I remember when I was a kid, there was a burn (a stream) about a 25 minute walk from our house. It was really called "The Luggie" but we would just call it "The Burn", and every weekend Me and my brother Mike would take walks down there to mess around and climb across the post-industrial waste that was left scattered around.
To get to the burn we used to have to walk across the railway tracks using this old grey metal bridge that was covered in graffiti reading "FTP" (Fuck The Pope) or "FTQ" (Fuck The Queen) alternatively. The path on the bridge was tarmac and the joints in the tarmac had this rubber tar-like substance that held them together. On hot days we would crouch down and press our initials into the goopy stuff with our fingernails.
There was also a bridge that crossed the Luggie but it was gradually stripped away by the Scottish weather and the local vandals. Pretty soon all that was left was a pipeline that had run under the bridge and that became the only way to cross the burn.
We would walk across this pipeline like it was a tightrope (in reality it was probably a foot or two wide) and to my 6 or 7 year old self this was a death defying stunt that only the likes of Evel Kinevel would have considered taking on!
Sometimes the burn would be clean and you could see minnows and sticklebacks and newts swimming around, one of these sticklebacks would eventually find their way to my other Brother's fish tank where they would end up putting a hole in the head of his goldfish when it swallowed it. I seem to remember both fish survived.
At other times it would run red with, what I presume was, industrial waste from some factory or other. It looked like rust and could have been bauxite run-off but the fact that there were still things living in there says otherwise.
One time I was down at the Luggie with a friend from school, we were probably about 11 or 12, and he was catching newts and putting them in a plastic bag that he had partially submerged under the water. This was at a time when there was a rumor going round our town that there was a bogeyman that lived in the woods who was killing children (it might have been true but I doubt it). Suddenly we heard a rustling in the woods and saw the shadow of some "big guys" (You had to watch out for "the big guys" as they would take your football or bike or beat you up) coming through. Someone shouted: "IT'S THE BOGEYMAN!" and panic erupted like a cat surprising a flock of birds.
I slipped off the rock I was standing on and fell arse backwards into the water getting soaked. My welly boots filled up like the scuppered battleships at Scapa Flow. At the same time my friend picked up the bag and threw it on the bank, there were probably about 6 or 7 newts in it. As I was struggling back to my feet, I looked over and saw my friend jump on to the bank and instead of picking up the bag and running, or throwing the newts back into the water, he stamped down on it with his boots several times crushing anything that was inside.
Later, once we had escaped the imaginary killers, I said: "What the fuck did you do that for?"
He said: "I don't know".
When I got home later that day I took off my sodden wellys and noticed, for the first time, that there were hairs growing on the back of my big toe. The water in the Luggie had been pretty red that afternoon with factory crap and I presumed that I had somehow damaged my toes and now my feet were going to turn hairy like werewolf feet. Little did I know about anything called "puberty".