Even though we escaped the worst of the recent storms and wintry weather we haven’t really travelled very far from home recently. So it was nice to have a little day out yesterday.
We headed south down Loch Fyne to the beautiful Kintyre peninsula. We had a quick stop in Tarbert to stretch our (and Bramble’s) legs and then on along the coast towards Campbeltown.
We stopped short of Campbeltown at Glenbarr where Glenbarr Stores has a cafe serving delicious locally sourced food, garden centre and farmshop (as well as the Post Office)
We even got a look at their lovely B&B rooms, it’s nice to see what other B&Bs are like. It would be a great spot to explore what Kintyre has to offer.
We continued south to Campbeltown where you can find the newly restored Picture House , one of the oldest surviving cinemas in the country, next to Campbeltown museum which we’d visited on another trip. We decide not to indulge our inner Paul Mccartney by continuing down to the Mull of Kintyre but headed over to the east side taking the sometimes switchback B road to Saddell with its ancient stones and beautiful beach*
We all enjoyed a walk there, but Bramble most of all.
Kintyre is a fairly long day out from Sheiling BnB but well worth it; or maybe spend more of your time exploring beautiful Argyll and take a few days there too. A road trip to rival the North Coast 500?
*park in the village and walk down past Saddell Castle.
We’ve been doing more sorting and came across this case.
Unfortunately the key was nowhere to be found but with a little ingenuity, some skills from past “life” and a tiny amount of vandalism managed to release its secrets.
Not everything was exciting, or indeed even useful. Most of the contents ended up in the shredder, but there were a few thrilling exceptions.
Foremost among these was this little photo.
I’ve written before about our suspicion that George’s grandfather, George Paterson once sailed the seas around here delivering coal and other supplies from his steam ship the Narwhal. And here we found proof. “At Cullipool” (a village on Luing our next door island) is inscribed on the front.
And on the back it confirms that this is indeed the Narwhal, sailing past Cullipool on the 15th June 1933.
Another exciting find was a clipping from the Greenock Telegraph printed after George Paterson’s death in 1950. It details his career from his apprenticeship on the sailing barque Glaucus, to gaining his master’s certificate, then war service with the Royal Naval Reserve 1914 -18 escorting convoys in the Mediterranean, followed by peacetime deliveries to Northern Ireland and the West of Scotland on his steamers, interrupted by war duty again 1939 -45, he continued this work until his health failed.
He was, perhaps, ahead of his time being very keen that his daughters completed their education and training. And all three of them did, graduating from Glasgow university and going on to become teachers. We have a letter he wrote congratulating his youngest daughter on passing her finals in 1946, his pride and love is very obvious. In the same letter he writes of the excitements of his eldest daughter’s wedding in 1944 and then the arrival of his first grandson in 1945. He would live only a few year more but knew of the impending arrival of his second grandchild, George, before his death in 1950.
I love finding old pictures of Sheiling, so I was really excited to find it had featured in a movie . I came across this site – Reelstreets which not only lists film locations, but has a clever now and then feature so that you can view a still from the movie and then an up to date photo. The “now” picture of Sheiling was taken a little while ago too. The tree has been felled and the bushes cut back since it was taken, but the gate and posts are still in place.
The film is The Bridal Path a 1959 movie starring Bill Travers and with a cast including George Cole, Gordon Jackson and Annette Crosbie. Other scenes were filmed at Ellenabeich, Oban and Castle Stalker. I haven’t seen the movie yet but it is still available, so will be joining the dvd library here.
* The Bridal Path rates a respectable 6.9 on IMDb but it didn’t win Best Picture for 1959. That honour went to a slightly better known and bigger budgeted film, Ben Hur
We’ve been lucky to escape the worst of the winter storms so far but Gertrude and Henry gave us a bit of a buffeting. So it was lovely when the sun peeked out yesterday afternoon and we were able to enjoy a walk more or less upright and without one layer of waterproofs.
oops! need to clean the windows
We climbed up the hill behind the house looked down on the Sound bathed in sunshine.
that’s Sheiling peeking out on on the left hand side
Although on our return we crunched through this…
hailstones on the path
Today dawned brightly and as we needed to make a trip into the town we took Bramble to her favourite beach for a run and then walked over the hill (following the cycle path ) to Dunstaffnage Castle.
inside Dunstaffnage Castle
I spotted some signs of Spring in the ditches,
but Winter will be with us a while yet, there was sleet after lunch. Still it’s beautiful here , whatever the weather.
if we didn’t have rain there wouldn’t be rainbows
We were away down south for the holidays, visiting my family in Wales. While there, I took the opportunity to visit the town where one of my maternal great grandfathers was born. I’d found out about this branch of the family largely thanks to the great local history site Thornbury Roots. I was amazed to find my great, great grandmother was named Caroline! This was purely coincidental, my parents just liked the name which was very popular in the early 60s.
My great grandfather lived in this house
with his parents and eight siblings. The family lived at other addresses in Thornbury and one of my great grandfather’s brothers ran a decorating business from this house
on Castle street.
