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quokka

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  1. Sorry about the delays, my ISN provider has been having issues.

  2. quokka

    PS Ch 12

    When I woke the next morning, I felt that it was still quite cold outside of my sleeping bag, and while still fully clothed I stepped out of the hollow to be faced with deep snow surrounding my campsite, with some of last night’s campfire partially buried. Thankful that I had collected some extra wood and kindling to make a fire for breakfast, which had managed to stay dry, I soon had my fireplace going again, and began to heat up some water to make a cup of tea. While waiting for the water to boil, I trudged through the snow to relieve myself, and after using hand sanitiser, I went looking for some more wood, that was not too damp from the snow and rain, which I knew would be a hard ask. Finding a fallen tree with plenty of dead branches on it that were off the ground, I began breaking off pieces, large and small, so as to have a good supply of wood, since it looks like I would be here for a day or two at least. I only had enough food for six days in total, so knew that I needed to conserve what I have left, so I decided that I would skip my lunch meal, to try and stretch out my supplies some more. While collecting some wood, I heard the sound of running water, so I headed back to my camp with what wood I had collected. With the firewood stacked off the ground and under cover, I grabbed my canvas bucket, and headed for towards the sound of the river, using my multi took to make the trees as I go, so I can find the camp again, and when I finally reached the water source, I was surprised to see that it was a small river or creek, with plenty of rocks in it forming rapids. As I was filling the bucket with fresh water, I heard a splash sound and after looking around, I saw a fish jumping out and splashing back into the creek, and I smiled, knowing that I now have another food source, and all I had to do was catch it. I stood in the freezing cold water in my bare feet for a good twenty minutes before I had caught my first fish by hand, and shortly after that, I caught two more. “Happy with that, I put my boots back on and headed back to camp, which I was glad was quite easy to see, as my fire was now producing a fair amount of smoke from a slightly wet piece of wood, that I had placed on it before leaving the camp. When I arrived back, I was shocked to see that part of the Hootchie had melted from the heat of the fire, and I cursed at my stupidity of allowing for this to happen, and placing the fish on the wood pile, I undid the ropes, to release the destroyed Hootchie, and I put it to one side, while I retrieved the spare one, and this time, I tied a rope between the two trees, at a height of about two and a half metres off the ground, which was as far up as I could reach on the second tree. With that done, I attached ropes to each corner, of the width of the Hootchie, and tied them to two other trees about a metre away from the rope strung between the two big trees, and once I had the Hootchie over that centre rope, I used the stakes I had made to peg the other end down to the ground, so it now provided a one end enclosed area between the two larger trees and an open area on the other side. Once I had done this, I emptied my backpack and headed back to the creek, where I managed to find some good-sized rocks that have at least one side that is flat, and I hauled them back to the campsite, which was quite a task. Now with better rocks, I made a better camp fire in the centre of the shelter, so as to try and contain the heat a bit more, and not have a repeat of last time, and once that was done, I kept my backpack on my back and headed off to where I had seen some good size tree branches, that would help to improve the shelter. For this hiking trip, I had increased the number of supplies that I had with me, so apart from the water bucket, I also have a wire saw and a hatchet, and with these two items with me, I was able to cut some good-sized branches, that are fairly straight, some at about two metres and a few at three metres long, with some of the short ones having a Y shape at the top, and strapping them to my backpack, I made my way back to the camp. Once I had the branches stacked up, I began to scale and clean the three brown trout, that I had caught, and with some green twigs, I weaved a mat, with some good gaps between the, and with that done I found four green branches with a strong side branch, and after cutting it to size, I dug four holes around the edge of the fire pit and buried the sticks about two feet down, with rocks around the base, before placing the stick mat into place over the sticks, and made a few adjustments until I was happy with it. Placing the fish on the weave mat, I placed it to one side, and started up the fire again, this time keeping the flames low, so as not to melt the Hootchie. Once I had a great feed of fresh fish, I cleaned up the campsite, and well away from the campsite, I dug a hole to bury the remains of the fish. Back at the campsite, I used to of the sticks with a short Y on the top, to prop up the rope that supports the shelter, and I used a longer length as a cross bar. Once that had been done, I used the longer lengths, to lean against the cross bar, on the inside of the shelter. Once I had done that, I headed out and found a heap of fairly straight thinner pieces of sticks, and back at the campsite, I weaved them through the upright sticks, so I now have a support wall & ceiling for the Hootchie. Heading back down to the creek, this time with my empty backpack, where there is a huge amount of bracken fern, I have to work to cut as much bracken fern that I can carry, both in the backpack and in my arms, before heading back to camp. With all of the green bracken fern, I weaved it into the wooden support wall, so as to create a protective