Episode 4: Twenty-Twelve - The journey continues... travel blog

Lothian Bridge from Ford, near Pathhead

a house in Ford

The florist and giftshop that used to the Craig family bakery, Biggar

Biggar Kirk

Annieston Pl, Symington. The Craig family farm is beyond these houses, the...

Oxenfoord daffs

More photos on Facebook, anyone can copy/paste the link to see them


Thursday 15th

Cynthea’s last day of work for Michael. Hennie, who worked for Michael before Cynthea, is returning today, she is due on the train in Banbury around lunch time. Cynthea and Michael go to collect her while Tony has another go at fitting everything into a now heavy backpack. Chocolates and biscuits from NZ are posted off to Manchester to lighten the load. We could have taken them with us and given Margaret her present in Orkney, but they may not have survived the journey! Other “supplies” (jetplanes, pineapple lumps, jaffas and most of the Whittakers peanut slabs) are all packed away in case the temptation to scoff the lot on the train and bus gets too much to resist! Lots of little bits, and the pack is so heavy, haha. We will have to eat them in Scotland because it will be too much to carry to Orkney later this month.

Cynthea hands over to Hennie, and then has to try and pack all her gear. She also has a full pack, bursting at the seams. Bev and Darrel arrive around 5pm to take us to the train in Banbury. We have about an hour and a half to wait there for the train to Birmingham. Could have booked an earlier one, but we saved quite a bit on the fares leaving later, and it is not as though we had to be in Birmingham anytime soon, the bus didn’t leave until 10.30pm. We couldn’t go anywhere much in Birmingham, there is not a lot open at that time of night so no point getting there too early. We had a coffee in the café at Banbury station and Tony puts his hands in his jacket pocket and finds the bloody house keys! BUGGER! Cynthea rings Hennie and she drives over to collect them.

The train is quite full, and there is no room in the luggage rack where they get on. We find our seats, and Tony sees there is room for their packs at the other end of the carriage, so he drags their packs through. Not a hell of a lot of room on these trains when they are busy. Our E-tickets had been printed off, but they need to see the credit card that was used to pay for the tickets. FFS, which one did we use? Tony booked them from NZ.

It was a short journey to Birmingham, getting in around 8.30pm. We had forgotten the layout of the station, and headed off in the wrong direction, and then nearly missed the exit. There has been a bit of building work going on upgrading the station in preparation for the Olympics. As we head towards the taxi stand we see the arrow directing us upstairs, or so we thought. Up on the next level we find ourselves looking out down on the taxi stand, bugger. At least up here there are shops, and Tony heads out to get some tea, a couple of subs for just £1 each.

Back downstairs to the taxi, and yes, if you look closely the sign does sort of point you off around the corner, rather than upstairs… but it still I not that clear. From that place, at night time, you cannot easily tell you are on the ground floor. That is our excuse and we are sticking to it.

We had a couple of hours wait at the bus station, leaving Birmingham at 10.30pm, and arrived in Edinburgh at 7.30am Friday. Managed to sleep a bit (if fact Tony did not even realise he had someone in the seat next to him for a while). The bus made several stops at service areas where passengers (and bus drivers) could top up with food and coffee, or get out and stretch the legs. The bus was bloody noisy - the luggage rack rattle and squeaked the whole trip as it was not properly secured (we just hoped it didn’t have anything too heavy up there if it came down!).

Torty meet us at the station and drove us back to Oxenfoord, where we made a start on the garden and ironing. There was lots to do, of both! The garden had not been touched since summer (as expected), but Tony didn’t think as many bloody buttercups would have survived in the flower beds. The ground was quite wet, but not too bad for digging, so the work was not too heavy. Did a bit of painting inside too.

Peter and Anne are still next door in the market garden, but have moved out of the cottage (too cold and damp) into a caravan onsite. They have added three kune kune pigs to their menagerie. There was a big storm up this way in November, and a huge tree has fallen near the cemetery near the gardens, taking out some of the old wall (not part of the walled garden though).

Saturday, more gardening for Tony and ironing for Cynthea. We are lucky with the weather so far, hope it holds. We both did extra hours, making the most of the weather for the outside work. Weather was supposed to take a turn for the worst, and if that was the case Tony couldn’t (wouldn’t!) work outside. Time in credit meant we could wander off to look for relatives.

