HC1-006 - Holidays in Cairndow (2014)

Memories of holidays at her grandparents home, Shield Cottage, by June Waugh 2014

I am a friend of Alice Beattie and she suggested I write something about my times staying at my grandparents in Shield Cottage at Tighcladich.

Shield Cottage, adjoining cottage and various outhouses including a byre and milkhouse were built by connected family and tenanted from Ardkinglas estate auntil1982 when my Grandfather Robert Macpherson passed away. He came from Greenock and married Jessie McVicar whose family had lived there and worked in the area including on the estate.

As a child in the fifties living in Roslin, a Midlothian mining village, coming to Tighcladich every summer ( whatever the weather! ) was fantastic.

My earliest memories are of Grandma throwing scraps to the hens, filling buckets of water from the burn tumbling down the rock in the garden and emptying the potties from under the beds!! Despite having only a couple of neighbours ( Lizzie Campbell and cats, charming Mrs Luke and and the significantly capable Jean McVicar ) the latch was busy with other local people stopping by on their way down the Dunoon road. Over the years houses have changed hands but always the small community welcomed us and helped the family in our absence.

My treasured memories of childhood at Tighcladich lead on to the special relationship my husband also had there ( notably with my Grandfather at the St Catherines hotel and Mr Lawrie who managed it ! ). We spent every spare weekend and holiday at Shield Cottage, even bringing our newborn daughter in the snow to visit her very poorly Great Grandfather which was our last time.

Her name is Suzanne and her younger sister Aileen have visited the area many times. They have heard from my Mother , May Macpherson , of what life was like before electricity, telephones, plumbing and television. Their Great Uncle Hamish , aged 96, living in Dunoon can tell them about the old school at Pole he attended with earth floor and an open fire. They admire Alice and Walter Beattie for their determination to remain in such a beautiful place and recognise this special link for their Gran who visits Ardkinglas annually  magical place, a home from home.

The smell of woodsmoke from a perpetually burning grate, the marble slabbed stand keeping food cool, the sycthe swishing the long grass that the sheep or cattle didn’t chew, the wild irises and sea pinks, familiar rocks still in place today to jump across, the Black rock near Ardno at the three rivers which I can climb surefooted even now at age 60, the travelling people whom my Grandma never turned away emptyhanded, the long trek to Cairndow to visit the Beattie family and eat newly made pancakes, delight at going to St Catherines post office for thirty years and Connie giving us free sweeties even for my own children what a wonderful lady and finally the feeling of being in a special place, seeing shark fins and seals in the loch then historic sites on the hillsides.

It is good to reminisce and share only a few thoughts but my sister is also putting her memories down and probably they are a wee bit different !!

June Borland, Shield Cottage, Tighcladich 1975

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