When I first drove my Ford Anglia into Redford Barracks, Edinburgh in 1971 at the age of seventeen, I thought of it as little more than my first posting as a soldier and that I would be back near London within a year or so. It is only with hindsight that I suspect some higher power might have been at work for I was soon to meet and marry the love of my life, Betty – an Edinburgh lass. After three years with the Kings Own Scottish Borderers, we got the posting to London that I had asked for, strangely to the Regimental Headquarters of the Scots Guards. Our children arrived, first Simon and two years later Phil.
Years later I was posted to the Gordon Highlanders – me, a boy born in South London! When the regiment moved to Fort George we lived in married quarters in Inverness – Scotland again! Was some force trying to tell me something? We always holidayed in Edinburgh with Betty’s family, wherever we were in the world, eventually settling in Winchester where I began a civilian career in IT.
When I decided to retire from this second career we sought a new home in the North of England, leaving our grown-up boys and their families in Hampshire. When looking for a new home in Northumbria, something dragged us across the border and told us to turn left at Gretna. So that’s how we came to be living, firstly in Dumfries, and for the last sixteen years, in the grandly named St John’s Town of Dalry.
Whilst researching my family history, I made a breakthrough on an obscure female line which led into "the great and the good" who are well documented in "The Peerage". I traced my line all the way back to Uchtred, Lord of Galloway in 1174. Is it a coincidence or series of coincidences that I am now living in a land once ruled by one of my distant ancestors? Or is there some coiled spring of DNA that keeps pulling me back to Scotland and eventually to Galloway, an open rugged land with magnificent skies?
Sadly, we lost Simon in 2020, suddenly and unexpectedly. My beloved Betty left us at the beginning of the year, just short of our golden wedding. Several friends and well wishers have asked if I would be moving back South. Why would I? Why would I want to leave my home, and the country I love?
Instead, I find myself preparing my home in the hope that some foreign refugees will wish to stay here and make this place their home, if only temporarily.