are now luxury homes. Later in the 80s I went caddying in the summer at Gleneagles, got the train up, hid in the toilet to avoid the guard.

Another farm visited was Stockbridge on the Doune road. We would play in the barn, cats everywhere. I think thats how my sister came home one day with a pet lamb, Skippy. We kept Skippy in the garden for one summer. I can mind our dog sitting at the garden gate waiting to get back in and Skippy ran up and heid butted the gate open.Sheeps are neds.

So, these are my simple childhood memories. They may differ from yours coz my memory is…ach you know…whatsitagain…pish!


Mum was a primary school teacher, a very good one I’m told. Even when she retired she never stopped teaching, telling the grandchildren stories, pointing things out to them on walks. She had an active mind, loved reading.

Later mum had Alzheimer’s disease, like her own mother. She would wander up Dunblane High Street several times a day, visit the library so often that they stopped stamping the books, they knew she’d be back later that day with the same books. She would chat to locals, especially if they had children or a dog. She loved both. She was well kent in Suni Duni (Dunblane).

Mum would forget she’d been out and head back out again soon after. As a result she lost weight and we tried to feed her up, a reverse diet, full fat milk, yoghurts and lasagne. We filled her fridge full one time and an hour later she was at our door, two bags full of food – “you’ve forgot your food, left it in my fridge”. After that we filled the fridge daily by stealth, one of us would chat to mum while the other put milk, yoghurt and a meal in the fridge and fruit in the bowl.

The doctors sent someone out to do a test. Simple questions. What year is it ? Mum thought this was daft, what’s the point. Eventually she said 2004 I think.

It was 2012.

The questions went on, who’s the prime minister etc. It was horrible sitting there. I wanted to shout leave her alone ya heartless bastard. They were just doing their job but boy was it upsetting to watch.

And so, after the diagnosis, we learned to cope. After all,mum had looked after us for years, now it was our turn . We would talk about past holidays, where mum was comfortable. If you asked her what she had for dinner last night she would get flustered so we would ask did she enjoy the lasagne last night. Little things. The kids got used to granny repeating herself, they were great with her. Mind you, one year granny gave them a birthday present…twice. They liked Alzheimer’s that year haha. Got to laugh.

Talking of which, the BBC did a piece about The Golden Postbox and who was on tv, walking up the high street? Well, I suppose it was odds on. We had a laugh about that too.

PS Does this story sound familiar? If so, you are not alone. There’s help out there for carers (yes you are a carer). We had a lovely lady who would take mum out once a week (to a coffee shop or something) and it was great knowing you could relax for that day.