Bramble Jam for Daddy: A traveller’s childhood memory

In the late 1960s, Kathy Townsley and her family were staying near Markinch in the heart of Fife. This is her story.


It was a beautiful summer’s day; I was nine or ten years old.  My older sister Neenie, who had recently got married, took me out to collect brambles. We wanted to surprise Daddy with fresh bramble jam for when he got home from a day gathering rags or hawking round the doors (callin the hooses). We walked along a quiet lane towards the trees, and there were old houses there: the one at the end looked like Martin’s House at Auchindrain.


We got to the woods and the ground was covered with blue and white flowers. Neenie must have done this before, because she told me to take off my wellies, and to walk through the flowers in my bare feet. As I stepped on the flowers, they would pop and then squash through my toes, it was a strange sensation, and entertaining for a wee lassie.


I did this for a while, but eventually we moved on, found our bramble bushes, and filled our pot with juicy, fat berries. But before I could walk back home, I had to sit and clean all the squashed flowers from my feet. Unfortunately, between the flowers and the brambles my feet and hands were blue and purple. I remember being really upset as I realised that as soon as Daddy saw me, he would know we had been picking brambles and our surprise would be ruined.


This was a happy time for me, and the memory of that day has stayed with me.