ExRannoch

 

 

The Zaluski Papers

1 'A Childhood at Rannoch'      2 AZ Reminiscences     3 Selected articles from School magazines

 

Technical note: This page is set up for standard monitors. On smaller laptops/iPads etc you may find some of the
photo captions are displaced. This is not a fault of the web page but of certain browsers.

 

A Childhood at Rannoch, 1963- 1981

A Collection of Memories

written and compiled by Barbara Grimm-Zaluska

2016-2017
© Barbara Grimm-Zaluska 2017

 

Isabelle, André with baby Kasia, Barbara, Theres with Michael, the Zaluski family, 1964


Contents


Part 1: The Early Years

1. Why now?

2. A family name for Rannoch

3. Some family background details & “Farewell to the Fatherland”  

4. Heading north to Scotland  

5. Early days at Rannoch, Glenrannoch House

6. The Barracks

7. Dall School House  

8. Kinloch Rannoch primary school  

9. Duke of Edinburgh’s visit  

10. Thoughts  

Bibliography Part 1

 
 Rannoch School, as many remember it, taken from the front cover fo the  school magazine 1991-2

 

As Wavelets Eddy*

As wavelets eddy round their chosen shore,

As bees fly to their favourite flower,

And old men seek again their boyhood places,

Remembrances return.

And should an old and memoried moment fade,

A queue of others gather on parade.

Back, waters, to your lochan’s ample store,

Go visit, bee, some different bower,

Stay veterans, stay long, gone are the faces

You distantly discern.

But ever and again the far off images revolve,

And melancholy thoughts, half-beautiful, will not dissolve.

Dougal Greig, Rannoch, 1968

* Written by A.J.S.(Dougal) Greig, one of the three founders of Rannoch School and Headmaster 1959 - 1966, shown to me in Edinburgh, March 2016 by James Mitchell (Dall, 1963-1967). ** Jimmie helped care for Dougal Greig in his final years. Dougal Greig’s “Rannoch” poems cover the years late 1950s – late 1960s and are about people, places, events and the nature observed at or around Rannoch during his time as headmaster at Rannoch School or just afterwards. Patricia Greig, one of Greig’s three nieces, has given permission to include “As Wavelets Eddy” in this account of my childhood.

** For non-Rannochians it is important to know that Rannoch School had four main boarding houses in the 1960s and 1970s: Dall, Wentworth, Potteries and Wade. Former Rannoch School pupils still feel strongly attached to their house, which is why I include this information when known.


Part 1


1. Why now?

My father, André Zaluski, a cheerful and optimistic person, was feeling unusually depressed during the months of December 2015 and January 2016. Not only was the weather abysmally wet in the north of England as the storms Desmond in early December, Ewa on Christmas Eve, Frank at the end of December, followed by Gertrude at the end of January, swept over north east England, preventing him from going on his daily walks, there were other reasons too. Arthritis had set in at the grand old age of 86, he was sleeping badly due to the unaccustomed stiffness of his bones and he had family worries.
So, what could be done? How best to get my father back to more pleasant and enjoyable thoughts?




Then I remembered being included in some emails between my father and some former Rannoch "boys", or Rannochians as they call themselves, at the end of January 2016. Rannoch. That’s it! Remembering our years 1963- 1981 at Rannoch School would certainly bring back many happy memories and help lift his spirits.

So, I contacted Jimmie Mitchell, “Hon John” (John Mackenzie, present Earl of Cromartie and Chief of the Clan Mackenzie, Dall 1961-1966) and Alan Beaton (Wade 1960-1965, House Captain 1964-65, Head of the Mountain Service 1964-65). They wrote kind email messages to my father. Jimmie mentioned the ExRannoch website, I contacted Simon Stoker (Potteries 1962 – 1967) who sent him a copy of the DVD "Echoes 3, Rannoch, The Way We Were", a collection of Rannoch archive films and photos set to music. We watched the DVD film together in March 2016 and my father proudly explained to me – and later informed Simon by email – that he had, in fact, been the producer of the Mountain Service “Rescue” section of the film. One can see him at the end of the film (bald head plain to see) heading back to the Land Rover. I found my father’s copy of the "Rannoch Anthology, 40 Years On" edited by his former colleague Alec Cunningham on his bookshelves, dusted it off and placed it where he could easily reach it. By then my father was back to his usual cheerfulness, a special mattress cover was enabling him to sleep well again and his arthritic problems were progressively getting better.

Reminiscing about former days at Rannoch has now become a frequent topic of conversation among my family members. We remember our lives at Rannoch differently. I have totally forgotten some aspects – such as the good school lunches at Kinloch Rannoch primary school - but my younger sister Kasia told me, “Good Scottish fare, a bit stodgy, but just what we needed for running around the playground.” Isabelle, being the eldest, told me some interesting and unexpected memories she had, some of which have been included here. My father has an amazing memory for people’s names, locations and details. I could never have written this without his help and willingness to answer questions covering everything from fishing, the Mountain Service, teaching, Rannoch School colleagues, former Rannoch School boys or the local people of Rannoch. More than once he admitted that he was telling me facts or events he had never related to anybody else before.

 


Andre Zaluski, Sept 2016

I soon realized how little I knew about Rannoch School’s history. Since then, Simon Stoker and Alan Beaton have been answering my questions with humour and patience. It has been fascinating to read their comments and recollections and wonderful for somebody with an interest in history like me! Both have been most generous in answering my email enquiries, remembering incidents over 40 years ago and suggesting new sources to contact. We’ve had our share of laughs and I have thoroughly enjoyed my research. Many thanks to all those who uploaded photos and documents onto the Rannoch School Facebook group or contributed information about their teenage years at Rannoch.

Rannoch is a topic which we all enjoy reminiscing about and occasionally even learning new details about then too, decades later. After watching the film “Echoes 3, Rannoch, The Way We Were” with my sister Kasia and her husband John Dillon and discussing our time at Rannoch, Kasia suddenly thought of a childhood incident, adding some extra details in a phone chat later. "I remember when the primary school bus crashed into Mrs Fagerson’s car (her husband, the Rev. Ladd Fagerson, was chaplain at Rannoch School from the mid-1970s). It was in my last year at primary school (1975?). Mrs Fagerson had her little son Danny in the passenger seat beside her. He must have been about 2 years old then. When she drove round the bend of the road, poor Danny was flung through the windscreen by the impact and had a nasty gash on his head. In those days cars didn’t have seatbelts.

 


There was glass everywhere! Our bus driver got such a shock that he refused to drive further. Mrs Fagerson sat on the verge in shock. David and Andrew MacLellan were in the bus with me as well as Frieda and Frank McGibbon who lived in Camghouran. I was sitting just behind the bus driver, so wasn’t really injured, but the others had cuts from the broken glass. A car passing by must have informed Rannoch School as their Ambulance Service was the first to come to help us. I remember how they placed Danny on their stretcher and covered him with a blanket. It was a nasty crash, so were all grateful for the Ambulance Service’s help. Mummy kept me at home the next day and Mr Wilson was very kind to us all when we returned to school.”

"Really, replied my father. "I never knew that." “Me neither,” I added.

Chatting a couple of weeks later to my older sister Isabelle, who, like me, lives in Switzerland, "Izzy,” I said, “I’ve been looking through my Rannoch photos. Do you remember going sailing, the school raft races, the Saturday evening films, the Christmas theatre productions …"

 

Kinloch Rannoch primary school, 55 children, 1975-76? Kasia is in the back row, 3rd from right.
The Maclellan boys and McGibbon children are in the photo too, but I don’t know where.
 



 

"The raft races!" exclaimed Isabelle. "I remember them. I also remember going out sailing with Mick.” Our younger brother, Michael, was a passionate sailor, both then and now. “We capsized and Mummy was standing dreadfully worried on the loch shore, unable to do anything…”

On hearing of this incident, my father commented to me on the phone, "Yes, it was June, a windy day and the water was still cold. Really irresponsible of me to let you lot go out sailing on such days."

That was Rannoch for us – freedom to learn by doing. This included learning to right a capsized sailing boat on a windy loch, my brother remembering instructions read and learnt in a "How to Sail" manual, with not another boat in sight, no loch patrol service and telling Isabelle, a novice herself, what to do. I also enjoyed sailing in windy blustery weather, the windier the better. But I kept a constant eye out for the centreboard of the boat. If I saw it while leaning out, I warned Mick and he let out the sail. I also learnt to carefully watch the waves on the loch, a stronger rippled structure warning me of rapidly approaching gusts of wind. We never ever capsized.

At Rannoch we used our initiative and made the most of the loch on our doorstep. Well, almost. Dall School House where we lived from the summer of 1967 – 1981, was the nearest to the loch side for sailing, rowing and swimming. There were also the hills and reservoirs behind for walking, mushroom picking, ski-ing and skating.


Mick sailing on the Loch



 

Given a solid  Scottish education at the primary school in Kinloch Rannoch followed by secondary school at Breadalbane Academy in Aberfeldy, we also benefited from the Rannoch School facilities. We had a simple but idyllic childhood at Rannoch, only overshadowed in the final years by my mother’s illness.

My father was never a Housemaster, but those who went to Rannoch School at any time between 1963 – 1981 remember him well, either because he taught them French or music, went with him on expeditions into the Scottish hills, were involved in the Mountain Service or one of his theatre productions, played chess or had choir practice with him. The Mountain Service, or MS as most people called it, was my father’s main source of pride, hence his delight at seeing the MS film again.

But why did my Polish father and my Swiss mother decide to move from London to isolated Rannoch School in 1963 and then stay there for so long? First, though, a digression concerning our name is necessary.


Part of Rannoch School photo 1966, André Zaluski is in the 2nd row, in the centre




 

2. A Family Name for Rannoch

At the end of December 2015, I finally decided to renew my long out-of-date British passport as well as organize new British adult passports for my 20- year-old son Charles and 16-year-old daughter Lena. Currently, British citizens living on the continent are obliged to send their papers to Durham in northern England. So, all the relevant documents were duly sent off together with a copy of my Swiss passport, a more recent EU stipulation for all dual nationalities. A few days later I received an email from a Miss Anderson. She could give passports to my children but not to me as my name was different on my two passports. Surprised, I had a closer look at my British passport: Barbara Maria Philippa Zaluski, just as I remembered it. Then I checked my Swiss passport and London birth certificate: Barbara Philippa Maria Thabasz-Zaluski on both. Oh dear! Why do we have such a complicated double-barrelled Polish name? None of our Polish family have or use a "Thabasz" in their names and, looking at our family tree, right at the top there is only a Spytko Thabasz, followed by his son, Jan Thabasz Załuski, Podkomorzy Rawski (Chamberlain of Rawa) 1436. Thereafter, the “Thabasz” disappears.

