Church Guild activity.
15th April 07 - Car Boot Sale Stall
These two brave souls gave many hours of preparation and then 4 hours of attendance time to raise funds for the Church Guild at the Car Boot Sale held in the car park of The Old Smugglers Inn, Auchencairn. Their efforts raised a creditable amount in excess of £71.
Beryl spoke of the 1950s when with her husband John she frequently visited this forgotten corner of Scotland on camping holidays in their motor cycle engined Bond Mini car. She loved the car - even if it did have no reverse gear and she had to lift it round to go in the opposite direction and despite it's habit of overheating when faced with a hill and it needing to rest for a while before continuing the journeys.
Their holidays eventually led to the longing to move to the area and thus in 1956 they started looking for a place to live in Galloway. By chance they found out that the sole occupant of Hestan Island (a place that they often viewed form their regular camp site near Rockcliffe), was planning to leave. After visiting the island and meeting Mr Houston they had a few months to wait until it was confirmed that the lease was theirs.
Beryl told the enthralled audience of tales of daring crossings with all their wordly goods balanced in small boats and how they tried to make the small island cottage more habitable after the many years of it being occupied by the solo and some might say a bit eccentric Mr Houston. He for example survived on a a daily diet of a large loaf of bread and a quantity of black (for black read burnt) bacon. He also had a love of condensed milk and retained hundreds of the empty tins in the front porch as potential balast for his boat. All facilities were to say the least - basic, but gradually got improved.
Their main income was £50 a year for wintering sheep, £50 a year for tending the light on the island's lighthouse and another £50 a year from husband John playing the church organ at Colvend on the mainland. This meagre income was supplemented by growing vegetables on a patch outside the cottage where they used seaweed as fertilizer. They found that they competed for the top few inches of the carrots with the rats that were at that time prolific. However Beryl said that the bottom parts were salvageable.
She described their relationship with local fishermen and how they learned the safe routes to walk across the sands of Balcary Bay to the Shore Road that leads to Auchencairn. They were well warned by Mr Parker, the salmon fisher, about avoiding the 'quackin quass' (quick sands) beyond the stake nets.
As her husband John was a keen organist he developed his interest as far as starting to manufacture pipe organs on the island. This provided a bit of a challenge when it came to transporting them to the mainland as they had to go by fairly small boat. He sold the organs with 1 manual and a single row of pipes for £250 each. One was fitted in Southwick and Dalbeattie Episcopal Church (another takes pride of place in our kirk here in Auchencairn).
Beryl and John left Hestan in 1960 for a slightly easier life on the mainland but she still dreams of their days on their own Galloway Island and of course has written her book recording the whole episode.
After talking for nearly 90 minutes but still with many a tale to tell Beryl ran out of time. She was thanked on behalf of those present by Mary Gordon and after spending some time chatting and signing autographs (mainly in copies of her book).
She was presented by Freda McCubbin, Guild President, with a print of a sketch done by Freda's late husband David, showing the cottage on Hestan.
There is still a few copies of 'On a Galloway Island' available for purchase in Castle Douglas.
An excellent afternoon was rounded with refreshments and a good blether.
Report from the Church Guild's open meeting on 8th February 07.
Thirty two members and visitors of mixed age and sex enjoyed a talk on 'The story of bird protection in Scotland' which was accompanied by a splendid display of projected photographs.
The assembled crowd learned how the R.S.P.B. was started in 1889 by ladies from Manchester who were concerned about the impact of a £20million trade in feathers, hat making, shooting and the indescriminate use of pole traps.
John described the bird species of Scotland in general and of Galloway in particular. Activities at local bird reserves include the Red Kite Centre at Mossdale and the feeding station at Bellymack Farm, Lauriston. The migration pattern of about 12000 barnacle geese from Spitzberg area that join us every winter was very interesting as many overwinter here in around Balcary Bay. There have been sighting of two snow geese close just outside our village, the rare hen harriers at Mossdale and of course there is the established osprey nest at Wigtown.
The aim of R.S.P.B. is to secure a healthy environment for birds and wildlife and create a better world for us all.
The Guild's usual business in relation to the Church and matters of local interest and welfare through most of 2007 was managed by Freda McCubbin until she resigned as President and the post was filled by Trish Dawson.