I sometimes wonder if youngsters nowadays realise just how lucky they are. A couple of years ago my eldest grandson enjoyed a five day school trip to New York. This year the younger brother is bound for Switzerland.
When I was a lad in Stanley my first trip was a day in Edinburgh with visits to the castle and the zoo. For weeks leading up to the outing we took sixpence to school which we handed to the teacher to cover the cost. At the castle I was impressed by Mons Meg and seeing the Scottish regalia. I can still recall the thrill of crossing the Forth Bridge for the first time and tossing a coin out of the train window for luck.
I purchased a box of Edinburgh rock to take home to my parents but sadly, it did not survive the journey home. Filled with remorse I bought a bar of chocolate from the vending machine at Perth Station to replace the rock. At least the thought was there.
However, the most memorable outing with the school was a visit to the Empire Exhibition in Bellahouston Park, Glasgow in 1938. There were pavilions representing the various countries in the then British Empire. My favourite was the Canadian Pavilion with two members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, resplendent in their red tunics, on duty at the entrance.
I can still taste the Canadian apples which I sampled. Had I ever decided to emigrate Canada would have been my destination. Alas, my boyhood ambition of becoming a ‘Mountie’ never came to pass. One of the main features was the Tower of Empire which was designed by the prominent Scottish architect, Thomas Tait. Cardboard models of the tower were on the agenda at the handiwork class on return to school.
There was also a reconstruction of a typical Highland village called the Clachan.
Another feature was the indoor waterfall representing the Niagara Falls if I remember correctly. The day ended with time spent in the adjacent fun fair which surpassed anything we had experienced at the South Inch in Perth when the ‘shows’ come to town.
All in all a day to remember. Perhaps we didn’t do too badly after all.