Wick, to me, felt like some holy grail – the birthplace of my mum, her family, my uncles, my sister Linda and my brother John.
I had indulged myself a bit in the thought of going back to my roots.
Lou had got me there the night before and we had languished in the bed and breakfast paid for by her very generous parents.
This was very welcome in two ways – first of all we’d been pushing hard to get there – I for one was foot sore and weary; secondly I knew that lou was going home – so I was going to be alone for at least a week. The b & b served as a launchpad.
It had been great to have lou around – her wit is like mine and I think our views are similar – she may or may not have known it but she’d been quietly supportive.
Waving her off on the bus was hard. Nit quite a black and White movie with a steam train and a White hanky hard, but I was sad to see her go.
This left me to explore my sights of Wick. To be fair, there weren’t that many.
The trinkie is – was – an outdoor swimming pool fed by the sea – yes, the north sea – where my older brother david and Linda would spend many a happy hour turning blue and then being rushed to hospital with hypothermia. Not content with this, David once took it upon himself to swim across the bay – a distance of about a kilometre.
Bear in mind my earlier stories that some fishermen never learnt to swim because, they felt, a couple if minutes in the north sea would kill them anyway.
They were made from stern stuff back then.
I went along to their old house on willowbank. Nothing remarkable – a downstairs tenement on a long street next to the sea. My imagination filled the gaps though – I could see jollity, banter and the occasional red arse.
I walked along the harbour to the foot of a steep narrow road – shore lane. Mum had told me how, as a child, she’d flown down there on her sledge – an image u still have as if I’d been there cheering her on, shouting at her to turn before she hit the wall at the bottom.
Other than that – not much. Wick is potentially a very attractive town with it’s river straddled by a handsome bridge – with some fine, sturdy older buildings in the town centre.
A town that had been borne out of fishing, all I could see were 2 small fishing boats in dry dock. Amazing really to think that Wick had once only been accessible by sea.
It’s lost some of it’s heart – I’m guessing unemployment is fairly high there with the demise of fishing and the closure of the Dounray nuclear plant (of course nuclear energy’s safe – no it’s just a coincidence we built the first reactor as far away as we possibly could from Westminster ).
I’m glad I visited. And I’m glad I had company. The uk looks very different up here – the sky seems somehow closer.
I like it though. There’s a lovely familiarity I feel when I hear the accents. I can almost imagine the ghosts of the past fixing nets in the harbour, going out to sea, living in what must have been a thriving fishing town.
Walk a mile