Danube river cruise

1987: Paris / Danube cruise: Black Sea to Vienna / Esbjerg & Copenhagen / Formentora Island, Balearics / Nice

1987, April – Paris

Inspired by our visit last August, Joyce took Robin and Sandy for a week to see the sights of Paris. Hovercraft from Dover to Calais – very rough. Two sights in Paris.

Channel hovercraft

Paris park The Scots Kirk 


1987, May – Danube cruise from the Black Sea to Vienna

A fortnight where everything that could go wrong did go wrong, but interesting for all that. Flight from Edinburgh to Bucharest in Romania, but no aircraft available to take us on to the Black Sea port of Constantia to join the cruise-boat. Eventually a bus

arrived, but the driver didn’t know the way and we boarded after midnight. Sailed upstream (main picture) through Ukraine, Moldova, Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, Croatia, Hungary and Slovakia to Vienna, but the engines kept breaking down. Promised ‘spectacular views’ when we were due to go through gorges, but when we were hours late through engine problems, we sailed through the gorges at night ‘because they are not worth looking at’. Taken for a land excursion for miles by bus to see a ‘spectacular development’, which turned out to be the first tourist hotel built in the area. Ian developed a swollen leg, which the ship’s doctor treated by giving him steaks to eat – very tasty but no cure for an infection. Cured by antibiotics when we got home. Before flying home, we were taken to a spectacular performances of classical dressage at the Spanish Riding School.


1987, August – Esbjerg and Copenhagen, Denmark

Mermaid statueTook the car on the ferry from Newcastle to Esbjerg on the west coast of the Jutland peninsula; only Jeremy with us – Sandy was in Israel. Explored across Denmark to Odense and on to Copenhagen. Photograph of the Little Mermaid in Copenhagen harbour.



1987, September – Formentora Island, Balearics

Package holiday for a week to the smallest of the Balearic islands; flight to Ibiza and then ferry. Very quiet – the season was almost over, but clear warm waters for swimming and long stretches of beach backed by pine trees. Hired a Vespa scooter – photograph – and explored elsewhere on foot.

Scooter ride  Joyce and Ian at monument


1987, October – Nice

Joyce and Audrey Lawrence stayed in Ethel Houston’s flat near the harbour in Nice.

Nice harbour


< back        1988 >


1986: Rome / Loch Tay / Stoke-on-Trent Garden Festival / Paris / Majorca

1986, March – Rome

A week at Easter, flight from Edinburgh with Brittania Airways. Good hotel (Napeleon) looking onto a spacious grassy square, with a flower market, but supper on the first evening left Joyce with severe food-poisoning, so the time for exploring Rome was limited. Photographs of Ian, Joyce, Joyce with audio-guide in the Forum, going to the Coliseum and on our way to the Catacombs.

Ian and Joyce in Rome


Audio guide in Rome Catacombe


1986, June – Abernethy Ardeonaig Outdoor Centre, Loch Tay

A week at the Ardeonaig Outdoor Centre, run by the Abernethy Trust, who took (now closed) families when their training courses for students were closed for the summer. With a friend, Barbara Lyon and her daughter Fiona. Sailed dinghies on Loch Tay and ‘gorge walked’ up the local river with water pouring down.


1986, July – Stoke-on-Trent Garden Festival

The second of five UK National Garden Festivals for the regeneration of derelict land in Britain’s industrial districts – see entry for June 1984. Leisurely visit to the area, which we did not know much about.


Seine river boat

1986, August – Paris

VenusA week in Paris. Flight to Beauvais-Tille Airport, which is branded as ‘Paris’ although it is 53 miles north-west of the city, and so cheaper for low-cost airlines – we went with Danair. Went round all the usual sights in good weather, except for one day, when it poured, so we sat on the top deck of a bus as it went round and round the city. Discovered the street Rue Descartes, packed with competing restaurants, where we ate most evenings. Photos of the Seine, Joyce keeping Venus de Milo company in the Louvre, Artists’ Quarter and the Eifel Tower.



Eifel Tower

Artist's quarter


1986, September – Cala d’Or, Majorca

A week at a hotel on a headland jutting out into the sea; spectacular views in all directions. This was our first Thomson’s ‘a la carte’ (superior) package, including a private car from and to Palma airport. Poor restaurant service, but a very relaxing week on the beach.



< back        1987 >


1985: Malaga, Spain / Majorca

1985, April – Malaga, Spain

Easter week ‘package holiday’, flight from Edinburgh, with Jeremy and Sandy. Too cold to swim in the pool and the waiters went on strike, so a ‘break’ if not a ‘holiday’. Because of the problems, guests were much more talkative than usual, and we made several good friends for the week.

1985, August – Molins Hotel, Cala San Vincente, Majorca

Flight from Edinburgh and a week at this hotel, recommended to us by a friend who was a travel agent. Did nothing but swim in the lovely warm sea (main picture), often up the small inlet on the right of this picture, sunbathe, eat meals and drink Cava.


< back        1986 >

Japanese Garden at Liverpool Garden Festival 1984

1984: Liverpool Garden Festival / Bergen & Norwegian fiords

June – Liverpool Garden Festival

There were five UK National Garden Festivals between 1984 and 1992, part of the cultural regeneration of large areas of derelict land in Britain’s industrial districts, also to revitalise tourism. We attended the first four, the first being in Liverpool from May to October. Leisurely drive down the Lancashire Coast and a few days in the Wirral – new country for us. Photograph of the Japanese Garden (main image).



