Vintage Caravanning (Guest post by Maggie Moncrieff - my Mum!)

My next blog post is overdue and I have in front of me another article my Mum wrote for the parish magazine of All Saints on-the-Hill, Highams Park which I think deserves a wider readership. I still can't get over the fact my grandpa made a caravan out of an old railway carriage!

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Caravan holidays formed the base of a happy childhood for my sister and me. My father was an amateur carpenter and made us a Wendy House and many wooden toys. He had a great chum, Jimmy Hogarth, who joined him in projects.

Together, they bought an old railway carriage which they sawed in half and Dad made his half into a caravan with two long seats which turned into beds at night. I will never forget the thrill of packing for our holiday and setting forth from Edinburgh to the Highlands of Scotland.

There were no motorways in those days; the roads were much narrower and twisty. If you met an oncoming vehicle you hastily pulled into the lay-by and let it pass.

The scenery is breathtaking and we roamed the country freely. We lived near Queensferry and that was the first adventure of the holiday, crossing the Firth of Forth [on a ferry] with the salt air in our faces.

Dad found a super site for us, three miles from Grantown-on-Spey on Upper Craggan Farm. Dad asked the farmer, Jim McDougall if he could park the caravan on a sheltered site surrounded by a crescent of pine trees with a wee burn bubbling down below. He asked how much it would cost. "Oh, half-a-crown (twelve and a half pence) will do." I admit, our needs were basic. Dad had a canvas bucket (I've still got it) to draw water from the stream for washing etc. I will never forget waking up in the morning to the sound and smell of the pumping primus stove cooking bacon and eggs outside in the pine-scented sunshine. Sheer bliss!

Needless to say, our Mum had a pretty hard time, compared with life today. I was under five to begin with and very adventurous. I went paddling in the burn and came back covered in mud.

There were no "health and safety" rules and we were free as birds. Dad loved fishing and we all played golf. In Scotland it was much cheaper. The courses were and are glorious.

Never to be forgotten.

Maggie Moncrieff

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