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

(HH Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda)

Menooterpootering; Touring the Father...and others

...That's Mac1 in the orange jersey -
she moved just as the Fudge clicked
so rather cut off...
The Trossachs Trip was as spontaneous as it gets with the aged bloke and his Parkinson's. It had him going though, and he was up for another lengthy outing on the following day. Mac1 was free to join us, and the first part of the journey was the 90 minutes down to Hawick to collect the even more aged aunty J. She is the only surviving sister of my mother's sibs; there is also one remaining uncle.

It was South, first, then. After pickup, we took off Westish towards the Meggat Valley. If you think that name rings bells, check back to this post. Long family history on my mother's father's side. Actually, despite hearing many a-times the chitter-chatter of such things amongst the elders, as is so often the case, much of it has sat dormant within me - and some of it twisted in with other parts of the family unrelated and thus contorting it somewhat. This trip turned out to be a bit of gem for sorting some of that out!

Aunty J, you see, is something of the family oracle. I don't think there is anyone else who has taken it on board to the same extent. Father, fortunately, has done some genealogical work on it, so we at least have that record.

Anyways, first we headed to the St Mary's Loch cafe. A greasy-spoon, bikies' hangout and not quite what I had in mind when I mentioned lunch. The oldies were very keen on it though, so I had to deal with a rather non-vegetarian 'vegetarian' all-day breakfast...

Those sausages were well 'suss' and don't even ask about the deep-fried tattie scone. I can still taste the horror. Egg, beans and hash brown were okay. The tea was tepid. Place was so busy the urn never got up to boil...

Still and all, we were filled and ready for the next leg, return via Yarrow kirk yard. The reason for this was passing me by a bit, until we got there. Grave stones beginning back in 1813. James Shiel, shepherd of that parish. After him came four generations of William Shiel, carrying on directly, the shepherding and hill-farm tradition. James is my four times great grandfather. We don't have any info prior to James - it's as if he just dropped into the valley... however, since starting this post, I have come across a wonderful archaeological report in which I find that the heritable tenant farm called as 'Shielhope' (pronounced 'sheelup') was recorded as early as 1702... which must surely have been James' father or perhaps even grandfather! More research needed on this, but it is a fact that the price of wool tripled between 1800 and 1818 and good shepherds held some status with the lairds, where almost everyone else was forced into crofting, kelping... or migration to 'furran lands'. James married Agnes Anderson, daughter of an Ettrick carpenter. He clearly was held in some esteem to warrant such a headstone. Agnes is laid here too. As are many of their children, all young.

William, though, survived and married Margaret Davidson; their son William married Janet Renwick - for whom aunty J is named, that being her grandmother. [Don't worry if you're not following; it just feels necessary to record here, somehow.]

Will and Janet's son William is my grandfather, but he and my grandmother Elison Clement are not buried here at Yarrow... they are in Hawick cemetery. They had been ousted from the original Shielhope due to the flooding of the valley for the reservoir. They took ownership of a hill farm above Galashiels. Uncle A still lives up there, but sold the smallholding and kept two fields, building a new home in one of them. It is called Shielhope.

The eldest brother was William, and he too was a shepherd, but moved away to be factor for a large land owner.

This map shows the reservoir with the mark of Sheilhope beside Shielhope Burn, in which I once guddled for trout, even as the earth movers were ravaging the valley; on that day, the Shiel siblings managed to remove and claim the date stone for the cottage in which they spent their childhood.

The Shielhope of our memory... this building was erected in the 1840s... replacing what would have been Jame's original home; a rather more grand building this, one suspects, though still only two up, two down and no inside bathroom - though one was added later. It's all under water now...
Having driven my family around with only a Sunday jaunt in mind, I returned to look again at the charts father had drawn up and the puzzle pieces now made sense! It was another truly grand day out.


  1. Bless your heart Yam-Aunty you and Mac1 are such dears to take your Dad and Aunt such a grand adventure...minus the lunch...too bad you could not find a Root Beer. LOL

    Our new computer, which is supposed to be speedy it has a solid state drive,will be set up by the Geek Squad on Tuesday. It is my hope to sign up for an Ancestry.com account. I'd like to start some genealogical work too. I hear once you start you are hooked.
    Hugs HiC

    1. Hari OM
      hehehe, yes... for me it is not necessaraliy the lineage per se, but the social history which is revealed that fascinates. It becomes alive! Hope all the tech stuff goes smooth. Yxx

  2. My dad is totally into genealogy and it is sooooo interesting. Capture the stories of your family for history! (Anderson Cooper's 7th cousin twice removed aka K10)

  3. what a wonderful tour... I love it to watch old graveyards and I often ponder about the people who found their last place there... such places are a little like time machines... we can learn a lot about the past :O)

  4. What a lovely house, apart from it being under water of course. Hopefully some mermaids have taken up residence.

  5. Hello, what a great tour for you and your family. I started looking into my family history. Visiting the graves and finding the old headstones is interesting. Love the photos. I did something similar with one of my cousins and second cousin. Happy Monday, enjoy your new week ahead!

  6. I enjoyed this very much. My family has all been gone for some time and I've no one to ask or talk with about family history now. Your outing sounds wonderful.

  7. I really enjoyed this trip! Poor Yam and the food situation!
    There are so many stories I didn't listen to well enough. I'm so glad you can place them, but then, you live in a place older than time!
    I'm glad I left this to read on a rainy, cold day. The fire is on. JB is watching his DVD in the basement. I've been working on reading a book for review.
    Such an amazing place! Such amazing people!


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