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Black Isle Heritage Memories - Hermione Protheroe (1 of 11)
Hermi Protheroe
ARCH (Archaeology for Communities in the Highlands)

In this audio extract Avoch resident, Hermione Protheroe, remembers her early childhood days growing up in the village.

The audio recording was carried out as part of the Black Isle Heritage Memories Project, undertaken in 2009/2010 by ARCH (Archaeology for Communities in the Highlands). To find out more about the project, follow the link towards the foot of the page.

Transcription: (Interviewer: Cait McCullagh)

CM: So, Hermy, we're going to, you're going to tell me a little bit about yourself, about your name and where you were born, and when you were born, and a little bit about your family, em, background.

HP: Well, my name's Hermy Protheroe but I was born Hermione Cameron and that was an unusual name because I'm the fourteenth child, and when my brother, the seventh son, was born my mother was beginning to run out of names, and she asked the doctor, 'I don't know what to call him' and he said, 'Well, why don't you call him after the chief of the Clan Cameron, Lochiel' but my father didn't like the name, so when he went to register he liked Harold so he was called Harold Lochiel. So when I came along, eh, oh my mother said she didn't know what she would call me, so 'Oh, why don't you call her after his wife, Lady Hermione? So I was called Hermione, but of course as a little child I couldn't say Hermione so I said 'Hermy' so I was Hermy. So, I was always Hermy, and brought up in 9 High Street, and my father had 8, the shop, which was a shoemaker's shop and, of course, upstairs actually was the best room - in those days it had lino on the floor - and I remember on a Tuesday, this is horrible, the dentist came from Dingwall, a Mr Miller, and we had to put this bucket [?] with a wee drop of water, on the floor, and he came. And, of course in those days people just got their teeth out, and then it was a horrible job to empty the bucket with the blood and the teeth!

CM: So this was in the upstairs ...?

HP: In the upstairs.

CM: ... of number 9?

HP: Above the shop.

CM: Above number 8?

HP: In the good room.

CM: Oh my goodness.

HP: And I think that we were quite posh because we had a toilet half way up; there was a bedroom and then down to the toilet and then up to the other bedrooms. And I don't remember staying there with all my brothers and sisters, but I remember my mother saying the first half were away before the second half, but I think she had children every two years and of course no washing machines. I don't remember ever having an electric cooker, so it was all things done in, eh, on the stove, on the coal thing and, oh, I hated curds. That was when you made, warmed the milk in the oven, and then put rennet. I really hated that. But I think we were all at the table, everybody ate everything and my father had, as I say, the shop. It was through from the living room, you went through, I, well there was the door to the back and then there was a sort of cellar place under the stairs where my mother had beastie beer. Now, it was something in a bottle with, it looked like beasties moving about, I don't remember who drank it or anything. But the shop, I always remember my father had a big clock 'no tick here' and it was a great place for meeting so it was open 'til all hours at night. My father also, I suppose, but I remember when, people coming in and they would say 'How much is that Alec?' 'Och, a bag o Bachelors'. Instead of getting money, they probably didn't have money, but och he would take - that's pan drops. But he also had a job as a janitor of the school

CM: Which school was that now, Hermy?

HP: This was eh, well, sounds posh, it was Avoch public school. That's as you go up the brae there was the wee school which was made of wood, and it had a partition, and there was a singing room, and there were two fires, and then you crossed over, and it was the bigger school. And just up some steps from the big school there was where the, em, domestic science, and where the teachers had their staff room.