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An exotic holiday in 1960s Aberdeen, Thunder Road, Great-grandfather Cyril's jacket potato

An exotic holiday in 1960s Aberdeen, Thunder Road, Great-grandfather Cyril's jacket potato

Snapshot: Bareback zebra riding - in 1960s Aberdeen This looks like a souvenir from an exotic holiday on the plains of the Serengeti, but the small kilty bear in the background is the clue to the truth. It was taken in Hazelhead Park, Aberdeen in 1960 on a family holiday. The photograph is of my sister, Margaret, and me. There was a corner in the park populated with stuffed animals, a forerunner of safari parks and petting zoos. My expression of restrained joy resulted from the coarse hair of the zebra jagging my legs where they stuck out from below my khaki shorts and the fact that my front teeth were missing. Our matching Clarks sandals were bought for the summer term at school and to see us through the holidays. Pre-North Sea oil, Aberdeen was a bustling fishing port as well as a popular holiday destination for families from Scotland's central belt. The golden sands of the beach stretched for miles and the beach boulevard had all the usual seaside attractions. We stayed in a bed and breakfast near the railway station, our days filled with visits to the beach; set our pitch with a windshield and a blanket on the sand; and jumped the waves in the North Sea risking sunburn and hypothermia at the same time. There were trips to Deeside and its castles. One morning my dad dragged me out of bed in the early hours to go to the fish market. It was full of activity with the catch being hoisted off the boats into the shed that housed the auction - where bedlam reigned, fishermen, auctioneers and merchants shouting at one another. Hazelhead Park also had a maze. An ideal way to keep an eight-year-old occupied. It took for ever to find the way to the centre and equally long to extract myself. I worked in Aberdeen 25 years later and visited Hazelhead with my own young family. It became a favourite place for a country walk and picnic. The zebra and its pals were long gone to be replaced by a pets corner, which delighted my daughter. Sandy Tuckerman Playlist: Stories from a New Jersey neighbourhood Thunder Road by Bruce Springsteen "Hey what else can we do now? / Except roll down the window / And let the wind blow / Back your hair / Well the night's busting open / These two lanes will take us anywhere" My family used to go on vacation every summer to the Jersey Shore, where we'd spend a free week in my uncle's beach house. The five of us, plus one of my brother's friends, packed into two cars. My dad, the dog and I took the SUV, while the rest cramped in to Mom's mini van. Those three-hour car rides were full of talking - mostly my dad telling stories from his childhood - and music. He played an unusual assortment of CDs and burned mixtapes. A song by Jimmy Buffett might be followed by a Josh Groban ballad before switching to Taylor Swift. In the glove box, he had albums from Pink, the Who, and Bruce Springsteen. I remember driving down the Garden State Parkway when he put Born to Run in the CD player. It wasn't the first time I had heard the Boss, but the first time I really listened. Dad skipped through to the last track, to Jungleland, that nine-minute epic. It was his favourite, and Thunder Road became mine. Springsteen's songs came to symbolise my need to move on from my hometown but also my fondness for where I was raised. When I go back home now, my dad and I sometimes take the car out for drives through his old neighbourhood. He tells his stories and I listen, Bruce playing in the background, like always. My great-grandfather was a kind, lanky miner whose intelligence never left him. I have an old black and white photograph of him driving a crane, and he still looked the same by the time I met him. By then, he was devoted to his wife and still lived fairly independently after she died; he continued to go for long walks, staying trim, and dressed modestly to the very last. I remember his lilting "Jiw Jiw" (Good God), a very Welsh saying, whenever he was remotely impressed or surprised by anything. In his last years, we were able to show him smartphones, which brought out a flurry of "Jiw Jiws". One of the things he was proudest about having was a proper fire, in which he used to poke and prod and cook the best jacket potatoes in the world. A modest dish for a modest man. The potatoes had a kind of smokiness, and reminded you that the best things are often the simplest. You can introduce anything to a jacket potato, just as you could introduce anything to this brilliant, hardworking man. Every evening he'd have a single whiskey, sometimes another as he got a bit older and things began to slip his mind. When he finally went to hospital to die, my mother brought him hot chocolate laced with whiskey. A good death if there ever was one. Charles Trotman We'd love to hear your stories We will pay £25 for every Letter to, Playlist, Snapshot or We Love to Eat we publish. Write to Family Life, The Guardian, Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU or email family@theguardian.com. Please include your address and phone number.

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