Before the move to England I enjoyed a happy childhood with two sets of grandparents Grandma and Grandda Ramsay and Dora, who we visited often. We would stay with the Dora grandparents Joe and Tini (short for Valentina) as they had an attic at the very top of the building above the Thistle fish and chip shop they ran in Applegate.
Most mornings we would be woken by the strains of Mrs Swankie’s pigeons (seagulls) and their cries for food! Monday was the day the fish and chip shop was closed so we would bundle into my Grandfather’s Rover, his pride and joy, for a drive around the many beautiful sites of North East Scotland.
We would stop for a high tea or all squeeze into Uncle Chae’s and enjoy steak pie, scones, apple pie, the works. I remember watching the High Chapparal, a cowboy programme (very popular in its time).
There was fun and laughter and time spent with cousins as part of an extended family. I have so many fond memories of this time, although once I went to school we were restricted to school holidays to visit.
Life in Leith in a tenement block could on occasion be fraught with a few scary moments, not that I was aware of them at the time, it was only subsequently as I got older that my Mum told the stories of needles being left at the bottom of the block and junkies getting their fix.
My parents were exceptional in shielding my sister and I from these less savoury aspects of life! For which we are thankful.
I have one less than savoury episode where my friend and I were walking to school and a man exposed himself to us. We were shocked at what we saw and never said anything to anyone about this, but were forced to after the same person tried to abduct my friend when she was on her own one day. Fortunately he was caught as he worked at a garage on the route we took. I did have nightmares for many subsequent years where I could see his face clearly and it ended with a female police officer taking him away.
My Dad’s parents, Jim and Jane Ramsay, lived near the golf course at Arbroath, where Jim was the green keeper. We would often go out for tea until they moved to a flat in the town. Grandma Ramsay died in 1967 after being ill for sometime, and Joseph, our second son was born 25 years to the day she died.