July – Bergen and sail up Norwegian fjords

Overnight sail from Newcastle to Bergen, then transferred to a mail-boat, with accommodation for a dozen passengers, which sailed northwards up the west coast of Norway, entering fjords and stopping at local communities to drop off and collect all manner of goods.




< back        1985 >

Sunrise service at the Easter garden tomb

1983 Israel: Wedding anniversary

April – ‘Silver’ wedding Anniversary

The Heathrow to Tel-Aviv flight was our first indulgence of travelling in Business Class (‘King Solomon’ on El-Al). As the security guard cleared us for the flight, he remarked that anyone with the name ‘Balfour’ was particularly welcome in Israel.

Our tour group in Israel
Our tour group in Israel

We had booked a guided tour for one week, followed by car-hire for a second week. When a limousine called for us on the first morning, we assumed that it was a ‘feeder’ to the tour bus, but after collecting an American lady at another hotel and a mother and daughter at another hotel, the driver announced that we were his tour for the week – photograph of four of us – and what would we like to see – historic, Biblical, modern, political or whatever? We agreed on Biblical, and had a fascinating week, covering ‘from Dan to Beersheba’, including a ‘float’ in the Dead Sea.



The holiday was planned with Easter weekend in the middle, after the tour and before the car-hire. We spent Easter Sunday at the sunrise service at the Garden Tomb (main image), then the Scots Kirk for their morning service and then a performance of the Messiah in the afternoon. For all three, we walked from and back to the hotel through the Jaffa Gate and saw no sign of trouble. The headlines in the international press on the next day were: ‘Massacre at Jaffa Gate’. At some time during the day there had been shooting – it shows how an incident can spark a headline, when for the rest of the day all was normal.

An Emmaus monk outside his monastery
An Emmaus monk outside his monastery

On Easter Monday we moved to the King David Hotel – they wouldn’t accept new arrivals during Passover week, so we had to stay elsewhere until then. With our hired car, we re-explored areas of interest, including visiting Joyce’s cousin Anne (Durie) and her husband Philip King-Lewis, who were working as a nurse and a doctor at the Edinburgh Medical Missionary Society Hospital in Nazareth, where our Lesley had spent a year and where Sandy later worked.

Souvenir sellers everywhere – even this monk outside his monastery in Emmaus, built to commemorate Jesus’ revelation of himself to two travellers after his resurrection (Luke 23-31). (Three places vie to be the genuine site of the Biblical Emmaus.)


< back        1984 >

Holiday suitcase

Balfour Family Holidays since 1983

The last cine-film under ‘Balfour Family Holidays 1952-82’ is ‘1982 Brittany, France’. This section of the website picks up our holidays from then on. With advancing years, it is easier to remember them online than to rummage through diaries and photograph albums. They were happy years, when travel was (for us) exciting, memorable and (looking back) seemingly effortless. Read More

Robin’s 60th birthday

For Robin’s 60th birthday on 8 April 2021, his daughter Katharine put together video greetings from the extended family and from friends as well.

Photographs and Tributes from Family and Friends’


Katharine recorded this one in the garden room at our home at 32 Murrayfield Avenue. Many thanks to Katharine for that.

Six others sent short videos, which, with their permission, are available below.

1945 The Ingrams and the Balfours

The following film was taken by Alexander (Sandy) Ingram, Isabel Balfour’s older brother, and so features his children, John and Isla, as well as Ian and Bill Balfour. It includes two shots of the youngest Ingram sister, Muriel McKenzie, and her two older children, Anne and Moira. Muriel died in 1952 and this is the only known extant film footage of her. (There are photographs of her in ‘The Family Tree of Ian’s mother’, at numbers 21 and 23.)

The other Ingram sister, Libby, appears twice on the film.

Ian and Bill Balfour are shown three times  – hence the inclusions of this film here – but there is no film of their parents.

Dettie and Ali Ingram, maiden aunts, sisters of John Alexander Ingram; are, curiously, not named on the Family Tree of Ian’s mother.

Sandy was ‘train-mad’ and so the film ends with footage of the LMS service from Newtonmore to Edinburgh. See the ‘tablet’, needed for single-line working, being picked up on the film.

There is an amusing family story about the line-up of the children in the first frame on the film. At the celebrations for Aunt Libby’s 90th birthday, in 1992, a photo was produced of the line-up of her nephews and nieces as in the opening scene in the 1945 film. Sheila, the youngest of the McKenzie children, positioned herself at the front of the line. Aunt Libby said, ‘Sheila, no, you can’t join them, you weren’t in the 1945 picture!’ (Sheila was born in 1947)

There is no film for 1946. The Balfour family holiday was in North Uist, and while there is a photograph album of the holiday, the cine film camera was not available to the family until 1947 – it was then returned to Francis Balfour, who had bought it in the 1930’s for use by the Duncans at the Raxaul Medical Mission in North India. The Duncans brought it back, saying it was now obsolete, but it served the Balfour family until 1982.


Fortieth Wedding Anniversary at Airth Castle Hotel 1998

3 April 1998

Robin had asked us for the names of thirty friends, whom he would invite to a lunch, but the location was to be a ‘surprise’ for us. On the morning of 3 April, he gave us a series of clues, which led us, mid-morning, to the Champany Inn near Linlithgow. On going into the coffee lounge, we found Sandy and Christina, who were working with the Norwegian Missionary Society in China, and who had flown here especially for the occasion. They told us that the lunch was at the Airth Castle Hotel, and guided us to it.

< Scroll left and right >