Campbeltown – It’s not all about the Whisky
Like all Whisky lovers both Nicola and I were disappointed that the Campbeltown Malts Festival was cancelled. But, under the circumstances it was very understandable.
Here is hoping that all our friends and all the distillery workers are well and keeping safe.
The reason for this blog is that my granddaughter, Carla has written a piece on one of her favourite places, Campbeltown. Please enjoy her essay, which does not mention Whisky.
By Carla Young
3rd June 2020
The drive from Cumbernauld to Campbeltown is like no other. The scenery is stunning, you can see the sheep, cows and waterfalls up in the mountains and the choppy, bright blue sea on your right. When I open the car window there is no going back, I can smell the salt from the sea and smell of tropical gorse, it all hits me like a tidal wave. My dad used to work in Campbeltown, he was a policeman down here. We were going to relocate, which would have been amazing, but my oldest sister didn’t quite like the idea.
It is a long drive, but it is definitely worth it. I always know when I am in Campbeltown as everyone waves at me, from their cars and from the pavement. There is something about Campbeltown, it’s my second home, I feel safe when I’m there. My family have many friends in Campbeltown, whom I can’t wait to see after this whole pandemic ends.
When we arrive in Campbeltown we drive straight to The Ardshiel, a hotel in the centre of town, our friends own this hotel, Flora and Marion. They are the nicest people you’ll ever meet. They greet us at the door with a hug and we go upstairs to quickly unpack, it’s a routine at this point. We try to go to Campbeltown every month or two, but currently, we can’t go at all.
Once we take our seat in the lounge, we feel like we are home. It only takes me about twenty minutes before I ask if I can go to McKellar’s, it is the best sweetie shop to ever exist, in my opinion. My mum and dad give me some money and off I go.
I never rush getting there, as I want to take in everything I am feeling and seeing. As I step out of the Ardshiel Hotel the smell hits me again, I can smell the salt of the sea, as it is only twenty metres away. I start my journey, no shortcuts, no running.
I walk to the edge of the water, passing the harbour filled with boats. I can hear the seagulls above me. I walk past the ferry terminal, where we sometimes arrive by CalMac ferry depending on the time of year. I pass the cinema, the oldest surviving picture house in the UK which Paul McCartney helped to fund renovations. If I’m lucky I might see my dad’s police friends waving at me when passing in the police van. I can feel the wind just lightly graze my face as I walk, I try to imagine if it was windy enough would it blow my hair into my ice-cream on my return walk. I feel safe here, no need to wonder who is about or what people are doing. I cross the road and turn a few corners, then there it is, McKellar’s.
My first glimpse at Mckellar’s is the best, I can see what feels like a million jars of sweeties in the windows. I enter the shop and I am overwhelmed by the choice, but I have a favourite, it’s my go-to. A large Mr Whippy with rainbow sprinkles and bubblegum sauce. It is amazing, once the lady hands it to me, my eyes widen. I continue to chat with her for a few minutes whilst picking out my second sweet, which is usually either bonbons or kola cubes, but you never know there could be something new. I take one more look around before paying. I leave the shop, pockets weighed down with sweeties, Kola cubes and/or Bonbons, and head back to The Ardshiel Hotel.
One of my last trips to Campbeltown wasn’t quite the same. We arrive as normal. I don’t go to McKellars straight away. We have dinner at The Ardshiel and then I ask if I can go get a Mr Whippy ice-cream. My mum and dad give me money and I’m off, the walk feels different, it’s almost strangely quiet as I walk around the harbour.
I turn the corner to McKellars and I realise why. There are two fire engines and maybe three police cars outside of the building. I ask one of the policemen, whom I know, what has happened, he says the floor above McKellar’s has just collapsed, and we are trying to get people out. I look around at McKellar’s, I can see firemen on ladders at the top windows helping a woman out of the window. Thankfully, the policemen tell me that no one is hurt. Well, that was it, no more McKellar’s, I say goodbye to the policeman and then begin to walk back to the Ardshiel, my pockets feel lighter than they should be at this point.
Just like that, it was gone, but not forgotten. I still love going to Campbeltown but with the absence of the sweetie shop, it’s not quite the same. I love going to Campbeltown and always will, but I wish I could stay there forever. When I’m older, my dream is to become a primary teacher at one of the local schools. There will only be ten kids in my class, but I don’t mind. I will be in Campbeltown.
This insight into Campbeltown is great. Like Carla’s mum and dad, I am very proud of my young granddaughter.
I cannot wait for the lockdown to finish and I will once again be able to give her a huge cuddle and a kiss.
I could see everything that you saw. Wonderful writing Carla. We all have a sweet tooth here as well. Lovely goal to be a teacher in such a wonderful place. I can see why your Granddad wanted to post your story.
Thanks for the kind words Laura x