Tag Archives: caravan

that abhorrent ‘c’ word.

(Post by Colin ‘Jackie’ Jackson of Glasgow – November 2021)

It’s a disgusting word; so many find it quite noisome, and let’s be honest, there’s just no need for its use in a modern and civilised society.

In the Seventies though, everyone was less well educated in acceptable behaviour. What is distinctly frowned upon these days, was regarded the ‘norm,’ back then.

People would openly use the word ‘caravan’ without the slightest consideration of the offence it could cause.

There – I’ve said it. Those of a sensitive disposition should perhaps go read a nice, wholesome book for the next few minutes, as ‘the word’ is likely to crop up quite frequently in the course of this post.


I’d have been new to the ranks of teenager in 1971 when my parents came up with this whizz-bang idea:

“… we’ll now be able to take weekend breaks throughout the year, whenever we fancy.”

This would be in addition to the first foreign holiday we’d enjoyed the previous summer and planned to make an annual event.

“We’re going to buy a caravan – won’t this be splendid?”

‘Splendid?!’ Are you mental? Weekends? What happens to my athletics / cross country races? What about my football? My school parties? Saturday morning cartoons on the telly? What possesses people to forsake their nice spacious homes to go live in a claustrophobic, formica lined box on wheels?

I was already counting the days till I could be legally left at home to fend for myself. I’d even willingly do household / garden chores while the family were away. Maybe we could broker some kind of deal? Creosote the fence or something?

Resistance was futile though, at least for a couple of years.

“Do you fancy going for a golfing trip to Pittenweem this weekend?”

If I’m going to stay in a five, or even four / three star hotel, then maybe.

“It’ll be fun,” they lied.

And so it was … frequent weekends were spent collecting the caravan from the storage facility in the neighbouring town; bringing it to the house; uncoupling it overnight and loading it with clothes and provisions for the weekend; reconnecting the car and driving to Fife, usually arriving just in time for lunch.

Reverse that procedure on the Sunday afternoon, ensuring we arrived back before the storage facility closed, and we had just enough time to squeeze in a round of golf and fish supper on the Saturday, and a walk along the windswept and bitingly cold beach on the Sunday morning.

Oh yeah – this was fun, alright!

Then, horror of horrors! Emboldened by admittance into the Caravan Club of Great Britain, my excited parents announced we’d now be taking an additional summer holiday. An additional week. In Dornoch.  In the caravan!

Heavens above! Dornoch, even in 2021, is a good four and a half hours drive away. Fifty years ago, and towing a bleedin’ caravan …. a letter with a second class stamp would get there quicker.

“It’s a lovely caravan site – right by the golf course. And there’s a toilet and shower block too.”

And that’s the best selling point you can come up with?

I suppose having a site toilet block is better than the family sharing the chemical filled potty that stank out the wee cubby-hole that passed as a toilet in most caravans. Oh, perish the thought! (We actually used that space for storing the golf clubs.) But really, is it such a privileged luxury to waken in the dead of night, scratch around for a torch, pull on a pair of wellies / sandals  / golf spikes, and trudge a hundred and fifty yards to a damp, smelly and cold toilet? I think not.

We’d play golf in the morning and weather permitting, another round in late afternoon / early evening. This was summer in Scotland, though. Weather has a habit of messing with your plans. So we’d then be dragged off on some Godforsaken sight-seeing trip.

John o’ Groats? Nothing to see. Still wet there. Dunnet Head? Naff all there either. And just as wet. Thurso did have a chip shop, though.

Back at the caravan, my mum, not renowned for her culinary skills, bless her, would prepare a hearty evening meal. Something along the lines of tinned Heinz macaroni on toast, followed by Birds Eye instant custard and jam. Yes. Jam.

Mmmmnn! Yummy!

Meals would be served up in instalments because the ineffectual cooker, fired by a suspicious and sinister looking gas canister, had the power of a Christmas candle. While we waited in not-so-eager anticipation, the combination of body-heat times four, damp clothing and smoke from the burnt toast (told you, didn’t I?) would cause the windows to steam up. A decision then had to be made: open the windows to clear them and die from hypothermia, or risk asphyxiation from the steam, smoke and ever-present hint of leaking calor gas.

Thankfully, I managed eventually to extricate myself from these tortuous events, playing the ‘I best stay behind to study for my exams,” card.

A couple of years later, freed from the shackles of holidaying with parents, a few pals who like me were leaving school in the summer of 1976, decided to go away together. Benidorm? Majorca? Blackpool?

Nope. We had all recently bought our first motorbikes – one had a car, a Morris 1100, I think.

(My first / only motor bike – I kept it through one winter before deciding a car was by far a better option.)

Why don’t we drive over to St Andrews and rent (no! please, no! I can sense what’s coming ….) a caravan for the week? It’ll be a right laugh.


I’d love to tell you it was a right laugh. I’d love to tell you it was a right nightmare. I’d love to tell you it was a right anything. Truth is, I can tell you next to nothing! It’s all a bit of a haze.

I do recall we upset someone in a neighbouring caravan who was always on our case. So we did what any self-respecting gallus teenagers would do, and threw a pan-loaf worth of bread chunks onto the roof of his caravan in the dead of night.

Yeah, you’re there – come first light, his caravan was besieged by a flock of noisy, ravenous seagulls pecking the bread and stomping around on the roof.

Have some of that!

Other than that, my only other recollection is suffering my worst ever hangover after a night on Pernod and lemonade. That took care of one of the seven days.

The hangover from Hell – and in a caravan.

I’d said it before, but this time I meant it. To this day, I’ve never even sipped a Pernod.

