The day I first set my eyes on Lendrick Muir I thought I could never face staying more than a wee while, and here I am after 23 years. I arrived on a nice sunny day in July. Outside was beautiful, but inside everything seemed to be so grim! I was introduced to Mr. Nicholson, an old gentleman who obviously had just had a tough time, and who turned to my husband saying "how dare you bring a young  wife here. She will not like it!" And yet the years at Lendrick Muir have been the most happy years of my life.

Yes the walls were grim, the rooms were grim, even the people seemed to be grim and austere. The November when I came back for a few days, it was even worse - it was cold. There was snow and ice, the crows were constantly getting on my nerves and my charming "boy friend" was too tired to speak to his future wife. And yet I came back in January newly married, hardly knowing a word of English.

My husband ("Monsieur" , I used to call him, too shy then to call him by his name) told me that a party given to the staff would quickly remedy my anxiety, and make me at ease with them. It certainly did and more so but the next day in the staff room, the same anxiety and coldness appeared again. I soon learned that you can let your hair down in a party, but only then - I learned later that despite their austere looks, Scots were in fact very- nice people.

At first - I was very popular especially with the girls who towards three o?clock in the afternoon used to come and talk to me - so coffee and biscuits were offered until I realized that they were skiving sports! Oh yes the flat was very popular then, especially at night when until eleven the older boys used to come cook and chat to be replaced by the staff until the early hours of the morning to the point when I would fall asleep at the table, especially when it was J. Hughes, Jim Haig, Norman Bisset and later Richard Russell. In the kitchen and diningroom, God knows how much discussion and laughter went on!

The boys in the early years were my first real contact with Great Britain. They were the ones I could speak to, laugh with and shout to and at, apart from my husband - they certainly learned all kinds of French words then. Conversations in French even took place - I could not say that nowadays! Even a "playlet" was done when the "most angelic" boy took the part of the prince in the "Little Prince of Saint Exupery".

Very soon the "Beaklets" arrived on the scene - first Mark "the monkey" as they used to call him. Valerie and then Benjamin who was even born in bedroom 1. The boys were back from holiday that day. They listened at the door to hear his first cry and cheered him. Some boys decided to help me in the education of my children, particularly Peter, the biggest devil there could be, [I hope he will forgive me!] Mark was 2 and I was trying to make him pick up his toys but in vain when Peter, supposed to do some French for me, arrived and told Mark to pick up his toys - and to my surprise Mark did it straight away and Peter turned towards me saying that I had no idea how to deal with children.

We also very occasionally had babysitters. The one I remember the most was Tony. One night when we came back, my husband was called out to look for a boy who had run away. Tony, instead of going to bed started chatting to me about all sorts of things - childhood, his relations with parents and so on. This lasted until my husband came back two hours later - In my innocence, I thought Tony had needed to talk, until I realised the next day that half of my bottle of Cointreau had disappeared the evening before.

It is not only the boys of Lendrick Muir which made the place very special but also its staff. I shall never forget Roger Wildman and his sounds of music - varying instruments blaring out of his room that I had to listen to at all times even during the holidays: And also Jim Haig and his adventures - one in particular when coming back from a holiday in Spain, he had arrived in the middle of the night, exhausted and had fallen asleep with a bottle of whisky still his hand, to be woken up by a newly arrived member of staff who had thought of catching a former pupil abusing the school's hospitality. He was told in no uncertain terms to disturb no further the Deputy Headmaster.

We also have been woken up by all sorts of people - one day by two fireman asking me where on earth was the fire! It happened to be in Craigard! Another time by the chief cook who had lost his bedroom key coming back from the pub; and by a mother looking desperately for her son.

Stories of this kind, I could go on for a long time. But what 1 would really like to say is how much Lendrick has meant and still means to myself and my family. My children have also been part of it. They also have known Lendrick with its ups and downs, its joys and sorrows. There has been a lot of joy but it has not always been easy for all of us. We all, as a family have been marked by Lendrick and proud of being so. These last years, as a Housemother have also been a time of enrichment due to the lovely people I have been working with and also the boys and girls. I shall miss it very much .

Thanks for having been part of it.

MARIE, FRANCE THORNBER

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