Some smart-ass has been fooling around with this photo and if I knew how to I would erase the witless text but anyhow this is the house where I was born and where I spent the first dozen years of my sadly short life. We were poor and often went without but I can’t recall ever being unhappy. Hungry, yes, but unhappy, no.
Even the yearly gathering of the stones was good fun in its way – hard work, yes, but after we and our neighbours had finished and had all linked arms round the cairn to sing the Ingatherin song, we would troop off home still arm-in-arm for the big meal and more singing and dancing. It was always a memorable day. And night.
But it was hard work. My father diligently farmed the harsh land between the house and the sea, giving up more and more of his time to the ungrateful fields, less and less to his impoverished family. Unlike his Ayrshire counterpart however, one day the coulter of his plough threw up something a bit more valuable than a wee mouse nest – a larchwood chest containing a dozen Celtic brooches, five rings, a couple of bracelets and the jaw bone of a porpoise. We all stood looking down at the opened box, our mouths as open as the box then mother began to cry but not unhappy tears and father just looked at the shiny gold ornaments and shook his head then looked at us all and grinned his big grin and shook his head a bit more.
With the money he eventually got for that miraculous find, we all left Gartwick, a move about which I had mixed feelings – leaving my best friend Callum and the hens and the pony and the fishing was only partly made up for by ( can I use 3 prepositions together like that? Anyway I have!) the excitement of the moving to someplace new, someplace I’d just read about. New York.
Only I never got there. Just before we left I went down to the sea to, I suppose, bid some sort of farewell to all the good times I’d had, and