I wasn't motivated to work at school and couldn't wait to get to 15 years of age and leave. Working with wood was my main hobby and I wanted to be a joiner but I found electricity fascinating in the science class and considered being an electrician as a possibility. There was a lot of new house building going on and watching bricklayers at work looked interesting so I added that to my list of three possible occupations.
My much older cousin was a foreman bricklayer and he gave me a job as an apprentice bricklayer on his site at Tannochside, Uddingston. Travelling there by bus took well over an hour but I could cycle there in less than half the time, so I bought a bicycle and this became my main hobby.
My bike and I
On leaving school I thought I'd like
To go to work so bought a bike,
When I was fifteen years of age
And old enough to earn a wage.
My desire was to learn to build,
So leaving Blantyre, still unskilled,
I went towards the River Clyde,
Down the hill to the river side,
Where David Livingstone was born,
Then o'er the footbridge every morn'.
Onward I climbed the other side
And made my way to Tannochside,
Where building work had just begun.
I worked o'er there till day was done,
Came back home a similar way,
My bike and I each working day.
To me my bike became a friend.
More time together we would spend,
When not at work and free to go
Where e're we wanted, to and fro'.
Going across the Fenwick Moor,
Reaching the Ayrshire coast was sure.
Wind in my face or at my back
We went far off the beaten track,
Travelling through the countryside,
Keeping close to the River Clyde,
On to Lanark tracing its course,
Into the hills to seek its source.
On again to reach Wanlockhead
High in the Lowther Hills ahead
Where lead was mined in years gone by,
Now gold is panned; well worth a try.
The firth of Clyde; a sight to see,
As river merges with the sea,
A place my bike and I could go
To feel the gentle breezes blow.
We watched as many sailed their yachts,
And on we went with happy thoughts
To visit Gare Loch and Loch Long,
Then over land humming a song,
To the loch by yon bonnie braes,
Loch Lomond where we'd stop and gaze,
Then cycle by its bonnie banks
To go back home, heart full of thanks.
Racing my bike was not for me,
But touring Scotland roaming free,
Exploring every country lane,
In sunshine, wind and even rain.
From Blantyre down to Gretna Green,
Or going north to Aberdeen,
We saw so many Scottish towns,
And heard so many country sounds.
That freedom with my two wheeled friend
Is something I can recommend,
And many more should really try
The joy we had, my Bike and I.
Current footbridge over River Clyde
between Blantyre and Bothwell
River Clyde at New Lanark Cotton Mill Village which was founded in the 18th century.
New Lanark quickly became known under the enlightened management of social pioneer, Robert Owen. He provided decent homes, fair wages, free health care, a new education system for villagers and the first workplace nursery school in the world!
Builders' hoist. Simple platform without guard rails.
Looking across Loch Long from Arrochar.
Cobbler in the background.
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Near the end of my apprenticeship with my sister, Isabel and brother, John.