Summer days in Seventies Scotland


09 December 2014
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Corinne Cassidy shares happy memories of holidaying in Scotland in the Seventies. ...

Corinne Cassidy shares happy memories of holidaying in Scotland in the Seventies.

The Ford Galaxie 500 is just how you would imagine a retro American car. Ours was a gleaming, eye catching burgundy convertible. It was my father’s pride and joy and totally unsuitable for the drive between London and Durness.

For my parents, a road trip to Scotland in the Galaxie was an escape from central London to a few weeks of peace and quiet far from the madding crowd. My father’s family lived in Dumfriesshire and although he grew up in London, his heart always remained in Scotland.

The journey to Durness from London is 660 miles – plenty of time for numerous family squabbles. Luckily, the journey was broken up by a couple of stops en route.


The first break was to visit my father’s family in Lockerbie, and as ever, as we crossed the border, my father’s accent morphed back into lowlands Scots. Spean Bridge was the next stop where we stayed in a handsome hotel overlooking Loch Lochy. We played table tennis outside, our competitive spirit fobbing off all attempts by the local midges to put us off our strokes.

THE HOLIDAY BEGINS

The following morning, with the roof down, and the Bay City Rollers blaring out ‘Shang a Lang!’ on the car radio, we embarked on the final leg of the journey.

Durness, was, and still is, reached by a single- track road. It was dark by the time we reached our B&B and mum and dad had reluctantly put the roof up on the Galaxie. My brother and I were soon tucked up in bed. The following morning, my parents were up at the crack of dawn, preparing a picnic, packing deckchairs and rugs into the boot of the Galaxie and putting the roof down before we all piled in for a day on the beach.

The Galaxie took up the whole width of the road, but it didn’t matter – we had the road to ourselves – we were truly kings of the road. During the journey games like I Spy were fairly redundant  – there are only so many words for sheep and grass – so my brother and I bickered and squabbled but when we finally arrived at the beach even we were silenced.

 

The sand was (and still is) powdery and white. It was unlike anything we’d ever seen before.


On previous trips to Devon we had waded in red sand. During visits to Sussex, our soft childish toes had struggled with rough shingle beaches. But never before had we discovered a place where the fine sand oozed through our toes. 

On that beautiful day, blessed by the warmth of the mid Seventies summer heatwave, we spent our time swimming, eating and generally messing around. The sea was warm and clear and the sandy floor forgiving enough for my brother and me to practice and perfect our handstands.

Later, we all tucked into a gourmet picnic – crab paste sandwiches, followed by butterscotch Angel Delight, which my mother had carefully decanted into mini Tupperware pots earlier that morning.

At the end of the afternoon, we returned to the car, relaxed and happy. To our dismay, it seemed that the Galaxie too, had relaxed and was now wheel arch high in sand. I don’t remember how my father managed to call the farmer with a tractor who pulled the Galaxie off the beach – there were no mobile phones in the Seventies. But I do remember that fantastic day in stunning Durness.