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Highland home is where the heart is for centenarian

WHEN she first moved house, the world was at war and women in Britain were still fighting for the right to vote.

But as time moved on, centenarian Jemima Gillies - who has lived at Kinloid Farm, Arisaig, since she was nine months old - did not.

Mrs Gillies, who was born in 1914, has now spent 99 years and three months living in the same house.

Mrs Gillies, who celebrated her 100th birthday on July 1, continued to live at her father's farm after she married her husband Neil in Glasgow, aged 19.

The couple went on to bring up their four children, Alastair, Morabel, Isa Mary and Ann there, helping her father to work the land and eventually taking over the running of the place themselves.

The great great grandmother said: "I have travelled, to France and around Britain, but although I have been to different parts of the world my heart and home are here. I have never wanted to live anywhere else."

The first nine months of her life were spent in a family crofthouse on the Ardnish peninsula of Lochaber, near Lochailort. Her family then moved the short distance to Arisaig, when they got the chance to take over the farm.

Being used to a traditional crofter's lifestyle, Mrs Gillies and her husband continued to grow their own vegetables, getting eggs from their own chickens and rearing animals for meat, with Mrs Gillies supplementing their income by taking in bed and breakfast guests.

Her husband died about 40 years ago and Mrs Gillies now lives with her youngest daughter and son-in-law, Ann and Robert MacMillan, while her son Alastair continues to farm the land.

Pride of place among her 100th birthday cards is one from the monarch.

Mrs Gillies said: "It's amazing, me getting a card from the Queen."

Her recipe for reaching 100 is to keep busy and have good, plain food.

She said: "I always kept busy on the farm and I make sure I have a bowl of porridge every morning."

Her son-in-law Mr MacMillan said: "They used to grow all their own ­vegetables, a pig was fattened up for food and they also ate salt herring. It was the traditional crofting lifestyle - the good life."

Before the advent of electricity in ordinary homes the farmhouse was lit by paraffin lamps, and when Mrs Gillies was growing up the old two-storey stone house had bare stone floors.

Over the decades the house has changed considerably, with floorboards, lino and carpets fitted. It has also been gradually ­modernised, with a new kitchen and the addition of mod cons like a fridge freezer.

Still fit enough to get around, Mrs Gillies gets up at 8 o'clock every morning.

She said: "I like it here, I like my garden, I have planted a lot of plants over the years that are still here now. I don't want to go anywhere else."

And although she now has problems hearing, she enjoys watching BBC Alba, which has subtitles.

She also has a large family to keep her busy, with 14 grandchildren and numerous great grandchildren and great great grandchildren, including the latest arrival, three-month-old Eilidh Maureen MacLeod.

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