layer between the fireplace and the Hootchie roof, which would allow me to now have a bigger fire to stay warm. After temporarily packing up my tent, I used all of the left over bracken leaves, to soften the floor of the hollow tree, as it was fairly hard to sleep on at night. When done, I put the tent back up inside the tree, and laid out my sleeping bag once again. With daylight fading quickly, I got to work making a weaved screen form the rest of the larger sticks, until I had a two metre by three metre wooden screen, which I will use to partially block of the open side of the camp. This will help to keep the snow, rain and cold wind out, and using some rope, I attached it to the eyelets a quarter of the way along the Hootchie, so that it will stay upright in strong winds, and I pegged the bottom of the screen down to the ground. With a fair amount of wood stacked up against the shelter wall, I stoked up the fire, as the temperature again plummeted quickly, so I sat on a log end that I had found near by, and kept close to the fire for as long as I could, before heading into my tent, to stay warmer, inside my sleeping bag. Using my small torch, I took out my compass and topographical map, and I looked at it carefully, to try and work out exactly where I am, as this is my third night in the forest, and I needed to start looking at finding a way to get back to the manor, before Mum starts getting worried, as I am due back no later than the day after tomorrow. I decided that I need to go for a long hike tomorrow, to get to higher ground to pinpoint my location, then from there I should be able to get to the Mt Jukes Lookout on the Mt Jukes Road, and once on there I can hike west along the dirt road to a nearby Hydro-Electric power station. As expected it began to snow again during the night, and when I woke in the morning, it was a lot higher than the previous morning, and I was now very glad that I had built the screen, as there was snow banked up against it, and virtually no snow in my camp area under the Hootchie canopy. After getting the fire going again, I cooked up one of my breakfast packets, which do not look very appetising, but they do taste fairly good. Once I had eaten, I heated up some water, and gave my self a brisk sponge bath, with the warmth of the water disappearing quickly once it cold air got to it. Once I had changed into my only spare change of clothes, I cleaned up the campsite, stoked up the fire with a mixture of dry and green wood, before grabbing my water bottle, compass and map, and I started heading northeast up the nearest ridge, so get a better idea where I am. When I felt I was near the top of the ridge, I turned around, and all I could see was just trees, as it was just as thick with vegetation as it is further down, so after a little bit of searching, I found a tree with enough lower branches, that I could climb up it, and when I was about 6 metres off the ground, I was finally able to look around me. I could see the smoke of my campsite due south of me, deep in a valley, and I smiled about that, looking to the northwest I could see the King River, and looking to the east I could see a gravel road, which I presumed to be the Mount Jukes Road. Once I had climbed back down to the ground, I retrieved my map, and using what I saw up high, I was able to pinpoint the hill that I am standing on, and where the camp site, and I was able to work out that I was less than three kilometres away from the road if I remain in the valley and follow them towards the road, on the map. Satisfied with what I had achieved, I headed back to my campsite, where I would spend one last night, before packing up and heading off for the road in the morning, hopefully with less rain this time, as I was finding it hard to walk through it, where it hadn’t melted, which was about 50 metres higher than the campsite. Once back at camp, I carefully pulled off the green wood, and put it to one side, and I stoked the fire with dry wood to heat up some water for a well-earned cup of black tea, and a late lunch meal in a packet. Once I had cleaned up, I laid back and enjoyed the peaceful sounds of the forest. I must have counted about twenty different bird sounds over the time that I sat there, and just as it started to get cold again, I heard a distinct snap of a branch, which was definitely not made by a bird, and I froze still waiting to see if I would hear any more. I heard another snap, but this was quickly followed by the sound of a kangaroo or wallaby bounding away from the sound, but it was heading in this direction, so I stayed still. When I heard it stop close to the camp, I carefully looked in that direction and saw a wallaby looking back in the direction that it came, and a loud crack of another dead branch made the wallaby start off again, bouncing right past my camp and disappearing into the forest down near the creek. “Seen anything yet Bill?” I know he must be here somewhere, I saw the smoke clearly about an hour ago,” I clearly heard a voice say, “What? no, just a wallaby scaring the crap out of me just ahead,” the second voice replied, and I heard a chuckle coming from the first man, as I stood up, “If you are looking for me, I am right here,” I called out. “Mr Crawford is it?” one of the men called back, “yes, that is me, why?” I responded, “We came looking for you, as your mother was getting a little concerned, especially with this sudden storm that appeared out of know where the other night,” one of the men said as they approached. “Oh you are just a teenager, your mother didn’t say what age you were, only that you were an experienced outdoor bloke, who maybe in trouble with this storm,” one of the men said as they appeared out of the forest. “That is why I found a good spot to shelter, and after today’s check on my surrounds from the ridge to the north, I know exactly where I am, and I was going to head for the Mount Jukes Road and the Hydro plant tomorrow,” I responded.
  3. quokka

