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Saturday, 31 December 2011

That time again!

new year 2012

Wishing you all a very happy and safe New Year.

Health, wealth and happiness! 

Bliadhna Mhath Ur!

That’s Gaelic for a Happy New Year

Slainte!  Cheers!

Talk again soon!

Monday, 26 December 2011

Christmas

The other evening the choir had a carol party at Jackie’s!  jackie We sang the usual carols and Christmas song  in Englishcarols at jackie's

then a few in Gaelic, like the one that says Rinn mi bodach sneachd an diugh  - I made a snowman today – not that we could have as there was no snow for us this year!  The one fall we did have recently soon melted away and the temperature has been quite mild since!  child in a mangerI liked Child in a Manger, infant of Mary, sung in Gaelic.  I think that’s what the choir could be concentrating  on in the photo above.  These are the words on the left.  Remember you can click on a photo to enlarge it. 

On Christmas Eve I met my sister for lunch – which was when we found out that amazing coincidence of her friend living at one of the Fife farms I had visited the week before.  santa claus at cuddie brae The restaurant was full of Christmas ornaments, including this lovely Santa Claus with his sack of goodies over his shoulders and a cuddly teddy bear (in England he’s usually called Father Christmas, but here he’s Santa Claus!).

Then I had a lovely Christmas Day yesterday.  Linda and I usually spend Christmas Day together, going out for a meal that we’ve booked way back in September.   from longniddry2 This year, instead of having a Christmas dinner in my neck of the woods, we drove down the coast east of Edinburgh, stopping briefly at Longniddry Bents to look back at Edinburgh (left)  fife fromLongniddry

and over to Fife across the waves (right) – it was quite a windy day -  and then on to the beautiful village of Dirleton where we had a very appetising meal at one of the hotels there.  linda at open arms

We pulled our crackers, and read the silly jokes – now what was mine?  Do you know, I can’t remember!  It wasn’t that funny obviously!  I wore my paper hat throughout the meal, and for once the little gift in the cracker was quite useful – a little padlock and key – for the holiday suitcase next time I go away!

It was dark by the time we started our drive back to the city and the lights of Fife were twinkling along the coast across the Firth of Forth – the estuary of the river Forth.  We waved to Katrina (Pining for the West) over in Kirkcaldy (you can tell it’s Kirkcaldy from 3 prominent residential tower blocks at the east end of the town).  What were you doing around 5.30, Katrina?  Were your ears burning? – before getting onto the A1 bound for Edinburgh again.

candles and presents After exchanging and opening Christmas presents at Linda’s – I got a pendant watch from Linda, who always says I have no sense of time! – we settled down with drinks and nibbles – as if we hadn’t eaten enough already – blethered (chattered) some more, and then watched the Christmas Special of period drama Downton Abbey on TV.

I left for home about 11.30, getting back to Peebles around a quarter past midnight.   The Christmas lights were looking really festive.  You don’t really appreciate them till you drive into the town out of the dark countryside!!  It’s a holiday today so I left my car on the street last night!  Hurray!  Just as long as I remember to move it before tonight!  I’m not sure if the traffic warden is working tomorrow or if it’s still a holiday, as Christmas was on a Sunday.

So there we are!  As my dear late friend Vina would have said – It’s as far away as ever again!  So it is! 366 days till the next one,  – 2012’s a leap year, don’t forget!  Well one of those days is almost gone now anyway so 365 days left now! Don’t worry. I won’t be counting them all down!

Talk again soon.

a bit of bird art!

Just a wee film for you tonight at the end of a lovely Christmas Day.  I’ll edit my photos and write about it tomorrow.  In the meantime turn up the sound.  Enjoy Pachelbel’s Canon and a ballet extraordinaire!  I saw one like this once but with not nearly so many birds!

Talk again soon.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

A postscript

I met my sister for lunch and to exchange Christmas presents today.  While we were chattering about this and that, I brought out my camera to show her a photo taken in the last day or two.  Being Jean she started to flick through the other pics, coming to the ones of the farm houses in Fife that I showed you the other day.  Berryhill Farm, steadings and cottages We-e-ell, it turns out that one of her old school friends lives on one of the farms I visited and I spoke to her husband and her son who were outside working!  I can’t believe the coincidence!  I probably would not have recognised Ann, as the last time I would have seen her would have been in about 1967 the year I left school, but wouldn’t it have been even stranger to have been talking to her!  Actually she would probably know my name, so she might have twigged!

