Stories from Creetown


As Scots living in Scotland, we are occasionally unaware of how others perceive us.  When some Hungarians arrived at our Bed and Breakfast, they wanted to know :

“Why do you keep  all your food at the roadside?”

I did not understand, and asked what they meant. They answered:

“All your sheeps and lambs are beside the road – everywhere. This is very strange.”

I suppose, when you are used to country roads without the hazards of sheep, or used to keeping your livestock enclosed, it is difficult to understand. We have grown up with it, grown used to it: that is Scotland.

An English lady commented: “I have never seen such peculiar cows in my life. They look like scarves! ”

This is because the belted Galloway cow is  only found in Dumfries and Galloway.

Then there are the local incidents.

We were caretaking a house that was 150 years old, two stories high and of granite construction. A long drive swept past two lawns to deliver you at the front door.  After some heavy rain, I realised that the gutters needed cleaning, as rain was cascading over the front entrance of the house. Normally, we search for such services on the internet, but here we use local knowledge. I walked down to the sweetie shop (or confectioners) just 100 yards away, so no need to take the car. I reckoned that old Isa would be able to tell me who possessed a pair of long ladders that I could borrow that would reach the roof of this large house.

I was told that Ian was THE ONLY MAN who could help, and was directed to his house, another couple of hundred yards further on.

I eventually found the place.  His son answered the door, and said that his father was busy working, but he would tell him of the problem and he would be round the following day, Saturday. On Saturday morning,  we became aware of a figure jumping up and down outside the bay window.

This was surprising, as our dog had not barked, nor had we heard any van arrive.  He apologised for disturbing us, but explained that he could not find the bucket which he  used for the gutters. We eventually managed to locate this, and asked if he needed anything else he needed, but he had come armed with a very large silver spoon, which he insisted was better than a trowel. When we questioned him about his vehicle, he said that he did not drive – he had carried his ladders the length of Creetown – and he was 72 years of age!

What about the height? we queried. He merely laughed.

“I’ve been cleaning these gutters all my life – since I was 16 – and I’m not about to go soft now! After all, what are Health and Safety going to do to me at my age?”

The kindness we have encountered was universal.We had the surprise at finding that the pretty blonde girl, who worked in the local supermarket, had lived and taught in China. We discovered the ingenuity of the country people when it comes to helping each other has been nothing short of astounding.

It takes longer to do small things.

Shopping always involves a conversation now.

People are interested in you, and want to talk to you or your dog or both. You feel that you have a real presence, and that you matter to those other than family.

Most importantly, you discover what you can give.

© Linda Jane McLean


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