Monday, 11 April 2016


The world famous NARDINI's

I took a little trip into the past not long ago and visited Largs and Millport for the first time since 1971.  It was an experience that I'm not quite sure how I feel about, nor am I sure whether my uncertainty is something I can adequately express.  The reason being that there was enough that was still recognizable to recapture glimpses of my past, but there had also been a few changes which somewhat prevented me from being able to fully immerse myself in yesteryear.  If I'd continued in a state of unawareness of present conditions, the place as it had been would have remained alive to me forever in the evergreen land of memory, but now, alas, I'm all too aware that things are no longer as they once were, which saddens me.

The new pier, built around five years ago

A new pier, the old war-mine and toy boating pond long-gone, the paddle-boat pond now used for remote-control model ships, the amusement arcade on the beach-front converted to other pursuits, the pier at Millport no longer visited by the ferry (thereby requiring a bus trip to and from the ferry's 'new' drop-off and pick-up point) - all this and more took a bit of the shine off my return to the holiday haunts of myself and my family back in the dim and distant days of 1968, '69 & '71.  I know that my parents and (separately, with pals) my brother returned at intervals, maybe only on day-trips, but those were experiences in which I never shared, and therefore my memories are time-locked into a specific period which remained inviolate - until recently, that is.

A stroll along the seafront

One thing that did please me was finding that the toy shop in Millport from which I had bought my STEVE ZODIAC and ZOONY The LAZOON friction-drive JETMOBILE in 1968, was still in business.  MAPES, it's called, and though it had closed for the day by the time I arrived, I could see from a glance through the windows that it seemed to be the same inside as it was in my day.  New stock obviously, but apparently the same general design and layout as on my visit 48 years previously.  The bus driver informed me that the gentleman who ran the shop back then (Mr. Mapes, I think it's safe to say) was his next-door neighbour and that the shop is still family-run today. 

The WAVERLEY - "goin' doon the watter"

So, in some ways a rewarding experience, but in others a disappointing one - and also a strange one.  For, despite the changes, it felt as if I'd last visited the place only yesterday or the day before.  I think that's because my mind jumped straight back to 1971, leap-frogging over all the events in between as if they hadn't yet happened.  Who knows, perhaps my memories of my recent visit will eventually recede, and allow my previous fond recollections to resurface in the ascendant once more;  then Largs and Millport as they were will live again, allowing me to re-walk their seaside streets as I knew them when I was a boy.

In the meantime, here's a brief photographic tour through Largs and Millport as they are today.

The street (or one very much like it in close proximity) where
we stayed in 1971.  Our house was one with an upstairs room
Might even have been this one

Formerly the paddle-boat pond... used for remote-control models

Adjoining flower area

Replica Viking longboat outside The VIKINGAR Centre

Amazing the folk you meet in Largs

And we're now in Millport...

...where peace and serenity reign

The narrowest house in the world.  No -
I didn't know it was in Millport either

Mapes - where I bought my jetmobile toy in 1968...

...before hot-footing it back to the pier so as not to miss the ferry

The ROYAL GEORGE Hotel at the pier entrance

A medieval-looking church tower in the distance

The pier where the ferry once plied its trade - but
not for 40-odd years, according to the bus driver

And here's a little friend I brought back with
me from Largs.  Cute little nipper, ain't he?

FOOTNOTE:  It was an odd feeling to return from Largs to a different home than the one in which I was living back in '68, '69 & '71.  So associated is Largs with that particular time in my life, that I feel I should've gone back to my old house rather than the one in which I now stay, had my tea, then ran around the field I used to play in just over the road (which would've been difficult as it no longer exists).  From my present dwelling I only ever holidayed in Blackpool, so had I revisited there instead, it would've felt more natural to return here. I now find myself curiously overwhelmed by the sensation that I'm out-of-step with my proper timeline.  Weird, eh?

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