Document 545

Craiters: 21 - 'I cannot get enough of it'

Author(s): Alexander Fenton

Copyright holder(s): Alexander Fenton


Faar I wis brocht up, e only seabirds we'd see wis e seamaas. In my time we caad em seagulls, bit aaler fowk wid say seamaas, makin't soon like 'simaaze'. Ere's ay change goin on in e dialect, an ye get a mixter o aal an new, bit it's e life o language tae be aye adaptin tae different generations an different times. It's naething tae greet aboot. Naething staans still, bit gin a wye o spikkin's richt hannlet, fa's tae say bit fit it michna leave its mark tee on fit ey caa e standard language? - for ere's nae doot at e standard language sair needs a bit o revitalisation noo an aan. Bit I'm on aboot seagulls, nae hobbyhorses.

Gulls is bonny flee-ers, bit e weemin fowk wid rin aboot flappin eir aaprons if een cam in aboot - an e gulls wis richt sizers fin ye saa em close - wi terror in eir hairts on behalf o e little chuckenies. Fither ey sometimes cam aifter e chuckens or no, ey were great followers o e ploo. Faar fresh grun wis bein turnt be horse or tractor, ye'd get a fite comet tail o gulls stretchin oot ahin, as ey tumt fae eir fish tae hae a go at e delichts o rural produce. A sicht like at fairly wints tae mak ye tak yer camera oot, wi a gweed telephoto lens on't, an syne ye'd maybe show't at a meetin o e SWRI or a local history society an aabody'd say 'Whotten bonny', an ye cd feel rale pleaset wi yersel.

E thocht o bonny picters minet me on a sea trip I eence made wi e Scottish Ornithologists. It took's tae different pairts o e West as weel as tae Shetland, an it wis a richt gweed wik. Nae et I'm an expert on birds; tae tell ye e truth, my job wis tae be an antidote till e birds, for I wis supposed tae gie lectures on 'Scottish Country Life'. It wis a maist interestin collection o fowk, ey cam fae aa ower e world, an I ken I spent as much time lookin at em as I did lookin at e birds. Ere wis ae day on Rum, a lang tail o fowk wis passin a raa o trees aifter landin, fin somebody spottit some rarity o a bird. In a meenit ey'd aa stoppit an swung up eir binoculars or their lang-nebbit telephoto cameras, an comin at e back I got a fine view, nae o e bird bit o e bird-watchers, ilky een wi e heid at an angle o forty five degrees, an ilky een wi baith haans up haadin eir glaiss or camera, aa regimentet in stance e same's ey were prayin tae some kinna tree-god.

Be e time we sailed oot tae St Kilda, maist o's hid fun wir sea legs an e motion o e boat wis richt enjoyable. Here we wis amon e gannets. At's richt bonnie birds. An fin ey start divin, at's a divine sicht! Mair sae fin ye've e tremendous craigs an cliffs o St Kilda aside ye, an e air full o e cries o birds an e swoosh o e waves, an a feelin inside ye at maybe it wisna jist aathegither richt tae be ere. E cruise ship wisna smaa, bit she bobbit aboot like a toy boatie in a mill-race as she aimed throwe e gaps atween some o e islands. Eir wis ae almighty lurch fin e sea felt as if it hid draan itsel aathegither oot fae anaith e keel, syne aa cam richt, bit maybe a denner ir twa wis tint in e by-gyaan.

Ye'd think at haein seen e gannets divin, an scenery an seas e like o es, ere'd niver be onything eir mak, an maybe e rest o e tour wid jist be an anticlimax. Deil a bit! We held on tae Shetland, faar e laicher islands made a lot less wild silhouettes against e horizon, an we hid quairter watters an skies. Bit e seas wis aye ere, broodin, an ye cd niver let yersel feel ower confident or relax ower muckle, mair sae gin ye wis in a wee boatie. Ere's times I've been on an island faar I couldna get aff an hid tae bide a day ir twa mair - nae at at wis ony hardship - like eence on Papa Stour. At's a rare place, an aafa fine fowk tae be wi. Ey couldna dee enyeuch tae mak ye feel at hame amon em.

