Friday, November 28, 2014

Simple Life. Article I, 17/07/1879 - Rambling Recollections of Berriedale, Badbea, and Neighbourhood - Part A

I said in the previous blog that I would post the articles written by A Native of Badbea aka Alexander Gunn. There are some challenges in doing this as some of the articles are quite long - probably too long for the average blog. I do not want to edit them as each paragraph has points of interest. I will try breaking each article down into manageable segments and posting into more than one blog. The pictures I have added were not with the original articles. They are all well known Scottish pictures and widely available on the internet. 
Introductory Paragraph
The first series of articles from I to XIII  was called Rambling Recollections of Berriedale, Badbea, and Neighbourhood. Article I was printed in the Northern Ensign on Thursday, July 17, 1879.
A crofter & wife planting potatoes Skye late 1880s

Rambling Recollections of Berriedale, Badbea, and Neighbourhood
Article I, Part A

I daresay most of your readers are familiar with Berriedale. Its position is such that the public - the travelling public in particular- are perfectly well acquainted with it and its beautiful scenery, but Badbea stands in a different position, and is but imperfectly known beyond the bounds of the Duke's estate. It is, therefore, better to give a descriptive sketch of it at the outset.
Badbea lies halfway between the Ord and Berriedale. The third milestone to the west of Berriedale stands at the head of Badbea burn, which divides the village in two. It is not seen or observed by the traveller from the turnpike road, as it lies nestling on the slope of the hills facing the sea, and looking right across the Moray Firth. It consisted, when I knew it, of twelve families, each having a small croft to cultivate. The crofts extend to the very edge of the high rocks, so rugged and dangerous that only here and there is there any possibility of getting down to the shore beneath.
Interior of a crofter's cottage, Skye about 1930
Each crofter possessed a few head of cattle, and lived quite a simple, primitive life, having little intercourse with the world beyond but for all that they were happy and contented. With abundance of fish with which the coast abounded, plenty of good potatoes and milk, and a fat pig, they did not know what want was, but to anything like luxury they were total strangers. Tea, which was at that time 8s per lb., and sugar (very inferior) l0p per lb., and loaf bread, were commodities almost unknown, and were never used, except on special occasions, such as a birth or a death.
Grinding corn, spinning and carding wool 1879
Source: Am Baile Facebook
The people were industrious and frugal. Every house had its spinning­ wheel, on which was spun the material for clothing the whole household, male and female, and if their homemade clothing did not come up to the fine finish of shop-bought, it had the advantage over it in warmth and durability. Spinning and carding were learnt by all the young women at their mother's knee, so that when they got houses of their own, they were at no loss to supply the wants of the goodman in respect of clothing. The only luxury they possessed was a "wee drap" of good genuine whisky, also of their own manufacture.
 Newhaven Fisherboy or His Faither's Breeks 1845 by Robert Adamson David Octavius Hill showing warm handspun clothiing. This boy is an orphan and has inherited his father's trousers as well as his work and responsibilities. 

Article I  - to be continued.

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