I find I have made another faux pas, this time in the post before last – the one entitled “Happenings or not…” I had been told – I think more than once – that this long school holiday was known here as the “tattie” holiday – or maybe I got the wrong end of the stick and just assumed that this was the school break being referred to. I have to admit though that I had always thought it a bit odd considering that I know as well as the next man that main crop potatoes – the sort grown up here as they can be stored and therefore provided food during the winter months – are not normally harvested until October. However, I obviously hadn’t thought enough about it!!
It is true to say that the long summer school holidays were originally designed to allow children time off to help with farm work – not only here but in all parts of the UK and probably the rest of Europe. At the time of the 1872 Education Act, there was sensible realisation that children just wouldn’t be sent to school during these periods – the priority was the need to grow food, which is somewhat understandable! Many hands were needed to do the work before all the modern machinery was invented. I am sure that there was plenty of work to do on the croft up here during the summer – just not digging potatoes
The “tattie” holiday is in fact the mid-term break in October when the children here get two weeks instead of one. I don’t suppose that children are nowadays drafted in to help with the tattie harvest (although that still happened when my boys were young in that great potato growing county of Lincolnshire, albeit they were paid!), but they are often involved in the National Mòd which takes place during that longer holiday – so timed I have always thought, to give the children and their teachers who involved in the Mòd a chance to have a proper break.
At the end of the day, I really should have enquired further before writing those few sentences – especially as I did have reservations! All I can say is that I will try harder in future not to make such mistakes.
My thanks go to the person who told Angus that I had got it wrong, and to Angus who duly passed the message on.