Sunday, 15 August 2010

Childhood

Another piece written by my father.

The cottage and the surrounding countryside was to be the scene of my formative years and it was here that I spent a very happy childhood. When I was five years old I started at Jamestown Primary School, the same school as my father had attended as a boy. The school was about a mile from my home and the only method of transport was by 'Shanks pony'. This was in 1927 and there were a few motor cars about at that time. In fact, they were greatly outnumbered by the horsedrawn carts. The road down to Balloch was not tarmaced, in fact it was only a track marked by two wheel grooves with grass growing in between. In the winter you could walk along these wheel grooves with a foot of snow on either side of you. There seemed to be some doubt as to the name of the road, to some people it was known as Boturich Road after the estate it eventually led to. To others it was Mollanbowie Road after the farm it passed through.
I have many happy memories of time spent in the woods and farmland surrounding my home. In particular, I spent a lot of time on Mollanbowie Farm which was situated between our house and Balloch. The farm was owned by two cousins, Jock and Aggie McNeil. She was a bossy woman while he was the quiet type except when he got drunk on Market Day or on the day of the local agriculture show. There were three other workers on the farm: the ploughman, the byreman and the maid. The latter two were engaged by the old practice of 'feeing'. This meant that the farmer went along to the Michaelmas or Martinmas fairs and engaged workers who were then tied to the farm for the next six months. The maid had a room somewhere in the main house while the byreman lived in the 'bothy'. This was a stonefloored room with merely a table and a couple of chairs and an iron bed with a straw mattress and rough blankets made of sacks. There was also a fireplace which burnt logs. The byreman looked after the cattle: fed them, mucked them out and took them to pasture in the summer. The cattle were milked by hand and I can still remember the sound of milk hitting pail as the milker squeezed the teats. Everyone helped with the milking except for the ploughman.
 Most of the cottages around got their milk directly from the farmand around milking time, late afternoon, you could see the ladies arrive with their tin jugs to collect their milk for the day. This daily journey gave them a good opportunity for a 'blether', the Scottish term for a good, old gossip.
The ploughman looked after the horses and the crops and was, in fact, the farm foreman. The ploughman at Mollanbowie was Jimmy Hobson whoh was a close family friend of ours. He did not live at the farm but instead lived with his mother who was a lovely, gentle old lady withg a soft Highland accent. His father had worked in the public park with my own father but had died when I was only about six or seven years old.

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