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?


  1. They both look like nice, peaceful places to live despite the changes from what you remember, Kid. I've always thought it must be so pleasant living by the sea. As for changes - well, nothing can stay the same. Only last week I discovered my local Iceland store has closed as well as another little food shop that had been around for donkey's years.

    1. Yeah, but it's a shame that all the good things in our lives can't stay the same, isn't it? I plan to go back to Largs and Millport (and Rothesay) again in the not too distant future.

  2. We would have loved to have lived in that narrow house when we were kids.
    It would have been like a mansion to us.

    1. That front door is wider than what our house was. We had to sleep standing up.

    2. YOU were lucky!
      We would have loved to sleep!
      OR stand up!

    3. But we had to sleep OUTSIDE! (And we couldn't for the noise.)

  3. I love Largs but have never been to Millport (a disgrace for a Glasgow boy) - I know what you mean though there always seems to be something missing when revisiting old places from your childhood, even if it looks the same a certain "magic" has gone maybe its just the childhood sheen that has been taken away from us, but sometimes there is a harshness about places now - something that is very evident to me when I last visited Blackpool - as a kid to me it was a place of utter magic bright lights, lots of shows , arcades comic shops piers etc as an adult my memory of it is it stinks of chips fat, sleazy arcades, drunks (still has shows and the piers are nice though) sleazy t-shirts and cheap pound and Blackpool rock shops. I was in Moffat last week that's still a lovely wee place.

    1. Don't know if I've ever been to Moffat or not, McS, but the last time I was in Blackpool was in 1974, which was the last holiday I ever had, in fact. Like you say, it seemed a magical place, not least because of the pristine 1960s comics still on sale on the spinner-racks at their original prices. I doubt that's still the case, sadly. I haven't been to Rothesay since 1970 (unless I've passed through or near to it in a friend's car without being aware of it), so that's a place I'd like to visit again.

  4. My friends girlfriend is from Rothesay and he pops over on the ferry to Bute every couple of weeks to see her and he says its still nice but has gotten pretty run down which is a shame as I remember it as a lovely wee place. Moffat is well worth a visit and it has a toy museum (well its a shop really) it was closed when we went (it was a Sunday though) but had some old Dandy annuals for sale in the window etc and it has a really nice coffee shop.

    1. I remember there being some kind of amusements arcade in Rothesay that had a haunted house automated slot machine-thingy. You stuck in a penny and ghosts started coming out of the walls and furniture, while a guy who was sat reading his newspaper looked anxious. I'd love to see that again, but I doubt it's still there after all this time. As for Bute being run down, McS, I think just about everywhere's the same nowadays, sadly.

  5. I was inspired to head to Largs for a run in the car on Sunday following your posting. I forgot just how lovely it was. We visited Nardinis and then we had a tasty bite to eat in a lovely bar/ restaurant followed a jaunt around the shops (I say that toy shop – it was closed) and a nice walk along the pebbled beach – the Sun was out but it was a mighty cold day.

    1. So did you visit Millport, McS? That's where the toyshop (Mapes) is - or are you mixing it up with another one? I was in Nardini's in Largs a couple of years back, but only for a takeaway tub of ice cream, not to sit in. Still got the tub and plastic spoon. Was in Nardini's in Byers Road a week ago for a coffee - is there one in Rothesay? What was once a paddle-boat pool in Largs (there's a photo of it in the post) is now used by remote control model ship enthusiasts, but it's lost its character. A guy I know was responsible for getting the paddle-boats ousted on H&S grounds - seemed quite proud of it, even 'though he's ruined the place for holidaymakers.

  6. I didn’t manage Millport I’m afraid maybe in the summer - sorry I thought that toy shop picture you had on here was in Largs , the one I saw on Sunday was in Largs ( it was closed as it was a Sunday I didn’t look inside just scanned it as I was looking at the shops. I haven’t been to Rothesay in years Kid it’s my mates who goes there (his "wummin" lives on the Island). There used to be a coffee shop in Larkhall that sold Nardini’s ice cream (not lime flavoured of course, boom boom) and coffee.

    1. I like Millport, McS, but I think I'd feel like I was trapped 'in the village' (like #6) if I lived there. Maybe it's bigger than I imagine, but the ferry is extortionate if you have to make the trip each way on a daily basis. I want to go back 'though, and get inside Mapes while it's open. Hard to believe I was last in the place in 1968.


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