I would like to tell you a little bit about the Town Where I Grew Up,
and although I have strayed a long way
from the place of my birth, my heart still lies there.
I was born in Peebles, a picturesque little town in the Scottish Borders, steeped in history. It even has a castle (Neidpath Castle), dating back to the early 14th Century.
Peebles can trace its roots back to the dawn of history, and it became a Royal Burgh, granted by charter from King David I, in the early 12th century. The charter was lost three hundred years later during a particularly vicious attack by the invading English – but in 1452, King James II granted the town another charter which still survives to this day.
Enough of the history lesson – as you can tell, I am very proud of my heritage!
My memories of my birthplace are very clear and strong – a happy and carefree childhood in a town where everyone knew everyone! You couldn’t get away with anything there – it would reach your mother’s ears within ten minutes! My brothers were always in trouble! Not me though!!
When I was about 3 years old I remember sneaking out of the house with my new doll’s pram. I wanted to take my dolly for a walk in her new pram! I didn’t get too far before I was spotted by a neighbor who asked me where my mammy was and why was I out on my own – she took me straight back home! Neighbors were like that then.
My brothers and I would go fishing most days with a jam jar and string, catching little “tiddlers” as we called them, in the River Tweed. The River Tweed which runs through the centre of Peebles, is renowned the world over for salmon fishing, but we were as proud as punch to catch the tiny tiddlers! I can’t remember what we did with them – mum probably told us to take them back to the river and let them go!
I had a thing about frogs – I just loved them, and would pick up any I came across; my mother was forever pulling them out of the pockets of my little pinnie (apron) that I wore over my dress – I still like frogs!
We played hop-scotch on the street right outside our house and every kid in town would join in! We were allowed to play outside until it was almost dark – it was safe to do so in then.
In those days the roads were made of tar, and in summer the tar melted with the heat; my brothers and I would pick at it until our fingers were all black and sticky and we were scared to go home because we got it all over our clothes – but it was fun – poor mum!
In those days, milk was delivered to the door in glass bottles with cardboard caps on the top, and it was a fight to bring the milk in before the birds had a chance to peck at the tops to get at the cream at the top of the bottle!
Every year there is a festival in Peebles called the Beltane Festival and it still goes on to this day. It is a festival of local legend, history and tradition which goes for 7 days, and is the highlight of the year for everyone in the town. There are Pipe Bands, Brass Bands, Marching Bands, fancy dress, sports, highland games, dancing, horse riding, and culminating in the crowning of the Beltane Queen outside the Parish Church.
I remember as children, we would all follow behind the bands as they marched around town – skipping and dancing away to the skirl of the pipes!
My father was a Piper in the famous Black Watch Regiment, and although this photo is not good quality, I thought it might be of interest. It’s the only photo I have of him in his full uniform, shame it’s in black & white. Sadly, my father passed away 21 years ago; I still miss him.
This September I’m visiting the UK, and spending a week in Peebles with one of my brothers and his family. We have a lot to catch up on, and new nephews and nieces to meet. It’s about 25 years since I was last there, so I am very excited!
Although I have lived in Australia for many years now and it’s home to me, The Town Where I Grew Up is etched in my heart forever.
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