Doon the watter to Rothesay - Scottish nostalgia


25 July 2016
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2011_04_25_09_17_15-67490.jpg Rothesay, Isle of Bute
Elizabeth Gillespie recalls happy holidays spent 'doon the watter' at Rothesay in the Forties.

Elizabeth Gillespie recalls happy holidays spent 'doon the watter' at Rothesay in the Forties.

I don’t remember the first time I was taken to the Isle of Bute, after all I was only eight months old. But like many other families, we visited Rothesay every year and stayed in a top floor flat in Ardbeg, which belonged to my great aunt Jean.

The flat in The Terrace overlooked the Bowling Green and had a large kitchen/dining room and a front room with bay windows. Both rooms had a curtained off area with a set-in double bed, and the front room also had space for a piano, bed settee and a couple of large armchairs positioned at the bay window.

My younger sister Lilias and I learned to recognise the ships coming from Wemyss Bay and Craigendoran by the number and colour of their funnels. The still steamer Waverley sported two red funnels, and I believe the Jeanie Deans had two yellow funnels.

Wall-mounted gas lamps lit both rooms and each day at dusk the lamplighter, carrying a long handled pole, walked along the road, lit each lamp individually then climbed the stairs of the tenement close and lit the small gas lights on the landings. I thought this was magic.

Aunt Jean always had homemade tablet or treacle toffee. I wonder where she got the sugar to make such tasty sweets for us, as sugar was rationed until 1953. As she worked as a companion help to the elderly, maybe they were generous with their coupons when they knew her great nieces were coming to stay.

At an early age I was allowed to walk to Wyndham Road to ‘Mary in the dairy’ carrying a white enamel can with lid. Mary would ladle milk from a massive churn into my can, milk from a herd of cows which probably hadn’t been tuberculin tested. I remember was a child walking the few miles from Ardbeg to Dicke’s farm near Ettrick Bay and being given milk to drink which was still warm from the cow. It wasn’t what I was used to and I struggled to finish it.

 

(Image copyright Tuck DB Postcards)