The Broon Slide
The Broon or Devils Slide
How many of you have had in the past, a Scud on the Lug, or a sore Backside because of going up to the lovers walk in the meadows and having a shot of coming doon the "Broon Slide".?
I for one got a hammering many a time for doing just that. That slide was like a magnet to all youngsters. Trying to walk up to the top, and then slide down to the bottom whilst trying to keep in an upright position, was practically impossible task, which meant that your trousers got a generous coating of mud. The next obstacle was to stop yourself from sliding into the cut which took the water from the Craigberoch woods area to the Kirk Dam. If there had been heavy rain recently, then this would be a hard to avoid, resulting in a pair of soaking wet shoes and socks. So many a wean went home to face the music and maybe sent to bed with no supper. Many a hungry night I had for doing just that.
It was great fun, and I am pleased to see that the slide is still in use. Not as much, but there are still young ones that tear themselves away from their Game Boy or their Computor to have what could be termed as good clean fun? It must have been hard for mothers in these days, with no washing machines or tumble driers. How they managed to get things dry in bad weather was surely amazing, what with jerseys being hand knitted with wool, that weighed a ton when wet, Cotton trousers, which weighed just as much , and also thick wooly socks that had been darned that many times that they resembled Jacobs coat of many colours. Not for us were fleece jackets, acrllyic machine knitted jerseys, 100% Polyester shirts, socks and clothes that wick the sweat from your body, Goretex jackets that will keep you dry and warm all day, no we had none of these. Mothers did not have it easy.
You will hear about some of todays mothers saying that they had done a big washing today and were tired? How can you be tired by filling up a front loader and switching it on, and when the cycle has finished, put it out on the drying green or into the tumble drier? You go back 50 years ago and it was a very tiring job. All done by hand, and it may have been a full days job if you lived in a tenement like Mansefield Place where you would be allocated a half day a week for all your washing. That meant that you had the outside wash house to yourself for maybe the forenoon. You had to fill up the boiler and then get paper, sticks and coal,, light the fire and wait until it had heated up the water. Whites would be done first, then the light coloureds, then the dark heavy things, then lastly your mans working clothes. After all was done the fire had to be put out and the ashes taken away after they had cooled down, and the area left spick and span. If during the rest of the week you needed something washed, you would depend on a good neighbour to put it in with her wash to help you out, and you would help her if required.
Nowadays you can do the lot in a few hours.(sorry, the machine will do) and they will be dried and ready to wear in record time. Let's go back to our play area and forget about the drudgery of washing and ironing. Also at the broon slide area are plenty of beech trees to climb. These are the easiest to scale as they have branches very close to the ground, and evenly spaced upwards to the top, where if it was windy you had to wrap yourself round the trunk to stop yourself from being thrown off . This meant that your clothes got covered in the green moss that adorns all trees. (another hammering). In the same woods we used to dig up what we called Pig Nuts. Not the right name, ( now having books , I find that it is the right name) I think that we were getting confused with Truffels. These nuts were about four inches below the ground and we dug them out with a stick , washed them in the stream and ate them. They were very tasty indeed. After a good feed there was many games that we could play, cowboys and indians, hide and seek amongst the rhodies or go to the swing park and spend endless hours on the swings, the chute, and the one we called the horse(It looked nothing like a horse. It was a plank with handles on it , supported by four vertical poles attached to a framework that looked like scaffolding) Or you would have a go on the Roundabout. You would make it spin round so fast that after a feed of pig nuts you would get vey sick, and because you were spinning around a lot of it would go on your clothes, (another sore ear) .
They were good times ,Not a lot of pocket money, good unhealthy food. Stew, mince, sossages,chips, chips and more chips. No extra money to buy things that you would like. Christmas and Birthdays were used for these occasions. All your pocket money would buy were a few sweets that would last for a short time. (Unless they were Gobstoppers). We made our own fun every day. Tried to keep the noise to a minimum, But failed every time. My other ear is now red with a clout from old Eagle Eyes from Ministers brae. Those were the days my friend, we thought they'ed never end. (sounds like a good name for a song?).
First published in the Buteman 22-11-2002