The adventures of Francie and Josie

Introduction.

Both couples were now retired. They had been friends for a very long time and had come through some harrowing times as well as many happy moments. The foursome had brought up their families in the same area of Govan on the River Clyde in Glasgow. The children were now adults making their own way through life, with children of their own. Their parents’ new lives were about to begin.

Francie and Josie.

Born in a Protestant home, Francis met, fell in love and married Euphemia, a Catholic girl. The ensuing children were brought up in the Roman Catholic faith. Joseph, a Catholic, met Jessica, they fell in love. The children were brought up as Protestant. Francis and Joseph had done their national service with the armed forces, Francis being posted to Cyprus with the RAF, and Joseph to Germany with the Army. Francis had been employed with Glasgow Corporation as a driver on the underground subway trains. Since retiring he had noticed that he no longer suffered from dizzy-turns. Josie had worked in the shipyards on the Clyde. He had been left with a peculiar twitch in his neck through having to dodge the overhead cranes as they passed overhead. This peculiarity made Joseph look as though he was itching for a fight when he would duck his head down to avoid the crane and his chin would jut forward in a menacing manner. The truth was in fact, he was a very mild mannered person.

Euphemia and Jessica.

Euphemia and Jessica, their wives, had both been employed by Glasgow Corporation transport as conductresses on the buses. Both ladies were different in appearance, Phemie being as skinny as a garden rake, and Jessie, a little bit more on the plump side. They had so much more in common and would always be seen in the company of one another.

So it was that when the two couples retired they had decided to take the opportunity of seeing a little of their very own country, to learn a little of its history, its culture and its people. Joseph was the driving force in the party, and wherever Joseph went, Francis was just behind him. They were inseparable, pals for life. Jessica was the real boss, the one who pulled Joseph’s strings, and Euphemia still hadn’t let Francis loose from her apron strings. The two ladies were always in total control of every situation. Both women knew that this was true and they relished in the situation. They had discussed buying a Motorhome and had come to the decision that this was what they wanted to do. At every opportunity they would take to the road, to venture forth where no Govan man or woman had gone before, out into the far flung Lochs and Castles the Mountains and Cities, Museums and Harbours the Islands, Skye, the Hebrides, Orkney, Shetland and further across the horizon to foreign fields like England, Ireland, Wales etc, etc, etc.

The characters’ names, in no particular order are; Francie, Josie, Phemie and Jessie.

The story-line is higgledy-piggledy.

What better way could there be to begin this Travel Blog than by embarking on an imaginary sail “Doon the Watter” albeit sixty plus years ago, on the good ship the P.S. Waverley.

The Journey begins:

Scotland.

The Paddle Steamer Waverley.

Hello, it’s Captain Joe, here! Just thought I’d let you know. There can be nothing worse than to see a clunking great iceberg looming, and knowing that you had never been introduced to the person responsible for steering the boat at the time. I will be your Captain for this nostalgic trip “Doon the Watter.”
Welcome aboard the paddler. As you can see, we are filled to the gunnels with gallivanting Glaswegians, hell bent on having a “rerr” day out. Mammies and daddies, with the ‘weans’ in tow, looking forward to a day out in the fair town of Rothesay-o.

I would like you to imagine, it’s a bright sunny Sunday morning in May, away back in the heyday of the Paddle Steamers, as we cast off from the Broomielaw, on the river Clyde.
We have hardly reached mid-stream and already the music from the saloon-bar has begun, with a Harry Lauder type guy singing.

‘For we’re no’ awa’ tae bide awa’. We’re no’ awa’ tae leave ye. We’re no’ awa’ tae bide awa’. We’ll aye come back and see ye.’

We sail down the river and out into the beautiful surroundings of the Firth of Clyde passing Dumbarton Rock, with its Castle on the top.
This is where Mary Queen of Scots as a child, spent her last night, before being safely transported to France, where she matured to become an intelligent and beautiful woman, marrying the Dauphin, Francois, who was to become King, but then that’s another story.

Splish-splash, splish-splash, splish-splash, splish…

The little Paddler battles against the force of the incoming tide…

There are children on the top-deck with their mammies, throwing crusts of bread into the air, which the seagulls are swooping down on, and catching the tasty morsels in mid-air.
Down below deck, in the engine-room, the Engineer is toiling with the oiling of a coiling, while the boiler-man is boiling in his boiler-suit, all sooty, while attending to the normality of his duty.
Up on deck, the gulls are still a-busy, sending messages of thanksgiving to the people down below, one of which lands with a sickly splatter, slap bang on the head of the Harry Lauder type guy, who had just emerged from the smoke filled atmosphere of the saloon-bar.