My great-grandfather left the town and moved to Wales where he married my great grandmother. She was also a migrant from England; her family came from Dorset. But that’s a story for another day.
We’ve had days of rain as successive Winter storms have battered their way across the country. So far we’ve been lucky and spared the floods seen elsewhere but it is good to enjoy a day without rain, though it’s still very windy and strangely mild for December.
It may portend more storms later but a little bit of sunshine always lifts my spirits so I was probably smiling as I set off with Bramble for our morning walk, and well her mouth is just set for smiling….
And I got happier as we walked. Because I learned another snippet of local history. An out building which I’ve previously thought was a byre turns out to be where coal was delivered to the island. So could that puffer delivering coal along Loch Feochan have also delivered coal to Seil? Did George’s grandfather sail past our house all those years ago?
We can’t ever know for sure but it all helps root us here, making new connections and discovering the old.
We visited George’s Aunt last week, and as so often happens the conversation turned to the past. We talked about George’s grandfather (who he never met) and in particular the two puffers he sailed around the West Coast of Scotland from the ’30s to the ’50s. They were called the StarFinch and the Narwhal. Later we were helping to sort some old papers at her house and I came upon an envelope addressed to George’s cousin once removed (his grandfather’s nephew) Inside we found a letter, and these.
Back home we did a little research and found a story here about the Starfinch delivering coal along Loch Feochan.
Loch Feochan is close to Sheiling, we drive along it on our trips to Oban. So now when we do I have a little think about George’s grandfather delivering coal and other goods to the communities along our coast. And about my grandfather who mined coal in Wales.
Our dog Bramble has a Blog, lots of dogs do, and there are many thousands of #dogsofinstagram These are not new things though. Pets have been communicating their thoughts for years, predating the internet by decades. Last week we found some letters which a little dachshund called Dobhran* sent to his absent owner.
He’s not too good at spelling, but then he’s a dog!
Dobhran lived in Jura in the 80s and early 90s. He seems to have been a prolific letter writer and liked to keep his owner in touch with events on Jura while she was away visiting friends and family. He wasn’t the first dachsie to live with the family. Here is one of his predecessors.
We don’t know this dog’s name
Why the interest in these dogs? Well were in Jura last week to remove personal items from a holiday house which is to become a permanent home. And Dobhran’s letters were among those things. George’s family have strong links with Jura,his gran was born there, so packing up was a little sad. It’s the end of an era. But we took away momentos to remind ourselves of all the people who enjoyed the house over the years.And so I have a new addition to my desk. In memory of Dobhran and his pals.
dachshund letter opener
*Dobhran – means otter in Gaelic. See his own comments about spelling!
In the attic of his Aunt’s house, George found a box. It was bit battered about but sound. A good example of a 19th century pine kist.
These chests were very common in Scotland and had a multitude of uses. They could be simply storage vessels or they might be used to transport a family’s worldly goods as they moved from place to place, hired seasonally to work the land or perhaps to seek a new life overseas, whether voluntary or forced.
It was covered in thick layers of varnish and dark paint but obviously had good potential, so George set about stripping it down. But first it had to be opened and emptied. And so we found. This.
What we found..
Pages from a commemorative edition of the Glasgow Weekly Mail of 1871 marking the engagement of HRH Princess Louise with the Marquess of Lorne, later the Duke of Argyll.
HRH Princess Louise
Why had this been pasted inside the kist? We can only make wild guesses. It must have been decorative it can’t have served any function, it’s not lining there’s too little of it. We don’t even know who put it there. But suddenly the serious sometimes forbidding looking people in old photos become more familiar. Could those newspaper pages pasted inside a chest be the 19th century versions of the posters of Donny Osmond on my childhood walls or Kim and Justin on Instagram?
Bessie (Hill) Paterson on left and her husband Robert on right, with their children. The little boy in the sailor suit is George’s grandfather (also George). Bessie and Robert married in 1879. Bessie was 16 in 1871.
It’s fun to imagine and make up stories but it would be even better if the real story or even parts of it had been passed down the years. But it’s too far back, even in a family with long memories. So the mystery stays in the box.
But we’re learning about its past. We’ve both got an interest in history – though in contrast to George my formal study stopped before O’ levels (the GCSEs of olden days). Now we’re searching out old pictures of the house and stories about island life in the days when the slate was being mined. There’s an excellent little museum on the island slate isands heritage trust to help us.
I’ve always had an interest in family history too and have managed to trace my roots back several generations, although for this I’m indebted to some very good local history groups particularly this one Thornbury roots. I wrote a little story about us, you can read it here. And I’ve recently started following Twile, which is reaching out to a new younger audience, encouraging them to record their family stories.
Perhaps you have roots on Seil, Argyll or anywhere in Scotland? You can make the research for your family history part of your holiday. In his other life George headed National Records of Scotland so he has the expertise to help you on your way.
Stories, of people, of places, we all love them; come and find yours here with us.