'A sense of humour lends you poise, it gives you balance and it helps you to bend without breaking'

(HH Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda)

Menoffski [men-off-skee]; the condition of hitting the road...again

As you peruse this post Dear Reader, the YAMster is again travelling.  Well, to be accurate I will have arrived at my destination.

Dunoon.  A small coastal town in the West of Scotland.  This is another house hunting, property-foraging, ground researching expedition.  You will be getting filled in more on that after the fact.

Getting here involves train travel.  Am rather fond of same.  I was reminded today of a very early trip made with my Grandad.  I would have been barely two years of age.  My grandparents had kept me with them whilst my mother and father were in Oban.  Mac1 was being born.  January 14th, 1961. My first sibling. The small farm on the hillside of the Scottish Borders was left rather early in the day, I suppose.  (I believe it was Jan 16th, but can't guarantee that fact). At that time there were still trains from the Borders up to Edinburgh.  At Waverley station, I recall there was a bit of excitement as connecting with the Glasgow train proved a little tricky.  I can remember Grandad's strong arms and the vague smell of sheep from his thick winter coat.  

Almost nothing of that leg of the trip is in my mind, but the stretch from Glasgow to Oban is as clear as if it were yesterday.  The countryside has never been forgotten and it could very well be this which lingers with me sufficiently to be driving this property search in that part of the land.

There is something deep and profoundly affecting about that scenery, with many teasing glimpses of water and a light which is at one and the same time harsh as icicles, yet soft and velveteen. 

At one point on our trip north and west, Grandad gave me a banana.  Something exotic at the time.  I loved it then and have never lost that love.  He was mortified though when this toddler suddenly decided to throw the skin out the slightly open window.  "Never mind", said I, "it'll make good compost."  The lady on the seat opposite thought this was amusing, but I can also recall her response to this was, "aye an' ye're as wise as yer grandfaither."  

Which I think was a good thing.

Another strong memory from that trip was the smell and grime of the steam train's smoke. It was surely one of the last.  I do know that little more than three years after this the Borders lines were closed.  Steam trains became extinct.

So imagine my surprise and pleasure at finding the Edin-Galashiels line is being reinstated! Last week Mac2, Mac3, Dad and myself went down to meet up with an aunt and uncle for lunch and we saw lots of work on hand.  There are some who are not so happy at the money being spent and the changes that are required to bring the line alive again, but I think it is inevitable.  Galashiels is about 30 miles from the capital and with these trains, will be eminently commutable.

The countryside will be as appealing as ever.  But there will be no steam engine.  Neither windows that can be opened through which to deposit compostable materials...

Evidence of workings on the railways... Heriot, Scottish Borders.
image copyright, Yamini Ali MacLean


  1. This is wonderful, Yam, and awakened memories of traveling with my MacKenzie grandmother from New Westminster, BC, to Lethbridge, Alberta, when my first sibling was being born. He required some surgery after birth, so I spent the winter in Alberta, having my second birthday there. It was wonderful, being doted-upon but not spoiled.
    Grandparents in those days were loving but firm, such an excellent way to be.
    Luv, K
    PS: Looking forward to your decision and why you make it.

  2. I used to love taking trains. Because they were going somewhere I was not. I did have one scary incident though. Hm, post idea!

  3. Love the ribbon the window put into your photo.

  4. What great memories of train travel you have. Most of my train adventures were when I was very young too but I remember them well. Enjoy you trip, can't wait to hear about it.

  5. Always good to hear of railway lines being reinstated. (If only so many had not been closed in the first place…) And yes, the Glasgow to Oban line is unforgettable indeed.
    Happy travels, and looking forward to reading your impressions of Dunoon.

  6. Hari OM
    Kay - oh yes, doted upon but not spoiled; so ture!

    Mara - looking forward to that one...

    Joanne - well spotted!

    SQ - ta

    Bertie/Gail - Thank you!

  7. Oh those childhood steam train journeys. :-) Nothing like them nowadays, though I can't claim to remember them from such an early age as you, Yam. Happy home-hunting and I think the idea of reinstating railway lines is brilliant. Dr Beeching had a lot to answer for.....


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