My Granny's Heilan' Hame

By Fred Smith

 

 

 

 

My granny’s home was the East Lodge of Kindrogan Estate near Enochdu in Perthshire. Enochdu had a post office and a shop with a public telephone kiosk beside it. My grandmother lived as housekeeper to my Uncle John, who was a bachelor, after my grandfather died. My uncle was a gamekeeper and spent most of his time in tweed suits as they are the most waterproof of nature’s materials.

I used to spend my school holidays with my Mum and brother at East Lodge. The water for the lodge came from a well sunk in a burn. The water tumbled in at the top and came out about half way down the boxed-in well so that items like twigs and leaves were not taken through the taps. The Lodge was lit by tilly lamps and my mother used to show my brother and I to bed with a candle. I’ll never forget the hiss of the tilly lamps – it was a comforting sound - and they gave off an incandescent light. The house had no gas or electricity and the water was heated by a fireplace which was surrounded by five ovens, two on each side and a small one above the fire in which the kindlings were dried for the next day. My granny did all her baking and cooking here either resting pans on supports that swung over the fire or putting casserole dishes in the ovens to cook. We used to enjoy granny’s cooking! She used to cook for the shooting lodge at Dalreoch on the Estate. She was an exceptionally good cook and Uncle John never complained about his mother’s cooking! There was a zinc meat-safe outside the back door before the Lodge had electricity. It kept the meat cool.

I learned to play whist at an early age with my granny, uncle, mum and brother. Later on I went out to basket whist drives. Ladies each took a basket with four cups, saucers and side plates plus a cake stand with cakes and sandwiches. The ladies vied with each other to see who could come up with the best goodies. It was progressive whist which meant you went from one table to the next. After so many rotations you’d go back to your own table to eat the food your hostess had provided. Another activity I took part in with my uncle was at the Enochdu shooting range. This had a roaring stove in it – someone would stoke it up with logs earlier on. The range was lit by an electric light. The targets were lit up and you had so many shots at a target. There were several worthy characters at the rifle range. One of them was Neil Steele who was an out-and-out communist. I learned a lot of words I thought I didn’t know the meaning of. Neil made their meaning perfectly clear as they were spat out with venom!

Fishing was also a very popular pastime. I heard an amusing story at the Enochdu social club. They were building a local bowling green but no one turned up on the opening night as everyone was away fishing! Fishing was the main hobby coursing through the veins of the people of The Glens. It was an easy sport to get into and relatively inexpensive once you were kitted out. Junior membership of the angling club was 1/6 and 7/6 a year for adults. My uncle was a keen fisherman and he taught me how to fish. The Brerachan burn ran next to East Lodge and I remember at the age of five going fishing with my uncle. We cut a sapling down and stripped the branches off it with his knife and added on some deep-sea line and a hook. Then I had to go and dig up worms in the midden. It was rich and I got a lot of worms. My uncle showed me how to put a worm on the hook and how to drop it in quietly. All of a sudden I felt a tug on my line. I immediately yanked my rod up and over and the fish flew over my head. My uncle laughed saying: “You don’t have to do it so hard Fred!” We caught six fish in half an hour then they went off the take. My granny fried them in oatmeal and we ate them for tea. They were reasonably sized trout for eating and very tasty.

I remember one summer I was over with my brother and mother when I was eight. I had followed the Brerachan for a considerable way, the sun was shining and the water was sparkling in my eyes. I developed a terrible headache – maybe sunstroke – and when I got home I was in tears. My mother gave me some painkillers and I went to bed on the sitting room settee. I slept and when I woke up it had gone. I was glad – it was the worst pain I had experienced in my life. I got something to eat and drink and went back to sleep. From the settee I could see an armchair that my granny got from the Laird for 25 years’ service. My uncle got a gold pocket watch for his 25-years’ service.

I always thought I could sleep better in my granny’s house; there weren’t street light shining through the window and I could get a better night’s sleep than I could at home in my own bed. My visits to East Lodge, sadly, stopped when my uncle died. The accommodation had to be given up as it went with the job but my granny was rehoused in a cottage in Enochdu.