Monday, 14 August 2017


Our hut overlooked the beach from the top of a cliff, so this
photo may well have been taken from near where we stayed

Memories.  It must've (don't you find yourself irked when ignorant people write or say "must of"?) been in the summer of 1966 that my family holidayed in Kinghorn.  We stayed in what can only be described as a hut, though not of the common or garden shed variety.  No, it was a holiday hut, which accommodated all the mod-cons of the age.  It belonged to my paternal grandmother, and I recall a small (3 inches high perhaps) stone grey bust of Churchill (not the dog) sitting atop a dressing table in the bedroom.  I don't know for how long she'd owned this hut, or exactly when she relinquished ownership of it, but the last time I remember visiting her in her ground floor flat back home was in January 1973, and I was surprised to see that same small grey bust of Churchill there.  It had only been 7 years since I'd first and last laid eyes on it, but as I'd not long turned 14, that was half my life away and seemed an inordinately long time ago.

Nope, dunno who the guy is, but our hut was vaguely similar to the
one in the background of this picture.  Our hut sat among quite a few,
though there were none in front of ours, so we had a view of the sea

I remember that holiday in Kinghorn for other reasons also.  That was where (I think) my brother bought his Man From U.N.C.L.E. invisible ink pen, and where I got a Marx Rolykin Dalek and a Tomy wind-up robot.  I also found a lead 'disc' (a bit larger than a crown) on the beach, and assumed it to be some form of ancient coin.  It had a cross etched into it, and I recall being disappointed several years later to find my father had sawn it in two to use one half as a weight for an ornament in his tropical fish tank.  Who knows - it might've been worth a small fortune.  Another thing I recall from Kinghorn was hearing Chim-chim-Cheree from Mary Poppins being played on a neighbour's radio as I sat outside our hut.  I doubt if I knew of the movie at the time, but whenever I see it now and hear that song, I'm back in Kinghorn faster than a fart from The Flash.  (Yes, I've got my very own catchphrase.)

The one I bought on holiday was blue with grey legs.
The arms were either red or grey, can't quite remember.
It was also a slightly larger model than this version, but
exactly the same in every other detail.  I did later get a
red one though from somewhere else - Largs I think

Up at the top of a slight hill away from the group of holiday huts, sat a little wooden newsagent's kiosk.  I remember being in there once and taking a quick look through some comics as I tried to find one I might like.  In one comic was a strip called Old McDonald's Farm, and I recalled forever-after the verse at the top of the page - 'Old MacDonald had a farm, ee-i-ee-i-oh.  And on that farm he had some ducks - read about them below!'  (To be absolutely truthful, I no longer remember if it was ducks, pigs, or hens, but I never forgot the rest of it.)  Research tells me that the comic was Bimbo, and it was many years later that I discovered the rhyming intro was a recurring feature of the strip, week after week, and not a one-off as I'd have subconsciously assumed.  It was on this holiday, I believe (or maybe the previous one, in Rothesay), that my father made an ashtray from shells found on the beach, which he then painted with those glass-phial Humbrol paints (remember them?).  I've never smoked, but that ashtray still sits in my living-room today. 

Could this have been the very comic I looked
through?  Who can say for sure?

I also recollect that my father found an injured sparrow, which we put in a cardboard box back at the hut.  I remember checking on it from time to time, but, strangely, I no longer recall its fate.  Anyway, one more thing before you return to your lives in search of real adventure.  I stubbed one of my small toes getting out of bed to go to the toilet (or check on the sparrow) one night, and I've had a problem with the nail on that toe to this day.  Nothing major, but it just doesn't seem to grow the same as the one on the other foot.  Every time I'm cutting my toenails, when I get to that one, I invariably think of Kinghorn again.  As far as I know, I was only ever there once, so it's kind of funny how I've never quite forgotten the place (or that bust of Winston).

Not the same bust, but similar

Any holidays you remember with fondness to the present day?  Then don't be selfish - share your memories with the rest of us.        


baab said...

We used to walk through that area to get to the beach from the caravan site in Pettycur bay, which is between Kinghorn and Burntisland.

I bought most of my Treasury Editions at the caravan shop,they always had them.
We holidayed there for about five or six years and knowing the comics were there and I had 50p in my pocket made for happy times.

Kid said...

I wonder if it was the caravan site we stayed at, Baab? If so, it obviously wasn't just home to caravans, as my grandmother's hut (and others) would testify. It must've been in that selfsame caravan shop I saw that copy of Bimbo all those years ago.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I see "must of" in online comments - ggrrrr.

