Run everywhere…to get somewhere 

Growing up on a farm in the North East of Scotland was all about animals, machinery, woods, hillsides, dens, bike tracks and football on the lawn. Safe space for miles around.

Power cuts, milk straight from the bulk tank, bonfires and Bennachie, the hill I could see from my bedroom window. Deep deep snow and dusty summers. Tattie picking, roguing barley and later, tractor driving to help with the harvest.

A noisy family. Politics, pratfalls, laughter. Curbing each other’s excesses. How it should be.

But I don’t remember running. Not as a kid, not at school or college. It wasn’t discussed. I didn’t know anyone who ran and I never saw anyone running. Apart from at school sports day with an egg and spoon or in the three legged race.

And so for me running wasn’t a ‘thing’. It’s what you did if you needed get somewhere.

The next door farm had a tennis court. I think my friend Mac and I were the only people who used it. In fact I’m certain that was the case because the owner, Mr Mackie, made it clear that Mac and I were responsible for brushing and maintaining it.

And sometimes in winter, my Dad and Mr Mackie went up on the hill with a tractor. Mounted on the back was a steel frame on which sat a large cable reel. Another pulley wheel at the top of the hill and a long loop of rope stretched between the two which you hung on to. Inverurie’s very own ski tow.

We took our sledges or even better, sheets of corrugated iron roofing and we borrowed skis from the local scout troop. This was long before the Health and Safety Executive.

What was important was that we had to be home before dark (Essential. No street lights), or up and away in the morning in time to catch the school bus.

So a lot of my time was spent running or cycling to get to where I needed to be. To the tennis – half a mile away; to the bus stop – 2 miles away; round the farm buildings to the dairy to get the milk – about 2 minutes.

And maybe that’s the way it should be as a kid. Run everywhere. To get somewhere. Then when you are old enough, take it more seriously. And make it a thing.

Ps Mac now runs the great ice cream company Mackie’s of Scotland, founded by his Dad, Mr Mackie. The factory is next door to the tennis court. I hope someone is still brushing it. The painting is of Bennachie taken from the hill behind my fathers farm at harvest time. 


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