Winterfield

I was in Dunbar the other day. Not for long, for while I wanted a good walk, time and temperature were against me. While I was there, though, I walked around the Prom to Winterfield Park, a place where, amongst other things, I once played touch rugby (once, I said), lost a Wallace and Gromit figure I used as my stim toy, learned how to ride a bike and used as a stopping and stretching point when I went out running. Not all at once, though. Why Winterfield was particularly prominent in my mind was that I had read in the Courier recently that East Lothian Council intends to knock down the Pavilion in the park though the whole process has been delayed by roosting bats (yep, that makes the papers in East Lothian, people). Dunbar changes every time I go there and given that Winterfield was a prominent place in my childhood and early adult years too, I decided to make sure I had some photographs before it was levelled.

The history of the building is interesting. It was opened in 1925 as a stage for summer entertainment for the holidaying masses. Later it became a shower and toilet block for the caravan park that used to sit towards the golf course. Latterly I remember it being public toilets, handy for the adjoining swing park. For a lot of years, though, it has been derelict, boarded up and fenced off with ever more board panels covering up the roof too. Edinburgh College of Art used it as a basis of a project for their architecture students a few years back – some students came into where I worked at the time with their designs for how they would revitalise the building, no doubt with loads of flourishes and dreams.

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For those who don’t know the geography, Dunbar sits just on the edge of East Lothian, the whole coastline jagged and leading towards the sea. It can sometimes have the sense of being on an island, with surrounding hills and landmarks on three sides. On the middle photograph, you can see, just keeking above the wall to the right, my favourite perspective of Traprain Law, 7 miles away on the road to Haddington, high on the landscape as a good hill fort should have been with the country stretching out underneath. You can also see Knockenhair House sitting high on the hill, shielded by the trees from the unrelenting and unstinting wind.

Every time I go there, it always feel slightly unreal to be in a place that I know so well but is no longer so majorly a part of my life. My home is here, in Glasgow, but there is still a very significant part of me that thinks of Dunbar as home too. Wind and waves are natural parts of my life still, constant forces despite living a fair distance from the sea. I need to go back occasionally to just touch base with myself, to remember where I once was and where I might be, roosting bats and all.

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