Scottish Thistles and a New Adventure.

Thistles in a Field, by Fidelia Bridges

Here is another short story for the group of writing friends I belong to, inspired by this painting as a writing prompt.

Scottish Thistles and a New Adventure.

The Scottish thistle is the symbol of my adventuring journeys as that is where my father came from. My father was born in Barassie, Ayrshire in Scotland. The motto that accompanies the Scottish thistle is: ‘wha daur meddle wi’ me? Or in Latin: nemo me impune lacessit. This means “no one provokes me with impunity.” It is said that the Scottish thistle has the defiant or obstinate ability to shoot up and flourish despite the efforts by people to remove it. My father was stubborn and tenacious. And he was also a very adventurous little boy, whose journey often ended up at the harbour with the fishermen instead of school. He played truant a lot. And he began some not so savoury adventures too, such as the start of his smoking at the tender age of six years old. His adventures also included a pony he rode on the beach, a dog he shared raw oysters with and a little rowing boat he fixed up at the age of eleven years old. He loved boats so much that he joined the British Merchant Navy in his teens and went on to become a sea captain.  

But I digress; I want to tell you about his little rowing boat he fixed up. He spent many hours fixing the holes, sanding and painting; eventually he and his friends were ready to take to the sea. His mother was so proud of him and excited. Her neighbour even lent her their binoculars so that she could watch from her house, which was not far off from the beach. My father was not aware of her watching him from her home porch.

They dragged the boat down the beach as the sun peeked out from behind the clouds. Across from the beach they could see Isle of Arran. “Wouldn’t it be nice if we could row over to Isle of Arran!” they laughed. “Aye, it’s a bit far,” said another.  They pushed the boat into the shallow water and then into the waves. It heaved up and down as the waves slapped the sides of the boat. My father jumped in first and took the oars, and they all jumped in after him. He rowed with all his might for a little eleven years old because he was not a big fella.

Well it was just as well that they had buckets at hand because it was noticed that one of the holes was not sufficiently mended, and my father cried “bail!” As they bailed do you know what he did? He stopped rowing, took out his cigarettes and he lit one up not knowing that my grandmother was watching him all the while through the binoculars. They say that was the day she found out about his smoking. I don’t know what she said to him when he got home, but I guess she wasn’t as impressed with him then as at the start of the day. I doubt that he cared then as he was a young and free spirited boy. He probably thought “ ‘wha daur meddle wi’ me?” His heart was full of adventures his whole life and that is how he came to South Africa.    

Who says you are too old for a new adventure? The joy of walking new paths, exploring new ways and ideas and meeting new people are all part of living an adventure for me. As I have grown older I have become hungrier for adventure. And next year I plan to follow the thistle back to Scotland to make a new home. Hopefully it will be with much joy for us.

take care,

27 thoughts on “Scottish Thistles and a New Adventure.

  1. That’s a great story about your father Morag – one I really enjoyed now! And he certainly was an adventurous boy … what lovely memories!
    Did I understand your post correctly … are you going to Scotland next year to stay there (for good)?

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    • I am glad to hear that you enjoyed it Yes, we are going to relocate, first we will rent for 2 years and then if we are happy we will buy our own place. So we plan to rent out our house in Cape Town during that time. Both our children have moved over and they asked “don’t you want to retire close to us so that we can visit you and look after you”. It is a big decision, big move and adventure.

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      • Wow, that is quite an adventure! It’s great that your children wants you closer to them … in the end, families are important. I’m looking forward to see many beautiful pictures of Scotland then 😊 … a loss to SA, but Scotland’s gain!

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      • 🤗We will hopefully come back each year because Derek still wants to fly his microlite. The weather is much more predictable here. So we hope to visit during January /February /March – God willing. We make loose flexible plans you never know what is around the corner.

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  2. What an adorable story from your father’s childhood. The way you wrote it, I could picture every scene in my mind. I can just imagine your grandmother staring through the binoculars, shaking her head in dismay at her little boy smoking! At least the boat didn’t sink!

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  3. It was lovely to read your story. I have a deep love thistles too because I grew up in Scotland (I was born in Lanark) and, of course, it is our national flower 🙂 In fact, I visited Barassie and Ayr in August when I was over visiting my mum 🙂

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    • Oh wow! That is amazing. I feel like we have connection. I believe that our family came from Lanark.. I think my grandfather. He was an Armstrong. And my cousin still lives in Barassie she took me to the original house in 2019 where my father grew up.

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      • That IS amazing. I grew up in Hamilton and Stirlingshire. My family are Adamsons and McCormicks. We went to see the family grave in Stonehouse (my mum’s family are from Stonehouse and Lesmahagow) when we were over, too. How lovely that you were able to visit the original house. Small world indeed.

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  4. Ahoy! As always, you’ve grabbed my attention with the beautiful painting that inspired your writing. I love your post, the encouragement for adventure and the fact that we can all do so no matter our age. So needless to say that I think it’s a great post ☺️ Wishing you all the best on your journey ahead and may it bring you adventure, happinesses, and so much joy❣️

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  5. I loved the way you told the story of your father and his adventurous and smoking habits. Your decision to relocate to Scotland at this juncture is no less adventurous. Like father, like daughter. I’m happy that you and Derek will be closer to children. All the best 👍💖

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  6. A great wee story, Morag! Thank you! What he really needed was a boat that would sit “on” the surface of the sea rather than “in” it, so that it would ride the waves that the west coast of Scotland, and Ireland, would throw up in front of it! If you do move to the northern hemisphere you will have to adapt to the colder winters! Brrrrr! It’s a cold day here, it feels like 6 or 7oC so get knitting! 💐🙋‍♂️

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  7. what a wonderful story and adventures your dad had. As I read this, the only thing that popped up for me is that kids these days don’t know how to have fun anymore, and play outside and have ‘adventures’. I’m so glad I was able to be a kid before technology took over our lives… One of the reasons I’m trying to keep the twins away from TV as long as possible… TV and gadgets… Amazing to see them still play and have fun with normal toys.. not even expensive toys…

    Good luck with your adventure next year… must be looking forward to the new adventure?? I too seek more adventures with every passing day..

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    • Yes, I agree, I kept my kids away from TV and computer games as much as possible and for as long as possible. It seem to help, they both become very creative, resourceful and inventive. Thank you, it can feel daunting at times, planning ahead for the unknowable… But I remind myself that we did the road trips… It’s all about staying flexible in more ways than one. You have many more adventures with your twins. 😀😀

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  8. This is a lovely story you have shared with us. It seems like you have inherited your father’s sense of adventure and I’m sure you’ll make a real go for it! I was first introduced to the Isle of Arran when I stayed there as a student geologist. Scotland is wild, rugged and simply beautiful!

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    • Thank you, the wild and rugged appeals to me. 😁Scottish geology must have been very interesting. There are some fascinating formations and things along the coast of UK, although I don’t know the names. The way the earth was formed and all the layers must be amazing to understand.

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