By oldpineyurt, May 24 2017 09:01PM
Having introduced the old Scots pine tree in our first blog, perhaps we ought to begin this one by introducing ourselves.
'We' are Donald and Fenella and we've lived in this area for most of our lives. Fenella has always lived in the north-east of Scotland, but is a comparative newcomer to Tomintoul, having been here only since 1963; however, Donald's ancestry in Strathavon can be traced back to the 1750s. In the 19th century his paternal great-grandparents were living in Glen Brown, first at Tombreck, then at Stronachavie, where his grandmother was born; looking at the ruined buildings today, it's hard to imagine that Stronachavie was once home to a family of 12.
Donald's grandmother left the croft as a teenager to take a job in 'service' in East Lothian; there she met and married Donald's grandfather, who had fled from a life of poverty and hardship in rural Ireland for, probably, a harder one in the steelworks of central Scotland. Some 80 years ago, after the death of her husband, she returned to Tomintoul and bought Fodderletter, which has been in the Corr family ever since, passing first to Donald’s Uncle Raymond – who ran a veterinary practice from the cottage - then to Donald’s father, and latterly to Donald himself.
The Hut was erected as a base for family holidays almost 60 years ago, when Donald was a young boy. At that time his family lived in Edinburgh, where his father was teaching. However, the call of the wild was strong and every summer the whole family – father, mother, Donald, his brother, three sisters, and the dog – would pile into an old Fordson van and head for Fodderletter, where Uncle Raymond was living at the time. Donald’s youngest sister was invariably sick on the journey and horror stories abound of how the other siblings took evasive action, scrabbling desperately to the farthest corners of the vehicle interior as the poor wean clung miserably to her bucket. It was always a tedious journey for the children, but the latter stages of the trip were brightened by the promise of a sweet for the first person to spot the cottage as the van rounded the final bend of the journey; even the youngest one cheered up at the prospect of a toffee.
The five youngsters spent the whole of their summer holiday at the hut, doing what children used to do before the onset of the digital revolution; they swam in the river, had campfires, climbed trees (including the old Scots pine), dammed burns, went fishing, and had expeditions into the hills, armed with a packet of sandwiches and a camping kettle. However, although there are those who maintain that the sun shone all day long during the neverending summers of their youth, Donald tells a different story; it rained frequently during these Corr family holidays, the children were usually soaked to the waist from thrashing about in the long, wet grass all day and, inevitably, the whole family went home with a tell-tale ‘welly boot rash’ just below the knee. Halcyon days indeed!
Below: the Hut on a suitably wet evening brings back memories for Donald!