My father explained. His own father, Bogdan Załuski, decided on a whim to add the original family name “Thabasz” to his name on becoming a British citizen in 1954. Proud of his family’s history, perhaps he just wanted to be different. Anyway, his two sons, my father André and my Uncle Iwo, influenced by him, followed suit. Hence, on my father’s marriage to my mother in London in 1959 as well as on the birth certificates of my sister Isabelle born in 1960, myself in 1961 and my brother Michael in December 1962, we all have "Thabasz-Zaluski" as our surname.

Up in Scotland, however, my father quickly realizing that neither the locals, his teaching colleagues nor the boys would be able to cope with such a name, dropped the "Thabasz". So, when our passports were renewed in Glasgow in 1972, the "Thabasz" thankfully disappeared, though somehow my middle names were mixed up then. My younger sister Kasia, born at Glenrannoch House, Kinloch Rannoch in 1964, has a beautifully handwritten Scottish birth certificate, with only "Zaluski" as her surname. My father never had to use the "Thabasz" again, although he has his original birth certificate from Cracow as proof anyway. However, he still gets decidedly irritated whenever my mother receives letters addressed to Mrs Thabasz.

So, my father became known as Mr André Zaluski at Rannoch School, a trifle exotic, but reasonably easy to pronounce and spell. Just to add a linguistically accurate note, the correct Polish spelling is Załuski, pronounced “Zawooski”.

 



 

3. Some Family Background Details & “Farewell to the Fatherland”

My father, born Andrzej Michał Antoni Załuski in Cracow, 11th August 1929, was brought up at the family owned spa of Iwonicz Zdrój in the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains in south-east Poland, about two and a half hours east by car from Cracow today. The spa was administered by his own father, Bogdan Załuski, for the extended family. The Załuski family is otherwise best known in Europe for the two Załuski brothers, bishops of Cracow and Kiev, who founded the very first public library in Europe, in Warsaw in 1747. One of them was even the first to introduce the potato to Poland. The Załuskis are also known for their contributions to Polish culture, especially music, and to the fight for Polish independence. General Jósef Załuski, who fought with Napoleon, springs to mind.

An only child for 10 years until his younger brother Iwo was born in February 1939, my father was brought up by a series of French or Belgian governesses and taught at home by a tutor. He had various uncles, aunts and cousins at Iwonicz village, neighbouring estates and elsewhere in Poland who met regularly at the spa, especially during the summer season. Iwonicz Zdrój was one of the most popular spas in pre-war Poland.

 

His quiet family life at Iwonicz Zdrój ended abruptly in September 1939. My father remembers hearing the German bombs falling on the nearby small town of Krosno. His parents decided to flee. The next day he was bundled into his Aunt Tola’s (Antonina Sidorowicz) Tatra sports car together with his 18 year old half-sister Ewa Hierowska and his two year older cousin Jerzy (known as Maciek) Lambor, who just happened to be visiting at the time. His parents and brother Iwo, the two eldest teenage sons of his father’s sister and baby Iwo’s nurse Pani Maria followed in a second car. However, his parents and brother had to wait near the Polish-Romanian border, staying with friends, while passports were organized. Great-Aunt Tola, my grandmother’s sister, who was a much travelled and practical diplomat’s wife, US dollars in plenty on her, simply wrote my father’s and his cousin’s names into Ewa’s passport and their car was permitted to cross the bridge over the River Dniestr and into Romania. Soon after their escape, German planes bombed the bridge.


Back: Tutor, governess, father Bogdan Front: mother Jadwiga, Andrzej, 1938


pre-war Iwonicz Zdrój, Poland

They travelled to Bucharest, then on to Budapest in Hungary where they were joined by Great-Aunt Tola’s husband Władysław (Władek) Sidorowicz, to Venice and finally to Menton on the French Riviera where they stayed several months until the fall of France in May 1940. Maciek and my father were sent to a boarding school in Cannes, the Institut Stanislas run by a Marian priest from mid- November to May. Great-Uncle Władek became the Polish consul in Marseilles. It was then that my father received his first Polish passport, which I now have in my growing family archives in Switzerland. Meanwhile, my grandfather, Bogdan Załuski, had contacted an Austrian cousin, a member of a wealthy Austrian banking dynasty, the London-based Count Antoine Seilern, to look after his family financially. Thereby, he also ensured my father received a good private education in England. My father remembers his flight from Poland as a pleasant adventure. He enjoyed the travelling and staying in good hotels with his uncle and aunt, both of whom had enough American dollars to ensure a comfortable “refugee” existence.


In June 1940, after the Germans had invaded France, the decision was made to head through Spain to Portugal. They spent the next six months in Curia, a health resort in Portugal, until berths on a ship could be organized. They sailed from Lisbon to Britain on the “Avoceta”, landing in Liverpool on the 4th December 1940. The date is clearly stamped in my father’s passport. My father was 11 years old. The “Avoceta” was torpedoed later in the war.

 



Maciek, Uncle Władek, Aunt Tola, Ewa and Andrzej, hotel in Curia, Portugal, summer 1940



Page taken from the passenger list of the “Avoceta”, found by Alan Beaton and sent to me on the 4th March 2017  


Alan Beaton noted that all the Polish passengers on the “Avoceta” planned to travel to Scotland. An explanation is that, after the fall of France, most of the Poles who managed to excape from the continent travelled to Scotland where the Polish Army was based. So, Great-Aunt Tola, Great-Uncle Władek, Maciek, Ewa and my father first travelled to Glasgow where they stayed at the Beresford Hotel, then to Peebles where my father’s, Maciek’s and Ewa’s schooling were organized. In the spring of 1941, my father and Maciek were sent, first to Avisford Preparatory School, then temporarily housed in the Junior House of Ampleforth College in Yorkshire, and later to Ampleforth College itself. Ewa was sent to the Polish Girls’ School at Scone Palace to finish her maturity exams. Soon after she left Scone Palace, the school moved to Dunalastair House near Kinloch Rannoch in August 1942. My father remembers that his school holidays were either spent in Scotland or down in London, staying with his uncle and aunt or with Ewa after she married.


 

Maciek Lambor, Pzemko Kwilecki (a Polish cousin who had also escaped from Iwonicz
and joined the Polish Army in Scotland) and my father, Hay Lodge Hotel, Peebles, 1941

 

It was at Ampleforth, quick at languages and already fluent in French, that my father learnt to speak perfect English and his name was anglicized to “Andrew”. My mother wrote her first letters to “Andy”, though that soon changed to “André” as they talked French together. My father only met up with his own father again in London in 1943. Bogdan Załuski had joined the Polish Army in the Far East, but had unfortunately contacted a particularly serious form of malaria there, “Blackwater Fever”, and had been sent to England. Bogdan Załuski then became an adjutant for General Bronisław Regulski, a Polish military attaché attached to the British army 1940- 1945. Unlike most Poles, Bogdan Załuski could speak English as he had been sent to a preparatory school in Brighton before the First World War. Only the outbreak of war in 1914 prevented him from continuing his education at Wellington College in Berkshire where his oldest brother Michał had been sent. My father was only reunited with his mother and brother Iwo after the war in 1946. Eight years later my father’s parents divorced.

More details of the Załuski family and their history can be found in “The Ogiński Gene, The History of a Musical Dynasty” by Iwo Załuski, 2010. The original is in English, but there are translations of this book in Polish, Russian and Lithuanian. Chapter 20 “Farewell to the Fatherland” describes my family’s flight from Poland and the war years. It is also the title of the best-known family piece of music by composer, statesman, father of the Polish pianistic tradition and formative influence on Chopin, Michał Kleofas Ogiński (1765-1833), who was my great-great-great-great grandfather. He also wrote the Polish National Anthem, as well as the Polonaise, “Farewell to the Fatherland”, Poland’s “unofficial” anthem. More information can be found at www.oginskidynasty.com, my Uncle Iwo’s website or just type in “Michal Oginski Iwo Zaluski Polonaise 13” in  www.youtube.com to listen to the music. It’s lovely – if I may say so myself! My family is no stranger to being exiled from Poland and/or having their property confiscated. The Załuski family is still waiting for compensation for the illegal confiscation of Iwonicz spa in 1944. Despite family protests, the Polish government sold the spa in 2011. On the other hand, we are in the fortunate situation of belonging to an extremely well-documented family.


Polish Pierogi

We never talked much at Rannoch about Poland or my father’s childhood. Of course, we listened to anecdotes such as my father’s memories of receiving a rather bad-tempered pony for Christmas in 1935 or baby Iwo’s christening meal in the summer of 1939. We followed Polish/Swiss traditions, had real candles in Swiss candle holders on our Christmas tree and always listened to Polish carols from a record after our Christmas dinner in the early evening of December 24th, after which we received our presents. As a teenager, I once helped my father to make Polish “pierogi”. They are similar to Italian ravioli, but messy to make, especially with no recipe and only my father’s memories of what they should look like to go by.

 

 We also once made a special Polish sorrel soup he remembered from pre-war days.  Sorrel leaves were known as “juicy leaves” at the primary school in Kinloch Rannoch, so easy for me to recognize and collect behind the house. Otherwise, we were all horribly ignorant of our Polish roots. Understandable really, as my father had only just turned 11 years old when he had had to flee from Poland. My father concentrated on his life in Scotland. His Polish childhood remained buried in his memories, only coming to the fore when the Iron Curtain fell in 1989 and he could return to meet his cousins and family in Poland once again.

