|Big School Trip
in this section.
from London, Canada.
Posted 5 Apr 2005.
I have some fond memories of our Primary 6/7 school trip to London in the spring of 1961 (I think). I woulda been 10 or 11 at the time, and the kids from Forfar North were pretty much beside ourselves wi' excitement by the time we waved goodbye to our parents.
For months we'd been savin' our tattie money, our berry money, our pocket money an' whatever we could scrounge from granny an' granda' to pay for the trip, but it seems like most mums an' dads ended up payin' for most of it anyway! We travelled by train from Forfar via Perth to Edinburgh. It's difficult to exaggerate just how big a deal it was for us loons an'lasses. I can recall at least one of our number throwin' up all over the platform at Waverley, prior to boardin' the overnight train. And I don't think ANY of us slept a wink - seems to me we spent the trip runnin' in an' oot of each others' sleepin' compartments, playin' cards (what an illicit thrill THAT was!), guzzlin' crisps an' sweeties, an' starin' out at what was, for most of us, brand new scenery.
Most recollections of the train trip faded long ago, except for the "clickety-click . . . clickety click" of the wheels against the rails, the gentle, and sometimes not so gentle, rocking of the carriage, the rush of wind and the screeching noise of the occasional passing train on the rails beside. For some reason - maybe 'cos none of us had ever been there - as far as I know - stopping for a while in Newcastle was a BIG thing for us. We squeezed our heids oot the windaes, watchin' the porters goin' aboot their business, an' listened to the odd shouted instruction, (most with an exotic Geordie accent), bangin' of doors, an' blowin' of whistles.
By the time us country folk landed up in London, we were fair wabbit - with only a week to go! I remember the fun we had during our 5 days in the big city, though! We were staying in a fine wee hotel, about 6 to a room, I think, and for the first 3 days we almost starved - it coulda been the weather - VERY hot, compared to Farfar (but then what wasn't?). We also weren't very familiar with salads - we didn't like 'em much, the hotel and restaurants in London didn't seem to serve anything else, so we pretty much didn't eat, until one o' the teachers managed to persuade the kitchen staff that fish suppers would be fine for the duration.
I remember the trip to the Zoo, the Tower, Parliament, and St.Pauls, plus a boat trip to Kew Gardens, followed by an attempted salad at tea-time, but the enduring image of the trip for me was the slightly suspicious and befuddled look on the sales assistant's face when one frustrated young shopper, searching Harrod's in vain for a wee souvenir for his mither, plucked up the courage to ask her - in a very loud voice for a shy laddie fae Farfar: "'Scuse me . . . faur's the scent?" Ye had to be there, I guess.