Blast from the Past – Beveridge Park Kirkcaldy Postcards –

Beveridge Park in Kirkcaldy is a lovely park which was designed and built in Victorian times. They usually involve a lot of land and land being so expensive nowadays they’re a thing of the past, but apparently if you live near one it makes your home much more desirable. We used to live a two minute walk from this one so whenever I came across old postcards of Beveridge Park I snapped them up for my album. This blogpost will probably only be of interest to Langtouners – natives of Kirkcaldy in Fife, or people who know and love the park.

Beveridge Park Gates, Kirkcaldy

The postcard below is of the long gone bandstand, it’s such a shame that most of these elegant bandstands were ripped down, mainly in the 1960s and 70s I think. Possibly some were demolished during the World War 2 scavenge for metal for the war effort.

Beveridge Park bandstand

The next postcard is of what we have always called the duck pond, but I see that it is described as ‘the lake’ on the postcard, it hasn’t changed much.

Beveridge Park, Kirkcaldy

The following one shows the original layout of the formal part of the park.

Beveridge Park, Kirkcaldy

This last postcard is the only one which has actually been postally used and it bears a postmark – May 12 08. So it’s 110 years old. The bottom part of the photo looks very different nowadays because there are enormous trees there now.

Beveridge Park in Kirkcaldy, Fife

Cadbury’s – it gets worse and worse

I’ve always seen myself as being a bit of a chocolate connoisseur, I blame my dad as he enjoyed taking me to the local Italian cafe and it had a great stock of chocolate of the more luxurious type, such as Lindt and Suchard and I remember a Dutch variety similar to Aero which was much harder than Aero but still had the bubbles.

Anyway, for everyday chocolate I was happy to eat Cadbury’s Dairy Milk, so I (along with loads of other people I’m sure) was not at all happy when Kraft took over Cadbury. Although they assured everyone that they would be using the same recipe, I had my doubts. Sure enough it seems that although the actual recipe might be the same, Dairy Milk does not taste lovely and creamy as it did before. Apparently this is because they are now using American milk which is much sweeter but less creamy than UK milk. So I gave up eating Cadbury’s Dairy Milk and moved on to what had been my second favourite chocolate – Galaxy. Another favourite of mine is Terry’s Chocolate Orange and I dread the recipe for that changing. Terry’s was taken over by Kraft even earlier than Cadbury’s.

But recently I bought a big packet of fun size Fudge fingers, (do you think they are Fudge thumbs?) really I bought them just in case we had some fun size visitors at Halloween but no ‘guisers’/trick or treaters came to our door. Of course I opened the packet to eat one, well I couldn’t let them go to waste could I? I know they will go straight to my waist but such is life! Anyway, I realised immediately that the fudge fingers don’t taste anything like they did, in fact I’m not getting any creamy fudge flavour at all, just an overwhelming sweet taste they don’t even look similar inside. Too late I remembered that the fudge is made by Cadbury, so it isn’t only their chocolate which has been affected by the changes of ingredients.

Earlier today I noticed this article in the Guardian which is about Cadbury or I suppose I should say Kraft adding sultanas to the iconic Cadbury’s Fruit and Nut bar. It’s thought that they are replacing the classic ingredients with cheaper ones.

In some ways this is quite good for me as I used to really look forward to ‘Creme Egg’ season, but after they changed the ingredients in that I tried one and didn’t bother to have any more, you can read about it here. That article says that a company called Mondelez now owns what was Cadbury, I’m not sure if that is a Kraft offshoot or what.

But everyone needs a pick me up or treat every now and again and my treats of choice are disappearing. I also tried a bar of Green and Black a while ago, a type of chocolate which is supposed to be superior to others, but I only ate a small bit as it didn’t taste an awful lot different from that disgusting baking ‘chocolate’.

Cadbury was such a big part of British culture, that purple/blue wrapping copied by cheaper supermarket own brands because they knew that it would be more attractive to buyers. But the penny pinching and greed of the new owners has ruined it all for anyone who can remember the originals.