So now Jean is going to write to Ann to tell her (Ann) that it was her (Jean’s) sister who came looking for information that day!  I did write a note of thanks to the farmer, so the penny may still drop, and Jean may hear from Ann first!  What a small world!

Half an hour till Christmas day!  skype NZ xmas 2011 I just had a great conversation with cousins in Auckland, New Zealand where it is already Christmas morning!  Amazing how much smaller the world seems to be getting! 

So happy Christmas to you all.

Talk again soon.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Greetings!

seasons greetingsWhatever faith you are, I want to wish you Greetings at this time of year, our Christmas, along with thanks for reading my blog, and writing your comments.  Special thanks to my “Evee’s Blog’s Members”, my friends and my relations,  and hope to hear from you throughout the coming year!  Whatever and whenever you celebrate your special festivals, I give you my Best Wishes for happiness, peace and joy.

It is traditional here to decorate our houses with evergreens – a fir tree, mostly, or maybe just branches of fir, holly and ivy.  We decorate these too with lights and tinsel, baubles and ornaments.  Many of us light candles – something that is often common to our different celebrations – so when you light your candles think of me!  I’ll be thinking of you - my friends!

Talk again soon.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Family history stuff

The weekend after I was at Colin’s, I found myself on a mission to take photographs of farmhouses in Fife that had a connection with my ancestors!  Part of this mission was on behalf of a very distant relative whose family went to America a couple or three generations ago.  We had been corresponding for a short time exchanging information on our respective family trees, and Mike desperately wanted to see the places where his ancestors came from.  We tried doing that from Googlemaps, but that didn’t work, firstly because they don’t have that little mannie who walks across the maps and shows pictures of places, and secondly because I discovered later there wasn’t one of them the correct farm!!!

So!  Out with the overnight bag again, put some petrol into the car, and I was off - armed with my detailed map of where these farms would be found.  forth bridge I crossed the Forth Road Bridge, calm again after a highly windy day the day before, when the bridge had had to be closed to high sided vehicles, continued along the motorway and turned off onto the St Andrews Road  - though I was only going as far as Cupar.    By the way this bridge is the Forth rail bridge resplendent after years of work being done on it.  You can see the road bridge in the distance beyond it though!   Strangely I was just crossing the road bridge when something came on the radio about how the rail bridge looked as good as new again and wouldn’t need any further work done for another 20 years!  So bang goes that story about a never-ending job being like painting the Forth Bridge!!

So, having turned off the motorway  there was a farm to be photographed before I got as far as Cupar. Detouring to Strathmiglo, I couldn’t find a farm – only a group of new houses with the street name of the farm!  east mill cottage There was an old cottage left though, so, rather disappointed, especially for Mike whose family had farmed here,

East Mill

I took my photos of the cottage and the houses replacing the old farm buildings, and continued on my way.

Russell Mill 2011 As I got near to Cupar I detoured again to take a look at the mill where a very early ancestor and his family lived and worked.  In fact the family worked the mill for over a hundred years and seem to have made a very good living out of it by all accounts!   It was probably only a flour mill in those days, but subsequently went through a couple of reincarnations at least, becoming a spinning mill for flax, and much later a pre-cast concrete works.  The place looks very deserted now, so I wonder if the business has closed or moved.  Russell mill house front2I had been here before a couple of times but hadn’t spotted the old house with its lovely bow window before.  I don’t think for a moment that my ancestors lived in it, I think it was probably built after their tenancy of the mill was over, but I still took a photo or two of it.  Sadly it too seems to be pretty derelict.  Such a shame.

Bondfield

 

From the mill I took the back road into Cupar in order to track down the house that old maps have as Bondfield, but which is now known by the name of the farm round the corner, Gillliesfaulds House.  The owner knew nothing of the house’s history so, sneaking a quick photo I came away.  Bondfield was the name of the house built by the elder brother of one of my direct ancestors, on a piece of land that had been in the family for a good long time.  I had never resolved the problem of locating the actual house as there are several Bonville, Bonfield, Bondfield Villa names further into the town.  However I am fairly convinced now that the house I photographed was the home of my Inglis ancestor, especially as a brand new development right in front of the house has a street named for him – well, I assume it’s him!  More digging to be done on that one!