 


Sorrell

 

 

Perhaps it was fortunate for Rannoch School that my Great-Aunt Tola was unsuccessful with her choice for my father’s career before he left Ampleforth College. Excellent at languages and academically minded, my father told me Ampleforth would have likely got him into Oxford. Instead, Great-Aunt Tola, officially his guardian, told Ampleforth my father should study medicine. Ampleforth accepted this decision and his sixth form subjects were changed accordingly. My father did pass his mathematics, chemistry and the other science subjects necessary, but not well. Aunt Tola studied medicine after the war and no doubt thought it would be a worthwhile profession for her nephew. “It was a different period,” my father explained to me. “At Rannoch that would not have happened. Rannoch School would have persuaded parents that their son should study the subjects he was good at.” Giving up on medicine, my father afterwards studied music in London and wanted to become a concert pianist. However, this career choice was also abandoned when he realized he suffered from stage fright and his interest in outdoor sports was becoming more important to him than the piano. Thus, he started taking on temporary teaching jobs, having a music college qualification but neither a university degree nor a teaching qualification, but enjoying the work nonetheless. My father was  

highly intelligent, but not ambitious. He could have become an excellent diplomat if the political situation in post-war Poland had been different. His extended family would have certainly helped and encouraged him. His Great-Uncle Karol Bernard Załuski travelled widely in the far east as a diplomat for the Austrian Empire, writing back to the family of his experiences and adventures. His Uncle Władek (Great-Aunt Tola’s husband) had been the Polish vice-consul in Paris before the war and was the Polish consul in Ostrava, Czechoslovakia when war broke out in 1939.

As it was, when the communists gained control of the region around Iwonicz in 1944, the adult members of the family were thrown into prison while their property was seized and Michał Załuski, head of the family, and his brother Karol were sent to Siberia. In post-war communist Poland, the Załuski family was forbidden to travel within 50 kilometres of their former home at Iwonicz.

 



My parents climbing with two friends early 1960s


My father became interested in mountains after Ampleforth. In 1948 or 1949 he hitchhiked up to Scotland with his cousin Maciek Lambor, then walked from Braemar to Aviemore, a thirty-mile route over the Lairig Ghru Pass in the Cairngorms. He started climbing by simply buying a rope and hitchhiking to north Wales, staying in a hostel there and learning from other climbers. His very first climb was quite easy and he did it with another beginner. Later, he spent one week with an experienced climber from whom he learnt a lot. He also mentioned that he had a very good friend, an excellent climber, living in London. This friend, Andrzej Kopczynski, belonged to a top English climbing club, the Groupe de Hautes Montagnes. My father only managed to climb once with him before Andrzej Kopczynski was tragically killed soon after near Chamonix, France. After he met his future Swiss wife, Theres Künzli, in London, my father also travelled regularly to Switzerland and the Swiss Alps for climbing, mountain walking or ski-ing, outdoor interests they both shared. Hitchhiking was fashionable then, my father tells me. My mother even hitchhiked with her friend Sylvia around Britain. Once, they both got far enough north to be able to go up Ben Nevis. My parents got married in 1959, soon after my mother received her nursing qualification.

My mother’s family lived in Winterthur, where her father was a printer. She had a sister, my Aunt Rosemarie, and two brothers, Uncle Alex and Uncle Hans, all of whom were very generous to us during our childhood and regular summer holidays in Switzerland. Swiss food parcels of chocolate, biscuits, “Landjäger” sausages and a special herb “Schabziger” cheese were always a highlight for us at Rannoch.



4. Heading North to Scotland

By the end of 1962 my parents had three small children all under the age of five and a cramped rented flat in London’s Kensington. My father wanted a steady teaching job in healthier surroundings for his young family. Fortunately, Załuski family connections helped pave the way.

Jossleyn Hennessy, whose mother was a Seilern and grandmother a Załuska – he had visited Iwonicz in Poland with his mother in the early 1930s - and his wife Laura, grand-daughter of Victorian painter Sir Joseph Noel Paton, were living at the time near Gordonstoun School, where their own children were pupils. They had met A.J.S. “Dougal” Greig (Co-founder of Rannoch School, Dall Housemaster 1959-1966), then a teacher at Altyre School, an independent part of Gordonstoun. Laura Hennessy probably mentioned to Greig that my father was looking for a teaching post. As Greig preferred employing teachers “from the right kind of society”, my father was invited to visit Rannoch. “Nepotism”, my father calls it. In fact, in my father’s opinion, one of the great achievements of Greig was that so many of the early staff at Rannoch were Oxford or Cambridge graduates, persuaded by him to participate in creating a new school in the highlands of Scotland.

And so, my father visited Rannoch School in June 1963. He stayed with Pat Whitworth (Co-founder and Potteries Housemaster 1959 – 1968) and his wife Jane, who were extremely pleasant and welcoming. He had an interview with Greig, whom my father described as having a slightly eccentric manner, but was nevertheless absolutely charming and friendly. At the time my father sensed it was a happy school. He met “Hon John’s” father, the Earl of Cromartie who was visiting his son, John MacKenzie. The Earl of Cromartie mentioned that John was extremely keen on climbing, something which my father was certainly able to converse about with him, creating a good impression on both sides. The atmosphere at Rannoch being fantastic, my father accepted the job offered and soon after the Zaluski family packed up and headed north, in time for the new school year.


 

Rannoch School was founded in 1959 by John Fleming, Pat Whitworth and A.J.S. “Dougal” Greig. Rannoch comes from the Gaelic “rainneach”, meaning “fern” or “bracken”, hence the fern leaf as Rannoch School’s logo. The school site was at Dall on the south side of Loch Rannoch. Dall was also the seat of the Robertson Clan (Clan Donnachaidh) until the estate was sold to the Wentworth family in 1860. When Captain Bruce Canning Vernon Wentworth died in 1951 aged 89 years, his heirs sold the estate to the Forestry Commission. They in their turn sold the main building, some estate land and cottages to the founders of Rannoch School.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 3 founders of Rannoch School, John Fleming, Dougal Greig and Pat Whitworth.
Photo from www.exrannoch.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



 

5. Early Days at Rannoch, Glenrannoch House

Glenrannoch House today

For the first term of the new school year after the summer of 1963, the Zaluski family lived on the upstairs floor of Glenrannoch House, located on the road towards the south shore of Loch Rannoch. It is still, if my memory is correct, the last house on the right when you drive out of Kinloch Rannoch heading towards the south lochside.

The lower flat was still occupied by the previous French teacher’s mother. My father was brought in to replace this teacher who had been dismissed for improper conduct. When the new Rannoch School bursar was appointed, a Major P. W. Coventry who had previously been the queen’s representative in Uganda (?), he and his family moved into the upstairs flat with bathroom a few months later. My family then moved into the downstairs flat, which had a kitchen side door and outside toilet. My father remembers that the Coventry family had two daughters, both older than Isabelle. My parents were permitted to use the upstairs bathroom once a week. Recently returned to Britain, the bursar and his family were rather arrogant towards the young foreign family living below. My mother probably felt it most.


Most of the teaching staff at Rannoch School in the early years were bachelors or young married couples without children. It was a good position to get one’s first teaching experience at a school or have some time-out before or after university. My father remembers being invited to a house-warming, pre-Christmas party in Kinloch Rannoch. One of those was a popular teacher of English, History and Latin at Rannoch School, a charming Etonian, a brilliant caricaturist, but also a lady’s man who had been thrown out of the church. My father recalls that a wall of the room was covered with bawdy caricatures of some of the staff of Rannoch School, which highly entertained the guests. He also drove a vintage Bentley(?) car, which he loved racing along the narrow roads at Rannoch. My father even commented about him in his “A Rannoch Memoir”, (Rannoch Anthology, p. 130). “Only one of us had the nerve to take the “New Green Bus” to its full speed. What a sight it was to see him thunder at 75 m.p.h in it past the Loch Tummel Hotel!”. When Ian Peebles, the Rannoch School carpenter, bought the house some years later, he told my father that he had had to cover the caricatures as they were unsuitable for his two young daughters’ eyes. The house in question is to the right of the country store “McKercher and McNaughton” (Schiehallion side) of Kinloch Rannoch. This same man later had an affair with the wife of someone known to the Board of Governors of Rannoch School, so his position became untenable. After considerable pressure put on him by the Board, the headmaster Dougal Greig dismissed him in 1965.


Michael, Isabelle and Barbara, Glenrannoch House, 1964 or 1965


The country Store today


 

Isabelle went to the primary school in Kinloch Rannoch for one year before we moved to The Barracks, Bridge of Gaur, at the other end of Loch Rannoch. She remembers that the teacher of primary 1-3, a Mrs Creesy, was extremely kind. Isabelle had a lisp and for a year Mrs Creesy taught her to pronounce words correctly while the other girls played in the Wendy House at the back of the large school room. By the end of the year Isabelle was delighted to be finally permitted to join her friends in the Wendy House. Mrs Creesy was an excellent story-teller and Isabelle’s love of reading was born then. Slates were used for learning the alphabet and writing words. Both Isabelle and I remember getting a small bottle of milk during the morning break, a government policy then to prevent vitamin deficiency and ensure the growth of strong bones among children. Alan Beaton commented, “You mention school milk – Do you recall that this was withdrawn by Margaret Thatcher when she was Minister for Education? This gave rise to the chants of “Thatcher, Thatcher, milk snatcher.”


Mrs Creesy (primary 1- 3) and her colleague (primary 4 + 5, behind) walking to the new primary school, spring 1965


There was even an annual visit from a dentist at the primary school. Isabelle told me the lady dentist came in a mobile dentist’s van, with everything necessary in it, a dentist’s chair for the children and drills if necessary. When I went to the school in Kinloch Rannoch two years later, the children were sent to a small room at the back of the school, beside the dining room.

Kinloch Rannoch Primary School


We adapted to life at Rannoch. When my parents first met in London, my mother couldn’t speak English nor my father German, so they communicated in a kind of French together. My mother did not speak it as well as my father, whose French deteriorated to that of my mother, with a kind of “pidgin Schweizer Deutsch” mixed in. Uncle Iwo recalls the private joke they shared at the time. He was a frequent visitor to their basement flat near London’s Baker Street, where he remembers my mother once saying about Isabelle, a baby of just a few weeks: “Chéri! Elle a tout gesickhhht sur le khhh-carpet”. My parents tended to use the first words that came into their heads, regardless of the language. They used to call it “tsaluskkkhi dialekkkkkht”, with an exaggerated Swiss German guttural “kkkh!” sound. They continued in this mode for some years, gradually speaking more and more English.

