Childhood Memories of Portsoy, by Irma Rewcastle
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Among my early childhood memories are a cold playroom and the back yard of a Children’s Home in Kilmarnock. Fortunately all that changed when I went to live with a good foster family at Ordens Farm and we moved into bonny Portsoy soon after.
and nature’s wild life areas
But in those days Portsoy basked in magnificent long summers with gathering places and play areas, like the outdoor swimming pool, as well as dookin’ in the old Harbour, the Links, swings, chutes, see-saws, and witches hats at the Links sea front and the park. Friends met at the old railway station, Links shelters and a choice of cafés. Some of the men met on the corner of North High Street.
We watched porpoises from the Pool Braes, and year after year there were two sticklebacks in a small rock pool at the Marble Quarry to catch and let go again,
two, maybe three, small catfish in the rock pool between the two Harbours. I always wondered how the powerful tides came and went, yet these tiny fish managed to hold on to their dwelling places.
and thousands of small flat sand-coloured Flukie fish drifted over the seabed of the links as we waded and swam among them in the warm afternoon water.
and also over and around the giant boulders far right of the Links – just before you go round the East Sea braes with the bonny wild yellow Primroses. A shoal of tiny eels swam in a small rock pool by the side of the grass, as you made your way on round the Braes, and there was life in abundance in the old fresh water frog pool further on round the grass trail walk.
Flocks of Common Terns with their brown caps were at their rock colony. You could only get to it when the tide was low. The birds didn’t mind sharing their colony with you – until it was time for their dive-bombing display to let you know the first chicks had hatched, then you wouldn’t dare go back until the following egg season.
Beautiful newts and fish lived in the shallow reed edges of the boggy old Loch – if you dared pass the wild geese that patrolled there, that is!
Throughout the nesting season we checked on the bird’s nests in the Durn Road hedges.
With my thrupence or sixpence Saturday pocket money I bought sweeties from Jock Sutherland’s shop on the corner of the Swimming Pool Braes, or the next ‘I Spy’ book from Phillip’s Newsagent’s.
As we got older, we all met up at the cafés with their jukeboxes in the evenings and weekends with our bottles of Coca Cola, listening to our favourite songs and playing the pinball machines.
Oh, and I mustn’t forget the bats in the old derelict building on the corner of the Old Harbour – now ‘Beggars Belief’ Bistro and flats.
We’d put our hoods up, so they wouldn’t get tangled in our hair when we went in through the small window to get them to do their hysterical swooping tricks. And the open air singing and dancing concerts we had on the flat stone ceiling rooftop of the old building that used to accompany the Gable End overlooking the Old Harbour and sea.
These were my very fortunate and privileged childhood days in Portsoy. Now, when she calls me from afar, I return to be in her ever-energising presence once more.