Exploring Sandylands and the West Coast

For the second year running we were lucky to have some fine weather over the September holiday weekend. This year, for our annual family weekend trip away, we found ourselves in Ayrshire, staying in a two-bedroom static caravan at the Sandylands Holiday Park, near Saltcoats, Ayrshire.

Once again we took one of Laura’s pals with us, and as a result, we hardly saw her in between asking for more sweets or slush puppies, but it stopped her getting bored in the evenings and meant less baby sitting for us.

We left Edinburgh around lunchtime on Friday amidst lovely mid-September sunshine. At one point I wondered if it would be a weekend spent wishing I had brought the sun tan lotion with me, but alas, it wasn’t quite that hot.

We took our time on the drive, and after some confusion over the road layout around Saltcoats – getting off the A737 into Kilwinning and the coastal road ISN’T easy – we finally arrived and checked in. The caravan was better than last year’s in Northumberland, in that it was cleaner. In keeping with caravan tradition, it was small, with paper walls and a hint of damp, but that’s the charm of caravans, and at least this one was warm.

After unpacking our stuff and enjoying a pizza dinner we headed up to the on-site club for a few drinks. The kids spent most of their time in the fun zone while Gail and I enjoyed a bevy while watching a Neil Diamond act. As caravan park entertainment goes it was surprisingly good, though the same can’t be said for the other acts, which were dire at best.

On Saturday we got up early, and after a hearty breakfast drove down the coast a short way to a wet and dismal Ardrossan. Ardrossan harbour is famous for the Arran ferry, a trip my family made many times providing memorable holidays on the Isle of Arran during the Easter holidays of the early 1980s. Twenty years on, and I was back with my own family watching the ferry leave for Brodick, fully loaded with cars and other vehicles. Unfortunately it was too cloudy on the horizon to make Arran out.

We stopped off at Saltcoats promenade, and because of the drizzle, the girls got the techno play park all to themselves. The weather had cleared by now, but it was still overcast and grey so we headed back to the caravan. The girls did their own thing – building dens in their room and running amok outside – so Gail and I took the chance to do some chilling.

Remember the family we met while we were on holiday in Rhodes? Alison and Huw with daughter Rachel from Irvine, who we got together with every night and showed the rest of the Greece how to party? Well, they came over from Irvine for the night and we did it all again. We had drinks in the caravan, caught up on all the banter and had a fish tea dinner. We them moved up to the club for a few more and than back to the caravan before they had to leave for home. It was great to see them again, and we’ll look forward to catching up with them again for more of the same.

Sunday saw a slow start. After an easy slide into the day we enjoyed another hearty breakfast before going for a walk along Saltcoats beach. The burnt out car on the shore didn’t detract from our fun, but rather, I found it quite provocative for a story idea or inclusion in something larger. I’m not sure what the locals thought of me sticking my camera into it from every position. Even Gail started to wonder until I explained.

With heads cleared we jumped into the car and took off up the west coast to Largs. We had a great day for it; calm, warm, and pleasant. We parked at the marina end of the town and walked along the front. We had a great view out from the mainland towards Cumbrae and Millport, and all along the Firth of Clyde a stillness that I’ve never seen before stayed with us the for the afternoon. There was hardly a wave splashing or breeze in the air – it was braw, doon the watter!

We stopped in at the world famous Nardini’s for some ice-cream and messed around on the front for a while before heading home to relax. Gail and I had a late dinner since the girls decided chocolate was more their thing. Gail ordered an Indian curry and I had a Donner Kebab. I paid for that decision all night.

On the way back up the road on Monday we stopped in at my parent’s house for a couple of hours and then in at Gail’s parents for a while, also; four oldies at either side of the country doing their own thing.

It was good to get back home. I was quite tired from all the wandering around and I never really slept that well in the caravan. I came back with a touch of a sore throat, which I’m now trying to defeat before it takes hold because I have a wedding to go to on Saturday.

All in all a great weekend and there’s a selection of pictures at the end of this post to show you what I’ve described.

Today it was back to the grind stone at the day job. My workmate is in London on a course so I’m holding the fort on my own again. This is something that is much forgotten where I work – one person can do only so much. I used to let it bother me, but now if there aren’t any more hours left in my shift, there’s nothing I can do about it. It’s not something I lose any sleep over any more.

One thing I did when I was away was a lot of reading and opening myself to ideas for stories. But today for some reason, I found it hard to get back into things. I struggled with all my chances to get some decent work done, why, I have no idea. It’s not like I don’t know what I have to do.

Images from Sandylands, Ardrossan, Saltcoats, and Largs

Our caravan

The Arran Ferry with mouth open wide

The Arran Ferry taking on new passengers

Eileanan Chaledonia

Ardrossan Harbour

Saltcoats Seafront

Saltcoats Beach

Promenade at Saltcoats; once a postcard town

Sandylands Holiday Park next to Stevenston Beach

The Caravans at Sandylands

Pathway through the dunes

Stevenston Beach

Not a bad picture of Stevenston Beach

Burnt out car on Stevenston Beach

Burnt out car on Stevenston Beach

Abstract of Stevenston Beach

Abstract of Stevenston Beach

Abstract of Stevenston Beach

The dunes at Stevenston Beach

The Isle of Arran as seen from Stevenston Beach

The marina end of Largs

Largs Marina in the distance

The Firth of Clyde

Playtime in Largs

A stream running through Largs

The same stream, looking inland

A church in Largs

Gail on Largs promenade

Largs Ferry Terminal

Largs Cenotaph

Picturesque Largs

The southern bay in Largs

Greener is the Grass (Writing)
Greener is the Grass (Writing)

Stella (Re-Working)
Stella (Re-Working)

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About Colin Galbraith

Thriller author, music fan, St Mirren fan, fluff chucker, rabbit tamer, outstanding fake faller. Loves cannoli.
This entry was posted in Day Job, Family, Food, Drink and Bevvy, Photography, Scotland, Travel, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Exploring Sandylands and the West Coast

  1. So nice to read and remember an area in which I’ve spent a lot of time and like so much!

    great photos.

    I can’t wait to see what the burnt-out car turns into, story-wise!

  2. Stevie says:

    Woooooooooooooooooo, new look.
    Nice one.

  3. Diane says:

    Oh my goodness. It all looks very different. Very nice. And terrific pics. Love to see them, thanks for sharing.

  4. adam says:

    Great pics and I enjoyed your story. I’ve got a cousin in Largs, haven’t seen her for oh .. close on 50 years.

    I got a lot from you pics where my memory of the area had withered. I think all we did was pass through on the way to Brodick. I always remember that we had a big cane trunk into which all the holiday stuff went. Seemed natural at the time but sounds a bit quaint now. This was when I was early teens, family of five, two brothers.

    I love that picture of Ardrossan Harbour – that is very very good, a great image. I also love the burnt out vehicle and there are so many little man-made things around there – piers, groynes timbers and the like it almost seems like the illustrations for your story (not to put pressure on you or anything) are already. And the car – staring out to sea … an evocative image.

  5. Brenda says:

    I love the new look, but I really liked the first picture with the raspberry on it. It was a nice splash of color.

    Your vacation pictures are lovely. Thanks for posting them.

  6. Hello from Wexford Ireland, I enjoyed the article. Very Good.

  7. Chet Forness says:

    Thanks for this super blog.

  8. Do you have a “top posters” page to reward your best blog comments?

  9. Neil Diamond’s Hot August Night is my favourite album of all time…and it doesn’t have to be August, I love chilling with a beer and singing along anytime!

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