    PS Ch 10

    I’m not sure how to respond to these feed comments, so all I will do is acknowledge them and take them under advisement.
  4. quokka

    PS Ch 11

    Robert
  5. quokka

    PS Ch 11

    Robert
  6. quokka

    PS Ch 11

    The ship has five decks, it has three separate lounges, a library, lecture lounge, a gymnasium, and a gift shop, which we could utilise some other way, and there is covered or open outdoor deck areas on each deck, plus two explorer tenders and six tenders. I suggest that we add a few double and single kayaks to the list,” Robert announced. “What is your suggested travel route, if we do go for this way?” Hunter asked, “Well, I was thinking of a fourteen day circumnavigation of Tasmania, including Flinders and King Islands, with a mixture of adventure and education being the key aim for the trip,” I replied. “I have decided that I like this idea so much, that I am prepared to financially support this scholarship, which we will discuss in some more detail later. Firstly we need to secure the ship and crew, and work out an itinerary for the scholarship,” Robert replied. For nearly two hours, the three of us were in discussions until we heard Mum and Aunty Bea coming inside. “Hello, what have you three been up too?” Aunty Bea asked. “Oh, just business mostly, since Robert is heading back to Scotland at the end of the weekend,” I replied. After lunch, Hunter received a call, and straight afterwards, he spoke to Robert quietly, “I am sorry, but we have to head back to Scotland, Alexander has been rushed to hospital urgently, and I need to be there, I will ask Charles to take us back to Strahan while you stay fort he rest of the weekend. I will make sure that the plane comes and collects you at 3 pm tomorrow, to take you back to Launceston,” Robert announced to us, understanding that it is a family emergency; Aunty Bea wished them a safe journey home, and we did the same. Less than an hour later, I received a text message. “Hi Edwin, just a quick note, I heard back about my enquiries about the ship, which is no longer available, I will keep looking, but maybe you could look at other options, Regards Robert.” Although a little disappointed about not having a ship for the scholarship, I knew that it was a long shot, and so I headed to the study with my laptop to look at other options, as Robert suggested. We ended spending the rest of the time at our holiday retreat relaxing and taking walks along the boardwalk through the forest, before flying back to Launceston, so I could complete my final week of school term. Mum and Aunty Bea agreed that they enjoyed their stay at the retreat, especially with Charles and Elizabeth doing all the work looking after us, and they agreed with me on the idea of spending the two weeks of the school holidays back at the retreat. I decided to keep the existence of the retreat to Craig and Brad for the time being, and they had organised a trip to the Snowy Mountains for the holidays, so when the last day of the school term came to and end, I headed straight home, where Mum and Aunty Bea had everything packed for the two-week holiday. Instead of chartering a plane to fly there, Mum decided for us to drive down there, which is a four-hour journey, with an overnight stop at a lodge in the Central Highlands, which is about half way along the journey. Charles would be collecting us at about 10 am on Saturday morning, to get us to the retreat in the sports boat, which is a great ride, cruising up the river in amongst the forest. I was beginning to enjoy these times in a remote forest location, even though it is less than half an hour away by boat to Strahan. The walks along the boardwalk gave me plenty of time to think about my future, and especially with all of my properties in the UK, and I realised now that maybe after school, my future would be in Scotland, with Haig Hall as my possible home base, and this was something I need to discuss with Mum and Aunty Bea. With the property being thirty-eight acres in area, with the centre of the property being twenty to forty metres higher than the riverbanks area including where the manor is located, which is about fifteen metres above the river water level. The boardwalk has no steps, and only has mild slopes to make it the walk over the peek of the hill. The first sixty metres of the boardwalk goes directly to the railway line, ramping down to ground level on the edge of the forest. Stepping over the railway line, the ramp up to the boardwalk begins once again on the edge of the forest, before splitting into two directions, one heading on the west side of the hill, and the other heading to the east, along the edge of the first cleared area. The east boardwalk goes for another 90 metres before reaching the edge of the second cleared area, and going on til the northern boundary, were the boardwalk starts to Zig-Zag up the slope to the top and back down on the other side. It meets up with the east side of the boardwalk near the first clearing, with it being one point six kilometres long in total. I found it a good source of exercise, each day at the retreat, and I found that I needed to take a rain coat with me on most walk’s as there were regular light showers or rain during the walk. On my third day back at the retreat, on my daily walk, I stopped at the second clearing to have a better look around. As I had a good look, I realised that this would be an ideal location for guest accommodation, to help pay for having the land in a remote location, and maybe this could be the location for the scholarship to be held. When I returned to the manor, I asked Charles to take me into town, as I wanted to do some shopping, for some hiking gear, as I wanted to explore some more of this area. By the end of the afternoon, Charles brought me back to the manor, with shopping bags full of hiking gear. This included a good-sized hiking backpack, a flint & steel, a pocket multi tool, a first aid