Category Archives: Family

Topics related to my family

Beating the drum and kicking the ball

One of the joys of doing family history research is coming across interesting stories and people…..and then one things leads to another, with often quite unexpected results.

David Penman (1925)

That’s what happened to me this week.  While trying to fill in some gaps in the family tree of my wife’s grandfather (Pop), Andy Fraser from Tullibody in Clackmannanshire, I came across a wonderful photograph of his great uncle, David Penman, that would be my wife’s great great great uncle.   David (1854-1946) was miner who lived in the Carronshore area, near Falkirk.  The family seem to have had connections with the mining village of Kinnaird.  Nothing unusual about that, most of that branch of the family were miners in this area.

Andy Fraser (Pop) about 1960

I found out the usual information about the family from census returns and births, deaths and marriages, but it was the photograph which opened a window on the life of Stirlingshire miners more than 100 years ago.  This was not the usual formal studio portrait of the time, but shows David proudly displaying the big bass drum which bears the inscription, Kinnaird and District Brass Band.   Clearly there was more to life for David that hewing coal.

The village of Kinnaird no longer exists, nor does the band, but there is some information on the internet about the competitions they entered etc.  The band seems to have been in existence in the first three decades of the 20th Century and it looks like David would beat the big bass drum.  When he retired from the Kinnaird Band in 1925, he was presented with an enlarged portrait (with his drum) and a wallet of notes.

Then the trail led to another member of the band, James Turnbull, also a miner, who played the trumpet.   He was the father of a Scottish footballing legend, Eddie Turnbull.   In the 1940s and 50s  Eddie played for Hibs (Hibernian Football Club in Edinburgh)  He was one of the famous five front line for Hibs, along with Gordon Smith, Bobby Johnstone, Lawrie Reilly, and Willie Ormond, winning three league titles with the team.

“The famous five”

Eddie Turnbull

Eddie also had an international career: 1955 he was the first British player to score in a European club competition, the European Cup against Rot-Weiss of Essen.  Hibs were eventually knocked out in the semi finals of that competition by Rheims.

He played nine times for Scotland and played in the 1958 FIFA World Cup, in Sweden.

The next stage of his footballing career was as a manager, moving to Aberdeen in 1965 after a short time with Queen’s Park.  It was Eddie who introduced the iconic all red strip to the Dons, and he led them to a great victory over Celtic in the Scottish Cup final in 1970.  After that he returned to Edinburgh to become manager of Hibernian from 1971-80 where he won the 1972 Scottish League Cup Final against Celtic. He also masterminded their most famous victory, a 7 – 0 win over their Edinburgh rivals, Heart of Midlothian on 1 January 1973.

Eddie Turnbull died on 30 April 2011, aged 88.

But back to the band.   Eddie wrote an autobiography, Having a ball, in which he recounts his early years in Carronshore, and his father’s part in the band.   I wonder if David Penman played the bass drum at the same time?  In an early chapter of his book, Eddie gives wonderful pictures of life in the mining villages of the time and is well worth a read.  [Read Chapter 2]

Speaking about his father, Eddie wrote:  “Although he was no academic, like so many miners, my father had a life away from the pits which was full of culture. He had finished his formal education early, but he was a clever man and taught himself many things, including music. He played the trumpet and was a member of the local brass band, the Kinnaird and District Silver Band. As a child of a band member, I would share in the terrific excitement in the village when the band marched through Carronshore each Christmas-tide.”  (Having a Ball, Eddie Turnbull with Martin Hannan, Random House 2012)

I might have left the story there but for one thing that I noticed.  Pop’s grandmother was called Elizabeth Turnbull, born and brought up in Kinnaird village, as was Pop himself.   I wondered if there were any connections between Eddie’s family and ours?  But try as I like, I could not find a connection between Eddie’s father James and great great great grandmother Elizabeth.  I am sure there will be a connection, if I could only but find it.  There are more than a few Turnbulls in the Kinnaird, Carronshore area.

OS 1 inch Map 1891 (click on the map to enlarge it)

But I did manage to find a couple of connections, if only somewhat oblique.  Eddie’s uncle, James Jenkins emigrated to Canada in the years before the First World War, where he married a girl who hailed from the same village in Stirlingshire as him and who also had moved to Canada:   Margaret Penman. Margaret was David (the Drummer) Penman’s daughter.  They spent the rest of her life in Alberta, in Canada.