And to this day, I’ve never again set foot in a caravan.

I’d rather wash my mouth out with soap.


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The Castle, the Gypsy and the Fire Dance

Mark Arbuckle: Glasgow 2021

Now this might sound like an unwritten Harry Potter novel but with apologies to Ms. Rowling these events are true and took place a decade or so before she conjured up the young wizard.

Names have been withheld to protect our idiocy!

It all began on a cold but bright Sunday morning in March 1974. A group of around a dozen teenagers, including myself, gathered at the Radnor Hotel on Kilbowie Road, Clydebank to begin our quest to the mythical Mugdock Castle.
We were all suitably dressed for our adventure….

Flared Jeans (more on them later) T-shirts, Denim Jackets and the obligatory Baseball Boots (Basies) or Gola Trainers.
All perfect for the 8°C weather!

The girls had been tasked with supplying the food and the guys with procuring whatever alcohol that they could get their underage hands on. One clever chap (I or C) also brought his battery powered cassette player and a selection of classic 70’s rock music….Purple, Yes, ELP and the mighty Zep

Hoisting our duffle bags we set off and quickly decided that if we were going to hitchhike it would be best if we split up into twos or threes.
We reached Kilbowie roundabout and already a few lucky couples had managed to get a lift. The rest of us continued to walk towards Hardgate and onwards to Milngavie.

MK and I finally got a lift from a lorry driver, who, obviously concerned for our safety, put his large left arm around both of us! 
I risked a glance at MK’s face and she was as shocked as I was!
Thankfully it was a short journey and he dropped us off half a mile from the Mugdock Park entrance. 

The first thing we saw, apart from trees, was an ornately painted Gypsy caravan close to a narrow stream. The resident wasn’t around but it was easy to imagine an old, grey haired, shawl wearing, woman with a stunningly beautiful daughter remarkably similar to Cher singing Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves…..well easy for me to imagine this scene….not too sure about MK who was probably still thinking about our over friendly lorry driver!


We reached the Castle in about 20 minutes.
Remember this was 1974, long before Mugdock had a visitor centre, gift shop or cafe. 
Most of our merry gang were already setting up camp at the derelict castle, swapping stories about their individual hitchhiking journeys.

A couple of the guys had brought fishing lines, presumably to catch their supper in the lake adjacent to the Castle.

However there was one little problem ….the lake was frozen solid!
The fishing line weights merely hit the ice and skidded 10 yards away.

Undaunted by this setback, large stones were launched onto the ice which eventually created a couple of holes. Now the only problem was aiming the fishing line weights at said holes!
After several attempts our ‘would be’ Captain Birdseye’s gave up completely.

Couples were exploring the darker recesses of the castle, which are sadly closed to the public nowadays…. probably just as well!
The music was on, a good fire was lit and everybody was enjoying a drink, a sandwich, or a sausage roll.


The temperature had dropped and the fire was kept going with bits of wood, twigs and leaves and, to howls of derision, a quarter bottle of vodka!

My great friend Peter (who is sadly no longer with us )  moved closer to the fire, enjoying it’s warmth. Suddenly he leapt to his feet screaming and kicking his legs in the air in a demented dance around the flames!
The rest of us laughed, hooted and clapped at his crazy antics.
He then shocked everybody by kicking his basies off and dragged his jeans down!…. 


Now the fashion at the time was to take an ordinary pair of jeans and open the side seams 15″ from the ankles and then plead with your mum to sew in a triangular piece of coloured cloth (mine was yellow) thus making them flared and fashionable. 

Dancing Peter had done this himself, but instead of sewing he had stapled the insert to the denim!
When he sat too close to the fire the staples had melted into his skin causing his mad Fire Dance!

It was now getting dark and had also started to snow.
Peter for one, was grateful, rubbing handfuls of the stuff onto his burnt flesh.
We packed up ready to head home, but for some unknown reason instead of heading back the way we had come, towards Cher’s Gypsy caravan, we started to walk in the opposite direction??

The snow was getting very heavy now, which actually helped us to see as there was no other light and of course nobody had brought a torch!


We were making decent progress when the gradient suddenly slanted downward causing 3 or 4 people to slip and fall in the snow.

One poor guy (MG) got back up only to fall again over a small ‘hillock’ which bleated in surprise and moved off followed by a few of it’s woolly friends! 

We continued slip- slidin’ away on this downward slope for about half an hour until we entered thick woodland. We could now see streetlights about a mile ahead so had no option but to head for them.

We eventually emerged onto a farm track with houses about 500 yards ahead. Everybody was muddy, shivering and scratched from branches and brambles in the wood. A few of the girls had started to cry (probably guys too) and everybody was cold, hungry and miserable.

I was ‘volunteered’ to go to the first house to ask where we were.
A woman answered and was shocked at my disheveled appearance before politely telling me ‘You’re in Milngavie son’.
I pointed to the sad huddle of my companions and asked if there was a chip shop nearby and to our delight she said there was, just a few hundred yards from her house.

This news lifted our spirits and we trudged off to find it.
Cobbling our money together we had enough to buy three fish suppers to share….. they were ravenously devoured!

I had also ensured that I kept back enough change to use in the phone-box next to the chippy.

I phoned my Dad who voicing a combination of anger and relief agreed to take myself and three more of our motley crew home.
Two others followed suit and got family members to come to their rescue.

I don’t remember much about what followed as nobody really talked about it at school the next week.
I think we all realised how daft we’d been and how fortunate we were that nobody had got hypothermia or been badly injured on the journey home.

We were all a bit sheepish….

Especially MG – who still claims that he ‘fell over’ that one, on that snow covered hillside!