kit, a lightweight thermal sleeping bag, a compact hiking towel, water bottle, a compass, hand sanitiser, emergency blanket and waterproof jacket. I already have a good pair of new hiking boots, thick socks, as well as gloves and thermals, which I brought back with me from Europe, so I now felt ready to try a day out of hiking, with the possibility of overnight camping, if I need too. When I announced my planes to my family, they were a little concerned that I was going to be hiking in the thick forest on my own, but I assured them that I would be fine. Over the next few days, I did a series of daily hikes, returning to the manor just before dark each time, each time going in a different direction. When I was confident that I knew the area fairly well now, I announced that I was going to try a few overnight stays in the forest, with two Hootchie canvases and cord, to provide me with shelter if I need too, but so far all I have had to deal with is light rain on the hikes I have done so far. The first overnight stay after a half day hike went very well, and I returned to the manor mid afternoon, and with only a week remaining before we had to head back to Launceston, I wanted to do a full day of hiking and an overnight stay in the forest, so five days before our departure back to civilisation, with my backpack loaded, with everything, including plenty of fresh water and freeze dried food packs and snacks, I set off early the next morning, after a large breakfast. This time my direction was going to be East-North East to Mount Jukes Lookout, which in a straight line is just over seven kilometres, but between that is some very rugged and steep terrain, with approximately 7 ridges to climb up and down, as well as the thick forest to deal with, and this time I would be carrying a compact pop up tent with me. I knew that it would be tough going, but I also knew that I was fit enough, strong enough and fairly well prepared to be able to succeed. What I had not taken into account was that my one and only silly mistake, was that I did not do a final check of the weather report before leaving, and that I was about to hike into one of the worst winter storms that Tasmania has experienced in a decade. After my first full day of hiking, I estimated that I had only travelled about five kilometres, as I had decided to take a longer route, following valleys, where the climbing would not be so steep, and I set up camp just above a creek, which according to my map is the Garfield River. This would get me nearly half way to my destination of the lookout, but I firstly had to find the access road that leads to it. My first day of hiking in this direction had given me plenty of challenges, apart from fighting through very thick forest, there was always plenty of large fallen logs to cross over and small creeks to cross. When I woke in the morning, I realised that the temperature was still quite low, and there was a thick misty fog in the valley, as I heated up my breakfast, and had a cup of tea, before packing up everything and setting off once more, checking my compass and the map, before surveying the hills around me, to get a basic idea of my location. I had travelled in a mostly Easterly direction yesterday, so I needed to follow some valleys that go in a more northerly direction, if I am to find the access road, hopefully some time late in the afternoon, but I would not be too concerned if I do not stumble across it until tomorrow. It was almost dusk by the end of the day when I decided to finally stop, having not found the access track yet, even when I was going mostly in a northeasterly direction for most of the day. Earlier when I was on top of a ridge, I could see a number of high mountain ridges, some close and some a lot further away, so I knew that I must be fairly close to them now. I was now on a eastern slope of a small ridge, where I had managed to find a flat area, protected by three large trees, with one of them having a hollowed out area, that is about two and a half metres in diameter and about half a metre above the ground, which I decided was a perfect shelter. It took me about half an hour to level off the inside of the hollow, which was filled with most, rotting bark, and some charcoal, left from when there must have been a fire through the area a decade or two ago, as the area was still fairly well regrown back, with plenty of high foliage cover. Once I was satisfied that the hollow was fairly flat and smooth, I set up my pop up tent inside, and once I had my backpack inside and my sleeping back laid out, I grabbed one of the Hootchie and rope, and began to secure one short end around the tree trunk. This was a little difficult because of the girth of the tree, but after a few attempts and a few adjustment to how to get the rope around the tree, then standing inside the hollow, I lifted the rope till it was just above where the hollow ends, and pulled it tight, so it would not slip down, with a small notch in the tree assisting me with achieving that. The other end of the Hootchie I secured to the ground after making some stakes, near the base of the other two trees, using my multi tool, and used some more rope and stakes in the ground to keep it tort. Happy with what I had achieved, and with it now almost dark, I quickly found some rocks and fallen wood, to make a small fire to cook my dinner. Feeling the temperature drop quite quickly, I gave the pot and plate and cutlery a quick wipe with a tiny bit of water, before retreating to my tent, to stay warm. Being raised off the ground and inside a tree hollow helped with keeping out the cold, as there is only a one-metre wide and two metre high gap in the tree, making it a nice and cosy tree cave. I woke up shivering sometime in the night, and while still in my sleeping bag, I retrieved an extra woolly jumper and the emergency blanket, to cover me, to help keep me warm, and happily I was soon fast asleep again.
  7. quokka

