Friday, May 29, 2020


imagination is sparked by an Ethrick Brown Novel. Book with images exploding from it

Read Scottish thrillers with great plots and laugh out loud humour

" I suppose my overriding memory is of a healthy disregard for 'Health and Safety' before the term was invented.

Four lads in kilts with four rucksacks plus camping gear in a 12 foot clinker dinghy afloat from Fairlie to Great Cumbrae for a weekend camping and dance hall visiting; without a risk assessment being filed at County Hall.

Cutting down 30' pine trees with axes, saws and hunting knives at Place Farm Kilbirnie then carting them across the ditch to build what seemed like massive tripods to support an aerial runway; not a hi-vis jacket or hard hat in sight.

Eating food from dixies which had been scoured with sand and whatever sheep debris was in the stream with the water; good antibody development!

Learning how to smoke a pipe of tobacco as the true antidote the Tayvallich camp midges; aged 13. Worked best when mixed with gulps of Tartan Special.

Abandoning the effort to keep up with the ghillie on the hills above Blair Atholl at the Jamboree deer stalking day; and wandering around hoping the map was the right way up.

Standing at the top of Goat Fell in shorts hoping that cloud was blowing the other way.

Small boys trying to stop the mighty sixth year rugby players in British Bulldog and usually learning that team work paid off when you're wee.

The blind faith in leader Alistair Wallace taking a group of kilts to Germany; please tell us there was some element of risk assessment.....!

And many other tests of preparation, training, self reliance and pain tolerance. I don't actually remember any mishaps of note. Yes the occasional axe bite on a leg or damaged limb from falling but the first aid skills were actually there and worked in my memory. No doubt about it, the sense of adventure and self confidence was instilled and nurtured.


There was a real sense of the Niff Niffs being a cut above the other groups in town. We marched swaggering through the town on parade day, with military precision. We had very smart uniforms, hats steam pressed rigid. Our camp sites were meticulously inspected for the tiniest scraps of waste. We shone occasionally at the swimming galas but usually only David Stewart. We won the prizes at county camps for most things - food, log shifting, fire building, singing, uniforms. Presumably other troops hated us as pot hunters but for us it was about doing our best and doing well what we do.

Mix all that up and what do you get? A happy time of adventure and friendship, of team work and individual skill, of personal achievement and group achievement.

Formative years indeed."