Wednesday, January 27, 2021


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 joined the cubs to go to make new pals and go to the local camp but it opened the door to a big wide world.

The world on your doorstep. 

1.3 miles was the distance from my house to Stoney Brae. It was mostly uphill but not far. Any McGills bus or the Fereneze Crescent one would get you there in ten minutes. You could walk it in half an hour. That hut at the bottom of the Brae may have been close but it was a gateway to far off exciting places.
Black Rock was usually the first destination. The scene of countless famous battles where flags were captured, lives (arm bands) were lost and generals won victories or suffered defeat in the monthly widegame.

Then there were camps at Peesweep later renamed lapwing lodge where enormous structures were constructed. Rivers were crossed, treasure was hunted and puzzles were solved in pursuit of the Borland Trophy. Some of the scariest ghost stories ever heard were recounted in the old sanatorium which had seen enough death to claim a few ghosts of its own.
The district camp at Erskine was where you met scouts from other local troops and if you were good enough, which we usually were, you got to camp with scouts from the Area. The Area Flag was the big one everyone wanted. We won it at least twice when I was in the scouts. 72-73 and 75-76, I think. With an Area Flag win came qualification for the Scottish. That meant more travel and meeting new scout troops. I remember on one occasion as a leader being tasked by Alistair Wallace to obtain transport to get a patrol and its gear to Aberdeen for the Scottish. The budget was a bit tight but I secured a suitable if somewhat grimy minibus which was christened the lovely van. I had to sleep in it for two nights but the boys came third which was no mean feat.

Then there was all the international stuff. Blair Atholl 1974. We camped with Canadians and there were girl scouts from all over the world. They generated some interest. I swapped my scout belt for a Dutch one and wore it with pride for the rest of my scout service. We also travelled to the international scout centre in Wiltz, Luxemburg. There were lots of girl scouts and beer which also generated some interest. Commemorations to the Battle of The Bulge were everywhere and we all fantasised about being tank commanders. We camped in Belgium and had mayonnaise on our chips. We thrilled everyone at the international campfire with all those traditional Gleniffer songs like going down the valley and the smoke goes up the chimney just the same. They actually went down better than the bawdier ones we usually preferred.

Then there were all the other non-official trips where mates who were all Scouts just travelled because they could. On one occasion we travelled across France. On another we lost a Force ten tent in Gothenburg after crossing Sweden and making our way to Copenhagen in pursuit of women and beer. We hit Spain with similar aspirations and closer to home we wild camped on isolated spots the length and breadth of Scotland just to enjoy a beer, a dram and a song beside the campfire.

It might only have been 1.3 Miles to that little hut in Stoney Brae but it was the first leg of the journey into the fellowship of scouting which laid the world at your feet.