When we were small, my father wanted us to learn more than one language. He would have prefered my mother to speak her mother tongue Swiss German or even French to us, knowing from his own childhood experience how quick children are at picking up languages. However, my mother thought it would be too much

 and insisted on only speaking English to us. My father encouraged my mother to speak English to him, though. That was how my mother learnt English. Nevertheless, we children did have our own special family words, culled from our Swiss German and Polish backgrounds. So, for example, while our Swiss grandparents were “Grossvati” and Grossmütti”, our Polish grandparents were “Bunia” and “Tatuś”. We just copied our father’s use of“Tatuś”, which means Daddy, and as we were never corrected or given an alternative, still use it among ourselves today. There were other words like the German word “Estrich” for attic or “taca” for tray (Great-Aunt Tola had taken and saved two silver family trays from Iwonicz).

 


  Kasia with her father, visiting Fortingall 1965


In the early 1960s cars were expensive and, in fact, neither of my parents could even drive when they arrived in Scotland. My mother no doubt walked into Kinloch Rannoch village daily to buy food and give us children fresh air and exercise.

 

My father started and finished his working day by cycling the 6 miles back and forth between Glenrannoch House and the school during the first few months. Then, with generous aid from his teaching colleagues, tips from Rannoch boys and practice in whatever ancient school vehicle was available, he finally passed his driving test in Pitlochry. By the start of his second term at Rannoch School he was already able to drive school boys on various expeditions. There were always enough teenage boys willing to help him, give additional advice, explain how to double de-clutch and encourage him to drive along muddy uneven roads on expeditions.

My father started fly-fishing soon after arriving at Rannoch. He used to go to a cheese shop in Picadilly, London, where he was served by a Scot. While once chatting to him, my father mentioned he was moving to Rannoch. “Good fishing there,” was the reply. My father took him at his word. Soon after moving into Glenrannoch House, he bought a rod and some fishing flies at a little gift shop just opposite Dunalastair Hotel in Kinloch Rannoch, read some books on the subject and just started fishing from the loch side. I remember accompanying him with Mick to this shop and gazing at the fascinating and colourful selection of fishing flies for sale. Mick commented, “I remember the small shop close to the bridge in Kinloch Rannoch. What I remember is that it was there Papi learned to tie on flies in a way that the knot did not loosen up (and thereby losing not only the catch, but also the fly). I remember the technique, and still use it.”

The Zaluski family stayed in Glenrannoch House for two years. Various family members and London friends visited us during this time. Unfortunately, my parents never owned a camera during their time at Rannoch School, but we still have some photographs given to them over the years. My Polish grandfather and a Polish cousin, Jolanta Załuska, visited us once some months after Kasia, the youngest, was born. I also have a couple of photos of my father climbing at Craig Varr. My Swiss grandparents visited us for Kasia’s birth, but they weren’t much help to my mother, treating their trip to Scotland as a holiday. My father remembers having to drive his father-in-law to dog breeders in Scotland, of all things! It was their first and only visit.

 


I

 

 

Climbing at Craig Varr, 1963?


Dall House 1966


By the time my father started teaching at Rannoch in September 1963 some incident had happened which adversely affected the atmosphere among the staff at Rannoch School. My father doubts most of the pupils noticed it. As my father explained to me, a new teacher was overtly stirring up trouble, abetted by the chaplain, likewise new to Rannoch School. This man drove an expensive sports car. My father remembers him and the chaplain bragging about how fast they could drive over the humpback bridge at Camghouran, an attitude my father found rather silly and childish. Later, there were differences between Dougal Greig, struggling to cope with his multiple roles as Headmaster, Dall Housemaster and teacher and the other Housemasters. Rumours started. Dougal Greig was seen going outside past the masters’ common room with his arm round a boy. Greig had just informed the boy that his father had died. Not an easy task for any headmaster to do and Greig was trying to comfort the boy. Accusations followed. This was not an easy time for Rannoch School and unfortunate in its timing. The atmosphere between headmaster and staff deteriorated and by the summer of 1966 many of the original staff had resigned, been dismissed or simply left. Even resignations made in the heat of the moment and rescinded later were rigorously enforced. Criticism was not tolerated. In 1967 the editor of the Rannoch School magazine wrote, “Since the last edition of “The Record” went to press, many changes have taken place in the school. Perhaps in later years when time has soothed aroused emotions, the history of this period might be printed in this magazine.” The previous Rannoch magazine had appeared in 1964. Clearly by then the boys knew of the problems facing the school. What had happened?

Perhaps an answer can be found in the success of Rannoch School. The founders John Fleming, Pat Whitworth and Dougal Greig hoped for at least 50 boys in 1959. The first intake was 82 boys, increasing to 138 the following year and by 1962 there were already 209 (numbers found in archives section of www.exrannoch.com). Some of the staff chose not to have a salary, others were willing to be paid a reduced rate. It was the pioneering spirit of the school that was exceptional. If one considers the sheer amount of work involved in setting up and organizing a school in what was a remote part of Scotland in those days, then the success the founders had in getting enough boys and the necessity of providing enough accommodation, classrooms and other facilities for the increasing number of pupils and staff alike at short notice as well as dealing with the day-to-day school problems, one understands the pressures involved. My father said  that Dougal Greig was a good headmaster, but there were limits to what anybody could do. Greig had problems delegating and coping with criticism. By 1964 Greig had appointed a private secretary, Anne Davidson, and a fulltime Bursar, Major Coventry, and later persuaded E. J. Miller, a former headmaster teaching mathematics at Rannoch School, to become Second Master. On the other hand, Greig continued being the Housemaster of Dall and lived on the job in a room in the main building. He would have had little free time during term time.

To cut a long story short and to keep in mind that the Zaluski family is the main focus of this tale, important staff left or had to leave Rannoch School between 1965 – 1966. These included John Fleming (1959 – 1965, Co-founder and Housemaster of Wentworth), the Housemaster of Croft Junior House, Mike Haines (1959 – 1965, Housemaster of Wade) who started the Mountain Service, a year later Dougal Greig (1959 – 1966, Co-founder, Headmaster and Housemaster of Dall) due in part to mental health problems, followed later by Pat Whitworth (1959 – 1968, Co-founder and Housemaster of Potteries). On reflection, my father believes that although the board of governors did not understand the original aims and ethos of Rannoch School, they were decisive. Mr Miller’s appointment as interim headmaster provided the Board of Governors with enough time to select a new headmaster, Peter McLellan (1967 – 1982), who took up his position in April 1967. Under Peter McLellan’s leadership Rannoch School recovered and thrived. He was an excellent administrator for Rannoch, says my father. However, the early enthusiasm and pioneering spirit while creating a new school dissipated with the departure of the original founders, Mike Haines, David Barry and others. It is remarkable to consider what they achieved and built in the space of a few crucial years, much of which still exists today. It is also so easy to forget that, for example, Rannoch School was only connected to the electricity supply from the village in 1963, an expense which John Fleming considered well-worthwhile.

What happened then is now history. My father survived what he calls the staff “sweep out”, together with, for example, Peter D. Orton (staff, 1960-1981), well-known for his research on mushrooms and beetles, who taught biology and music, and Dr D. R. J. Wallace who taught biology. In retrospect, what is most important to everybody concerned is that Rannoch School continued in business.

How did it affect the Zaluski family? Well, my father wisely kept himself out of it, never asking any questions nor giving an opinion about what was being discussed in the Masters’ Common-room. By staying on the sidelines, my father was considered “loyal” to Rannoch School. Perhaps that was why Miller approached my father in 1966 about the position of Second Master. My father declined, stating that he didn’t feel ready for the job and soon after Alec Cunningham (Wade Housemaster and Second Master, 1966-1987) was appointed. An experienced teacher and highly-organized, it was Alec Cunningham who introduced the Duke of Edinburgh’s award scheme to Rannoch School.  As my father noted in “A Rannoch Memoir”, “His (Cunningham’s) expeditions were so well and meticulously planned, that at least in my time, nothing ever went wrong.”

Dougal Greig often returned to Rannoch later. My father met him a few times down at the loch side, when they would chat together. It was then that Greig wrote some of his poignant and sad poems. Years later when my father wrote a letter to “The Times” on the subject of how to cook porridge correctly, Dougal Greig saw it and wrote back to my father. Likewise, Mike Haines also really suffered from having to leave Rannoch. He often visited us, staying at Dall School House. My parents and sister Kasia once visited him at Fort Augustus, when he confessed how much he missed Rannoch School.




6. The Barracks


Sometime in 1965 we left Glenrannoch House when it was sold and moved into The Barracks at Bridge of Gaur. Bought by Pat Whitworth’s mother who lived in part of it, it had been turned into flats for some of the married teaching staff. We only stayed a year at The Barracks, which was sold in 1967, but my father remembers my mother being much happier there. It may also have helped that by then Isabelle, I and even my brother, aged 6, 5 and 4 respectively, attended the one room local primary school at Bridge of Gaur. The lady teacher there was very kind to us all. I have vague memories of being permitted to place damp gloves on a big warm oven in winter to dry and another of enjoying a summer picnic with my mother and siblings beside the River Gaur.

 Isabelle mentioned that we all enjoyed sliding down the banisters at The Barracks. She also pointed out that our mother made sure that we could swim at an early age. There was a part of the River Gaur where there was a naturally calm pool of water. She taught Isabelle and me to swim there by putting a hand under our stomach and getting us to make swimming movements with our arms and legs. It is also highly probable that my parents discovered the lovely sandy beaches at Killichonan on the northwest side of Loch Rannoch then, ideal for us children.



 

7. Dall School House


In 1966 we were living at The Barracks which we had to leave after a year. Without a new home we wouldn’t have been able to stay at Rannoch. A family of six, we were unusually big by Rannoch School standards. Was there ever such a big family at Rannoch School later? I have no idea. It was Mr Miller, then temporarily acting as Headmaster, who offered Dall School House as a home to my parents, encouraging them to stay on and ensuring our continued “loyalty” to the school. Once the decision was made, my parents only had perhaps 2-3 weeks to move in. There were so few original teachers left at Rannoch by 1966 that I doubt there was much competition for the residency at Dall School House anyway!

 

 First photos of the Zaluski children at Dall School House


We were therefore the first to move into Dall School House after Dougal Greig acquired it from a St. Andrews’ Professor of Mathematics in the mid-1960s. It was the former local schoolmistress’s house with an old wooden bridge and iron handrail over a stream, connecting it with the small primary school building on the other side. Isabelle told me that nobody had cleared up the mess in Dall School House. There was rubbish in the rooms and our mother was really upset. The photos above show that the garden was just overgrown grass. However, the Zaluski family were glad to have been finally allocated their own home. The new headmaster, Peter MacLellan, and his family had to initially manage with a small flat in the main building from April 1967 until their new house was built.