I've heen e same hospitality on e mainland o Shetland tee. I happent eence tae be in Scalloway on e day o e Land Sports (ere wis yacht racin goin on at sea), an bein a feel for rinnin an jumpin, an haein ma sanners wi's, I jist aboot tried aathing, fit races short an lang, high jump an lang jump, an fit I geed in for for fun turnet intill earnest for I feenisht up as sports' champion an got a bra silver madallie. I'm aye prood o't. It's e kinna thing ye micht think o showin yer graansin, bit fin I did, e wisna impressed. Bit e pint o ma tale's nae tae boast aboot bein swack. Fin e day wis deen, an I wis rale tiret an sweaty, sittin at e edge o e park takkin aff ma sansheen an pittin on ma ornary sheen, a lady cam up till’s an startit tae spik, in er fine Shetland voice. She thocht I’d be gey hait an sticky, an wid I nae like tae hae a sweel doon? I couldna bit agree, sae she convoyet me till er hoose up e hill at e back o e toon, an wi a gweed wash an twa ir three cups o hait tae wi sugar I wis shortly back tae some appearance o normal. I got a fine tae, wi fish, an iv coorse e lady an er faimily bade freens foriver aifter. Shetland's like at.

I doot I'm awa fae ma cruise again. Een o shore excursions wis till e island o Noss. We landit in smaa boaties, usin an arrangement o pontoons tae mak a landin stage at e laich side o e island, nae far fae a craft hoose wi low set biggins an a roonaboot corn kiln at ae eyn o e barn. We got ashore wi nae disasters We walkit up e slope, aabody ain speed, ower patches o bog an heather, by e carcase o a deid sheep wi its oo in a scatter roon aboot it, up till e tap o e great cliffs faar ere's an enormous bird colony. E air wis full o fulmars an ither sea birds, driftin like snaa flakes aboot e face o e cliff, an hyne below e rollers wis crashin against e rocks an e fit o e cliffs an addin till e nivereynin soon o win an cries o birds, some comin gey close as ey hung on e updracht, eir heids turnin fae side tae side an a sharp caal stare fae eir een, ay on e look oot for mait or for enemies. Bit it didna look as if ey'd ony speecial concern for hiz lads; we'd likely jist been nuisance value, ir mair like, passin curiosities.

I've been roon Noss in a smaa boat tee, an it’s jist as spectacular lookin up as doon, wi e extra excitement o e sea jist inches fae yer bottom. Bit on es day, I wis ashore on Noss for e first time, an fine pleaset tae be ere. Sae wis e Dutch lad I at I traivelt up e slopes wi. Iv coorse, eez country's flat, an different aathegither fae fit we wis seein noo. E wis at intent on aathing as we geed alang at we werena sayin very much, jist lookin, lettin things sype in. At e tap, e steed an steed, an I steed wi im. E spak at e hinner eyn, an fit e said wis fit I thocht -

'I cannot get enough of it'.

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Craiters: 21 - 'I cannot get enough of it'. 2024. In The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. Glasgow: University of Glasgow. Retrieved 25 July 2024, from

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The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. 2024. Glasgow: University of Glasgow.


Information about Document 545

Craiters: 21 - 'I cannot get enough of it'


Text audience

Adults (18+)
General public
Informed lay people
Audience size 1000+

Text details

Method of composition Wordprocessed
Year of composition 1994
Word count 1405

Text medium


Text publication details

Publisher Tuckwell Press
Publication year 1995
Place of publication East Linton
ISBN/ISSN 1898410739
Edition First
Part of larger text
Contained in Craiters. Or Twenty Buchan Tales

Text setting

Other Putting the dialect on record, Aberdeenshire

Text type

Prose: fiction
Prose: nonfiction
Short story


Author details

Author id 27
Forenames Alexander
Surname Fenton
Gender Male
Decade of birth 1920
Educational attainment University
Age left school 17
Upbringing/religious beliefs Protestantism
Occupation Academic/Writer/Editor
Place of birth Shotts
Region of birth Lanark
Birthplace CSD dialect area Lnk
Country of birth Scotland
Place of residence Edinburgh
Region of residence Edinburgh
Residence CSD dialect area Edb
Father's occupation Shoemaker
Father's place of birth Aberdeen
Father's region of birth Aberdeen
Father's birthplace CSD dialect area Abd
Father's country of birth Scotland
Mother's occupation Housewife\Crofter
Mother's place of birth Keith
Mother's region of birth Banff
Mother's birthplace CSD dialect area Bnf
Mother's country of birth Scotland


Language Speak Read Write Understand Circumstances
English Yes Yes Yes Yes At work
Scots Yes Yes Yes Yes At home and wherever possible