Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Bennachie. Another Mountain To Climb.

At the end of a very long and exciting overnight journey from London, aboard a train, pulled by the famous 'Flying Scotsman' locomotive, My Mother and I arrived at Aberdeen station. It was 1959 and I was rapidly approaching my 13th birthday.
Up until this time it had been several years since I had seen, or had any contact with my Mum. This estrangement had ended suddenly and without prior warning just the day before, when she appeared at the door of my current foster parents and told the foster mum that she was taking me.
I can vaguely recall some argument between the two of them as to the legality of such a move. But Mum was determined, and as I was soon to find out, could be ferocious, when she wanted to get her own way. Which was quite a lot of the time.
She had obviously won the argument. Because here we were, in another country, Scotland. The beautiful land of her birth. I was so excited and thrilled to be with her. I am able even today to conjure up the heady sense of release and freedom I felt. The joy of knowing that I was with someone I had yearned to be with for so long. Someone who loved me.
As far as I was concerned all buses were supposed to be red. But here in Aberdeen the bus we boarded was bright yellow. Mum called it a bus, but it didn't have an upper deck. To me it should have been called a coach.
People were talking, holding conversations, but I struggled to understand what they were saying. It might have been a foreign language, except that I could make out the odd word or two. Just these small differences added to the sense of adventure I was experiencing.
I had never seen, or travelled such quiet narrow roads as this before either. If we did encounter traffic, there was hardly room to squeeze two vehicles past each other.
Everywhere I looked there were dry stone walls of grey granite dividing the fields. Fields full of cattle and sheep. Even pigs. Fascinating stuff for a boy from the big city.
Purple heather and yellow gorse and broom on the hilly terrain all added to my feeling of being in a foreign country.
Oh my word what's that! Mum! Mum! Look it's a mountain! It's a mountain! Well I'd only seen a mountain in films before, This was so exciting, and what's that on top of it. Looks like snow. It is snow! It's the start of the summer holidays and there's snow!
We stop at a village. There are grey granite houses. Pink granite houses. The granite glints and sparkles in the sunshine. Several small shops, with old fashioned painted signs. Lots of people alight here. But we still have a few more miles to go.
Nearly there now. Mum points out a small cluster of granite built houses in the distance and a slight feeling of apprehension takes me. It is almost time to meet Jimmy, her new husband. Everything will be all right though. I'm with my Mum.
Yesterday I was an unhappy child in a foster home in the crowded, bustling smog ridden metropolis of London. Today less than twenty four hours later, I am breathing the clean sweet air of rural Scotland, and walking up a rutted country track towards a small stone cottage with matching outbuildings.
Swallows are swooping. The sky is blue, and there in the near distance is *'Bennachie'. A real mountain with snow on the top.
I am home, and with my Mum. Will everything be all right? Only time will tell.

*Ben- ah- he.


  1. A great little story, I hope there will be more.

  2. You felt like you finally belonged with someone. A day to remember and hold close.

  3. Why am I afraid of what is coming next?
    Jane x

  4. Quina foto mes maca l'hi has fet al gos , es preciosa ! Salutacions des de Catalunya . Anna

  5. Don't leave us hanging Man!

  6. Wow- great description of your day, I could picture it all. Sounds so medieval, except for the buses. Hard to believe you are telling us about 1959.

  7. This story was beautifully written, you put me right there on that bus. I've enjoyed my visit again, and I've been looking at your photos again on the side bar. Always am drawn to the puppies, and Sadie's header photo is magnificent. Thanks for stopping by and have a great weekend.

  8. p.s. I also enjoyed the photo of you when you were 16.