I had decided to spend the rest of the afternoon in the library at Cupar looking at some books about the history of the area, stay overnight and do my touring around the next day.  So in Cupar I found the library and was shown to the research room.  The staff were so helpful, and I found a few interesting snippets, though made no major discoveries.

Next day was cold and frosty but, as often happens on frosty days, sunny – a perfect day for driving around.  I found the two farms that had once been a single estate, bought by an Inglis, whose wife was Mike’s connection.  colluthie front He renovated one old farmhouse, adding this impressive front, (left) Newington House

built a new house at the other (right) and gave them to two of his sons, Henry and John!    Henry’s house, Newington, the house on the right, is actually for sale right now.  I’d love to see round it, but thanks to the young woman I spoke to at Colluthie on the left I did see some of its interior, which was really fascinating, and what was also interesting was that inadvertently I had taken a photo with the initials JI and the date 1869 quite clearly inscribed on one of the buildings in the yard at the back.  It took Mike’s sharp eyes to spot that!  I hadn’t, at the time!  Has to have been John Inglis.

The next few farms were connected with Mike’s ancestors, but I found it fascinating talking to the present owners and being given bits of information which may or may not be right, and it was great just to see these marvellous solid houses, and wonder about the people who had lived in them.berryhill farmhouse berryhill house 

The house in the photo,  left, was the old farmhouse of Berryhill while the one on the right, above, was built behind the farmhouse for one of the spinster daughters, I was told.  Lucky lady!

lindores abbey farmhouse

This farmhouse on the edge of Newburgh was most interesting as its back wall was incorporated into the wall of the former great abbey of Lindores, sadly ruined since the 16th century.   Imagine having the Abbey as your back garden!  It was some size of abbey - huge!lindores abbey stitched

lochmill farmhouse

Lochmill farmhouse stands at the top of this rise with the farm steadings below.  Unfortunately, no-one answered my ring on the doorbell.

lochmill steadings

As with several of the farms I saw, the farmyard was empty and unused.  Sign of the times, I think!  I wonder if doves or pigeons still enter the right hand building through the two little holes above the window, and if there are nesting boxes inside, as was common in old farms, the eggs and the birds themselves being good provender.

ormiston front2     Ormiston House is another of these solidly built houses of the 1800s, and yet again I found no-one around to talk to about its past owners.Ormiston land

 

 

The land around it looks very rich and fertile.

Lumquhat is the name of the farm below.  In the Scots language QUH are generally pronounced like WH, a sound that is produced by pretending to blow out a candle.  There are several place names with that combination of letters, but the only one I can actually bring to mind right now is Balquhidder, home of Rob Roy Macgregor, pronounced Bal-whidder – though a lot of Scots will put in the KW sound Bal—kwidder.  So Lumquhat is Lum-WHAAT.  Curious name.  I don’t know what it means. lumquhat stitch 

Lumquhat back porchThe couple who live in the farmhouse were very kind, even going so far as to bring out the deeds to the house and look through them for a familiar name – which we didn’t find in a quick skim through.   I wonder if Mike’s ancestors here were just tenant farmers rather than owners.

Next time I come ancestor hunting in Fife I ought to do some graveyard searching.  One retired farmer I spoke to happened to ask the question “Where would they be buried ?” and we talked about which graveyards would be in which parish.   I know there are many people who aren’t the slightest bit interested in who or what went before, but I find it all very interesting, and wonder how like some of these ancestors am I?  I never liked history at school, but now I enjoy the social side of it, finding out how the ancestors lived, so here’s to the next time!

Talk again soon.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

down near Darlo

I had a nice visit to Colin’s a couple of weekends ago.  He’s not that far from Darlington (Darlo to the locals), but on the Yorkshire side of the border from County Durham.  Having done all sorts of jobs in his life he is now throwing himself into being the odd-jobbing delivery man at Paddock Farm Garden Centre owned by a couple of his friends.  Mark and Janet have only recently taken the place over and are doing a great job in building up the business.  The weekend I was visiting they had a Christmas Fair on, and Colin was car park attendant for the two days!  Colin the turkey Not just any old car park attendant either as he was dressed up  - not as an elf or Santa Claus, oh no - but as a turkey, in a costume Janet had found on a recent trip to the German markets.  He was in his element, and if there were no cars to direct, he was up by the road to wave at all the passing cars!  He even encouraged a few to stop to find out what was going on!

