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  1. I remember – at 14 (at 1949)- going out with neighbours on a croft near Stromness to harvest piles of peat nearby. A wonderful memory! I was able to tell other students at the residential Lawmuir Agricultural College near Glasgow where other young men anticipated being able to work in New Zealand and Australia.

  2. This strikes a chord with me. I’m of Irish descent, and my family used to ‘go home’ every year for our summer holiday. I used to love helping to ‘save the turf’. ( Peat is known as turf, in Ireland). Very low-level extraction – just for family use. Uncle Anthony still used a donkey and cart!

    It’s one of those things that now get romanticised as part of an idyllic past. It was necessary, for fuel, and it was enjoyable in a sociable way, but, at the same time, back-breaking work, and very, very dirty – hard to get the turf-mould out of your skin, afterwards. And spiders – I don’t mind spiders, but they were those BIG ones with dangley legs, and they were everywhere.

    This also puts me in mind of the turf fires in the old houses in Ireland and Scotland, some hadn’t gone out for hundreds of years. The householder would bank up the fire for the night, drawing the ashes over the glowing turf, then dig into the heap, to get it going again, in the morning – there were prayers and blessings for both these acts, some going back for centuries.

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