Margaret and James Jenkins (mid 1960s)

And there is another connection between the two families.  Eddie Turnbull’s aunt, Elizabeth Hunter (his mother’s sister) married Alexander Penman in 1878.  Alexander was Pop’s,
uncle, his mother’s brother.

So the footballer and the drummer are connected.   It may be of interest to my Aberdeen FC supporting children and grandchildren that there is a family connection to one of the great Aberdeen Managers of the past and I am sure we would all like to beat the big bass drum.



Pink whirlwind

Maisie is like a pink whirlwind..  We are loving to have her with us for a couple of days, but how fast a three year old moves.   We are learning what Dora the Explorer gets up to on the television programme and what Maisie the Explorer gets up to when she goes exploring in the Hatton field when we are out on a dog walk.

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Perhaps the most exciting experience was football in pink pyjamas and wellies at 8 am in the morning!

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Later in the day she was helping me gather rhubarb, arching round the garden supported by her little doggie friend, Poppy.

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Perhaps the quietest I saw her was when Maisie the Explorer was in the campervan, exploring, naturally.   The smile on her face as she tried out the high up bed tells it all.

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Crocheting along with Granny

I am always fascinated to watch Mary crocheting.  She has taken to this craft in a big way recently, and produces wonderful, colourful pieces – blankets for grandchildren, a custom made cover for the bench seat of our motorhome, scarves, shawls, lovely little flowers which she wears on her body warmers, to mention but a few.  It is also a craft which she feels comfortable doing on long car journeys.

I have also learned to look a little embarrassed when I go to the wool shop for a 5 millimetre crochet hook, or a ball of a particular yarn.   “I have been sent for this….I stutter to the shop assistant,”  who smiles back, knowingly and indulgently, producing the required object.

I have also been exposed to video blogs (vlogs) of crocheting experts, and learned that any self respecting crocheter is required to store up a stash of yarns.

But I have never been tempted to take up a hook myself.   Not so Maisie,  our Granddaughter.  She loves to crochet along with Granny, even if her technique is a little idiosyncratic.  We were looking after her yesterday afternoon and she acquired two crochet hooks and some yarn.  Just look at the concentration on her face.   I wish I could have moved her away from the bright sunshine pouring in behind her from the window, to get a better picture, but you have to seize the moment.  These moments don’t last, and all I had was my phone.   But I love the resulting picture of the little crocheter.

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By the way, not only did she acquire hooks and yarn, she is now in possession of Mary’s favourite crochet flower brooch.   She will have to make another one now for herself.  That shouldn’t be a problem, she has plenty yarn in her stash.

Instant global communication

I have been reflecting this morning about how easy it is to communicate with people far away these days.  What has brought this to mind was an e-mail we received from Mary’s cousin Gosia in Poland.  She asked us to consider donating to a fund to send a little boy from the city where she lives to New York for life saving treatment for eye cancer which was not available at home.


I remember days gone by when we relied on letters to communicate with Polish relatives.  A letter would arrive written in unfamiliar handwriting in a language of which we knew but a few words.   Communication was difficult and slow.

Now Gosia e-mailed us and we are able to use the wonder of the internet to get an instant translation of sorts of the message.   We are able to see little Tymek’s picture on a Facebook page and to click a button there to make an instant donation to the fund through PayPal – all in a matter of minutes.

If you want to find out more about the little Polish boy, you can find the appeal information on Facebook.

Instant global communication from the comfort of my desk!  For the past few days I have been exchanging photographs with people in Costa Rica, Latvia, Spain and Poland, not to mention Brechin and Whitley Bay.

Dana from Latvia sent me this picture of the view from her window.

Dana from Latvia sent me this picture of the view from her window.

I replies with this mid-summer sunset in Hatton.

I replied with this mid-summer sunset in Hatton.

...and this early morning view over the Cromarty Firth

…and this early morning view over the Cromarty Firth

We certainly live in a world of instant global communication.


Contemplating eggs

I know that Easter is now a week past, but it is never too late to enjoy a good Easter Egg Hunt in the garden.  That was the view anyway of Lochlann and Maisie, as they challenged me to hide the sixty or so little chocolate eggs which we had brought  for them.


It was a hard fought race – to see who could find the most, and then there was the contemplation of their eggs;  or perhaps it should be the enumeration of the eggs?   They did find it hard, however, to stop the eggs from rolling away as they sat on the trampoline in the garden.



The Easter Bunny’s nest, perhaps?