Splish-splash, splish-splash, splish-splash, splish…

The Paddler is approaching Rothesay Bay. A drunk in the saloon-bar shouts.

‘Give us anither yin.’

The Harry Lauder type guy, mistaking his call to the barman, as that of someone wishing an encore, begins to sing.

‘Maxwellton Braes are bonny, where early fa’s the dew. Twas there that Annie Laurie, gave me her promise true.’

Splish-splash, splish-splash, splish-splash, splish…

Welcome to Rothesay. Have a nice day. Let all your cares and woes vanish away.
We’ll leave all those gallus Glasgow folk, to enjoy their day in Rothesay.

Rothesay

For those left onboard, we are now heading for Dunoon, where the Cowal Games are held every year.
If you can bear with me, I will try to explain the shenanigans of what goes on during these Games.

Events take place, such as Pipe-Band competitions in which Pipers compete, by blowing as hard as they can into cloth-balloons, which are held underneath their oxters. The first Piper to burst one of these balloons is then declared the biggest blow-hard in the band, and holds this coveted title for one year.
By the way, the previous year the winner had been found among the heather, beside an empty bottle of Johnnie Walker, and a burst balloon. He had blown his brains out.

Highland dancing is another of the activities, where bonnie wee lassies appear to have been forced to dance on a bed of nails. Then on closer inspection one realizes that it is much worse and that some tumshie of a Clansman has left his Clansmen comrades’ dirty great cutlasses on the mat on which the poor wee things are trying to perform a jig.

The tossing of the Caber:

Now, this one is difficult to explain, but it seems to be about these two big Canadian lumber-jacks built like Balerno bulls. They lose the brow with one another over who should get the productivity bonus, and they begin to throw trees at each other. Anyway, the outcome is, as in the old Western movies, the bad guy with the black mustache loses.

I look forward to meeting the two happy couples who won the draw for dinner at the Captain’s table, on arriving at Dunoon.
The menu will consist of mince with dough-balls, followed by tapioca pudding with a dollop of plum jam.
We do have a dress code; string vests will be frowned upon; pink Long-Johns are a no-no. That rules me out, as my ‘missus’ says my bum doesn’t look good in them, especially when the trap-door is left lying ajar.
On the return journey we will be picking up the remains of the Glaswegians at Rothesay, for the sail back home to the Broomielaw. Have a nice day in Dunoon.

Splish-splash, splish-splash, splish-splash, splish…

Dunoon Bay

Well, here we are back in Rothesay. The day-trippers are safely on board and we cast off on the return trip. We’re homeward bound and the saloon-bar becomes active once more.

‘Sailin’ up the Clyde. Sailin’ up the Clyde. Back tae bonnie Scotland an’ yer ain fireside. There’s a lump comes in yer throat an’ a tear ye cannae hide, when ye’re sailin’ back tae Scotland an’ yer ain fireside.’

The drunk shouts.

‘Give us anither yin.’

The wee minstrel, the Harry Lauder type guy starts singing.

‘Maxwellton Braes are bonny, where early fa’s the dew. It was there that Annie Laurie, gave me her promise true.’

The drunk shouts.

‘Hi, you wi’ the seagull’s shite on yer heid. Gonnae pack it in, ye’ll make it rain?’

The little ship continues on up river. Your Captain, Joe, is at it too. Yes, I’m singing away merrily on the bridge, as we pass Dumbarton Rock.

Dumbarton Castle Rock.

‘Roamin’ in the gloamin’ on the bonnie banks o’ Clyde. Roamin’ in the gloamin’ wi’ a lassie by my side. When the sun has gone tae rest, that’s the time that I love best. Och it’s lovely roamin’ in the gloamin’.’

Splish-splash, splish-splash, splish-splash,splish…

The Pretty Little Paddler

The Waverley, before going on to its berth in Glasgow, ties up at Govan Pier to let the passengers who lived on the south side of the city disembark. Off they came, singing like linties, weans greeting, daddies stinking, mammies shouting.

‘Come on, come on, we’ll soon be hame.

There were four big lassies ‘cleekin’ airms’ and giggling, dancing on ahead and singing.

‘Show me the way to go home. I’m tired and I want to go to bed. I had a little drink about an hour ago, and its gone right to my head.’

The wee drunk is shouting.

‘Wait for me, Maggie. I cannae run.’

Our day trip, ‘Doon the Watter,’ has come to an end. I hope that you all had a nice day out.

Joe.

One day I’ll take you all on a sail on my big boat!

Big Bully Boat.

Joe Sharp.

To Be Continued………

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