Posted by: ramblinrobert | April 22, 2008

A trip to Borders (not the bookstore)

Thursday, Apr 17,  we left Glasgow and headed to the country. Specifically, we headed southeast into the Borders region. This area is notable for it’s sheep and for many nurseries with their greenhouses for growing plants, mostly plants for urban garden centers. We saw lots of sheep (including may young lambs–cute, cute, cute!) and greenhouses. I was charmed by a little town of Peebles, sitting amongst rolling green hills alongside the River Clyde, with biking and walking path running along the river.

Our objective was New Lanark, a site notable for its large restored mill, but also for its labor practices. Robert Owen married the boss’s daughter and eventually became the mill manager. He instituted novel labor practices which, by today’s standards are still abysmal, but by the standards of his day were visionary and humane: children were not required to work but to attend school until age 10 (?); families had their own living space, not having to share with other families; a company doctor was available to treat injuries and illnesses; work hours and work days were reduced; adults were provided with evening classes to further their education; sanitation practices were introduced and enforced; and positive reinforcement and social recognition were used to promote good work rather than the punishments typical at the time. Although much of what he instituted and which became common, some of these things, such as employee education benefits, are unfortunately no longer being provided by corporate employers. Makes me wonder how far we will regress back to the bad old days.

The mill itself was fascinating, as we were able to follow much of the process used to prepare cotton and wool into yarn, but rather than by hand large machines were used. In minutes, large amounts of yarn could be produced using a few machines instead of hundreds of individual carders and spinners.

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Responses

  1. Hearing about the tiny lambs is making me incredibly second-homesick for the UK. Aren’t they the cutest?! We enjoyed your postcard, too. Be sure and blog about any beers you try…We do get McEwan’s in the US, but rarely on draft so enjoy it – it’s yummy! But, especially in the country pubs, there will probably be some interesting beers that don’t make their way over here…Leave it to me to ask about the drinks!!

  2. Bob:
    Your details are so descriptive that I feel like a fellow rambler. I especially enjoyed hearing about the visit with “Aunt Mabel”. It sounds like the trip is fulfilling your hopes and expectations.
    Before you know it, you will be packing for home. It must seem like the days are going quickly. Enjoy! Tule Sis


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