    PS Ch 10

    We were amazed at how thick the forest is, with us not being able to see anything beyond more than twenty metres in When we approached a second bridge, the yacht slowed down to a crawl as it went under it, without touching the underneath of the bridge, but I estimated that it would have been a very close call. After another 45 minutes, we began a sweeping turn, suddenly the catamaran turned into a small jetty that was well hidden amongst the trees, on the inside of the turn, and we were soon moored at the jetty. “What are we doing here?” Aunty Bea asked. “I thought we could take a little walk along a set trail in the forest to see what it is like further inland,” Robert replied as we headed down the spiral stairs, and off the yacht. The jetty is about two metres wide, and I was surprised that we walked about thirty metres along it before stepping onto a raised boardwalk, already deep in the forest, with the yacht barely visible behind us. “How much further can this yacht go up stream?” I enquired, “Well the next train station is just four kilometres upstream, and there is a small jetty located 50 metres down from there, as there are small rapids just after the jetty, stopping us from getting any closer,” Robert replied. We walked along the boardwalk, for about eighty metres until Hunter who was leading the way came to a stop, and turned a faced us. “Sir Edwin, I would like to present to you, your holiday home, Wigan Manor,” Robert announced. At first, I did not notice anything, because of all of the thick forest vegetation, then I noticed what looked like a large steel pole, and then I spotted a second one, “What the heck is this?” I asked as I walked up to the closest pole and gave it a thump with the side of my fist. When I heard a sound, I jumped back in fright, and suddenly a building appeared out of the sky, or that is what it looked like at first. When the motors that managed the building height adjustments came to a stop, the building was now in full view, with it looking to be about eight metres in width, as it stopped three metres above the ground, and another sound, soon showed the arrival of stairs. “Wow, this is incredible, how do you do all of that?” Aunty Bea asked, “Simple really, the manor is located on a raising platform, which is usually used on water, but I have had it airlifted into place, as were the three sections of the manor. She is eight metres wide and eighteen metres long, with 3 levels, and after these entry stairs, you have a choice of stairs or a lift to get to the other levels. I have employed a caretaker couple, who look after the manor, and they have done an excellent job of looking after Hunter and me during our stay here,” Robert announced, just as a couple appeared at the foot of the stairs. “Baronet Wigan, welcome to your new home, we hope you enjoy your stay. Welcome to Wigan Manor, Lady Petworth and Lady Crawford. Welcome back Lord Crawford, and Master Hunter. My name is Charles and this is my wife Elizabeth, please follow us upstairs,” the Gentleman said who was wearing a full suit, while the Lady was wearing a simular formal uniform, and Charles took over carrying some of the luggage, while Hunter brought the rest. Arriving on the first level, we were on a wide verandah, and large glass windows gave a magnificent view of what is inside, a very grand looking living area. “As you can see we have the living room in the centre, on once side is the drawing room, and on the other is the Billiards Room. Behind the living area is the elevator or lift as you call it here, stairs, as well as the main access hallway, with the staff quarters and stores behind that. Behind the Drawing room is the formal Dining room and adjoining Kitchen and pantry, while behind the Billiards room is the library,” Robert informed us as we entered the living area. On the next level up at the front, there are two guest suites and two guest bedrooms, all with private bathrooms, plus a guest lounge room. The access hallway behind it goes to the central elevator, stairs, as well as the upper level of the library, a study, computer room and music room, plus some storerooms. The top level has the two master suites. The manor is fully self