Isabelle and Barbara


Mick with Kasia in the wheelbarrow


Dall School House was quite far from the main buildings of Rannoch School, at the end of the back drive and near the loch. On the other hand, there were lots of opportunities for adventure for us children. My parents cleared out the rubbish, then set about painting the rooms, putting up curtains and generally making it habitable. When we were a few years older, we were given a section of garden which we could tend ourselves. The two photos show the fun we had!

About a year after we moved in my mother gave my father a second-hand record player as a present. Thereafter, my parents often listened to classical music or opera from records after the evening meal. They sometimes entertained colleagues from the school in the evening and played bridge with them afterwards, something both my parents enjoyed. Julian Ward and Michael McIntosh Reid (Potteries Housemaster 1966-1973) are among those my father invited. There was a constant stream of teachers at Rannoch School. Rannoch was isolated and not every teacher or his wife could adapt. My mother made friends among the other wives, but they often soon moved on. It can’t have been easy for her over the years.


It was different for children. At Dall School House we played at the stream which ran past the house, watched the trout swimming up to spawn upstream, made dams and paddled in it in summer. We played in and around the old primary school building - nothing was locked in those days. This school building was a single room with a large high window at the far end and a vestibule at the main entrance. There were also separate small children’s lavatories. The old Dall primary school was where Mick built his first sailing dinghy from a kit, but more about that in Part 2. There were few children for us to play with. My father mentioned that Isabelle played tennis once with the MacLellans’ daughter. She was older than us and did not go to any of the local schools, so I don’t remember her at all. One of the farmers at Dall had children and I played with the oldest, Maggie McGibbon, perhaps two years older than me. We often played together around the farm buildings before her parents left their farm tenancy at Dall and moved to Camghouran further west along the south shore of Loch Rannoch in 1971. I remember the midden in the horse shoe shape of the farm buildings as well as the wheat and other crops growing along the road.

Mick and I often watched the boys with curiosity while they were sailing, canoeing or rowing on the loch during those early years, hidden in the trees at the loch side as we were rather shy. Mick remembers, “From the moment we came to Rannoch School, we spent a lot of time at the loch. One of the things I was fascinated with was sailing, so I spent a lot of time making cardboard boats that I launched close to where the school sailing boats were. The water, of course, made the boats wet and soggy, so they did not last long and I made a new one. One of the schoolteachers gave me some balsa wood when I was about 10 years old, so I could make a boat that was more durable. The school had, as far as I remember, three or four cadet plywood dinghies and four Enterprise dinghies, that I spent hours watching.” The last time I telephoned Mick he had just completed an international course on navigation as he has the dream of one day sailing to the Caribbean in his yacht. How early interests in children develop!

Mick and I explored the main school area when the boys were away on holiday or we cycled over to the Dall Burn and the gym. We were close and adventurous, often doing things together outside. Collecting frog spawn in a glass jar from the old curling pond was an annual occurrence for some years. We sometimes encountered Hairy Dan, a well-known tramp, near the old gym or saw him walking past our house up the back drive, pushing his ancient bicycle with all his belongings tied or hanging on it. In May 2016, Alan Beaton told me more about Hairy Dan, who benefited from the kindness of a few at Rannoch School.

“Dan used to come to the school and wait at the South Door (I think it can be dignified with capitals!) for either myself or my friend Keith Smith to happen along. We would take his billy can to the kitchen and try to beg a "jeelly piece" from the domestic staff (Mrs Gibson - Ma Gibbo we boys called her - was not averse to this practice). I often wondered what became of Dan. I had heard that he had been prised off the ground, his (many!) voluminous coats having frozen to the ground with him in them one particularly hard winter. That was the last I had ever heard about him.

I don't know whether you have heard of Hamish Brown. He was a schoolmaster from Fife and used to bring his kids to a base near the sawmill at the bottom of the Dall burn (near or at where cadets from HMS Rosyth used to stay). I never came across these boys (perhaps they were considered uncouth!!) but Mike Haines used to marvel (with a degree of rueful envy) at the exciting things Hamish Brown was doing with "his kids". After giving up teaching he became a (probably the) county adviser for outdoor education. He hated it and took himself off to do all the Munros in a single round, the first person ever to do so.

One day a few years ago, I was reading something on Hamish Brown's website about Rannoch and he mentioned Hairy Dan. Curious to know what had become of him (I was, perhaps mistakenly, under the impression that Keith and I were the only boys to whom Dan would consent to give up his billy can), I contacted Hamish Brown to ask. There ensued a short correspondence culminating in a meeting in Ullapool. Hamish didn't know any more than I did.

The following year (about 3 or so years ago) I was driving along the road from Spean Bridge to Laggan. I gave a lift to a chap with a ruc-sac. This man had been a forester at Rannoch and now lived in an isolated spot along Loch Treig. He knew Dan and told me that the story about his having been frozen to the ground was apocryphal. The truth is that a farmer (I think from near the Barracks - Rannoch Station road) had taken him in (to a barn perhaps) and that subsequently Dan had been transferred to hospital. This ex-forester had come across Dan in subsequent years wearing proper clothes, indeed he had been seen in a suit and was more verbal than he had ever been in the Rannoch days. It wasn't clear what had happened but not a great deal of time thereafter Dan had died.”


Life was spartan at Dall School House for my parents, especially for my mother. We never had a telephone or television at Rannoch. If we needed to contact our parents while we were at Breadalbane Academy in Aberfeldy, we would telephone the MacLellan family and leave a message. I also remember watching television for the very first time at the MacLellans’ house, together with Mick and the two adopted MacLellan boys. Both Isabelle and I felt out of things at the primary school whenever friends discussed programmes on TV. My sister mentioned that “The Muppets” and “Miss Piggy” were popular in primary 6 and 7. On the other hand, the other children envied us for our trips abroad to Switzerland. In the days before cheap flights to Spain or Italy most children at Rannoch either stayed at home during the holidays, were sent to a relative or

perhaps went to the British seaside.


 

 

 

Parents' Day 1973?

Back: Barbara + Isabelle

Front: Andrew + David MacLellan, Mick


 

 


During the first couple of years at Dall we had neither a washing machine – it was all done in the bath - nor fridge, nor freezer. Our milk, in glass bottles, sometimes went sour in the porch in summer or froze in winter. Later, if I am correct, my Polish grandmother “Bunia” sent up enough money for these modern conveniences to make life easier for my mother. We had an old school desk with lid and no legs at the bottom of our drive beside the road which our family used as a letter box.

 

Dall School House

Our house was a typical two up, two down Scottish house. Upstairs there were two bedrooms and a bathroom. On the left side of the house, downstairs, was our dining room where we had an ancient Raeburn stove used to heat the room and generally dry things in winter. It was the room most used by us all and always kept warm. In winter my father would get up briefly at 5 or 6 in the morning to put some more coal in the Raeburn to keep the fire going. Behind this room, at the back of the house, was the small kitchen with a scullery added on behind.

We also had a drawing room downstairs on the right side, not often used except for formal occasions or for Christmas. The piano was in this room and my father would disappear in there regularly, armed with an electric heater in winter, to practise his piano scales and play some music. It all sounded very difficult to us children as difficult pieces or sections were repeated. My father says he played Chopin, Mozart and other composers. From time to time, there would be a series of loud crashes. Some piano key or other was stuck, the result of the damp Scottish climate as well as piano old age. My father then opened the lid and tried to remedy the problem, frustrated at being unable to play properly. Rather off-putting, so we were careful never to disturb him when he was in the drawing room. Piano practice was a chore for him at Rannoch. My father preferred being out in the Scottish mountains or on the loch fishing. It was only after my father left Rannoch that he made something out of his musical abilities, successfully teaching the piano in Billingham, in the north-east of England, for many years.

Soon after we moved to Dall, my mother learnt to drive. Mrs Reynolds taught her. I have a clear recollection of when my mother once drove Mick, David MacLellan and me to the village. We ran out of petrol about two miles from the village and I distinctly remember feeling the car hop along in fits and starts before the engine gave up the ghost. My mother was in a dreadful temper. We were told to stay quiet in the car – or else - while she walked to the village to get help. There was also the local Girls’ Brigade and Isabelle and I went to the weekly events, held in the manse located just off the road to the south loch side. Kasia later also went. My mother did her best with what was on offer for children at Kinloch Rannoch. When a dancing teacher from Aberfeldy started offering Highland dancing in the village hall, Isabelle and I were promptly enrolled and wooden swords organized from the village. Kasia was later sent and I have a photo of her doing some Highland dancing for our guests when my husband and I got married in Iwonicz in 1993.

 

 


Kasia on skis and going down the hill on an MS plastic bag

 

 

 


 

My mother continued teaching us to swim at Dall. She took us to the little swimming pool near the old gym, which still had its original roof on then. We would put our swimming clothes on in the little changing room and my mother would keep a close eye on us as we swam around. Some years later when the roof had been removed and the swimming pool was open to the skies, Mick and I would occasionally go there to swim. By then we were safe swimmers. We clambered through the window and enjoyed a cool dip in the water of the swimming pool, kept full by constant filtered water running into it from the Dall Burn. Once I remember being put off by finding a frog swimming with us, but then had fun with Mick trying to catch it. We didn’t use the pools in the Dall Burn to cool off. Perhaps my mother, used to the clear alpine water of Swiss mountains, disliked the dark peaty water which frothed over the rocks and stones of Dall Burn, an advertisement for real ale, but unappealing to her. Whenever it was hot in summer, there was another possibility, too. We would get into the car and drive to Killichonan on the other side of the loch. There the water was warm and shallow, the beaches were sandy and my mother could relax and let us play safely.

Winter sports were important for us from an early age. We initially had an old Swiss “Davos” sledge, which was not so good if the snow was soft as the runners were narrow and tended to stick, two pairs of very long Swiss wooden skis and lots of imagination. We used orange plastic bags - MS survival material - for sliding down the hill in the field behind our house. Occasionally, we joined the boys at the school sliding down the double banks below the main building. However, that run was rather short and with time we preferred the longer hill in the field, often also being joined by Rannoch School boys. Isabelle once received skis at Christmas sometime in the late 1960s. We all used them at some point.