One of the greenhouses and a polytunnel were filled with craft stalls.  Something for everybody!   There were some quite unusual craftworkers there, as well as cardmakers and toymakers.  paddock libby I must give Hippy Lizard a plug!  She had some beautiful bits and pieces – purses and bags, fancy brooch pins and jewellery, paddock libbie2 and she herself looked very funky in her beautiful woolly poolly (or should that be pully?) with matching necklace of zipper pulls!

purse I bought a pretty purple velvet drawstring money-purse from Libbie,pot and plant and a painted flowerpot, complete with poinsettia plant from another stallholder called Mike who sported a long straggly goatee beard and had a really jolly smile.    He and his partner were in a corner of the greenhouse, with the sun shining brightly through the glass behind him so of course everyone looking at his painted plaques and pots brought their hands up to shield their eyes!  “There’s no need to salute me!” he quipped  “Everyone’s saluting me for some reason!  Don’t know why!”

I would love to have bought some of the unique and striking jewellery from Kathryn Guy.  Turns out, by the way, she’s related to folk I used to know in my Yorkshire Dales life – twenty-five and more years ago !  I can’t believe I’ve been here in Peebles for 25 years – cos yes, I have!  Kathryn doesn’t have a website of her own but exhibits in the Showcase Gallery in Richmond – the Yorkshire one – and is on their website.  I adored her necklaces of machine embroidered flowers.  You’ll see one on her page!  Couldn’t afford it – and besides, when would I ever wear something so pretty and delicate?  I’m not a getting-dressed-up-and-going-out-to-parties type of person!  But I do covet those necklaces!

There was entertainment on offer as well.  I actually missed the choir, as I met a woman in the cafe who thought she knew me.  Funnily enough I thought I knew her face too.  It turned out she had worked in one of the Swaledale hotels I used to frequent now and again, but I couldn’t think that I’d have remembered her from then.  However we spent so much time chatting about the folk up in the dale that I missed the choir I was looking forward to listening to. I  managed to hear the last couple of songs from the choir of ten from a local primary school though.  They were sweet – as you’d imagine!  paddock elvis

Then the big act followed!  Elvis – in person – at Paddock Farm!  He was very good – and I’m not an Elvis fan – and smouldered and girated his hips to the great approval of his audiencepaddock elvis2 Later I caught him talking and singing with young Garry,who had completely missed the point of him being an Elvis impersonator and wanted him to sing some Cold Play songs.  In the end they sang Jingle Bells and We wish you a Merry Christmas together!  I thought that was so nice of “Elvis”!

paddock Santa Santa Claus, or Father Christmas if you prefer, put in an appearance too and I had to smile when I found him later at the checkout – with his fingers in the till.  Don’t worry!  He was staff, taking money from the customers!

paddock crafts Inside the shop a table had been laid out with bits and pieces for children to make Christmas tree decorations with.  Great concentration in this photo as one of Santa’s elves looks on, advising and admiring!

paddock ian Over in the work sheds behind the scenes I found Ian and Mark making Christmas wreaths!  I can’t remember how many they had to make. It was certainly in the higher hundreds!  Winding wire round the greenery onto ring bases looks pretty hard work, and that was only the beginning!  Later they added in the holly, pinecones and ribbons, also wrapped with wire.  paddock wreath Still they looked pretty good when they were done.  Shame the sun was a bit too bright in this photo, and guess who they’d had hopping around the shed to entertain them – a very tame robin!paddock robin

While I was in the area I managed to catch up with a couple of my old friends from Swaledale.  Yvonne and I had worked together in the CB hotel in Arkengarthdale, and Lynne lived across the road from me in the village.  Both have married and moved away from the upper dale but have both ended up in the same village just off the A1 – the Great North Road.  Well, Yvonne actually lives right on the old Great North Road – much quieter now as the traffic doesn’t roar past their door any more.

