by Karen J Mossman
In 1965 we, Mum, Dad, my brother and little sister along with our dogs, Ricky and Peter all travelled to Scotland in a green Austin A30. My auntie, mum’s sister, her husband their dogs followed behind bringing our two foster children as we couldn’t all fit in one car.
In the days before motorways, it took us almost two days to reach Pitlochry. When Dad got out of the car, his tweed jacket was creased and he sported a heavy five o’clock shadow.
The cottage we rented was very pretty in the secluded countryside and we soon settled in. It had a large lawn with a sheer drop at the end. We stood side by side solemnly looking down into the gloom of the river below. Uncle Pat, wearing a fashionable sixties leather jacket, his hair greased back and dark rimmed glasses said, “You know who lives there, don’t you?”
We looked at him wide-eyed, “No,” we said in unison.
“Mr Rainbow,” came back the reply. “He’s called that because his face has lots of different colours and you never know what colour he’ll be when he catches you.”
We gasped. “Is he a bad man, then?” my brother asked in awe.
“Yes. A very bad man. So you must never come down the end of the garden, ever. Do you promise?”
We all promised and looked at each other imagining a menacing Mr Rainbow and what colour he would be if he caught us not wanting to hang around to find out.
Mum and Auntie Mavis spotted some kittens in the grass and convinced themselves they had no mother. Each day they left titbits and a saucer of milk.
The River Tummel, which eventually lands at River Tay runs through Pitlochry and Mum had the knack for finding the prettiest places to picnic. She went into a shop and bought us all a Wagon Wheel biscuit and we watched the salmon leaping down the weir as we ate them on the bank-side.
Another day Dad took us out for the afternoon, probably to give mum some peace and we found a field that covered in mole hills. The game was to stand guard at each hill and wait for the mole to come out. Every so often dad would shout, “There it is!” We’d race over just as it disappeared back into the ground. Dad had us running all over the field chasing moles that only he saw!
We even got to see the Queen and Prince Philip when they visited the area. This us lined up to watch them drive by.
Meanwhile by the end of the holiday mum and Auntie Mavis decided that they couldn’t leave the kittens to fend for themselves “They will die if someone doesn’t look after them,” she said.
“What shall we do?” asked Mavis.
“We’ll entice them inside and capture them,” Mum suggested.
And that’s what they did on the morning we were leaving to go home. We stayed out of sight in the bedroom but watched through the crack in the door. Mum hid behind the back door and Auntie Mavis was on all fours next to a saucer of milk. “Here kitty, kitty,” she called.
The kittens came to the door hesitantly as they wanted the milk, but wouldn’t take that last step into the cottage.
Auntie Mavis crawled backwards slowly one step at a time and the kittens finally came inside.
As soon at they were in, mum slammed the door. They screeched and ran straight up the curtains. Mum and Auntie Mavis grabbed them and put them in a box.
There wasn’t a lot of room on the way back, what with the cats and a goldfish in a bag. I took my turn in the foot well between Mum’s feet and at dripped on my head. The bag was leaking and it was a race to find water before the fish died.
We christened our Scottish cat Angus and when we got him home he ran straight up the chimney and didn’t come down for days.
It was a memorable holiday of beautiful countryside, swimming in the lochs with dogs and cats and family fun.