Young Ben and I went to the seaside last week in search of adventure and crabs.
I took him to the beach at Prestwick where I spent most of my free time in the 60s. We parked about the midway point next to what was the sailing club and a now derelict building which has been many things over the years
We headed south towards Ayr in search of rocks and hopefully crustaceans. I remembered coming to this spot with my dad and our dog when I was young and collecting driftwood to take back for our fire.
Perhaps it was still too cold for crabs, I am not familiar with their lifestyle, but the only ones we discovered were similar to the parrot in the Monty Python sketch. Fortunately Ben did not notice this so we picked up one of the stiff fellows and gently lobbed him back into the sea. Both the crab and Ben seemed happy with that
We headed back along the prom heading north now and passed a group of young ladies who seemed as if they were looking for Seven Brothers.
As we reached the other end of the prom we arrived at what is now a play area but when I was young was an open air swimming pool and this is where I spent most of my summer days in the 60s
My mum and dad would buy me a season ticket for the pool so to make full use of it my friends and I would be there every day after school before the summer holidays and virtually every day thereafter when the holidays arrived.
Regardless of the weather we would be on our bikes and cycling down to the pool.
Some days the pool was mobbed, other days not so but it was always a great place to meet friends and see girls that you would seriously consider talking to (maybe on the next visit)
I never could dive properly but I remember jumping off the top ‘dale’, probably to impress some girl I was considering talking to. I jumped off that spot quite a few times but I don’t think she was ever looking. I think eventually they took that top platform down because it was too high
Although I lived in Ayr my house in Moore Place was literally a stones throw from the boundary with Prestwick and my Primary School Heathfield had a front entrance in Ayr and a rear entrance in Prestwick. This meant that when it was time for Secondary School I went to Ayr Academy and many of my Primary School friends went to Prestwick Academy
Just at the top of Moor Place there was a field situated in Prestwick which back in the 60s was home to a collection of derelict air-raid shelters, including one which was known as the ‘threepenny bit’ because it was shaped like a threepenny bit. That was how it worked back then. Say what you see! We used to get up to all sorts of not very crazy things in those air-raid shelters. They have long since been knocked down and replaced with a large housing estate
Heading north along Adamton Road you would come to The Oval where we used to play football and tennis and one year we even signed up for practice at Prestwick Cricket Club but being Scottish we soon realised we were not meant to be playing cricket and went back to football and thinking about talking to girls
I drive past The Oval when I head down from Glasgow to watch Ayr United these days and every time I pass Crandleyhill Road just off Adamton Road I remember meeting Susan Waddell there in the 60s after her music lesson so that we could go to a party. I may not have taken up cricket but I knew with Susan I was batting way out of my league and it was a fairly brief innings
When we were slightly older one of the highlights of the week was going to Prestwick Airport to hang out and watch planes and think about talking to girls. Back then there was an outside Observation Deck and in the 70s Concorde could be seen at Prestwick
It was much earlier however when Prestwick Airport had it’s most famous visitor. In 1960 Elvis Presley made, reputedly, his only ever visit to the UK when he touched down at Prestwick en route home to the USA from army service in Germany
Many locals believe even such a short stay in Prestwick inspired the later Elvis hit ‘Viva Las Vegas’
Before we left for the day I felt it was my duty to bore Young Ben with a bit of historical culture so we visited Bruce’s Well which is fairly close to the seafront
I told him the story of Bruce and the spider but he only wanted to know if it was the same spider that climbed up the water spout. We may need to revisit that one in a few years
Hopefully if we go back in the warmer weather there will be better crab activity to keep him amused and I will have remembered a few more boyhood haunts where I thought about talking to girls. There are still a great number of places like that….