'And finally, not everyone’s being doing topical. In fact, here’s the rather lovely 6 Oxgangs Avenue devoted to the history of the development of the area, this week highlighting how the block of flats came into being. Could have been prompted by Who do you think you are? Or just a timely reminder that not everything worth blogging about is in the here and now.'

Kate Higgins, Scottish Roundup 26/08/2012

Monday, 1 October 2012

Hillend and 'Jean Claude-Killy'

How many primary schools offered skiing as part of their curriculum back in the 1960s? Eton, Loretto, Watsons? Well, actually, I was thinking of Hunters Tryst Primary School.

Hillend Ski Slope in the shadow of the Pentland Hills

In an earlier comment, Ruth Blades (Kaye) remembered  Hillend Ski Slope. For the likes of David Lines, Bryan Rennie, Norman Stewart and me we were very lucky-in our last year at school (P7) we had the chance of attending skiing lessons. We were incredibly excited. This would be the first occasion that a class from the school had been offered this opportunity. Lothian Regional Council had developed an artificial ski slope-the longest in Europe-on the north facing side of the Pentland Hills.

So, each Friday morning for a term or so, we were transported by bus the mile or two up the road to Hillend from Hunters Tryst School. It was a lovely break from school. Unfortunately, I never took to it at all. Wearing heavy and uncomfortable boots it was a bit of a long trudge up the road from the cabin at the Biggar Road entrance to the artificial slope; the weather was poor and we often ended up soaked; and I could never quite master the skis-they felt awkward and cumbersome. Also, I didn't particularly like the Austrian instructor called Hans. On top of that I never had the 'bottle' for going down the slope from the top-even back then when it was at a more intermediate level. Apart from that, it was fine-boy, what a wimp!

A nice surprise was that someone from The Stair who did take to skiing was Iain Hoffmann. Up until then Iain hadn't previously excelled at sport, but did have 'the bottle' to go down from the top-a bit like his diving where, like 'the old boy' (Ken Hoffmann) he was always happy to throw himself from great heights into water-oops, shouldn't have mentioned Ken Hoffmann-I feel another Ken Hoffmann Being Different story coming on!

Iain ('Jean-Claude Killy') Hoffmann circa 1969
(Photograph, Glasgow Herald)

Iain went on to represent the school in a skiing competition-here's a lovely photograph of him (above) that appeared in the Glasgow Herald newspaper at the time-I don't know how the family became aware of the photograph-perhaps someone got the newspaper at my Aunt Heather's office at work? Anyway, it's captured a lovely moment in time.

Most unfortunately, Iain was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis last week-it would seem he's had the condition for years, but it's taken until now to identify it as the slow progressing type-he's being very positive about it-hope in a very small way the photie gives you a lift Unc.

And who would have thought it-a school located in Oxgangs  offering skiing lessons!


Unknown said...

Hello Peter
I used to love the trips up to Hillend and also felt very lucky to have been taught Skiing from such an early age, I loved it, also remembered the soakings as most of the time it was wet and Hans would say it you are wet you cannot get any wetter. His favourite phrase was "keep your ski's pahlahlel" (parallel).
I also remember going pony trekking at Hunters Tryst which cost 10p each week we could just about afford that. Imagine that Skiing and Pony Trekking at primary school makes me realise we did not have it so bad after all.

Peter Hoffmann said...

LOL! I can just picture this tough outdoors man with his spartan Austro-Germanic philosophy speaking thus! Like Iain, I suspect you would have been quite game Ruth,combined with good attitude-did not know about Pony Trekking-that must have been post 1968 when I left Hunters Tryst. Was that held in the Pentlands too?
ps Impressed with your spelling (trekking)-the more I do this blog, the more I realise how poor mine has become!
pps Re:Pentlands connection-there is an interesting Muriel Spark short story set in the Pentlands called The Executor.

Unknown said...

Hello Peter
I am certainly a game old bird said...

Everyone who loves skiing should pay more attention to Ukrainian ski resorts. This region develops very fast. Carpathians become more and more popular among skiers of Ukraine and the world. Such resorts as Slavske or Dragobrat are symbols of perfect skiing and comfortable hotels. Just read about Ukrainian places for skiing and remember that conditions become more and more comfortable every year!