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Split screen - a hardcore VW

Split screen - a hardcore VW, originally uploaded by ccgd.

A couple of months ago I was to be a guest blogger – for a pal who was about to disappear overseas for a few weeks.

I was of course delighted and honoured, as the pal was K – an old friend, and erstwhile babysitter to our boys over the years. K is now a Paramedic in Embra, and much more importantly a brilliant blogger and not bad photographer.

Trust me – his writing is brilliant, if you want to know what being a paramedic in busy city is all about check out what he thinks is his best here.

So you will see why I was delighted to blog on his chosen subject – My first time in an ambulance – copy below………………

(read on and you will see why I've illustrated this prose with a photo of a VW Camper on Cromarty links - honest!)

“My first time in an ambulance?

No memory of the event all. I’ve been told that I was there physically, by totally reliable witnesses, but I’ve a very good reason for a total lack of recollection.


I was very young at the time, very young indeed.

Just 48 Hours old.

You see I was born just a fortnight short of fifty years ago in the back bedroom of a wonderful three hundred year old house high above the beach in the Highland town of Thurso. A house with a dramatic view across the surf of the beach, to the Atlantic Ocean and the southern isles of Orkney.

A surfer’s paradise these days, if you have a full body wetsuit.

Obviously I was a wee bit young to enjoy the view, or indeed surf, as I was a very sick little baby boy. Bright yellow – newborn Jaundice, apparently a severe case – showing no signs of getting better, and we were a long way from a hospital that could give me a blood transfusion. A hundred miles to be exact.

A hundred miles to Inverness, and in 1959 a hundred miles was a long long way on single track roads. Through mountains, along the shores of sea lochs, past cliffs, along the main streets of small Highland towns, over bridges. A long way. (for non Highland readers a single track road is exactly that – one carriage way that is shared by all traffic, with passing places to let opposing cars and lorries pass. You’d be staggered how many roads in the Highlands are still single track in 2009).

So on day three of my life an ambulance was summonsed to our house in Durness Street, for a very yellow little baby with a liver that refused to work as intended, and my poor Mum and I were taken on the five hour trip to Inverness, and deposited in Raigmore - the Highlands main hospital then and now.

Where of course my liver kicked in, I immediately became better, so then the whole journey had to be reversed.

In writing this I was curious about two things, firstly to see what an ambulance in 1959 looked like, so on googling I was delighted to discover that 50’s Scottish ambulances were simply Bedford Camper Vans without the fancy roof. The concept of an ambulance as a very slightly modified version of a family holiday vehicle is one that I think has fallen out of favour in the half century of my life (with good reason, I suspect).

For most non UK readers, and anyone under forty, a Bedford Camper Van is the seriously sad cousin of the VW Camper van. You know the camper van that always got picked last at Camper Van sports days? That was the Bedford.

It was the clumsy, chubby, awkward Camper Van of the 50’s and 60’s. All the cool kids were split windscreen VW’s.

Secondly what did an ambulance man in 1959 wear? Google again, and unfortunately he would have looked like a Milkman. A British Milkman. Peaked cap, serge trousers and brown jacket, minus the milk bottles.

So - would you trust your wife and very ill new born son to a Milkman driving a seriously un-cool Camper Van? Well my Dad did, standing at the door of our house, holding the hands of my two older sisters, waving us off. Of course he did. He just knew that he’d put two very precious family members in the hands of people he could trust.

An ambulance crew.

Now that’s something that’s not changed in 50 years.”

I love that old vw van, it's been restored perfectly! great story btw :-)

Two things
My almost earliest memory, Dad coming and telling your other sister and me that we had a baby brother...
.....and how come you didn't come clean and admit that we had a Bedford Dormabile!

Hi ,

This is mine and my girlfriends van ! A friend at work told her it was on internet , thanks for the nice comments.

Spent two weeks exploring Scotland was great and the van didn't miss a beat we clocked up 3000 plus miles.

Rob ;)

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