Robbie visits rotarians and hears tales of Portsoy

Portlethen rotary.
Portlethen rotary.

Robbie Shepherd visited Portlethen & District Rotarians last week to take part in a trip back to a “time gone by.”

Rotarian Graham Knight from Cove enthralled the members and guests at last Tuesday night’s Rotary Club meeting in the Newton Arms with a talk entitled, “When I was a loon.”

Among the guests were local broadcaster and journalist Robbie Shepherd and his wife Esma who along with the Rotarians and several partners were taken on a trip back in time to over sixty years ago.

Graham’s tales were about a time when he used to visit and stay with his grandmother and grandfather in their small grieve’s farmhouse near Portsoy.

Graham painted a wonderful picture, often in the vernacular, of days gone by as he took his audience through the eyes of a little boy on the train from Aberdeen to Portsoy stopping at every station including Kittybrewster, Bucksburn and Dyce before even leaving what we would now call Greater Aberdeen.

The most exciting point of the trip was always when the train parted at Cairnie Junction and their section was reversed backward. The family pram was carried in the guard’s van ready for the final leg of the trip from Portsoy to the nearby farmhouse.

The picture of a wee boy running free amongst hens, goats, cows and sheep gave visions of a cottage and a country garden with strawberries and raspberries galore.

Graham also described mastering the art of milking a goat, cooking on a range over the fire and carrying buckets of water from the well. The highlight for a wee boy was being allowed to pump up the Tilley lamp to make it shine brighter in the evenings.

The children all slept together in a “Shakkie Doon” bed on the floor of one of the few rooms upstairs where every bed had the indispensable “Chunty” underneath. There was no electricity and therefore no TV or radio and the evening’s entertainment usually consisted of playing games of Lexicon.

Graham’s Grannie also taught him to wink and he pondered the question as to whether it is still politically correct for Grannies and Grandpas to teach kids to wink.

Half the kids brought into his shop in Aberdeen when their parents come in to buy a computer have obviously never seen a wink in their lives, but most leave practising furiously!

Portsoy supported a travelling West Indian pedlar and also a travelling baker’s van where eggs were traded at the farm (no VAT then of course) for “fancy piece” cakes for the visiting children.

Another treat was a “sweetie and a bosie” from Grannie if injury was sustained falling into the horse trough or the like. Pan drops were beyond the normal budget of the house but were always available for the children on those occasions.

The whole visit to Portsoy in the late 40s and 50s brought a picture of this bygone age vividly back to those who could remember and also to those too young to remember.

Graham finished by asking whether or not, for all our modern home comforts and style of living, we were any better off or even worse off compared to the lives, standards, and happiness of those bygone days.

The evening finished with votes of thanks given by Rotarian Robbie Middleton and by Robbie Shepherd.