My UK Trip – The Scottish Side

On my recent trip to the UK I re-visited my birthplace in Scotland, catching up with family, going down memory lane and it was very special part of my whole trip.

Our first week was spent in the small picturesque town where I was born, Peebles, in the Scottish Borders, about 20 miles south of Edinburgh. Peebles has a population of about 8,000.
My heart skipped a beat as we got nearer, passing through stunning countryside – and then I remembered why I loved it so much – rolling green hills covered in purple heather, nosey sheep grazing in paddocks, (sometimes wandering onto the road), narrow lanes wide enough for only one car, dry stone walls covered in lichen – everything exactly as I remembered from my childhood.

I was going home!

About Peebles
The town of Peebles lies where the River Tweed and Eddleston Water meet (known locally as “The Cuddy”). The River Tweed is world famous for salmon fishing, and interestingly, Peebles Coat of Arms comprises of three salmon – with one going against the flow!
Initially a market town, it played a big part in the woollen industry of the Scottish Borders up until the 1960’s, and my father worked at the local mill for many, many years.

The town has been a Royal Burgh since 1152 and the rule of King David I, and is steeped in history.

13th Century Cross Kirk. I walked past these church ruins every day on my to and from school, and never gave it a second thought!

 

 

15th Century Tweed Bridge - magnificent!

 

 

Catching Up With Family
We stayed with my brother and his family and it was wonderful catching up. Their daughters, my nieces, are now grown women but they haven’t forgotten me, and it felt good getting to know them again.  This photo was taken in 1986 – the last time I saw them.

My son sandwiched between my two nieces - Happy Days!

My brother hasn’t changed – he still doesn’t talk much, is very easy going and doesn’t get stressed by anything; he just takes things as they come – and I wouldn’t change him for the world. Love you bro!
His wife, my sister-in-law, makes up for my brother in the talking department, (I mean that in the nicest possible way M!), so she brought me up to date on what’s been happening in their lives over the last 20-odd years since I last saw them!
My sister-in-law made Haggis and Stovie Tatties, (haggis, turnip and potatoes)

Haggis, Neeps & Potatoes

for dinner on our first night – all because I said I couldn’t wait to taste some haggis again! Unfortunately, it wasn’t the hub’s cup of tea – I think it must be an acquired taste!

Down Memory Lane
It was very emotional to be back in my birthplace; it holds so many happy memories for me, and my heart was brimming with emotion as I strolled along the same streets I had walked as a child. Nothing much has changed in all these years except for the appearance of two supermarkets!  The same butcher’s shop is still there and it is still the best butcher in town – they sell the best tasting haggis for miles around!
I re-visited some childhood places with my brother – he took me to the school we both went to, we strolled down the street where I was born (now a Listed street), and I saw the very house where I came into the world. As I stood there gazing up at it, Iwas glued to the spot, and all sorts of memories came flooding back from my childhood. We lived there with my grandparents and pictures kept flashing through my mind of my grandfather sitting me on his knee and singing to me – our special song, and I still remember the words to this day.
I remember the day my mother cut my hair short and got told off by her mother, my gran. Apparently the reason she cut it was because I always used to cry when she tried to get a brush through it (it was thick and curly) – and she wasn’t exactly gentle – ouch.

We walked down to the river (known locally as The Cuddy), which runs through the heart of Peebles;

The Cuddy

 The Cuddy is where my brothers and I used to go fishing for minnows and take them home in a jam jar – much to mum’s annoyance!

I even met a real-life Author!
My brother’s wife took me to the Parish Church to meet a local lady called Anne Derrick who has written a book about what it was like growing up in Peebles in the 50’s and 60’s, my era! I got a copy of her book and it was a very nostalgic read for me, re-kindling many memories from my own happy childhood. Thanks Anne, I love the book and the photographs you dug up are awesome!

We had a big family reunion one night, and it was wonderful to catch up with everyone, some I’ve never even met before. That deserves a post of its own, because I want to tell you about a very emotional and long anticipated meeting with a family member.

Big surprise in store, so watch this space!

Have you ever re-visited your birthplace? How did it make you feel?

Back from my UK Trip

 


We arrived home two days ago from our UK trip, both of us sick, so we have been in bed for most of the two days – catching up on sleep and trying to get better! I am feeling slightly more human today, and ready to share some of my trip with you.

