When visiting my parents in Scotland recently I found this newspaper clipping of Will Cairns playing his grandfather’s fiddle outside the cottage at Kidston Mill, Peebles. My parents bought Kidston Mill in 1970, at which point the Cairns family had long left and the place was a ruin with only half a roof. When we renovated the cottage we kept some of the inside walls as raw stone, and it is easy to imagine the fiddles hanging around the walls. Will Cairns came to visit us when he himself was an old man and gave us the news clipping and this photo with his grandfather, Robert Cairns, sitting in front of what was later my bedroom window.
The photo below was taken on the day we first saw Kidston Mill. My parents were prospecting for a ruin within commuting distance of Edinburgh as my father had been offered a job at the university there and they wanted to build their own house; a ruin was a passport to planning permission. This was the 31st ruin we had looked at and we had no idea who the owner was or whether he would want to sell – but when we asked the farmer he said that it was already on the market, with a closing date of noon that very day! By evening we had bought the place and my parents still live there.