Eggs safely counted, now it was time for some fun on the trampoline and then out to the grassy area opposite their house for a walk with Lily and Poppy our dogs.   I noticed some pins knocked into the grass here, marking out the area which will soon become a building site for new flats.   It is a shame that this lovely grassy area will no longer be available for a dog walk, or to be admired from the house window.




Maisie tackled her chocolate Unicorn

Down with the kittens

It is delightful living in a house with kittens again.  I love to see them playing and exploring their world.  Co Co and Pepsi are adored by our grandchildren, and we have really enjoyed meeting them at last in the flesh, (or is it the fur?)   So now we have six grandchildren, six grand-dogs and  five grand-cats.  Of course I must not forget Scott, our grand-goldfish.

I have been crawling around the floor with them – that’s the only way to photograph them, at kitten eye level.

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A night to remember

What a night it was!  Our granddaughter Eira was chosen to be one of the player escorts at the UEFA Champion’s League match at Stamford Bridge in West London between Chelsea and Paris St Germain.  As devoted grandparents (if not Chelsea supporters) we sat in front of the television eager to catch sight of our wee Eira.  And there she was, walking hand in hand with Chelsea’s No 17, Pedro.   That was the most exciting part of the match:  Chelsea were outclassed and defeated.

I recorded the programme and experimented with taking a photograph of the television screen.  I remember in the old black and white television days that you would regularly get a broad black band in such photographs, as the television picture scanned.   But there was no such problem on this occasion.   The photograph is not of a wonderful quality. but it will be a good permanent record of that night to remember.


A Pirate came to stay

We really enjoyed having Pirate Maisie and her brother Lochlann stay with us overnight.   Maisie is such a lively wee girl.  And we discovered two amazing facts during her stay:

  1.  Pirates love apples.
  2. Maisie observes virtual crusts on toast even when granddad had bought crust-less bread!

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Walking to School

Poppy and I have joined the grandchildren on their walk to school these past few days.  They have to walk a mile and a half, or more accurately scoot on their scooters.  My daughter says it certainly gets them there much more quickly.   The walk takes them through a newly built housing area with huge blocks of flats;  past old streets of small Brentford houses, across a frighteningly busy road junction at Kew Bridge;  and the joy of the walk – the final stretch along the Thames footpath at Strand on the Green.

On Friday, Eira opted to trade in her scooter to walk Poppy – and Poppy enjoyed the experience.




Grandchild agility

Over the past few years I have taken lots of pictures of dogs doing agility.  Just now it is usually Poppy who is pictured as she learns the skills which will be required for her first competition at Aden Park in July.   We are all away in London just now s0ending time with my daughter and her children, but Poppy’s training will need to continue.  So I loaded a dog jump into the car before we set off and it is now set up in the garden here.

Needless to say it is not just Poppy and Lily who are jumping over it – Eira and Theo are doing it too!




Daffodil time


My grandson Blair has written a little poem which I woud like to share with you.

Dancing daffodils,
After the rain,
Flowers are growing,
Farmer throw the seeds,
Oh dear,
Don’t trample some flowers,
I have an idea,
Love YOU.

Blair, the poet says Hi in a break from throwing stones into the sea at Whinnyfold

Blair, the poet says Hi in a break from throwing stones into the sea at Whinnyfold

That was enough to send me out to the garden with a water spray and my camera.   I had not been so close up and person with flowers since I photographed the snowdrops!

The colour is wonderful and the daffodils are everywhere.   Here are just a few of the  pictures of daffodils in Cruden Country which I took one April morning.



Besie Mill Cottages, Hatton

Beside Mill Cottages, Hatton

Beside Mill Cottages, Hatton

Beside Mill Cottages, Hatton

The car park at Hatton Village Hall.

The car park at Hatton Village Hall.

In the field beside Park View, Hatton

In the field beside Park View, Hatton

In the field beside Park View, Hatton

In the field beside Park View, Hatton

On the road to the skips, Hatton

On the road to the skips, Hatton

A little clup of daffodils have survived all the construction work on the new bridge at Hatton

A little clup of daffodils has survived all the construction work on the new bridge at Hatton


Beside the Water of Cruden, looking towards the Hatton bridge.

Beside the Water of Cruden, looking towards the Hatton bridge.


By the Water of Cruden, Hatton

By the Water of Cruden, Hatton

Peeping through a fence on the auchlethen Road, Hatton

Peeping through a fence on the Auchlethen Road, Hatton

Looking down to Hatton from the Auchlethen ROAD

Looking down to Hatton from the Auchlethen road


By the Water of Cruden at Port Erroll


On the road from Slains Castle down into Cruden Bay

On the road from Slains Castle down into Cruden Bay


Early morning sun at the Bullers of Buchan car park




Moss Croft, where my father was born.