Our trip turned out to be eventful right from the start, because
my husband got sick and was admitted to hospital the second day after we arrived.
We had numerous visits to doctors during the course of our stay, as he wasn’t improving, so we had to change some of our plans to visit family and friends in other parts of the UK.
However, it all worked out in the end, and we accomplished what we had set out to do as regards visiting, and in spite of the hub being so ill, we thoroughly enjoyed our trip, and have some wonderful and special memories of our time there..

I have lots to share with you, and will start off with some photos of my visits with my mother, as promised.

The main reason for the trip was to visit my mother who is 91 and has been in a Care Home since she had a stroke almost eight years ago.  I touched on my initial visit with my mother in a previous post, (yes, she did remember me!), but hadn’t been able to upload any photos at the time, so as promised, here are some.

Mum & me - first visit

Hub, Mum, me & my brother

 

Deep in conversation

Sadly, mum has lost her speech since the stroke, she can only say a few small words, but she listens and understands most of what is going on around her. She was so happy to see me and the hub and I think she thoroughly enjoyed our visits. When I had to tell her I was returning home to Australia, she looked me right in the eye and said “No! You stay here”. . . then she smiled at me.

It was hard leaving that last day; she waved goodbye to us till we disappeared from her sight and I felt a terrible wrench in my heart  – I wanted to run back and give her another hug, but that would probably have upset both of us even more. I wish we didn’t have thousands of miles between us as it makes it a long time between visits. All I can do is write to her as often as I can and tell her how much I love her.
I hope my brothers will read out my blog to her about my trip, because I know she will be interested in where I’ve been, what I’ve done and whom I have seen on my visits – especially the time I spent in Peebles, Scotland, as that is where she was raised and where my brothers and I were all born and raised.

I have lots to share with you mum, and some special photos to show you.
I love you.

 

 

My UK Trip

On 6th September the hub and I flew to the UK from Australia via Singapore. Not a bad flight, just so long.

We sat opposite a family with three children who were all coughing and sneezing – danger signals for us, as the hub suffers with COPD (emphysema). Sure enough, he picked up a germ and on our second day in the UK, he was admitted to hospital as he was having trouble breathing. The doctor thought he might have a blood clot in one of his lungs because of the long flight, but after x-rays, etc., they said it was a virus, complicated by his COPD. He was in hospital for two days then discharged, with medication.
The doctor said he would be fine to travel, so we drove up to Scotland to visit family and friends.

We stayed with my brother and his wife who live in a little town called Peebles (my birthplace).

Tweed River, Peebles

I haven’t seen my brother and his family in 25 years, and it was wonderful to catch up with them all again.
The highlight of the visit was a pre-arranged meeting with my sister whom I have never met before (long story), and we got on like a house on fire!  We are alike in a lot of ways – she is a very matter of fact, down to earth kind of person who loves and works with animals and loves the land. Her hubby is a Gamekeeper and my sister is very much hands-on helping him. She is bubbly and bright and fun to be with, and I think if I lived in Scotland, we would be great pals. As it is, we have to make do with the internet, but that’s ok – at long last we have met each other!

sister-in-law, me and my "new" my sister

My brother had arranged a big family reunion, so I met nephews and nieces for the first time, and great nephews and nieces too! It was wonderful and very emotional.

However, the hub started to get really sick again with a hacking cough, temperature, etc. Long story short, we drove back down to England and I took him straight to the hospital where he had been admitted when we first arrived in the UK. It had gone from a virus to a chest infection  – and he now has pneumonia. So our traveling has been curtailed for the time being until he feels better, and able to get back on the road. He has started to improve today, so things are looking up.

My mother is 91 and has been in a Nursing Home for the last seven years following a stroke. I was worried that she might not recognize me when I visited her, but she did! She was smiling from ear to ear and couldn’t take her eyes off me. She held my hand for the whole two hours we spent with her and both staff and some of the other patients kept coming to have a look at me! Now they know that I’m not a figment of her imagination!
I felt a bit like a celebrity, with all the fuss!
Mum looked really well and was able to talk to me a little, and she never lost the smile from her face. We took some pics but haven’t uploaded them from the camera yet so please bear with me!

So that’s my trip so far, more to follow as time and internet connections permit!

The Town Where I Grew Up

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.

Tweed River looking towards Peebles town

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.

Crowning the Queen

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 in his Black Watch Uniform

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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New Blogs I have visited this week

CMSmith – Random Thoughts From Midlife
Marina     – Marinas Blogs
Denise      – EddyBettyShreddy
Amy          – Other Awesome Things