Sunday, we had the use of Torty’s wee car, so we could tour around the place. We took Quince because Torty said she loved rides in the car (yeah, right!). Poor thing whined and cried all the trip because we would not let her sit on the parcel tray in the back window (where she blocked the rear vision mirror, but also not safe for her – or us for that matter!).

First stop was Biggar, where some of Tony’s family came from. We found the old family farm (Annieston) near the village of Symington, and the street where his Great Grandfather David Craig’s birth cottage once was. At the time we didn’t have enough information with us to see if any living relatives were still about, and initially a search of the phone book came up with no results. We then travelled back to Biggar to the Biggar Kirk graveyard where we found the gravestones of a number of his family. We took photos and transcripts of the head stones. Quince enjoyed her long walks around the cemetery. In the town itself we found the old bakery run by Tony’s great, great, great grandfather in the 1700’s, now two shops, a gift shop and a florist.

Time was short, and Cynthea had a few cemeteries to visit as well. West Calder and Kirkliston were next on the list. We found lots of Browns in Kirkliston, and spent a lot of time taking photos and transcripts, all to no avail. When Cynthea got back and checked her records, none of the ones we had taken down were a match (sigh, haha).

Monday, back to work. Tony in the garden and Cynthea made a start polishing silver. Later in the day we went to the services where Torty said to buy weed killer (there was no way Tony could dig the danelions out of the gravel). We got weedkiller (seemed pricey, but then this is the UK!), bu tthey didn’t have a sprayer. Suggested we go to Tescos, so we made a detour there, but no joy as it “wasn’t the season”. That is something we would get sick of hearing over the next few days!! We decided to try and borrow one from the Castle gardener later, and headed off to see Sharilyn and Brian in Ratho where we were expected for tea. On the way we found a garden centre, a very BIG garden centre, so we called in, just in case we couldn’t find it again. They had a cheap sprayer, and they also had the weedkiller, at about half the price we just paid (Bugger!).

It was great to catch up with Brian and Sharilyn. Tony and Brian enjoyed a late St Paddy’s Day Guinness while Cynthea and Sharilyn went to the cemetery to look at gravestones (no rellies there). We had a great night catching up, and enjoyed a lovely meal, thanks guys.

March 20th. Tuesday we worked in the morning, sprayed the weeds while it was calm,and after lunch took the bus into Edinburgh. The plan was to spend a couple of hours at “Scotland’s People” to research more ancestry, but it was full and no places available. Bit of a wasted journey. They tried to get us to book in for another day, but our free time was weather dependant (shite weather = free time!), so we had to leave it be. We called in at the tourist centre to see about tours to Isle of Skye, but the one we wanted was full on the date we wanted, so took away more info to read later.

Wednesday and Thursday we worked and did ancestry research from home. Thursday was Tony’s birthday, and we planned to go out for lunch, but mucked about so much the restaurant we were going to would have been closed by the time we got there, so in the end stayed at home. We would have a meal out while we were away, and celebrate for both of us.

We still haven’t decided when to go to Skye, so start with booking the bus back to Inverness from Scrabster (which is up the top of Scotland near John ‘o Groats). After that is still anyone’s guess what we are doing!

Friday 23rd March – it is a year today we left NZ. We miss everyone so much. Such a lot has happened that we so wanted to be there for. It is also very hard to pick a favourite place or event, we have had such a tremendous time. Many new friends and new experiences.

Today was very misty, Tony did a bit of garden work in the morning (are the weeds dying yet?), and Cynthea tidies cupboards. In the afternoon it was quite cold, so Tony read a book between naps. We realised quite late that we needed to get to the pharmacy to pick up contact lens solution for Tony, so we drive over to Cameron Toll and get to the shop five minutes after it closed. Bugger. At least Sainsbury’s was open and we could get some groceries in. On the way home the mist was a lot thicker.

Saturday was still misty. We pottered about tidying up and making sure we left in time to get Torty at the airport. Also needed to get that contact lens solution on the way, as we knew we wouldn’t have time on the way back. We were at the airport in plenty of time as Tony mis-read ticket, we arrived at airport two hours early! Bloody Easyjet’s fault. Who the hell prints the arrival time first, and the check in time after that, on the same line? We waited at the airport rather than head off elsewhere, too far to go back to town, and Sharilyn would have been busy with her play rehearsals. Really thick fog on the way back home.

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