It was a good weekend, marred only by the first snow of the winter, which had me setting off for home earlier than I might have, so I could get over Carter Bar in the Cheviot Hills in daylight. Carter Bar marks the border between England and Scotland right on top of the hill, and in the summer the car parks, one on either side of the road, are thronged with bus- and car-loads of people anxious to have their photos taken beside the SCOTLAND sign.  I wonder how many actually have their pictures taken on the side that says ENGLAND?  It seems to me it’s the other side that’s the main attraction!  Anyway, nothing was happening that day as I drove from one country to the other, and about an hour and a half later I was home again.

yorks and fife 083

…and just because I haven’t put in a photo for a bit, here’s Esme, Colin’s cat, a final picture before I go!

Oh and remember the woman in the cafe, back at Paddock Farm?  I saw her doppelganger in the High Street the other day!  I hadn’t remembered the Yorkshire lady at all!  She just looked like someone I know from up here!

Talk again soon.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

A very special visit

The market place in a Yorkshire market town….thirsk A street off the market place….thirsk vet streetA front door….thirsk herriot front door  but not just ANYbody’s front door….thirsk alf wight plaqueThis is a very special front door because a very special man lived and worked here.  Better known to most people as TV vet, James Herriot, Alf Wight (front left) was a vet here in Thirsk for many years. thirsk the vets The surgery where TV vets Siegfried Farnon and James Herriot, in real life Donald Sinclair and Alf Wight, practised their veterinary trade has now been converted into a museum and we were keen to take a look.

I keep forgetting how long it is since All Creatures Great and Small appeared on our TV screens, and that a whole generation has grown up since then, but I hope the show will be remembered.  thirsk waiting room The tour guide who welcomed us to the house had known Alf the vet, and laughed as she pointed out the waiting room.  “I’ve lost count of the cheques I have written in there!” she told us. Mrs Pumphrey and Tricki Woo One of the funniest characters in the series was Mrs Pumphrey and her very spoiled Pekinese dog.  Here they are, waiting to see “Uncle” Herriot!

In the next room we were a bit disconcerted to see the arm chair by the window occupied, and had the feeling we should withdraw, apologising for our disturbance!thirsk vet l'rmthirsk vet TV

 

 

 

 

 

thirsk alf reading This was the Wights’ sitting room, and there was “Alf” sitting in the corner reading his newspaper, cup of tea on the little table just to hand, and his feet surrounded by the toys of his children Jimmy and Rosie. It had such a homely feel to it.

thirsk dragon china

The cup and saucer had caught my eye and Margaret, our guide brought it over to show me.  thirsk margaretThis was the same china we had in our house when I was growing up!  The Sunday china in our case!

thisk dispensary 

Round the corner we passed the dispensary on the way along the passage to the kitchen.thirsk vet passage

thirsk kitchen

I could see plenty in the kitchen that we’d had in ours when I was a child in the 1950s.

thirsk outbuildings Out of the back door buildings have been added or converted  for the purpose of the museum, thirsk vets car but the old car is the one Alf used on his farm visits around the Yorkshire countryside. thirsk vets car indicators       I remember the days before flashing indicator lights at the back and front of cars, when a little orange arm-lever flicked up and out from the side of the car to show your intended direction of travel!  Seeing this brought it all back to my mind!

The rest of the house was given over to a museum of veterinary tools and equipment, and a children’s activity area, but for me the house and living rooms had been the most interesting part.  Apparently, around Christmas time there is to be a TV programme about the young James Herriot, “Young James”, based on the “real” Alf Wight’s life as a boy and a student at Glasgow university, so I look forward to that.  Some of it will have been filmed here in Thirsk.  It will bring back memories of when I lived in Swaledale and we watched the filming of some episodes of All Creatures… starring Christopher Timothy, and Robert Hardy, with Peter Davison as Tristan, Siegfried’s young brother.

thirsk alf wightI met the real James Herriot once, at a book-signing in Darlington.  The big bookshop, Dressers, has gone now, but was a great place around 30 years ago.  There was a long queue waiting to have Alf write his name in their book, and when it came to my turn to meet the man himself we had a grand conversation about the dales and Scotland – he never lost his gentle Scots accent, I’m glad to say!

Click on Youtube All creatures great and small and this will take you to Part 1 of Against the odds.  It’s in several parts, but in Parts 1 and 2 you’ll find Mrs Pumphrey and the spoiled dog Tricki Woo!  The parts end abruptly but you’ll find enough parts – 5 in all - to make up the episode!  Hope you enjoy it!

Talk again soon.