Highland groceries in the sixties

When I wrote my post about the mobile library I was reminded of my holidays, as a youngster, in the highlands of Scotland.  I had two uncles who were farmers in Caithness, one uncle at Burrigle and the other at Boultach.

This is the croft where my dad and his brothers were raised.

This is Boultach in more recent times.

I have so many happy memories of my holidays there and at Burrigle.  The reason the mobile library reminded me was that there was a service provided to the farmers and outlying cottages in the highlands but this was not a library service it was a grocery service.

You need to remember that this was back in the late fifties early sixties.  A van used to come to the farm, and as children we looked forward to the visit with much anticipation as we would be able to spend our small amount of pocket money.  You were able to board the van and inside there were shelves on either side.  The shelves housed various grocery items but there was also a selection of sweeties – that’s what we were after. He also delivered the mail and the newspapers.

My memory is not so good but I think it used to call at the farm once a fortnight, it could have been more or less frequently, I’m not sure. My elder sister remembered that the van was operated by Charlie Kemp, he owned the grocery shop/post office in Latheronwheel which was the nearest village.

7 thoughts on “Highland groceries in the sixties

  1. The best holidays ever. All the cousins slept in a big double bed together, which meant it was pretty late by the time we got to sleep.I was fascinated by the raised voices of my uncle and Dad who loved to argue about politics and the like.We’d hop out of bed and creep through to get a closer listen.
    The croft was so cosy, There was a main room where most of the action took place,cooking,dining and living. There was a box bed that was curtained off,where you could have a secret nap,or sleep by the fire in winter. I always remember a couple of cats curled up by the fire, which was fueled by peat and had a distinctive smell.Our Aunt Anne always had some baking on the go,so we enjoyed griddle scones and crowdie which I think is probably close to ricotta in taste. Delicious for morning tea after the extended family helped with the harvest (helping as much as an 8 or 9 yr old can)
    My brother and I used to play with my cousin in the barn where there was a loft, we’d jump down, over and over into the grain stored below. I also got many scratches from the feral barn kittens who we’d try to catch to pet,but they were pretty wild.I think that was my first experience with cats, and remain a crazy cat lady today!
    Yes I remember the Van coming. Was there more than one, was there a fish van too? I was excited to get pocket money from my Uncle to spend when the van came. I always wished that either of my uncles were my dad as they never seemed so grumpy,they always appeared cheerful and more easy going.. Maybe he should have stayed on the land.Boultach was always home to him.

    • Thanks for your memories too Megsy. I loved my holidays there and you obviously did too. I agree with your comment about dad.
      Do you remember visiting Auntie Maggie and Auntie Georgie? I can remember them having piles of The People’s Friend magazines under the bed. They were the only reading matter in the house.
      Can you remember going to the sheep sales at Latheronwheel?

      • It was a lovely surprise to read about Auntie Maggie and Auntie Georgie I used to vist them as a child with my dad Bob Barnie.

        • I am glad you were able to read some memories of Auntie Maggie and Auntie Georgie. I have only just replied to your comment as I have been overseas for three months. I spent six weeks in Scotland and was able to visit Boultach again. I will be doing a blog post about it some time in the future. I did no blogging while I was away and I arrived home yesterday so today is my first entry. My dad’s middle name was Barnie. My elder sister might know your dad. Where about did you live?

          • My dad was brought up in the crort over the road from Donnie and Ann’s, with his brothers Jack,Ian and his sister Christine.But after he came home from being in Burma and also working for the Church of Scotland canteens he moved near Melrose in the Borders with mum also from Caithness.So we headed HOME for Caithness every year.So Philip and I are heading over the Ord on tuesday.

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