Banchory is a small town, 18 miles west of Aberdeen, near where the River Feugh meets the River Dee. Banchory is known as the ‘Gateway to Deeside’; it is surrounded by beautiful countryside and rolling hills. The castles of Crathes and Drum are nearby; there are numerous stone circles and archeological sites everywhere you go. It is a truly delightful area of the country, the sort of area where the new and unexpected come into view, around every corner. Perhaps Banchory is most famous for the nearby Falls of Feugh, where the waters pound over the rocks, spraying the foam high and wide. There is a narrow road bridge over the river but, fortunately, also a narrow concrete, fenced with wire netting, footbridge so that tourists can stop and look in wonderment at the Falls. This is the place that people come from miles around to watch salmon climb the natural leap as they make their way up the Falls during the spawning season. The best months to spot the salmon leap are September to November and February to March. The footbridge is also considered to be a romantic spot where couples come, engrave their names on a padlock which they attach to the metal fencing of the footbridge and then throw the keys to the padlock into the water – a gesture of eternal love. This is where Health and Safety comes into play!! Aberdeenshire County Council, however, are concerned about the amount of padlocks attached to the fencing and fear the weight of them may damage the protective fencing and may cause structural damage to the footbridge. The Council started a campaign to remove the padlocks. To help in this process, they have installed a beautiful, carved, wooden heart, engraved with two entwined leaping salmon. Their hope was that couples would take a ‘selfie’ in front of the heart instead of attaching padlocks. Now they do both. So that is the tourist information!!
I was given this tea towel by David and Dorothy following their holiday in Aberdeenshire with Jean (David’s sister and my friend), in 2012. David knew of my love of tea towels. I remember David giving it to me and telling me about their visit to Banchory. They had gone to the Falls of Feugh, stood on the footbridge and were lucky enough to see the salmon leaping. He described the thrill of the salmon leaping, not quite believing what he saw. He said it was the most amazing sight he’d ever seen, mesmerising. They all stood on the footbridge and just didn’t want to leave. He talked about reading about salmon leaping but never realised what it would be like in real life. For David, it was the highlight of his holiday.
I went to Banchory in 2015 and stood on the footbridge at the Falls of Feugh. I remembered his words and was sad that we were not there at the right time of the year for salmon leaping. I do remember the power of the water, the white foam, the water coloured brown by the peat, the sound of the water tumbling and could imagine it must have been a magnificent sight. When I was in Banchory the only tea towel they had was exactly the same as this one, the one that David had given me. This unbleached cotton tea towel, with a scene of the Bridge over the Falls of Feugh, I felt was a lovely gift which would also act as a reminder of my visit three years later.
As I write this, I think about how things change over a relatively short period of time – the salmon may still leap but my friend Jean became very ill in late 2014, was ill for nearly a year and is now on the slow road to recovery. However, her illness took it’s toll, she had to give up her own flat and recently celebrated her 90th birthday in a residential home. She is very happy and has a very full life, with great care, but it would not be as she would have forseen for herself back in 2012. David, a fit, slim and healthy man, very active with a love of life, had a massive stroke in 2015. While he is making good progress, through his own determination, things will never be the same for him, his wife and family, as when he gave me this tea towel. A sobering thought, as I dry the dishes and think about the importance of doing what it is you want to do now, not put it off for another day, another month, another year. No one knows what is round the corner.
Click below to return to the Virtual Tea Towel Museum