Monday, 28 May 2018

A Country House Visit, More Wartime Memories, and a new Woodland Walk.

LIFE:  21-27th May 2018

A Taste of the Grand Life!
Highlight of the week was a visit with the Earlston Women's Group  to the 18th century Mellerstain House,  approached down a long narrow straight road, through the gates into the parkland and the house.   Set amidst 100 acres, it is a grand Georgian mansion, that remains almost as it was when  Robert Adam  designed it over 240 years ago.

We had an excellent  tour from a very knowledgeable guide who also added plenty of quirky facts;  a walk in the beautiful landscaped ground and finished with a delicious afternoon tea.  

It took me back to my tourist board days when I visited there on a Fam. Trip (Familiarisation Visit).  I always felt I could move into Mellerstain - of course as a society lady, not as a scullery maid!   I would relax in the library with its magnificent Adam ceilings and friezes, and wake up in the spacious master bedroom in my four poster bed, looking out over the landscaped garden terraces and down to the loch. 

There were some  major drawback to life there though, there were no sanitary facilities until well  into the 19th century - and think of the staff having to carry water, chamber pots and coal  up and down all those stairs - on one short visit, they  took its toll on my arthritic knee!  Life wasn't quite as gracious as we like to think. 

It must have been quite an isolated life, living on the estate.  Although  it was part of Earlston parish, it is long, long walk to the village, unless you were lucky enough to get a lift there and back on a horse and cart.  The 1861 census  listed 130 people living in estate cottages, with occupations ranging from agricultural servants, ploughmen, poultry keeper, blacksmith and  gamekeepers, to joiners, millers,laundry maids, farm steward  and  schoolmaster. In  the 54 rooms of the big house lived George Baillie Hamilton and his wife ( Earl and Countess of Haddington) with with four servants. 

More World War Two Reminiscences  
More looking back on history, when I met with elderly resident R. to gather her childhood memories of the war for the next Auld Earlston Exhibition.  Her  father, was in a reserved occupation working for the local timber firm, but also volunteering in the Home Guard. R, recalled  him taking her into the garden at night to see the searchlights south of Edinburgh and his distress at what he witnessed at the site of the German bomber that crashed near Earlston in 1943, killing all the crew.   She had happy  memories of the Polish soldiers training in the village before D.Day - they held a Christmas party for the school children where they were given a Polish badge and a hand made toy.  

General Eisenhower arriving at Earlston Station to inspect the 

Polish Tanks in Earlston Square -
Note the two little boys giving them close inspection!

"It's always raining in Scotland" is a comment you often hear 
Well not this month, as the brilliant, dry, sunny weather continues.  Let's just hope this is not our summer! There have been blips - 72F on Monday, a chilly 52F on Tuesday. before the warmth returned mid afternoon Wednesday.  No wonder the weather is such a popular point of conversation. 

So no excuse not to do gardening - nor late spring cleaning, when we got the  carpets and three piece suite deep cleaned - cue to move what we could of the small furniture items into the kitchen, bathroom or back bedroom - and them move them back later. The day was enlivened by our carpet cleaner - a man from Tennesse with a very distinctive southern accent, who we enjoyed talking to.    He did a great job too, as the house looks so  much cleaner and fresher. 

Bluebells in a corner of the garden.

Woodland Walk
Our Thursday walk took us to Haughhead and the Leader Water, through a woodland path, new to many of us.



Journal Jottings   
Recording my everyday life for future family historians
Developed from the "Genea-Pourri" prompt  on Randy Seaver’s blog Genea-MusingsI I decided to change his title for my own version of this weekly online diary

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