Exactly 40 years ago in August 1977 we spent a week in a caravan in a little seaside town called Burryport in South Wales. It was during that week that I bought the 1974 Thor and 1975 Conan Treasury Editions. Unfortunately there were also ants living in the caravan but every night we left out a cup with dissolved sugar at the bottom - the sugar attracted the ants and they got trapped in the sugary solution.

Kid said...

Poor ants. Just imagine there had been an Ant Man Treasury Edition that year, CJ - wouldn't that have been apt?

baab said...

My auntie had a caravan and we holidayed there from 75 until possibly 79.
Leaving Burntisland and heading to Kinghorn,Pettycur Bay Caravan Park was on the left ,halfway to Kinghorn and when I was there it only catered for caravans.
We would walk from there,still on the left,Then across the road and through the Summer Huts to access the beach.
The railway line ran parallel to the main road,there was a bridge over the line to where you were.
The short cut.
I recall a sign refusing access but my Dad would always say,"Act as if you belong here."

The summer Huts were picturesque and had a real appeal,and an authentic look to them.

Is that a recent photo,are the Summer Huts gone now?

Are we even discussing the same place?
There may have been other Summer Hut areas further into Kinghorn.

Kid said...

Both photos are from the Internet and I couldn't say whether that first one is recent or not, though it looks rather dated so probably from the '70s or '80s (at a guess). I'm not sure exactly what bit we were at, Baab; I just heard my parents say Kinghorn so that's what I say today. I don't know if the Summer Huts are gone now or not (haven't been there in 51 years), but maybe they're long-gone and that's why that bust of Churchill made its way to my Gran's house. Having said that, maybe they're still there, though I suspect, being made of wood, they'd have gradually been replaced with newer structures over the year. I'm pretty sure it was the Summer Huts you walked through that were the ones where we stayed.

Anonymous said...

My father had an aunt who lived in Burnt Island (or is it one word ? I remember thinking it was a strange name).

Another memory from that August '77 caravan holiday - it was the first time I played air hockey which I loved. Four months later my father bought me an air hockey table for Christmas - it was a surprise present which I knew nothing about till Christmas morning !

Kid said...

Those are often the best type of presents, aren't they, CJ? Surprise ones. So what's air hockey exactly? I can imagine what it'll be like, but feel free to spell it out for me. As for Burntisland, I believe it's one word.

Anonymous said...

Kid, an air hockey table has lots of little holes on the surface and when you plug it in jets of air come out of the holes which create a "cushion" or layer of air on which the puck sort of floats. There are two players at each end of the table and they try to knock the puck into the opposite goal - it was great fun.

Kid said...

Ah, right. I imagined it would just be playing hockey like badminton, but that actually sounds like fun. Hunt one down on eBay and recapture your lost youth.

Dave S said...

I remember going to Blackpool in 1986 and buying Transfomers 19 and 20 (the american monthly) in Thunderbooks. These hadn't been reprinted in the UK weekly at that point and it seemed mind-boggling that I was reading these, almost as though I'd been given a priveleged peek into the future! Of course, when the UK comic did reprint them, I wasn't able to read them with as much enthusiasm as usual, since I already knew every word in them.

Also remember buying an Alan Class Secrets of the Unknown comic from a stall on the front on the last day of that holiday and reading it on the coach home - don't have it handy at the moment to check the issue number, but it had Peter Cannon Thunderbolt fighting an intelligent gorilla, and a reprint of an old Atlas sci-fi story called Murdock's Brain. About 15 years later, I was in Eddie's Books and Cards in the old Argyle Market in Glasgow and saw an old sci-fi paperback called Donovan's Brain. I was convinced this was the same story I'd read in Secrets of the Unknown and was a bit disappointed to realise it wasn't. But, it turned out to be a cracking little novel and a great read, so it worked out well in the end!

Kid said...

You never know, DS, it could well be the same story as some comic writers also wrote short stories and novels. In fact, the Sally Sparrow/Weeping Angels Dr. Who story first appeared as a text story in an annual before it was made into a TV episode. Talking of Blackpool, the last time I was there was in 1974 (having been there the year before also) and I remember the markets (similar to the Barras) where some stalls sold and swapped comics. Amazing.

Dave S said...

I'm pretty sure I bought Iron Man 210 and 211 on that same holiday, now I think of it. I was in Blackpool a few years back and was delighted to see Thunderbooks was still there although I believe it's since closed.

Got chatting to the owner and somehow got onto the topic of write-in competitions. I mentioned winning a Captain Scarlet novel in a Marvel Uk competition in the 80s and the shop owner told me he'd supplied the prizes for that competition in exchange for some advertising space. Small world!

Kid said...

"Small world!" - Bond's reply to a gangster who says "I gotta brudder!" in Diamonds Are Forever. Yeah, Thunderbooks has closed down, though, seeing as how I was last in Blackpool in 1974, I was never in it.

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