 

During the winter of 1968 or 1969 there was a tremendous fall of snow, at least five feet remembers my father. He took Isabelle with her new skis as well as a group of boys with him up Beinn a’ Chuallaich, the mountain behind Craig Varr. The slope up there is long and gentle. It was long enough for Isabelle to learn how to ski, perhaps falling once at the start before she got the hang of it. My father said that he was impressed by her progress. A week later my father took a group of boys up the mountain Carn Gorm behind the school. He still remembers the plumes of snow he and the boys made while ski-ing down through the deep powder snow. Not a proficient skier, my father stopped ski-ing soon after and the Swiss skis were left in our shed until Mick started using them himself. Mick added, “We had the skis and sledges that were available to us, but we learned to ski on wooden skis with and without steel edges, and in old leather boots probably too large for our feet. A lot of our time was spent building ski jumps that we hopped over, quite often breaking the tips of the skis, which I then had to mend. I also made our own sledges that worked, though not that well. Falling on skis, with my hand and a ski stick breaking my fall is the reason for me having a thumb joint that can bend further than normal.”

Skating was also popular. My mother soon solved the problem of organizing skates for us. I remember being told to stand on a piece of paper. She then drew round my right foot first, then my left foot. The drawings of our feet were sent off to Switzerland and skates duly appeared beneath the Christmas tree. I have a clear memory of us all going up to the small reservoir, which tended to freeze over faster than the big reservoir nearby, and my mother showing us how to skate forward and, later, even backwards. From then on, whenever the big reservoir was deemed safe, we went up to skate and have fun with the whole school. A wonderful experience to have had!  The Zaluski family was amazingly healthy at Rannoch. In all the time at primary school I was only once ill. We got the flu and I remember my mother wrapping us all up warmly. My father made a fire in the drawing room and Dr Caldwell came to check us. Within a couple of days we were better, but my mother decided to keep us at home for the week as there had been a heavy snowfall. That was the only time I was absent from primary school. My mother had Swiss nursing training and this influenced how she brought us up. Freshly made healthy meals, lots of fruit and vegetables, few sweets, puddings or cakes were important to her. Whenever we fell ill, she prepared fresh orange juice for us. Hot honey milk or Ribena were also prepared for sore throats, all simple but effective remedies.



Kinloch Rannoch primary school 1-3, school year 1967-68. Barbara primary 2 is 1st row on far left side.
Michael primary 1 is 2
nd row standing on far right side. Isabelle primary 3 is 2nd row 5th from left. side


It was during the summer of 1971 that my mother became ill. Auntie Ewa’s son had visited Poland and had met a young woman there. They decided to marry so that she could accompany him back to England. As Poland was on the other side of the Iron Curtain then, they got married at short notice. Neither my father nor Uncle Iwo remembers exactly when the wedding took place in Dunstable, just north of London. However, whether we travelled from Rannoch, the north-west coast of Scotland or Switzerland where we were usually on holiday, it doesn’t matter. It involved a long journey to London, stressed adults all around and a very stressed excitable grandmother. Bunia made lovely bridesmaids outfits for Isabelle, Kasia and myself. Isabelle said she felt very pampered, standing in her pretty dress with Bunia pinning up the hem to the correct length. Anyway, a few thoughtless comments by Bunia seem to have been the proverbial “final drop of water”. Something cracked in my mother. Straight after the wedding, we headed home. My father drove through the night and the next day took my mother to Dr Caldwell in the village. He couldn’t help her, unfortunately. Dr Caldwell suggested that my father should buy my mother a dog to keep her company. Looking back, he wishes he had done so. A dog would have got her to go out of the house and been good company for her while we were at school. As it was, nothing changed and my mother carried on with her life at Dall School House.

A few years after we moved into Dall School House, the scullery was converted into a bedroom for Isabelle and myself and the small kitchen window and old sink were replaced by a very large window and a modern sink. Mick then stayed in the bedroom upstairs and Kasia had a small bedroom at the back of the house, just off the living room. The bathroom was upstairs and in winter my father always left the cold water of the bath running a little the whole night through to prevent the pipes freezing. It could be bitterly cold. I sometimes had to scratch away at the ice flowers on the inside of the window panes to see outside and whether snow had fallen. My brother Mick recently assured me that all the windows froze over like that in the house, the only exception being those in the dining room. He wrote, It is true that the house had ice on the inside of the windows in the winter, and we used single bar electric heaters to keep warm. The Raeburn was coal fired, and I remember that we got ‘anthracite’ coal as it was the best for heating.


It doesn’t appear to have been much better up at the school, as Alan Beaton mentioned in the following email dated November 2016

 

“Your e mail arrived at an apposite time as I have been much reminded of Rannoch of late. Our central heating system gave up the ghost and we have had to have a new boiler installed (at great expense!). We have been without heating for two weeks and recently the temperature has dropped so that at night it is below freezing. Thankfully, the new system is up and appears to be running OK. It all felt very familiar though my children don't believe me when I say that the ink froze in our inkwells, the lemonade bottles burst in the Tuck Shop and there was ice on the inside of the Wade dormitory windows.”

 

 

 

 

 


My father was very busy teaching during term time, often away with boys on expeditions at the weekends. He enjoyed his teaching and the life at Rannoch School. At some point in the late 1960s he made the decision to get a University of London degree in French. He just enjoyed the language so much, he told me. There were no financial incentives as he wouldn’t have earned more money. At Rannoch teaching qualifications didn’t matter, he told me on the phone. Nevertheless, his French class results must have been more than adequate over the years as we did stay at Rannoch for almost 20 years. It took him about two years to prepare for the degree, going down to London twice to attend lectures and staying with his mother in Ealing. In those days one just had to turn up for the final exams and if you were good enough, you were given a degree. My father passed. Nevertheless, it cannot have been so easy with four children, working full time and living in such a remote region of Scotland. I couldn’t resist including a French exercise, written by my father and given to Dougie Pickering’s class (Potteries, 1969- 1974) on the 3rd December 1969. My father will be surprised to see it again! I’m just amazed that anybody would keep school exercises for over 45 years. You can test your French knowledge, admire the doodle decorating the bottom and thank Dougie for keeping it that long! He admitted being an inadvertent hoarder to me. You’ll see more of his hoardings in Part 2. Thanks to him I know the exact year when “MacBeth” was shown at the gym and for the first time saw the programme for a parents’ day. My father usually just told us when to go and watch his MS show. The services show (fire, ambulance, mountain, etc.) were always great fun to watch.

 





8. Kinloch Rannoch primary school


It was only while doing internet research recently that I realized when the primary school in Kinloch Rannoch was built. In 1965 this large modern building in the village replaced the various small schools around the loch, including those at Dall and Bridge of Gaur. It still stands, has been renovated recently and celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2015. Looking at the photos of it today, it hasn’t changed at all!

 


Mr Wilson, the headmaster, leading the children from the old primary school house to the new one, spring 1965.
The two other teachers are at the back.

 



There is a “history” folder on the Kinloch Rannoch primary school website which I browsed through. It was only then that I realized that by the time Isabelle started school after the summer holidays in 1965, the school had just moved from the old site on the other side of the road leading into the village that spring. The old school was wedged between the Craig Varr hillside, the waterfall coming down the hillside and the main road into the village. I read on Facebook that the boys used to scramble up Craig Varr during their breaks. One boy who went to the new school likened it to a prison, being unaccustomed to the high fences, bent inwards at the top, surrounding it. Children were forbidden to leave the school area during school time, only those who lived in the village could go home at lunchtime.

We had no sports hall, but Mr Wilson was keen on playing rounders with us in the playground. I also remember sitting with friends behind the school on the grass and picking daisies. We would take our thumb nail to the flower head and recite to each other “Mary Queen of Scots got her head chopped off like this”, nipping the flower off as far up and away as we could. Very Scottish! Making daisy chains, hopscotch and other games kept us girls well-occupied. Occasionally, special events were organized. There was a school concert for the parents in the village hall when Mick, about 6 years old then, conducted the children and waved his baton very convincingly to the music. Other parents told my father that the primary school had had a similarly successful village hall performance for parents a few years previously.


Kinloch Rannoch village hall 2016


I had my first experience of ceilidhs and we had a fun afternoon of Halloween children’s games at this village hall. We hollowed out the biggest turnips we could find and created Halloween lanterns at our dining room table to take with us. It was hard work!

Mr Wilson was highly regarded in the village. However, Isabelle, Mick, Kasia and I remember him as a strict and stern teacher. One of the older generation, he used a strap on children. Mr Wilson mainly used it on the boys to keep discipline and encourage them to use their brains. Mick remembers being at the receiving end of “Schooly Wilson”, “He was really ‘old school’ and the punishment for not being good enough is the main part of my memories of him.

 

 

 

 


We stood around his desk and recited the multiplication tables. If you ‘got it wrong’ you put your hand out and got a ‘tickler’. That was one of the thongs of his strap (it had two worn thongs). No problem as long as it only landed on your hand, and not up your wrist that is more sensitive. If you did something wrong, it was the whole strap or belt. It hurt most if it hit your wrist. I sometimes think the worst was after we played rounders as part of the outdoor activities. If you did not catch a ball, or made a mistake, you risked punishment with his plimsoll (gym shoe). For some reason, I remember this hurt more than the strap. We were about 10-12 years old then.”

I once got strapped – a tickler? - in primary 6. I can’t remember why. It didn’t hurt, but I suspect I got stubborn at something I considered unfair and Mr Wilson didn’t know how else to deal with me! Girls rarely got strapped. I felt relieved recently when a Scottish friend Shelagh admitted that she had also been strapped at the age of about eight. Newly arrived at the school, she had whispered something to the child beside her during a period when the children were supposed to stay quiet and still. She was promptly strapped by the female teacher in charge. Now, that I consider unjust and harsh. Mr Wilson was the first and last teacher I knew who hit children with the strap. I never saw corporal punishment being used at the school in Aberfeldy. Breadalbane Academy must have been quite progressive in that respect. Corporal punishment was banned in British state schools in 1987 and in private schools in Scotland in 2000. There’s a wealth of detail about corporal punishment in state and private schools in Great Britain on the website www.corpun.com.


