Memories of Youth
The anticipation as the guard announced each station...The smell of the leather seats in the old Humber taxi which took us the three miles to the croft...
Although not born in the Highlands I have their pull for all of my seventy years.
My father grew up on a croft at Miller's Place, Fendom, Tain. He served with the Seaforth Highlanders from 1939-45 and on completion of his war service he moved to Edinburgh to join the Police Force.
On every available occasion we would, as a family, return to the croft.
I can still remember those journeys north. The steam train to Perth where an extra engine was added to pull the train over the Drumochter Pass, the stop in Aviemore to remove the second engine then on to Inverness where family would meet us and help get our belongings on to the Wick train.
The anticipation as the guard announced each station - Nigg, Fearn then Tain. The smell of the leather seats in the old Humber taxi which took us the three miles to the croft - Granny and Auntie Tibbie there to meet us with fresh pancakes made on the paraffin stove. In the very early day the anticipation of waiting for Grandad to return home from work. Grandad was a ploughman and he still used Clydesdale horses- the race to the road end, being hoisted on those huge gentle giants and carried back to the house.
Another vivid memory is the day of my grandad's funeral in 1958 when in Highland tradition men from near and far, the great and the good of Tain, crofters, farmers, shopkeepers lined the track from the house to the main road as my Grandad's coffin was walked off his property to meet the hearse, the men falling in behind and walking to the cemetery. Women stayed in the house.
On retirement my mum and dad returned to Tain, my dad to be the customs officer at Glenmorangie where my uncle was already a cooper.
So the journeys continued although now by car on the A9. After the croft was sold and all my relatives had passed on I still make the journey as my daughter has made her and her families home in Nairn.Image provided by Am Baile/ Highland Railway Society
Steam train arriving at Tain Railway Station, 1958. Image courtesy of Am Baile.
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Memories are undeniably a part of who we are. They shape us, in many ways, and help us connect not only to loved ones but also to the landscape. We would love to know, what are some of your favourite memories of your life in the Highlands and Islands? How does the 'Spirit of the Highlands and Islands' shine through for you in these memories? Tell us below, we can't wait to hear from you!
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