Dunoon Best Holidays Ever
A Memory of Dunoon.
Each year, the excitement mounted as summer drew near. Dad would drag out the large wicker hamper and Mum would start to fill it with clothes, wellies and tins of food from Galbraiths or the Co-op. By school's end, the carriers would have come to cart the hamper down the tenement stairs and on to its journey. We'd be dressed in our best for travelling and then off to Central Station to catch the steam train to Gourock. By the time the train pulled in to Gourock we children would be so pumped with energy that we would run to the ferry. There were always several waiting for the occupants of the train. One ferry to Dunoon, one to Rothesay and others waiting or docking. We would dash up the gangplank, Mum loaded down with all our stuff bringing up the rear. Then it was hang over the rails until we could catch our first sight of Dunoon. What a delight that would be - smelling the sea air, watching the waves, passing the light houses! And then we would watch as Dunoon pier, with its distinctive orange roofs, grew bigger and bigger. Once docked and disembarked, we would pick up bags, jackets and whatever else Mum said and off we would go. Decisions, decisions! Would we take the route up through the castle gardens, or what about walking through the High Street. We could by pass the gardens, skirt Hie'land Mary and start up Tom'a' Moid Road. Whatever way we went we always came to our house in Hill Street. It was called Middleton Cottage and owned by Mum's family It would be our home for the next three weeks.
The delight of this home from home stays with me though it is 50 years since I last stayed in that wee house. Every morning it was get up, dressed and off to fetch the milk from the dairy, the rolls from the co-op and the sausages from the butcher. There were shops on every corner catering to the many holidaymakers from Glasgow as well as the locals. Square sausage in a roll with a cup of tea tasted completely different in Dunoon than it did in Glasgow. Much better, tastier. The delights of Dunoon were then debated. What to do each day was never a problem. We walked everywhere. We went several times to the Waterworks (Bishop's Glen) as it was not far from the cottage. In fact we children went most places on our own, delighting in the freedom. Mum would pack picnics and we'd all go off to the beach if the weather was fine - or even if it wasn't! We'd go to the rocks at Port Riddle and play for hours, the paddling pool at Kirn to show off the latest Glasgow fashions. We'd get Mum to take us out on a wee rowing boat from the West Bay, visit Morag's Fairy Glen or watch, envious as people used the Lido (we couldn't afford to go). And every Sunday evening every child in Dunoon would congregate at the West Bay where some group (poss Salvation Army) would have brought benches for us to sit on and then would conduct a rousing service with all the children singing favourite hymns and being told stories from the Bible. The adults would sit near by to enjoy the sound of happy voices raised in song.
Dunoon has stayed with me as I grow older, a beacon to head to. And head to, I have. Although it has lost some lustre over the years and the house we called home is no more, Dunoon itself is still a delight. My sisters and I revisited last year (the first holiday we had taken together in well over 50 years) and - even though it was November - the weather welcomed us warmly. We went to all the old haunts, revived all the old memories and thoroughly enjoyed our time together in Dunoon. We will do it again this year; making new memories, keeping old ones alive. Nowhere compares to Dunoon.