I’m like a kid in a sweetie shop when I go down the garden with my fork to dig up another shaw of my Bardrishaig Bard potatoes.
The tubers are filling out daily and the count this morning was 36-1. Yup – thirty six spuds from one seed potato.Perhaps that’s normal nowadays but I can’t remember getting anything like that when I was a schoolboy picking his ‘stint’ in the field while on his annual two week October Tattie Holidays.
Yields were undoubtedly lower back then but there was still enough to give me many a sore back from being bent over while trailing a heavy – sodden – mud covered wicker or wire mesh basket between my legs as I gathered the tatties that had been uncovered and scattered by the spinning wheel on the tractor-drawn tattie digger before it came round on it’s next circuit.
The quicker you could pick your stint – one of twenty or thirty marked out by the frightening foreman with pieces of broken branches across the drills depending on how many pickers there were – the sooner you could stretch your aching back.
It was all worth it when payday came at the end of the two weeks. That new pair of rugby boots might be achievable now or some other item of school clothing – anything to get away from the continual wearing of worn-out ‘hand-me-downs’ that came from being number three of four brothers in the family.
Ah – 1948 – the year after the ‘big sna’. I started school at Blair Athol that year and made the front page of the Scottish farmer while my dad was competing in a ploughing match with his two Clydesdale horses up by Blair Atholl Castle.
But it didn’t lead to a career in modelling unfortunately 🙂