Lovely photo of Kinloch Rannoch and Loch Rannoch taken from Craig Varr

by Richard Paul, 2016, found on Facebook.


Alan Beaton was surprised to read that I was strapped at the primary school. Here is his comment after receiving the first version of my reminiscences,

“Talking of punishment, I was surprised to read of your being strapped. I have never heard of this happening to girls before (though in fairness I was only at single-sexed schools from the age of 7 onwards). The cane was the instrument of choice at Rannoch but at the school I attended prior to Rannoch I was strapped several times and it certainly hurt! The secret was to try to lower one's hand at the same time as the tawse (the Scottish word for the two-or three-pronged strap) descended but it still left your hand burning and vertical marks on one's wrist. We used to try to cool our hands by holding the cold iron legs of our desks.”

I asked my father about corporal punishment at Rannoch School and was treated to a 30 minute conversation on the phone on various details followed by a comparison with his own school, Ampleforth College, in the 1940s. At Ampleforth College the cane was used for more serious offences, but boys were given lines for minor misdeeds. He gave me an example of what he had to write, rediscovered while reading many years later. You can take our word for it that Gladstone wrote to Disraeli, “A sophisticated rhetorician intoxicated with the exuberance of his own verbocity”. Would you remember a line like that at the age of 87! It is an excellent example of how amazingly good my father’s memory still is and how creative and fiendish the senior boys or monitors at Ampleforth were at finding lines, frequently changing them on a daily basis.

As Alan mentions above, the cane was used at Rannoch for more serious punishments (being caught smoking was an example my father gave me). It was used by the Housemaster or the Headmaster. For less serious offences there was PD (Penalty Drill) at Rannoch School. This involved doing some unpleasant duty for a given length of time. Picking stones from the pitches or weeding, for example. My father gave PD for “loitering with intent”.

When I enquired about Simon and Alan’s memories of penalty drill at Rannoch School, I got a wave of fascinating detail. On the 19th February 2017 Simon Stoker informed me,

PD was given in increments of 15mins but the punishment varied between houses. (Hence: "Jones - 15/30/60). It was given by various bods with authority - Factors (in Potts anyway) could ask a Cadet to confirm the punishment of 15, Cadets could give 15 or 30, Leaders - I think - had no upper limit.

In addition, there was a general PD book kept in the masters' hallway just outside the Dining Room into which entries were made by any master. It was the duty of the house's PD monitor to check this book on Weds and Sats and add any punishments to the relevant miscreant's tally. Thus, some people might end up with 60, 120 or even 240 which had to be worked off in Free Activities on Weds and Sats. Naturally, if there was a large amount and some not finished, it was carried over to the next session.

In Potts early PD was running round in circles with a brick held above the head!
This rather barbaric practice was replaced by something moderately useful such as scrubbing down the cedar on the outside of the dorms with (usually) a piece of broken glass, prior to the wood being repainted with oil. Sometimes it was boring dirty work such as clearing paths etc. The whole point was the removal of freedom, regardless of the activity.

This, of course, had to be supervised. Personally (as a Cadet or Leader) I found it a tedious and very boring task supervising the naughty ones but I suppose it was necessary and any way I had done my own share of it! I don't really know what the other houses did. I think Dall did go in for stonepicking (also a general school punishment). I bet Wade had something nasty, but Alan will tell you that!"

A day later Alan replied,

“Simon's account chimes with my own recollections. I think the "brick above the head PD" may have been universal in the first year of the school and abandoned thereafter.

Contrary to Simon's expectation, Wade did not have particularly nasty chores. Alfie's (Mike Haines's) idea behind PD was that any offence was a transgression against the community and therefore the retribution should be in the form of doing something for the benefit of the community. (How this applied to the activity of walking with one's hands in one's pockets, reckoned to be slovenly, I don't know!). A particular Wade PD "favourite" was clearing weeds and rubble from round the Wade buildings. There was a nice distinction to be made between doing PD and engaging in the regular Wednesday activity of Construction!

Some boys in my house were so used to having PD that when asked by Mike to fill out their intentions for the coming week or month filled almost all their anticipated free time with PD!!”

Simon Stoker commented a few hours later, “I doubt it was Pat's idea to use bricks - he was more practical and, like Alfie, expected something useful to come out of punishment.”

According to the urban dictionary found on the internet “…a brickhead is a person known to be simple. The idea is that they have a brick head and therefore no brain”. You now have an inkling why Pink Floyd wrote their hit song “Another Brick in the Wall” in 1979. What is also of interest in the exchange of memories between Simon and Alan is how little they knew about what was going on in other Houses. Curious to know what happened, Simon put it round the exRannoch email “circuit.”
The first reaction was from Martin Williams (Wade 1962-67).
A book was kept in the common room, or on a board publicly displayed. Wade tended to have a garden roster under Michael Haines (ALF). I don't believe we were allowed to talk during the punishment period. I'm not sure how the transfer was made house to house, it was a long time ago. ….. The bricks were a Dall punishment, the punishments in Wade given out were seldom physical punishment, and more like constructive activity. All came from Gordonstoun and no doubt 1939-45 prisoner of war camps of Germany.”

Followed by Paul Duncanson (Wade, 1973-75), “My recollection was that apart from house and school PD (given by prefects on one side and cadets and leaders on the other), we spent our time with rucksacks loaded with stones, running up the hill at the back of WADE for whatever time was given. There was no beating by 1973. Other punishments included cutting the grass with scissors and sometimes some vaguely useful stuff – but of course this was not the point of PD, which was designed to be specifically a complete waste of time....”

An interesting variation of useless time-consuming PD is the following, thought up by the Wade housemaster after Mike Haines, and nicknamed “The Commandant” by the boys. “I don’t remember running with bricks above my head, in fact I remember little of the various types of PD. However, one that does stick in my mind was having to retrieve curling stones from the side of the reservoir. I do not know how the stones were moved to the reservoir in the first place but those in the PD squad walked up to the reservoir and we each had to take a rucksack. Each member of the squad had one curling stone in his rucksack and then off we marched back to the school. I found it particularly unpleasant/painful because the stone was loose in the rucksack and the momentum going downhill meant that that it continually banged into the base of my back with some force. Having just checked, that is about 20kg of granite banging into your back – probably meeting the criterion of a cruel and unusual punishment. Now, who should I sue? Kind Regards, David Fortune (Wade 1965 -69).”

Here is another contribution from the early years. “Hello this is Bruce Nicoll, Croft 1963/ 66. I remember the bricks episode that I think sprang from the fertile mind of the head of house at the time, but it didn't last long as I think the Croft housemaster put an end to it. I had the dubious honour of holding the record for PD at Croft, 300 minutes between Saturday and Wednesday. However, my record didn't stand long. McIntyre went and broke it with the same amount of PD that was gained between Wednesday and Saturday! We both got beaten by our housemaster with the usual, this hurts me more than it's going to hurt you! That was the only time I ever got beaten at Rannoch. So, compared to my prep school where beatings tended to take place every week, Rannoch was mild!”

And another longer contribution, this time from Dave Darby (Wade, 1959-1962)

“Greetings all...Dave Darby here from Vancouver Island BC. Barracks at Bridge of Gaur for the first term, then, on the second term the dozen of us boys and housemaster Mike Haines moved to the main school building and became Wade. I attended Rannoch from the first term the school started until November 1962. Whilst at Rannoch I made an application to join the Rhodesian Police, I was later successful in my interview in London and flew out to join the force in April 1963. I remember various punishments, I was caned by the Headmaster Dougal Greig for smoking. He mentioned this to my father when he came on a school visit, I remember father was rather pleased!! My father was a tea planter in Assam and I think only visited the school once when he came to the UK on long leave. I seem to remember a caning by Dougal was a bit of a big deal. Mike Haines caned me a few times, I cannot remember what for, maybe bunking out and again smoking or giving lip. The stripes on my bum would turn to bruises over the weeks and were worn with pride in the showers!! I also remember running around the lawn in front of Dall with bricks above our head, running up to that small lochan well behind the school on the track to Loch Tay. I cannot remember getting into serious trouble with my group of school pals, just boyish mischief. The punishments at Rannoch were never in any way cruel or brutish and always taken in good humour. The masters were in no way sadistic or tyrannical, looking back they were a great crowd and real mentors and role models, especially to us boys whose parents were abroad. Well, that is my tu'pence worth. Rannoch was a great school, it certainly toughened a very young (I was three weeks past my 18th birthday when I signed up!!) and wet behind the ears lad when he joined up in Rhodesia.”

Here is a comment from Steve Scott (Cameron & Wentworth, 1979-1985) who was at Rannoch later. It contrasts with many of the earlier PD comments.

“Up to 30PD - circuits (1 for every 10PD). Run from the front of Dall, up past the chapel, down the back drive, along the loch road, and back along the front drive. Sometimes for a change it would be runs up the hill at the back of Cameron and back down multiple times (this was known as the MacInnes track). Nightmare in wet weather as it was extremely muddy and slippery! 40PD and over - labouring, shifting rocks, gardening, litter picking, doing general maintenance type stuff etc. BUT.... what usually happened was, if you got to Friday and had 30PD, you'd try and get anther 10PD to avoid doing circuits, as the labouring was much easier!”

As nobody from Dall had replied, Simon asked Keith Mackay (Dall, c. 1972) what happened in his House. I don't remember much about punishment during the Cameron (junior house) years, though I do recall that the whole house had to go over to the gym late one night for a very long workout with the then housemaster. I think we had been caught in a dorm riot! He was a good guy, but as tough as old boots if you crossed the line.”

Keith Mackay then described the more extreme methods of punishment his Housemaster at Dall meted out to the boys and the bullying that occurred. As they make sad reading, I will skip them to avoid bringing back bad memories for those who had the misfortune to have been allocated to Dall House then. Keith Mackay went on to note,

“When they were laying out the Chapel Square and knocking down the old steading, the Dall Housemaster was in charge and he combined house and school PD into manual labour. We had to run with rocks from the demolition site - over to the Dall Burn and then run back with other rocks. During my time the Second Master was in charge of school PD and he ran the thing like clockwork! …..There was a boy in Dall who used to write up a very detailed diary of absolutely everything that happened on a daily basis. None of us could understand why he bothered. But now, it would be an excellent point of reference! Nowadays of course, in this cotton wool society, many of the activities which we all took for granted, would be deemed as criminal acts and assault. But I really don't think it did any harm at the end of the day. There were always a few boys who seemed to be subjected to excessive punishment and basically bullying. …..”

