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Elphinstone Kist   Folk-History, Work

Balmellie Farm & Thereaboots     by: Rennie, Mr & Mrs

Collected by Jock Duncan

Mrs. Rennie
I wis born at Darnabo. I’m a Reid - my grandfadder’s uncle wis John Beaton who fermed there, and fin he finished weet, my fadder cairried on ahin him.

We were aa born there, the hale eicht os and I wis the youngest een . My auldest brither, Willie, wis killed aside my husband John here, at High Wood . It wisna till we were coortin that we kent that, fin I showed John a photograph o him. He said, ‘Oh bit I ken this lad - he wis killed aside me fin we gid over the top at High Wood ! John Reid, my uncle, fermed at Mains of Idoch and then took Mains o Greens.

I kent aa the Cuminestown folk - It wis ma second hame. Geordie Geddes wis a great freen o oors. He hid a sayin to me in jest, ‘When are ye gean doon to Dunoon’ in a sooth twang, and a lot o ither gite and aa. He wis richt funny and good company tee. He acquired that accent wi meetin wi all the ither Staiger lads at Shows and that.

He and Johnnie Gerrie were great eens thegither and were worth hearin fin they were chewing the fat. I’ve heard Johnnie mony a time on the fiddle and his sister on the piano. Jeanie kept hoose to him aa his days at Little Swanford.

I kent the maist o the Greens folk - Jimmy Young o the Store ,Wullie and Jimmy Robbie, the Adams’ fae Abbotshaugh and the Birnies. A brither o Young, the Store fermed Swanford.

The Parks were in Greenfield, and Andrew Cheyne who smoked his pipe o bogie roll wi the tobacco bree rinnin doon his chin aa the time, and who fell asleep stunnin up, even fin he wis spikin to onybody, usually fin he wis leanin on a fence or post or sic like. Geordie Geddes gid a lot to Andrew Cheynes o Inchgreen.So did Johnnie Cocker o Hill o Petty. All horsey lads, although Andrew did breed Aberdeen Angus as weel.

I mind eence Andrew took hame my sister fae a dance ae nicht and fin they cam into the hoose there wis a great big reever o a fire burnin an my fadder hid been awa tull his bed an flung a pair o auld beets on it to burn. ‘Good God!’ Andrew said, ‘ Geordie’s surely up the lum!

Nellie Imlah at Howe o Gight wis a great-aunt o mine and wis 92 years old when she died.
Geordie Geddes traivelled the Staig roon by Macterry and Greens and he suited the part fine -haein a bit swagger aboot him and so good lookin. He wis aye the great romantic and wid say to me, ‘Mrs Copeland and Jeanie Gerrie wid lay doon their life for me so they would,’ in that sooth twang and pull his heed back and lach.

He only coorted in ernest once and that was Lizzie Cheyne fae Cuminestown and that wis a lang time tee but maybe she thocht that a Staiger wis ower common and in the end she mairried somebody else. (Mr John Rennie ) The Geddes’s eence hid a great disappointment wi a gweed weel bred horse that they bocht. Aye, that wis Geordie’s fadder at that time it wis fermer. There wis a lot o them, there wis Wullie ,Geordie and John – Bella, Peggie and Lizzie, aa at hame then.

Onywy, this fine horse cost £3OO poun and I wis invited doon ae nicht. so this nicht I gid across the parks at the nearest and fin I crossed the dyke into the ferm cornyard I cam on them aa roon the beast lyin on the grun steen deed. It wis an afa thing to happen and it cost a fortune. The cause of death wis something like grass sickness – a terrible scourge at the time.

There wis a mannie cam roon to Darnabo and held classes in dancin by the name o Dancie Norrle. He held them in the laft and he played the fiddle in accompaniment.

We aye hid a big supper and dance at the end o hairst at the MacGilligins at Upper Smlddyseat and it wis up the corn laft. We had a great meal of roast fowl and potatoes and home baking with plenty of porter and ale and whisky on the table.

After this fantastic feed we cleared the tables and commenced with real dancing the like you never see nooadays.

Spik aboot dancin- Millbrex wis a great venue fin I wis young ,with local musicians Wullie and Charlie Rennie on the cornet and Wullie Beaton, Monkshill on the fiddle, playing to Eichtsome Reels, Quadrilles and Lancers and so on and the hallie packed oot wi folk. Oh aye! aa weel attended.

I wis weel aquainted with Andrew Smith and his sister Mary -that wis afore he wis mairried . This fin I bade wi Nellie Imlah at Howe o Gight.

Noo Andrew wis near blin and ae nicht I happened to be lookin oot the door, Andrew cam fleein doon the brae fae Cairnorrie by the hoose - it wis efter six at nicht on a fine simmer een. He hid this pailie o milk that he collected every day fae a neeper and gan fleein ower the timmer briggie at the Little Watter, he gid aff and laand into the swift flowin watter and wis washed doon a fair bittie afore he managed to scrammle oot bike and aal - bit nae milk . Weel aff he gid hame up the brae as though naething hid happened, and him fair soakin weet.

Mr Rennie
My fadder at Balmellie used a reaper only and hired bandster deems to sheaf the corn up and stook it. They aa cam oot o Turra. On the day o a Porter Fair, ye couldna meeve gan up Main Street and High Street - fair packed it wis wi folk up to the middle o the efterneen and mair so roon the hotel doors. Fuskey wis two and six the bottle.

Wages were nae afa big and the deal for a sax month’s fee wis struck atween maister and servant wi a shillin.

Mrs. Rennie

I wis in the Choir at Cuminestown a file and it wis a big een and the Kirk wis fair packed oot wi folk on a Sunday then.

The Lambs o Bogenlea were aa musical . I only kent Charlie best. Nettie Sangster and Betty Cowie were in my class at Cuminestown. Betty wis the niece of the artist James Cowie, we aye correspond. John Rennie wis in the Turriff Terriers and mustered the day o the Turriff Show 1914 for the Great War.



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