Of course over the years a lot of chocolate goodies have disappeared from the shelves. I loved Fry’s chocolate cream bars, occasionally you see the plain fondant ones, but the bar which had a variety of flavours was my favourite, the pineapple cream bit was luscious. (Jack says the bar was called a Five Centre and he thinks it was originally made by Fry’s which merged with Cadbury’s in 1919 but they still kept the Fry’s brand name for various chocolate bars.)

If you want a trip down memory lane you might like to have a look at the old Cadbury adverts from the good old days below. I must admit I don’t remember them all, although the Flake adverts are unforgettable.

McFlannels United by Helen W. Pryde

I mentioned in an earlier post that we had visited a bookshop in Fort William just before closing time and in the five minutes that we were there we all bought books, well I, Peggy and Evee did but Jack was more reticent.

Anyway one of the books I pounced on was the third in Helen W. Pryde’s McFlannels series which is called McFlannels United and was first published in 1949. These books were originally written for radio and were very popular during World War 2 and I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed this one.

The McFlannels are a typical Glaswegian family, the children are grown up now and their daughter Maisie is a teacher, so she has joined forces with her mother Sarah to try and change her father Willie into something more genteel than he has any intentions of becoming. Decades of correcting Willie’s broad Glaswegian have had no results but they don’t give up.

The family is still plagued by Uncle Matthew who is a sort of failed black marketeer or dodgy dealer. Rationing is still very much to the fore and at one point every member of the family is convinced that they are going to be carted off to prison for wee bendings of the rules.

The son Peter brings his girlfriend Ivy home to meet his family, Sarah and Maisie are convinced that it means he’s serious about her, but Ivy has other ideas.

I found this one to be a hoot, I think it was better than the second one, The McFlannels See it Through, although that is still well worth tracking down.

I read this book as part of the Read Scotland 2015 challenge.

DC Thomson cartoons

A couple of weeks ago I was wandering around an antiques centre when my attention was drawn to some framed cartoons, which is unusual in itself as I hardly ever look at anything which is framed as I have boxes of such stuff which I don’t have wall space for now.

DC Thomson

Above is good old Dennis the Menace, not the one which featured in an American film some years ago, sadly there was no cartoon of his dog Gnasher.

Anyway the DC Thomson cartoons are iconic I suppose, as Scottish as you get although for me growing up in the west of Scotland they were always slightly exotic and unreal as the characters always spoke in an east of Scotland dialect, where kids aren’t called ‘weans’ (pronounced wains) as they are in the west but are called ‘bairns’.

DC Thomson cartoons 1

Above is Paw Broon, can you believe that I was 21 before I realised that The Broons actually meant The Browns, I don’t know where my brain was for all those preceding years!

The ‘fun pages’ in the middle of The Sunday Post newspaper were the only things which brightened a Sunday for me in my childhood. Sunday meant forced church attendance and boredom in general.

Below is lovely wee Oor Wullie, everybody’s favourite I think.

DC Thomson cartoons 3

There was a TV programme on not long ago about the cartoons and they spoke to a lot of Scottish ‘celebrities’ about Wullie and I found it hilarious that almost all of them gentrified him to ‘Willie’ – he is definitely Wullie. Christmas isn’t Christmas without a Broons or Oor Wullie annual. Ooh I think that’s my first mention of the ‘C’ word, well Halloween and Guy Fawkes are over with so I suppose it’s fair enough, it’ll be that time in a flash.

Much as I like the cartoons, I think they’re a bit on the steep side price wise. Nice though.

The University Cafe, Glasgow

The University Cafe situated in Byres Road has an art deco exterior but internally it’s all very Edwardian, by the look of things nothing has changed since it was first opened. Look carefully and you’ll see that Jack took this photo of the front door, I’m standing next to him.

Uni Cafe ext

Cafe culture was a big thing in Glasgow, I think it started way back in the early 20th century when there was a large influx of Italians who came to Britain, escaping from a war or poverty. They stayed and most of them went into business often opening up cafes or fish and chip shops. In fact whenever you meet a person with an Italian surname in Scotland it’s a fair enough question to ask them – fish and chips or ice cream?

In fact my parents met each other in an Italian cafe, but not this one and there were still a lot of cafes around when I was growing up, sadly not many have survived into the 21st century. For some reason they nearly always had the walls lined with massive mirrors, which I’ve always found a bit disconcerting.

