Growin up Aside the Gadie
by: Watson, Algy
I grew up in the howe o the Gadie Burn an in the shadda o Bennachie an I hae bidden there a mi life. Mony happy memories come tae mine fae the
1930s an 40s bit it’s maybe that we tend tae mine o the guid times rather than the bad anes though there wis some of them as weel. Nae doubt life wis a tyauve an a pilget bit as youngsters wi didna notice it as much as the aul folk yet they tee had their fun an simple pleasures.
The fairm hoose far I wis born an brocht up consisted o a livin room or kitchie wi a bed recess, anither bedroom, a horn ine, an a sma glory hole. The living room furniture included a table, fower kitchie cheers, twa armchairs, ane o them a basket cheer, a dresser, a meal girnal, a wash stan an a bed in the recess.
The fireplace hid a swey, twa binkies an a sma oven, wi a metal fender an a lang widden steel that held the brushes, black leid an dusters for polishin the fireside. Aa the cookin hid tae be deen on the fire an the kettle wis niver far fae the bile sae that if ony visitors arrived they cuid be offered a fly cup. The kitchie fleer wis bare cement an it hid tae be scrubbit ilkie Seturday as weel as ben the lobby tae the outside door. Fan the fleer wis eventually covered wi wax cloth it got the same treatment an syne it hid tae be polished.
Ane o mi jobs aifter schule wis tae cairry in oxter-fus o sticks tae fill the stick box, a few kinnlers fir neist morning, an a scuttle o coal fae the coal shed which wis aboot fifty yairds fae the hoose. The sticks were maistly hacked fae hardwid logs during the simmer holidays — a job I fair enjoyed. Aa oor cookin an drinkin water hid tae be carried fae a waal —jist at the ine o a steen field drain — some hunner yairds frae the hoose, so at least a fracht or twa were needed tae be brocht in ilkey nicht.
I think we must hae been weel, bit simply, fed for a butcher’s van an a baker’s van baith cam roon twice a wik, as weel as sometimes a fish van. Maist o oor messages were got at the local grocer aboot twa hunner yairds doon the road. Of coorse there wis plenty milk, meal, tatties an ither veggies frae the gairden. Brose wis the order o the day ilkie morning except Sunday fan we aften hid ham an eggs. Denner time was usually fae eleven o’clock an yokin time was ane o’clock. Tattie or skink soup or broth wis aften on the table; enough wis made for at least twa days sae we aften hid yaval broth. Some kin of meat like beef or mutton or rabbit was maistly included wi plenty of tatties; mince an tatties wi mealie dumpling or skirlie was a common an weel-liked stanby.
As wi hid wir ain coo, milk wis plentiful an milk puddins like semolina, rice, sago or tapioca wi a speenfu o jam wir aften dished up; yirned milk wis anither favorit or sometimes a clootie dumplin which wis mair common around Christmas an New Year time. I mine aince a rich clootie dumpling wis made on Hogmanay for visitors comin on New Year’s Day bit sae mony locals arrived tae celebrate Hogmanay that they connached the lot an’ anither ane hid the be steered up an biled on New Year’s morning tae be ready for denner time.
At tay time we aften hid porridge; a biled egg or cheese an breid, spread wi butter (aa hame made) gid doon weel. Loaf an jam wis a favorit o mine and still is, bit syrup (or puir hoose jeely) wis jist aboot as guid. Aifter tay time the coo hid tae be milked an the milk brocht in fae the byre tae be syed, put intae large bowls an placed on shelves in the milkhoose tae allow the cream tae settle on the tap. Ane o my delichts as a youngster wis tae nip intae the milkhoose an steal a fingerfu or twa o cream aff the tap o the bowls. The skimmed milk wis aften made intae cruds, put intae cheese cloth an squeezed in a widen chisel an pit aneth the big squaar steen o the cheese press which wis gradually lowered as the fy wis squeezed oot. Of coorse the cream wis aften eesed the mak butter in the plump churn, the working o which wis a joy fir me as I got tae scrape the sma bits o butter aff the side o the churn an the plunger aifter the butter wis made.
Ither busy days war bakin days — oatcakes or breid aince a fortnicht an bannocks an scones at ither times especially if visitors war expected. Lots o jam wir made in the simmer time (again I enjoyed clawin the jam pot aifter the bilin). Monday wis aye washin day fan the big pot hid tae be biled on the washin hoose fire which wis sometimes gey thrawn tae burn, an depenin on the airt o the win the rick mair aften blew doon the lum than up. As a result o rick an steam thegither it cuid be difficult tae see fit wis going on an the een wir nippy. The claes war washed in zinc baths or widden tubs an syne pit a few times throu a muckle mangle wi widden rollers afore bein hung oot tae dry. The irnin wis deen on the kitchie table wi a box iron. Oval-shaped heaters war pitten intae the fire until they war reid het, then usin a poker war shoved intae the iron. Fan ae heater queeled it wis swappit ower wi anither red het ane frae the fire.
Aifter a hard day’s work abody wis gled o a rest bit cuid enjoy an evenin’s hamemade fun if there wisnae wirk tae be deen in the gairden. Freens wid come for a nicht at the cairds like whist, rummy, canasta or newmarket. On some Saterday nichts a group o menfolk wid hae a schule at nap or solo fin the stakes wir niver very heich, bit the excitement wis intense, because tae lose or win a poun or twa in yon days wis a serious maitter. This fair brocht oot the different characters o the players, an
occasionally tempers got frayed. Bit aifter a hearty tay o scones and bannocks abody wis the best o freens an looking forrit tae the neist encounter at somebody else’s hoose.
On fine simmer evenins some o the young lads frae roon aboot wid gaither in the close an enjoy some fun like rounders, cricket, pitch an toss or pullin the swingletree. The chaumer hid a heich metal lum an we tried tae ring it wi aul bicycle tyres or tae see fa cuid throw the maist sponge bas doon the narra lum. Syne a lang laidder wis needed tae get the tyres aff again.
Afore the fairm simmer shows at places like Turra, New Deer, Keith and even Inverurie a lot o time wis spent polishing harness an making funcy decorations an reeslin the chines til they shone. The nicht afore the show the horse’s mane hid tae be plaited as wis the tail in the morning. Great wis the delicht at the winnin o a few red or blue prize tickets frae the show tae hing on the stable travis.