From the 50’s through to the 90’s my family owned what can only be described as a ‘hut’ located in the Tweed Valley remotely situated up a farm track. Some folk called them chalets, others called them a butt n ben, but this really was a hut. They were the height of 50’s staycation fashion.
The hut was called the ‘First and Last’. It stood proudly as it was the first you approached on the way up the glen and the last one you passed on the way back down. The First and Last had seen it all, family holidays, 21st birthday parties, grannies gatherings, Easter egg hunts and Christmas celebrations.
It was suggested by Reforesting Scotland that these very huts belonged to the period of hut establishment during and after WWII, when there was a move for landowners to provide sites for miners, and later for ex-servicemen, to get out into the country and enjoy some fresh air and exercise. Many of huts in the Peebles area seem to have been built by miners from Rosewell, a mining village within cycling distance, a significant fact at the time.
In the 90’s my dad and I were the last willing participants of a fortnight’s holiday there. I remember phoning round all my relatives who were really jealous of us going back to where their happy memories lingered; of being taught how to fish in the burn, shooting cans with a slingshot, collecting water from the spring around half a mile from the doorstep, and eat sausages from a campfire. However everyone neglected to remind us that for two weeks we’d be using an outside toilet, have no fridge for even the most basic of ingredients and that the gas was so dodgy we never used it in case we blew up. Showers were a regular occurrence at the local swimming pool which we enjoyed frequenting, although my dad couldn’t actually swim, so he just paid to go for a shower. It was the end of July and the temperature was actually warmer outside the hut than it was inside.
Our days were taken up with painting the local scenery, paddling in the burn, looking at ladybirds through magnifying glasses, making the longest daisy chains, enjoying picnics which were bought from the local bakers daily, as nothing could be stored fresh and epic battles of charades by candlelight.
I’ve been really fortunate to travel to different places throughout my life but that fortnight will always be the one I look back on with the fondest memories. Being so close to nature is an amazing privilege. Coming from a busy city the experience of the quiet and pure sounds of water and smell of fresh grass was something I wasn’t used too. Waking naturally to the sunrise with birdsong and witnessing the clearest nights with a stunning scattering of stars was a novelty to me. It was also the last holiday I spent with my dad before his brave battle with illness, so it was a special time of connection I shall never forget.
Nowadays to fully disconnect from life its essential to take the time to seek peace and solace from a busy world. Destinations off the beaten track help you to take a break from a relentless inbox and daily social media updates, instead forcing you to connect with what really matters in life. Luckily in this day in age you don’t have to do without the luxuries such as a comfy bed, hot shower, fluffy towels or an ice cream from the freezer when you want one!