Portlethen, before the coming of the oil industry, was a small, close-knit community of farmers and fishermen that provided a wonderfully safe place to grow up. Skylarks and Seagulls paints a picture of life in Portlethen at that time, as seen through the eyes of the children who lived there.
The author, Elizabeth Dodds, was born in Portlethen in 1942, the eldest daughter of the minister, Rev. Alexander Dunn, and lived in The Manse until 1966.
“It’s a warm, sunny Saturday morning in June and we’re off to start cutting the peat. Up the Manse Road we go, past the wood with its sycamore trees and snowberry bushes, past grassy verges bright with buttercups and daisies and harebells and the white lace caps of cow parsley. Dad leads the way, dressed in his old brown tweed trousers and his Shetland Fairisle jumper, the peat spade, sharpened and gleaming, over his shoulder. Me and Stuart and Marilyn in our dungarees and wellington boots skip along beside him.
We turn left up Glascairn Road, following the drystane dyke till, at the edge of the moss, it gives way to an avenue of gorse, the golden yellow flowers glistening in the sunshine, dark prickly branches standing guard like well-armed soldiers. We walk along the track cocooned in the strong, spicy scent, the air singing with the hum of a thousand bees.”