Newlands and Norwegians

10 Apr

On 19 August 2021, I wrote a second post, below:

More clothes pegs on a line. They maybe don’t look much like clothes pegs but they are, and I kinda like them. They might make more sense once the swallows are there too.

The bonus picture today is of the Duncan siblings, taken on the steps of Newlands during WW2. They all feature in Mum’s memoirs in different ways, but the biggest character is Newlands itself.. it was given to Norwegians during the war, to use as a hospital, while Gran lived in the Garden Cottage with her daughters, Jen and Mum. But more on that another day.

The Duncan siblings: Arthur, Loïs (my Grandmother), Walter, Lorna and John

Mum was proud of her connections to Norway, first developed on her long journey back to Scotland at the start of WW11. On the ship were only a few passengers, and it seems that they were mostly Norwegian whalers, heading back to Europe to fight. Our Grandmother had a particular and long-lasting friendship with one, Kris Thoresen also known as Big Dog.

And Mum remembered with great fondness the young recuperating Norwegian soldiers who climbed trees with her on the Newlands Estate during the war. When she jumped into a large water tank and cut her foot (almost in half by all accounts!) on a broken jam jar at the bottom of the tank, she was carried up to the Big House which the Norwegians had turned into a hospital during the War, and there the kind Norwegian surgeons sewed her foot back together and the nurses bandaged it up.

In 2017 Mum contributed to a local project, gathering information about the connections between Dumfries and Norway from WW11 and beyond. The project is now all compiled here: Our Norwegian Story. There is oodles of information on the site about the many and varied ways that the Norwegians and the Doonhamers engaged with one another, including a section on Newlands (click through on the locations, and then on Newlands).

There were Royal visits to Newlands, by King Haakon in the 1940s and then King Olav in the 60s. As Mum’s mind started unravelling she became slightly obsessed with King Haakon, and with the plaque he unveiled at Newlands – she would suggest that we went for a visit to see the plaque, because no-one else would know about it any more, only her. There were days I would visit and she would tell me that he was coming to tea the next day, or that he had been there earlier, and now had thrown all his rubbish into that pile ‘there’ (pointing at the corner of the bed, where she regularly claimed there was a rubbish dump).

One of Mum’s other obsessions (for a while) was biscuits. She LOVED to have biscuits in her tin. And as fast as I could bake, and fill up that tin, they would all be eaten again.

And then I found a recipe for King Haakon biscuits! The joy! Of course I made a batch and took them to Mum, who declared that they had probably been made specially by the cook at Newlands, and that cook got the recipe from the King. I took that as praise indeed for my biscuits.

The biscuit recipe actually came from the WI Biscuit book, which is an absolute must for anyone who vaguely likes making biscuits.

And now I have a batch of the biscuit dough in the fridge, ready to be cut into slices and baked, so soon the kitchen will smell deliciously of sweet baking.

Do let me know if you make King Haakon biscuits. Or if you want the recipe for the Cardamom Cookies, which are sensationally good. One of these days I’ll get back to writing up more recipes again.


I started writing this series of posts here, with Taking Smock of the Situation, an embroidery project I started after I realised Mum might have dementia. There I was, embroidering her old fisherman’s smock with symbols relating to her life; while her memories were slipping away, like me at a party I don’t want to be at.

Before that I blogged about whatever I was cooking and you can find my recipes here.

One Response to “Newlands and Norwegians”


  1. Taking Smock of the Situation | Shewolfinthevalley - April 10, 2023

    […] Newlands and Norwegians […]


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