I recently explored Tarlair Art Deco open air swimming pool with my husband and children. Despite having fallen into serious disrepair over the years, it retains a certain beauty, and is evocative – for me anyway – of times past.
Tarlair in memory
It was the scene of many halcyon days one summer. I was fifteen, and due to head off to dance school in London that September. I recall lying on the grass in the sun, messing around in the boating pool, buying sweets from the shop and chatting with friends. The hazy, golden hue of these bright points in memory is augmented by the nature of other events from that time.
A Dark Summer
That same summer, there was a face off with an old school bully. There was an abusive incident with a particularly disgusting family member. He was much respected, and I didn’t think I would be believed, so I didn’t tell anyone what had happened. An older boy grabbed me on a bus and kissed and bit my neck. Actually that last event is not a dark memory. Non-consensual and unexpected as it was, I found it rather exciting at the time.
There were other daily disappointments, but it can be bitter to dwell too deeply. Some things are over when they’re finally over, and they are now.
But Tarlair remains bright, both as it is now, and as it appears in my nostalgic image of the past. Four girls on the brink of being women laughed together and talked of their hopes for the future. We swam in the water of the North Sea with all our clothes on, and got changed in the only one of our homes that was free from adult disapproval. We ate chocolate in an abandoned campervan. White Russians were enjoyed in a local nightclub where no one questioned our age; hangovers were revelled in the next day by the pool.
None of our lives turned out quite how we envisaged. We trailed away from those teenage maps we drew for ourselves that summer. We’ve all tasted despair but known great joy too. Maybe we couldn’t have had one without the other.
Tarlair is being restored. I look forward to making new memories there soon.
Restoration of iconic Tarlair Pool from the Press and Journal
Below: looking out to the wider ocean through the Needle’s Eye, a rock formation beside Tarlair.
My Books, set mostly in Aberdeenshire
The latest novel, SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD, features Romans, Celts, romance, a neurodivergent main character and the Battle of Mons Graupius.
“Ethereal and spellbinding….” Historical Novel Society
See the article Roman Aberdeenshire features in author’s new book from Grampian Online.
Set in an Aberdeenshire castle, THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR features the Scottish witchcraft accusations, a handsome Laird, an ancient stone circle and a love story.
FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE was inspired by the 18th century kidnapped children of Aberdeen and is set in both Scotland and Colonial Pennsylvania.
“Filled with excitement and suspense…” Historical Novel Society
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