After a wee wander around the main shopping street in Saltcoats and a takeaway lunch eaten in the car we timed it just right to arrive back in Gourock as dusk was falling. The three Inverclyde towns of Greenock, population around 42,000, Port Glasgow, 14,000, and Gourock, 10,000 or thereabouts run into and merge with each other along a coastal strip- comprising roughly 65,000 residents in total. The first two are mainly working class, post industrial settlements, with decades long falling numbers presumably due to a lack of jobs and other opportunities in the area although they still have a surprising variety of upmarket Victorian streets and grand houses, especially Greenock, built at a time when both towns had a number of flourishing shipyards- and other local businesses, thriving as a legacy of being a sizable sea port community taking full advantage of the Industrial Revolution.
Gourock, with just as long a history of providing a quieter residential suburb to live in, yet still a popular seaside resort is much the same as it always was back when I was a teenager. Like Glasgow and its often notorious schemes/ estates, Greenock and Port Glasgow used to have some fairly colourful deprived areas but on the surface at least they look much better than of old with most of that 1930s to 1960s dilapidated, run down council housing stock either renovated or more often cleared away. As with Glasgow and other west coast post- industrial urban areas these estates, often containing thousands of people, are usually replaced with far fewer properties, many of them housing association or private developers, so mainly for sale, rather than council stock. Not a criticism- just an interested observation on cycling trips around the urban west trying to make sense of it all and wondering where all the displaced people go. Obviously, if less housing exists you get less residents living there but what arrived first? The missing people in an area leaving of their own accord or a lack of affordable houses to live in- the chicken or the egg scenario as this is and always has been a scenically beautiful area....but you probably need a cushion of money or a steady source of income to live here nowadays and enjoy the experience. Gourock in above photo seen from Greenock.
"Drink in that atmosphere girls. Slow down and soak up that menace." I implored. " Sniff those steps one by one. Hey! Don't speed up as soon as you leave the lights. That's cheating! Get back here. Surf those darkness fear vibes like an incoming wave."
"Shut up you nutter!" I was told. "Back in your basket, limpy teddy bear."
"It's more like Deliverance." quipped her daughter. "twang a twang twang twang twang- twang twang twang."
"Yes, thank you Kenneth Williams." Anne didn't appreciate my attempt at humour but Belinda was having fun exploring, almost by touch, while still being careful where she walked.
"Can you be scared and bored at the same time? Belle asked sardonically.
"Watch it bunny boiler." I countered. " I know some really heavy people in these here parts."
She was unperturbed. "Oh yeah,,,I'm sure you do- at least 30 stone."
" Size doesn't matter." I replied. "They could make you disappear quick enough."
"Only if I was sitting on a sofa in the same room." she shot back. "and I'd fallen asleep between the cushions"
" If you're tired you can wait up here, enjoy the views, and we'll run down and get the car... then drive back up in under ten minutes." I joked, indicating the deserted and lonely dark hilltop and car park with nobody else around. "What can possibly go wrong?"
" OK then. On you go. Leave me the dog. " Anne called my bluff immediately, sitting down on a bench as we passed. " I'll wait up here for you. Women are just as brave as men you know."
"I do know," I admitted cheerfully. "Braver even. Men have been standing on you lot for centuries- keeping you down and in your place."
"Like a carpet." Belinda added helpfully with a bright smile. She had diligently watched the same history programme as I had recently and found it educational and informative. Anne had not bothered... probably busy in the kitchen as usual, chained to sink and oven- shoveling out tasty meals :o)
"and mothers always carry the weight of the world on their broad shoulders." I agreed, warming to my subject. "Everyone knows that,"
"Like an elephant!" her daughter chipped in, earning a glare. "the ones with a people basket tied on them for sightseeing is what I meant," She elaborated. "doing all the work. Good memory for everything. Queen of the herd."
"Yes, Thank You! Off you go."
We walked down the hill for 30 steps then turned back to find her catching up rapidly, Snapper pulling on the lead to reach us quicker.
"I've had a rest now. I feel much better............................ It's not me." she insisted. "that dog's a complete coward. It wouldn't stay put up there. "
B was unconvinced. " Poor Snapper. Bad Mummy blaming you."
" Wear proper walking boots next time. Very comfy on feet." I recommended. " and good for kicking convicts and assorted ghouls in the dark."
" No-one can really see what you wear at night anyway." A fashion conscious Belinda added. " so you can dress anyway you like up here and it doesn't matter."
" Now you're talking. Unrepentant after the last time. I like that! "
"Ho, what do you mean you lot? " Anne demanded, pulling me up for my earlier quip with a prodded finger in the back.
"I've got to say that." I protested." It's expected of me as a man. Otherwise I loose my bearded brethren membership rights. It's a male bonding thing. Sausage solidarity. "
Another memorable and interesting trip.
It was only after watching the Walter Mitty film remake that I discovered the sport of long-boarding existed as an offshoot of the more familiar skateboarding. That is going down steep twisting roads at speed for as long as possible. Iceland and Norway seem to be popular for this, having the right roads but also, crucially, not much traffic driving up towards the descending boarder. I also like the attitude and optimism in this video. For each new generation growing up it should be a golden age of discovery and hope for them and enjoyed as such if at all possible. Nice scenery in this and it reminds me of my own carefree 20 something years in various outdoor clubs.