So, if a former Rannochian proudly tells you they were involved in the construction, conversion or erection of some building or other at Rannoch School in the 1960s or 1970s, first ask tentatively if that was a PD duty or their contribution to the Construction Service. You can then make the appropriate sounds of sympathy or interest!

My father told me that homosexuality and bullying were not tolerated during the years he worked at Rannoch School, but of course he wasn't aware of everything going on at the school. Bullying did occur, unfortunately, and a lot depended on who the Housemaster was and whether the Headmaster found out what was going on. When a member of staff, a music teacher named “Piano”, made a pass at a boy in the school ambulance en route somewhere in the mid-1970s, the news went around the boys like wildfire. My father remembers that the relevant master couldn’t move anywhere outside his room in the main building without the boys making loud vociferous “complaints”. “Piano” left Rannoch soon after the incident.

The staff “sweep out” in 1965-66 marked a change from boring, time-consuming but useful PD, based on the original aims and ethos of the founders to form the boys into worthy members of society, to various forms of punishment. Penalty drill evolved into punishment drill. However, it really did depend on the Housemaster and how his House was run. On the 24th of February 2017, Alan commented, “Simon's communication  incorporating Keith's reflections came as a surprise - naively, perhaps, I had thought that Rannoch was always quite enlightened with regard to punishment. Not that I objected then (though I would now) to canings or military-type running with rocks - it is the spirit behind it that is so objectionable. ..... Mike Haines was always adamant that boys should not be given too much authority or "power", especially over more junior boys. I think Mike would have considered William Golding's novel "Lord of the Flies" - (Kill the pig! Kill the pig!) to be bang on the mark though I never heard him mention it.”

My father was never caned at Ampleforth, but he did get the “stick” once from a Housemaster. At the end of “A Rannoch Memoir” he asked “… do boys still get beaten for smoking? I shouldn’t think so. How boring it must be for them… .”

When Alec Cunningham died in 2011, my father was very pleased to note how many former Rannoch School boys attended his funeral at Kinloch Rannoch, a number of whom he knew had been caned by Alec Cunningham. Cunningham was highly respected at Rannoch School, both by the staff and boys. After his retirement, he continued living at Dall with his wife and carried on with his research on the history of the Rannoch area. You can still buy his booklet “Tales of Rannoch” or his brochure on local clan trails in Kinloch Rannoch.

My father never ever laid a finger on any of us. It just wasn't his style. He preferred the positive encouraging approach, avoided quarrels and opted for discussion and consensus in the family rather than confrontation. We did occasionally disappoint my parents, but they never made a fuss out of it or punished us. We just knew we had done something our parents didn't approve of. I tentatively asked Simon and Alan if he had treated Rannoch School boys similarly. Here is Alan’s answer, seconded by Simon, “Your recollections of not being punished by your father (or mother) accord with my memories of Andre. That I recall, I never had cause to be admonished by him but I thought of him as a gentle man and a gentleman. I think that would have been the universal view.”

After that high note, we will now move on to a memorable event in Rannoch School’s early years – the Duke of Edinburgh’s first visit.





9. The Duke of Edinburgh’s visit


A major highlight for Rannoch, but particularly for the Kinloch Rannoch primary school and Rannoch School, was the Duke of Edinburgh’s visit on the 27th May, 1969. Originally, he had been scheduled to visit Kinloch Rannoch and the Army Youth Centre at Carie on the south shore. Somehow, Peter MacLellan heard about this, strings were pulled, and the Duke was persuaded to include a visit to Rannoch School on his programme.

 




I personally have no memories of the visit, but after looking at the pictures and newspaper article on the Kinloch Rannoch primary school website, I can assume that all the school children were led by Mr Wilson and the other teachers to the village green near Bunrannoch Hotel. There, we were lined up at a safe distance from the helicopter landing area and encouraged to wave flags or handkerchiefs on his arrival. In the photo below I can see some of my friends, little Lynn Duguid (very small for her age) from Tummel Bridge in the front row with Lynn Wilson beside her and Dorothy is among the children behind.  Mr Wilson is standing behind the primary school children to the left of the local minister at the back. I don’t see any of the Zaluski children in the picture, unfortunately!

 

Perhaps we were sent home before the cavalcade of cars headed along the south shore.  

 

 

 


For our headmaster, Mr Wilson, it must have been a marvellous day. He seems to have been given the honour of explaining about Kinloch Rannoch and the scenery around to the Duke of Edinburgh as you can see in both photographs below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 


In the afternoon, the Duke visited Rannoch School and was entertained by the emergency services, including the Mountain Service in action. My father must have been proud of his MS as he explained to the Duke what was happening as the boys slowly lowered the stretcher from the roof top above the south door down to the ground. You can see the same Scottish gentleman with bonnet and long stick as in the previous photos with Mr Wilson. Pat Whitworth is standing beside him with his hands clasped behind his back, two firemen stand ready nearby and the ambulance service is waiting to take the injured person as soon as he reaches the ground. On the right the stretcher is further down the wall than in the first photo, though it looks very tricky at that point for whoever was abseiling with the stretcher and bracing himself with his legs against the wall. Alan Beaton wrote to me that in the MS this person was aptly called the “barrow boy”.

In both photographs you can see the rooftop windows above Wentworth House, the part of the main building around the South Door which was named after Captain Wentworth, the previous owner of Dall
estate.



Finally, this school photograph is the last I have of my primary years. It’s also the first in colour and can be found among the “unknown years” in the “history” folder of Kinloch Rannoch primary school. It’s of primary 6 + 7 (1972 – 1973). I’m the second from the left, front row and Mick is on the far right, grinning at the photographer. If you look carefully, you can spy the prison-like fence around, keeping the children in and stopping balls from going out. In the top left hand corner, you can also see the white railing leading up to the former village primary school. I remember the girls’ names Toni Douglas and Dorothy? on either side of me with Avril Geddes, Jennifer Duncan, Beatrice and her older sister Lizzie Duncan. Lynn Duguid is at the other end of the bench.

Apart from Lynn Duguid, I don’t know what became of the other girls. Of the boys, Ian Rose’s (3rd from left) older brother Ron still lives in Kinloch Rannoch and George Reynolds (4th from left) is now a Typhoon Aircraft Life Support Engineer, living in Saudi Arabia, but he regularly returns to Rannoch. I found both on Facebook. I didn’t have much to do with either at school, but I met Ian Rose’s older sister Margaret in Berne in the mid-1980s where she was the cook at the British Embassy. It’s a small world.


 




10. Thoughts


Looking back, over 40 years later, I feel I could pick up ties with those who went to Kinloch Rannoch primary school with me if I wanted to, whether they still live in Rannoch or not. We were taught well at the primary school and we all made friends, something which helped us to adjust to secondary school life in Aberfeldy. We were settled and content with what we had at Dall School House. Mick and I were also gradually becoming bolder as we got older, aware that we could use the Rannoch School facilities on our doorstep. That will be dealt with in the next part which covers my teenage years.

If you upturn a stone anywhere in the highlands of Scotland, you unearth several others underneath. We used to joke how rich Scotland was in granite. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed upturning quite a few stones and jogging my memories and those of others while compiling information for this tale. Others are best left buried, either because they are not suitable for public consumption or they simply make sad telling.

This account of my early childhood and primary school years is the longest text I have written since I graduated from the University of Berne in the summer of 1990. For the last two decades or more, the longest have been my Christmas letters and also the Zaluski Family Information letters, though the latter have been getting progressively shorter. Writing this has forced me to re-assess my own knowledge of the English language. It’s deteriorating and living abroad doesn’t help at all! Alan Beaton’s comments on whether I wanted to use American or English English made me realize that the blue lines under words was primarily Microsoft Word’s “English”. It didn’t like “marvellous” with two “ls”, nor did it accept “particularly” though “in particular” was alright. On the other hand, it didn’t protest at my wrong spelling of “fare” as “fair”. That spelling mistake was left for my father to discover.


 

 

 

Barbara Grimm-Zaluska, west coast of Scotland, 2016

 

 


At the state schools in Switzerland, teachers are expected to attend a certain number of further education course hours (known as CPD, “continuing professional development”, in Britain as Alan informed me). I wonder if my headmaster would accept this tale in lieu of course hours this school year? I have undoubtedly spent a lot of time and energy on it, as well as pondering on how, what and whether to say this or that. My active English knowledge has certainly improved in leaps and bounds as I have dredged up suitable expressions and vocabulary seldom used for years to express myself.

Simon Stoker originally asked me in May 2016 whether my father could write up something about our time at Rannoch for his exRannoch website. As my father cannot type much now due to shaking hands, I took the task on and it grew from there. I am grateful for his encouragement and research help with Rannoch. Alan Beaton has been marvellous with the editing, checking that my Rannoch facts are correct and adding his own personal memories and additional comments. Uncle Iwo’s enthusiastic suggestions for improvements have also been very welcome. As it was Simon Stoker whose original request led to “A Childhood at Rannoch, 1963-1981”, my main readers are former Rannoch School boys and their families. Nevertheless, I hope it will also interest my own extended family, those who live in Kinloch Rannoch or who know me in Switzerland.


Bibliography of  Part 1

1. “Rannoch Anthology, 40 Years On”, edited by Alec Cunningham and Daphne Banks, published in 1999 by Rannoch School.

2. Rannoch School magazines, 1964 (two), 1965-7, 1971-2, 1972-3, Prospectus 1960s

3. Rannoch School Limited, Confidential minutes of meetings of the Governors of Rannoch School June 1964 -July 1966.

4. Scottish Field article, “Rannoch, Public School in the Making”, by Campbell R. Steven, October 1964.

5. “The Ogiński Gene, A History of a Musical Dynasty” by Iwo Załuski, published by Zaluski Researches, 2010, ISBN 978-0-9566599-0-3

6. www.corpun.com for corporal punishment in Great Britain.

7. www.exrannoch.com Archives, Obituaries, Memories section, “Rannoch School, The Early Years 1958 – 1965” written by Jane Whitworth and Elizabeth Fleming, copyright 1994.

8. www.oginskidynasty.com, information about the Załuski family



Much of the Dall 'Estate'

Return to front page