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Locally Sourced

When I moved to North Berwick 10 years ago, He assured me that His friends from the Gullane where he had lived for nearly 20 years would welcome us into the fold. They didn’t. They were friendly enough when we ventured along to The Old Clubhouse, but no other invitation was forthcoming.

Being a teacher is a demanding profession and we often crave some quiet time away from the incessant chatter and demands, before re-charging our batteries and talking about anything other than education.

I was teaching in Preston Lodge High School as an Additional Support for Learning teacher, which would entail cluster meetings from time to time. I became friendly with a colleague in the infant school and when I saw her not only at these cluster meetings, but at the gym and then our local pub, the Nether Abbey, we became friends. The good news was that her husband and Him got on well too. We still do, and recently stayed with them in Venice.

However, in the early days of living here, weekends could become quite lonely: he worked in retail so most Saturdays were spent with Him in the shop and Sundays were his day for golf. I was getting bored apart from meeting friends occasionally in Edinburgh. I remembered a piece of advice my grandmother had given me. When she was becoming quite frail and struggling with her eyesight, rather than arrange to have all her shopping done at one time she would only ever buy enough for two days. This would force her to get out of her home, interact with shop-keepers and give herself a raison d’être.

I adopted this approach to shopping and would make my way down the High Street mid-afternoon on a Saturday. Sometimes it took this long for me to steel myself against my own self-doubt, force a smile and adopt an air of confidence I didn’t have.

I would start at Anderson the butcher’s, pop into Great Escape, or one or more of the charity shops, and invariably finish up at Lockett Brothers’ wine shop. I got to know some of the shop keepers quite well and bumped into other teachers, gym-goers and a few familiar faces from the pub.

These outings saved my life – especially when depression threatened to engulf me in 2007.

I still make a point of shopping locally – sometimes it is all the interaction I need, and today when I saw Barry at the Eyemouth fish stand in Why Not? it was like being greeted by an old friend, and cheered me up no end. We had a good chat about why the Scots don’t eat enough fish. Set the world to rights we did, which jollied me along as my cold is on the wane but I am still feeling very tired from coughing.

Locally Sourced – a poem

Don’t get in your car and drive for miles on end

pop to your local high street, arrange to meet a friend.

Don’t spend all your money buying goods you don’t need,

get some fresh ingredients and have a damn good feed.

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