Uni Cafe interior

Anyway, it was at Easter when we were in Glasgow that we finally went into this cafe to have an ice cream, we’ve walked past it hundreds, possible thousands of times but never actually sat down in it. The seats are those old tip up wooden ones, like in old cinemas. I couldn’t resist asking the young girl who served us for a McCallum, but sadly she didn’t know what it was – one of the older staff did though. She’ll know the next time someone ancient asks for one! It’s just a vanilla ice with raspberry sauce, and if someone can tell me why they were always called a McCallum in Glasgow, I’d be much obliged!

A McCallum ice cream

The exterior of the cafe – and the chippy next door as well as two other Art Deco buildings nearby – can be seen here.

New Arrivals

A couple of months ago I mentioned that we were expecting an addition to our extended family, and not long after Victor arrived safely I got a card with the news that I have a new great-niece in the Netherlands. That one was a complete surprise to me, and strangely enough it’s another V, for Valerie this time. Honestly, after never having any Vs in the family before I’m half expecting a third one to turn up now. Anyway, after years and years of never visiting the kids department of any stores, I found myself back in them and having the problem of what to choose.

The trouble is that there are so many gorgeous dinky wee things around for babies and youngsters but as often happens it was Marks and Spencer which came up trumps. If you have a look at their new collection you’ll see what I mean. I’m especially partial to dungarees for boys, I just can’t resist them. Anyway, I eventually made my choices (too much) and even got the cards and wrapping paper. Job done.

As I had two boys myself I missed out on buying girls clothes and you might not believe it but the only time I’ve ever felt the need of a daughter was years ago when I saw a particularly pretty dress in – yes, it was Marks and Spencer again.

I must admit that I was one of those soppy mums who held on to things as reminders of my wee ones, not so much memory boxes as memory suitcases, just small ones mind you. It’s normal to keep their first shoes and their fancy shawls but I also couldn’t part with so many other things and as I’ve actively been trying to get rid of ‘stuff’ recently (we’re empty nesters and are hoping to downsize soon) I had a look at my stash of memories. I still have favourite babygros, dungarees, sun hats, winter pom-pom hats and teeny wee mits and of course definitely not forgetting their first matinee jackets and the most gorgeous multiple tartan patchwork shirt which belonged to my youngest when he was three years old. They still smell of baby, in a good way. Oh and I had forgotten that I had kept their first snowsuits. So sweet, especially when I think that my two are great big hulking men now.

I wonder if any of my recent purchases will end up in memory stashes, they’re certainly cute enough.

Tickets for Gaberlunzie

Speaking of Gaberlunzie – back in the dim distant past when I worked in the local library, the folk duo Gaberlunzie was due to play a gig at the local community centre and the tickets were on sale at the library. We had all been told to expect members of the public to be coming in to buy tickets.

This was the early 1970s and computers hadn’t arrived at the library, it was all cardboard tickets and card indexes, with everything filed in alphabetical order, I loved it, we were faster than computers. Readers often left their spare library tickets at the library for safe keeping, asking for them when they wanted to borrow something. We just needed their name and address, although most of the time we already knew it.

Unfortunately, my friend was off the day we were told about the Gaberlunzie tickets, so when someone came in and asked her for tickets for Gaberlunzie – she immediately said – What’s the address? Which was followed by a blank look from the woman and gales of laughter from the rest of the library assistants. Ahh simple days, but Gaberlunzie still makes me think of that time.

Something else which makes me nostalgic for those days at the library is this old Smirnoff advert, which apparently wasn’t a success, especially with potential librarians. But I love it, as well as the image, it just shrieks ‘1970s’ – which was supposedly a style-free zone, well so the kids of the 1980s claim. But for me it was a great time for fashion and design. What’s your favourite decade?

old Smirnoff ad

The Last Dandy

Or should it be the first Dandy? DC Thomson, the publishers of The Dandy sent me an invitation to attend their pre-launch do for the digital version of the famous comic, unfortunately I couldn’t get to Dundee on Monday so I had to decline.

