My Poppy was a Scotsman, a man, according to my mother who should know, who was better with his animals than his children. When I first remember him he was a dairy farmer ~ jerseys; cream like yellow silk & thick as butter; an accent as broad & wildly flavoured as when he left Scotland. He was also the only man my Liddy would let hold her & he would walk her round & round the home paddock murmuring to her softly in his broad brogue. Not even her father could hold Liddy. She screamed at men, about men, near men...any man. Her father quips she was three before she would let him anywhere near her. It is quite true.
But Poppy was different. He was my grandfather, so the children's great~grandfather & ancient in their eyes. He was also a different Poppy to the Poppy I grew up knowing, as that Poppy was different to the father my mother knew.
My grandfather intrigued me. Unlike everyone else I knew he wasn't Australian. He didn't speak with an Australian accent. He grew up in a foreign land. Then as now the lure of the strange enthralled me. I wanted to know very badly what it had been like growing up in Scotland. Poppy disappointed me. He had just two words to describe Scotland: cold, wet.
He lived over 70 years in the land where the sun shone, married & raised 8 children but he never went back in all that time. He never took my grandmother to visit his family, could rarely be induced to speak of Scotland, ranted about the 'Saess' & the unions. I saw Scotland before he set foot there again because he did eventually go back. He took my grandmother before she died. They did the tour as if he'd never been born & raised there & when he came home all his stories were of Scotland. He told the same ones over & over. He bored the family senseless.
The thing is he gave me a piece of history I treasure. There is no~one now alive who can sing the song. I have the words but no tune. Poppy never sang it for me but I suspect it was more a chant because it was sung by the children on their way to school, naming the crofts as they passed them by:
Cloch macrae, Langlan Bwrn, Craibstone,
Reamore, Midskeeth & Mains of Skeath;
Burnheads, Squardouch, Moss~side & Ardoch;
Brankend & the Clean, Lintmill, Tochenhill.
Last I heard they are all still there, many still in the same families.