A canny day oot

Warkworth-based writer Paul Mein, won first prize in the Lost Words Dialect Writing Competition organised by The Word in South Shields for this story…

Ye’ll hev nae doot hord the sayin “ Many a mickle myeks a muckle.”

Nowt sa true as when wa taakin aboot bilberries.

It teks yonks to fill a basket or pail with enough for a pie or tart. It’s not just that they’re deid smaal or that they hide away from yu; it’s just yu canna stop eatin them. Thiv got a tyest like nee other. The blueberries yu get in the shop are waatery. Bilberries explode in ya mooth. It myeks for slow progress in the gatherin.

Aa was up with the grandbairns in one o’ the best places for bilberries – the hill up to the Draakstone. Porple handed, porple moothed, we med wa way to the Stone, hunkered doon to watch the cloud scud ower Harbottle. What a bonny place.

We went ower the top to the lough. Dark, deep, ghoustie.

Aa browt to mind the aad tale aboot when they tried to drain the lough. The workmen hord a voice from neewhere –

“Let alone let alone

or a’ll droon Harbottle

and the Peels

and the Bonny Holystone.”

They got such a gliff, they ran, muckle feart.

Aa cud well understand why, so we med wa way, tappylappy doon the hill to the car park, lightenin’ wa load as we wa gannin alang.

“Mind,” aa sez, “divn’t gan and eat them aal. Granny’s ganna myek a lovely bilberry tart when we get hyem.” Nowt quite like it, ye knaa. Crusty broon pastry, a sprinkle of sugar on top and evaporated milk to help it doon. Get yirsel’ on the ootside o’ that, ye’ll come to nae harm.

By the time wi got to the car, it was blaa’in’ a hooly and we just managed to get wa byeuts off and inside before the rain came stottin ’ doon.

“Whey noo,” aa sez. “Wasn’t that good to get the stink blawn off ye, a bit of history and mystery up by the Draakstone and pick  wa own supper an’ aal?”

The littl’un said, “Granda, I’m very cold and I need the lavatory.”

(Livin’ doon Sooth has sharp got shot of their northern broughtins up). Aa cud tell he was borstin so aa said,

“Whey, there’s nae netties here, hinny, but plenty of trees. Just gan ti that one ower there. Naebody’ll keek.”

The rain had eased off a bit and I watched him trudge to the furthest tree he could and disappear ahent the trunk. Aa turned to Noah, the eldest. He aalready had his phone oot and wis tappin’ geet fast with his bilberry fingers.

“Did ye enjoy yersel’ this morning pet?”

“Yes thank you granda. But I want to finish this bit of my game, if that’s alright.” (Posh taak, lovely manners)

“Of course, hinny. What are ye playin?”

“It’s called Grand Theft Auto. It’s very exciting.”

Aa thowt ti misel’ “Whey, aa cud play that in real life. Just  leave me tractor unlocked and then chase the theivin’ nowts in me LandRover like Tommy Heppell did.” Aa didn’t share the thought.

William came back, clarts up to the armpits.

“Granda, I slipped and fell in the mud and dropped my bilberries.”

He looked as miserable as sin.

“So yiv cowped ya creels and lost yer catch. Wet arse and nae fish.”

Aa hev ti say, that raised a smile from both.

“Taalkin’ of fish, what aboot we gan an get some fish and chips on the way hyem. We’ll get some scranchuns on an’ aal.”

We wolfed them doon and aa fund oot on the way back that Noah had eaten aal of his gatherins and aa hadn’t bothered to pick any, thinkin’ the bairns cud dae the lot; me back was bad an’ aal.

So aa wasn’t luckin’ forward ti tellin Grandma aboot the failure. But, when she opened the door, she had hor pinny on and there was a lovely smell comin’ from the kitchen.

“Ye’ll never guess,” she says. “Helen’s man Jimmy just browt is a whole load of bilberries. He came across some when he was oot on his rounds. Aa’ve made a lovely tart for afters. Aa thowt ye could get fish and chips for tea. Hoo does that sound?

We aal nodded, the hear nae, see nae, speak nae monkeys. At least we wad tyest a bilberry tart efter aal.

© Paul Mein 2020