Memories of Pittenweem


In August 1956 when I was ten, I set off with my family from the town of Lanark for our summer holiday. Our destination was Pittenweem in the East Neuk of Fife. This was a huge adventure and although the distance was approximately seventy miles, to me it could have been the other side of the world. The journey required two trains and a change of station in Edinburgh from the then Caledonian station to the Waverley; no mean feat as, in those days, if you were self catering you had to bring with you all your bed linen and towels.
The sense of excitement as our train crossed the Forth rail bridge was palpable. We finally arrived in Pittenweem and made our way to our holiday accommodation which was very close to the harbour.
The sun was shining from the moment we arrived and in my memory at least, it shone until we left fourteen days later. It didn't take long for us to explore and discover the outdoor swimming pool and the tiered concrete sun terrace; what glamour! During those days it was packed with holidaymakers from all over Scotland and some from England too.
I fell in love with Pittenweem instantly and our days took on a magical formula which consisted of my Mum preparing a picnic and possibly that evening's meal too whilst we went down to the harbour to watch the fishing boats come in. We then set off walking past the harbour and the quaint little cottages and houses to the outdoor swimming pool and terrace. We spent the day there in and out of the water, having our picnic and generally exploring the area. When it was time for tea, we returned to our flat, washed and changed (I have no memory of a bath or shower) and set off along the coastal path to Anstruther where there was nightly open air dancing. My Mum, Dad, older brother and sister enjoyed this part of the day immensely. I loved these evenings too as I watched the dancers and listened to hits of that summer such as Doris Day's 'What Will Be Will Be' and Pat Boone's 'I'll Be Home' and many other classic fifties hits. I dreamed up a future of romance and excitement for myself.
Virtually no money was spent on us as there was so little money around then. We perhaps had a very occasional ice cream but no more than that.
I was devastated when that holiday ended. I don't remember any further holidays to Pittenweem although I'm sure we did re-visit Anstruther at a later stage.
Many years later when I met my husband, we discovered that he too had been on holiday in Pittenweem in the mid fifties but we have never quite managed to find out if we were there the same summer. We both remember the constant sunshine but then perhaps the sun shines in every childhood holiday memory. We also remember the pleasure and simplicity of it all.
To this day we love to return to Pittenweem which in many ways has remained unchanged. Sadly the outdoor swimming pool has long since closed for safety reasons. However we still sit on the sun terrace, although it is somewhat dilapidated now (as are we!) and look out across the beautiful clear waters of the Forth. We remember the glorious days of the 1950's holidays and wonder if, perhaps we did play side by side at the pool.
Pittenweem is still a beautiful place, the only additions being a few upmarket cafes and small art galleries but its essence still remains.
Pittenweem - a special place in my memories and one to which I will often return.