Family Gatherings

We were travelling over the moor to town a couple of Sunday’s ago when we came across a camper van that had stopped dangerously on the brow of a hill which made overtaking dangerous. I attempted as safely as I could and noticed one of the occupants trying to affix his wing mirror, so I decided to stop to see if he needed a hand. It was a very modern camper van that looked like it came obviously with all mod cons, which included a smashed wing mirror held to the van with the electric cables. With safety first, I put on my hazard lights and asked them to do the same and if they would move forward a little because of where they were stopped.

I asked if they were OK and if they needed a hand, as I watched the old gentleman struggle to do with the smashed frame and mirror that managed to draw blood from one of his hand and asked what happened, he explained that another camper van had being travelling in the opposite direction and had not just struck them but carried on driving without stopping. I explained there was no garage open as it was Sunday but reassured them they would be pointed in the right direction when they get into Stornoway to one of the shops that were open. As I bandaged up the gentleman’s hand, wrapped what was left of the frame, mirror and wires as neatly as I could and then wrapped it up in duct tape, and as as I wished them well with there remaining time holidaying on Lewis they thanked me for stopping off and assisting. One good deed done for the day.

As a family we didn’t ever holiday abroad. In fact the first time I was travelled on a plane was when I was eighteen. This was when I was going to the Nick Nairn Scottish Salmon Chef of the year competition, but I’ll save that yarn for another blog. We did holiday for some time in Lairg. We stayed with cousins and it was that time of year that they were bailing the hay. Now when I say bailing the hay, this was a major operation , where there was some major equipment on sight. The big fields, the hot summer day with the blue skies and that day came some of the freshest strawberries that came our way, and I mean not just sweet, tender and just the nice size you would expect from such a berry, not the unsure, genetically modified, strawberry shaped turnips. Accompaniments for these little belters were a little bowl of sugar, which was far from required or some fresh cream which was just mind blowing.

Another family holiday was a caravan park just out side Inverness. We pulled up at reception were handed the keys and headed to our little static caravan that was stood in the top corner of the park. When I say little, it was actually spacious with a lounge, shower room , kitchen and three bedrooms. Out side there was decking and a table bench. Surrounded by trees from the top field, it was perfect, fair enough for a relaxing holiday, was the plan I think, but with 4 mebans in tow. I remember the car, at the time, Volvo estate, family car, was fully loaded with the necessities. This was divided into two piles, our essentials and the actual essentials. One of the boxes in our essentials was our Amstrad computer, at the time the biggest game that was causing a ruckus was darts, and I hope there are plenty reading this who remember the simplicity of this game that was operated by a joy stick. This box was easy enough to get on board as Dad was just getting into this game and the boot space of this car was plentiful which worked to all our advantages.

The four mebans and Dad while on holiday just outside Inverness

It was a busy caravan park with lots of families so there was always things to do and though the caravan was fully kitted out with the kitchen I can’t remember what meals we had cooked for us, this was probably due to the fact we had plenty to be doing outside, we would have had to be called in for our eats and eaten as fast as we could so we could get back to what we were doing and we probably ate because we were told to, we would have been hungry from all the running around, but nutrition, I mean who cared, we were kids, having fun.

The year was 1993, we all headed over to town in, again in our trusted Volvo estate. Not too sure where we were going, we went as instructed by mam and dad, obviously. We all went to look at a caravan that was for sale, which was a little old but in very good condition, in fact, who cared, it was amazing. As we headed back to Ness I think we all had some input in this decision, well, we quarreled in the back while the serious talks were happening up front, and as a family, decision made, we were buying a caravan.

We would spend most of the summer holiday there, though Dad was still working, this four birth caravan squeezed the six of us in. This wasn’t really noticeable, it didn’t bother us, we were at the edge of the world, with nothing around us but our imaginations and I can still recall the noise of the waves, outside our little caravan as we fell asleep at night and woke in the morning, looking back now, that time we spent as a family for that couple of summers, there isn’t a price that comes close to that kind of holiday and that you can put on that precious time together.

In previous blogs I have written about how a favourite meal doesn’t just consist of the meal itself, but perhaps a certain time, place and the people we are with. During this holiday over In Reef we also had more family members join us for, I think it was a Sunday lunch. Now there was very little room as it was in the caravan which meant the cooking facilities very also limited, a small four ring gas cooker and a smaller oven. I was helping with pudding and with basic dry stores I was in charge of the trifle, under the strict super vision of mams beady corner eye I completed the said task by finishing the trifle with dream topping. Now anyone not familiar with this topping has been missing out, those who are clueless, various search engines exist. One breakfast element that was popular with us, came in a little square tin, this was called bacon grill. We know it’s best not to ask what went into this tin but once it was sliced thinly and fried in the pan, it was delicious. I recently bought the said bacon grill to see if I could take myself back to that memory, it just wasn’t the same and I just wish I had left alone.

Lunch consisted that day of tomato soup, main course was roast beef and pudding was the best trifle ever, not to sure what I ate but we all ate off different types of plates and bowls which just plastic picnic plates and we all ate either in or around the caravan and this became our communal hub for our family and it was great. A meal that was prepared in our caravan, cooked on a little caravan cooker, where most of us ate alfresco in the sunshine, taking in the freshest of air, all of us together in that moment of time, so long ago. It’s funny what memory does, isn’t it? A holiday doesn’t have to be about how much you have to spend, it’s what you make of it, so, Kirsty grab the tent and camping stove from the cupboard, we are off to Reef to make more holiday memories and I hope that the couple that I helped with there caravanette enjoyed there remaining time on Lewis making there own holiday memories.

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