The Dandy was a staple in most homes with children since it was first published in 1938. In my very sexist home it was my brother who got it every week, he was partial to the Topper and Beezer too, whilst I got Mandy, Judy, Bunty and latterly Jackie, but of course I still read The Dandy and in common with most folks my favourite character was Desperate Dan and his cow pies. I seem to remember that he used to chew rusty nails too. Have a look here at the amazing amount of different comics and magazines which they’ve published over the years.

I must admit though that my boys weren’t interested in the comic at all although they enjoyed The Broons and Oor Wullie annuals at Christmas. In fact it wouldn’t have been Christmas without them and we still have them all.

DC Thomson tried to update The Dandy over the years to appeal to the modern generation but the readership still dwindled, and I suspect that more adults read it for nostalgic reasons than did the youngsters, so it was probably a bit of a waste of time trying to modernise it as the older generation would no doubt have been happier with more of the usual fare.

So, The Dandy has gone digital and will have interactive games and such to attract a new generation of readers. I really hope it works, from what I’ve seen on TV it looks good, the bright colours are perfect for viewing on an e-reader or computer, so fingers crossed for them.

As you can imagine DC Thomson had a big influence in Dundee in the east of Scotland where the firm is based, but I was amazed to discover when I met my first Dundonian at the tender age of 21, that they actually used the words topper and beezer in every day conversation. Then that same Dundonian told me that there was actually a family called Brown who live in Glebe Street, that’s nothing unusual I thought as it’s such a common name but it was only then that the penny dropped that Broons were supposed to be Browns. Silly me!

If you haven’t a clue what I’m talking about have a look at some images here.

Here’s a peek at the digital Dandy.

Dumbarton from the Air

Have you been on to the new site Britain from Above? I just had to go on to see what the town I grew up in looked like in the aerial photos. The houses in the top left hand of the photo below were new builds in 1939 when the photo was taken and I was brought up in one of them, albeit in the 1960s, by that time more houses had been built along to the right hand of those ones and the road behind them was bigger, in fact it’s now a dual carriageway to Glasgow.

Dumbarton east from the air.

I had to cross that road to get to the hills which are beyond the photo, and in the summertime that was where I could be found, it was the days when we were all running wild and climbing trees as kids, in the fashion of children in Enid Blyton books, we had such freedom compared with the poor kids of today.

If you want to see more photos of the Dumbarton, Loch Lomond area and even photos of the Queen Mary on the River Clyde have a look here. The very first photo is of the castle rock which is at the left hand side of my header and the town is just beyond it. Loch Lomond is an easy walk on a good day, but the best walk is the one up the hills towards Overtoun House, sadly there don’t seem to be any photos of the house though. I could spend hours looking at this site.

Irn Bru – Scotland’s other national drink

A blogpal (you know who you are) has recently been imbibing that stuff which some people call golden nectar, in other words whisky, and I was asked for some advice on the matter. As I said I’m not a great one for the booze but I would plump for a hot toddy any day or night as my favourite way of drinking whisky but really for me it is honestly just medicinal. I’m sure that just breathing in the fumes kills off germs.

Otherwise I’m with the younger generation and I would mix whisky with Coke or Irn Bru, I did think of ginger beer but on second thoughts that would be piling fire on fire! I must admit though that I do enjoy a wee Baileys from time to time, definitely neat.

Anyway, I decided to have a look and see if Irn Bru has reached the other side of the pond yet and the answer seems to be that it is sometimes available at Highland Games in the US. As it isn’t all that long since it managed to make it into English supermarkets I imagine it’ll be a long time before it’s generally available in the US – shame. It’s our other national drink!

I thought you might like to see a couple of old Irn Bru adverts. My favourite is still the parody of ‘The Snowman’ one, but that’s obviously only shown at New Year.

The Crazy Yanks advert is a parody of the Coca Cola ones.

Then there’s the High School Musical parody, I never watched that programme and I don’t think it’s a great ad but it has its moments.

So what does Irn Bru taste like? It’s difficult to describe, it’s a bit fruity, some people say bubble gum-ish, slightly (pleasantly) metallic and my Dutch sister-in-law almost choked when she first tried it. I say first, but she only ever tried it once so I suppose it might be one of those things that you have to grow up with otherwise you think it’s disgusting.