Moss Croft, where my father was born (Off the Bogbrae to Mains of Leask road)

And by the way, there is another daffodil poem by that other poet, but I like Blair’s one better.   But perhaps I am prejeudiced?

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

William Wordsworth


Cliff top walks and stones to throw.

IMG_0362xWhinnyfold is a wonderful spot.  Lily and I went for a walk south of the village along the narrow cliff top path.   I had read that plans are in hand to upgrade this path from Whinnyfold to Colieston so I thought I would have a look at the current condition of the path.

The first problem was how to find the start of the path.  In the end I eventually found an old post with a worn arrow pointing between some of the houses in the right general direction.   Before long we found a signpost nailed in a most unusual way, but clearly confirming we were on the right path.


The sign points out the path to Whinnyfold

Work has obviously already been going on because there is a new gate and bridge made out of sleepers.   However further on I spotted two styles, indicating a route across a field.   But there was no fence round the field, so the stiles looked rather lonely!


The lonely style



Even although the sky was grey and the wind was blowing, the views down to the sea were spectacular with the waves crashing on the rocks and the occasional fulmar soaring up and eyeing us suspiciously.  I really must come here again when the sky is blue and see if I can get some pictures that celebrate the colour of cliffs and sea and sky.  As with all these seascape pictures I will have to make sure that in tide is in, the sun is in the right place,and it is best with a strong wind to whip up the waves.   But that is for the future, and I may even be able to walk on the renovated path.IMG_0378x

My grandsons, Blair and Lochlann love Whinnyfold too.  Not for them a cliff top walk.   No, they love to go down the zig-zag cliff path to the stony beach below and spend hours throwing stones.


This is their ideal beach.  And Lily seems to like it too, barking at the splashes when the stones hit the water.


Lily leads the way down the zig-zag path to the beach



Lochlann plans his next throw while Lily waits expectantly



Blair is ready to throw his stone



Post boxes can be wonderful photographic subjects.  I am sure that this little box at the entrance toWhinyfold has been photographed thousands of times.   A lovely splash of colour on a grey day.


On my way back to Hatton I stopped at Bridgend Farm where the lambs agreed to pose for me.

IMG_0352xThough I am not so sure that the ewe was so happy!



My grandad lived here

One of the projects I have set myself do do over the next few months is to sort out a huge collection of family photographs which I have inherited from various members of the family.  Among the pictures I came across this fascinating little card.

AlexSmith_1917_medical certificate_1_1000AlexSmith_1917_medical certificate_2_1000Alex Smith, my grandfather, aged 29 and married with young children had been summoned for a medical by the army in August 1917.  Parliament passed the Military Service Act on  27th January 1916 and ever man between the ages of 18 and 41, if unmarried, was “deemed to have enlisted”. However, On 25th May married men too were “deemed” to have done the same.


Alexander and Georgina Smith (my grandparents)

I wonder what Alex and his young wife Ina (Georgina) were feeling as he made his way to he Castlehill Barracks in Aberdeen.  In the end he was catagorised C ii which I have discovered means that he was passed fit for “Labour Service at Home Camps”, but not to be sent with the Gordons to the Western Front. .  What that actually meant in practice, I have no idea. There was certainly never any mention in  the family  of Grandad doing military service.


Alex and Ina in the late 1950s

What was even more interesting fo me from that tiny crumpled piece of yellowing card, was where the family was living at the time, Tarsets.  I knew that the early part of his working life had been as a farm servant in Aberdeenshire.  But I had no idea that every day when I drove to and from Aberdeen when I was working in the hospital, that I was driving past the very house where the family were probably living at the time.   My own mother would have lived there as  a little girl.


Tarsets, near Ellon

Tarsets farm was right beside the main road from Ellon to Aberdeen, not far from Ellon. After the dual carriageway near Ellon was built, that part of the road was been bypassed, but there are certainly two cotter houses there and I wonder if one of them was theirs.


Alex shows off his Clydesdales to the photographer

You can see that he looks quite small beside the big Clydesdale horses – 5ft 5¾ins the army measured him at.  I have no idea of when or where this picture was taken but it does give a flavour of life at the time.



No horses at Tarsets now – but a few cattle in the steading took an interest in me as I took the photographs.   I wonder what Grandad would have made of them with their yellow ear tags.   How farming has changed in the nearly 100 years since he faced conscription into the army during the First World War.