sufficient, with a composting biodegradable waste system, a number of fresh water tanks, with water collected from the roof for drinking, as well as filtered water from the river for the rest of the required uses. “For power, the manor has solar panels on the roof, as well as two wind turbines that provide all the power needed, which is stored in a bank of huge batteries. Usually during the day, the manor is down at the level it is now, and at night it is raised, so as to collect wind power,” Robert announced to us. Hunter showed Aunty Bea and Mum to their guest suites on the next level, while Robert showed me to my master suite located on the upper level. “Wow, you went all out with luxury with this place,” I commented as I stepped into my suite private lounge, and into my bedroom suite. “Only the best for my cousin,” Robert said after a short chuckle. “Where does Hunter sleep?” I asked, “Oh he sleeps in the dog house,” Robert commented, “I heard that My Lord,” came a quick response from Hunter, and I laughed at that, and Robert smiled. “He sleeps in one of the guest bedrooms, which are just as comfortable as the suite, just a little smaller,” Robert answered to my question. How long have Charles and Elizabeth been staying here?” I asked, “They moved in as soon as the manor was fully in place just over a week ago, and they have been busy preparing for your arrival,” Robert replied. “Are they here full time?” I asked, “Yes, and if you didn’t notice, there is a smaller boat that they use to get into town to do the shopping and other supplies when needed. I have set up a housekeeping account, which they use to pay for all household costs, including fuel for the small boat, which is a fifteen metres sports motor yacht, which is much faster and manoeuvrable than the catamaran,” Robert replied. “I would like to have a private chat to you about an idea I have, that could be beneficial to not just my school but other independent schools in Tasmania,” I said to Robert as I exited my suite. “That sounds very intriguing, let’s take a seat here in the hall, and we can discuss it,” Robert replied. “Well, after some research, I worked out that there are a total of nine independent senior schools like and including the school I attend. Six of them are in Northern Tasmania, and the other three are in and around Hobart in the south of the state. I was thinking of doing a special bursary award for the top Year Eleven Students at each of the Christian independent senior schools. I was thinking that since some are co-ed and some are just boys schools, maybe we should make it for boys for the first one,” I began, thinking more about how it could work as I spoke. “Go on, I like what you have come up so far,” Robert encouraged me, “I was thinking of it being a two week long adventure and educational trip. With guest lecturers from universities, in fields like marine science and environmental science, plus specialist coaches in outdoor activities like scuba diving and such,” I said. “Keep going, I like what you have come up with so far, and I want to know more, like where would this trip be held?” Robert said to me, “This is where things are getting a little tricky, I was thinking of maybe purchasing if possible a small cruise ship, with a maximum of about 120 passengers, which will be used as the base for the two week trip. Maybe have one or two teachers from each school in attendance, as well as the lecturers and coaches,” I suggested. “Well, you have put a fair amount of thought in this haven’t you? I am fully supportive of this idea and will gladly help in anyway to get it happening,” Robert responded. “I am so happy to hear that, thankyou Cousin Robert,” I said happily. “Any idea what you would call this award?” Robert asked, “No not really, but maybe I could name it after my title, without revealing that it is me,” I replied. “What about something like the Wigan Academic Scholarship,” Robert suggested, “Yes, that sounds fairly good, I will do some more research and see what needs to be done to get things started,” I replied. That evening, after dinner, we all sat on the verandah listening to the wildlife in the forest, and it was so peaceful and relaxing, I was now very glad that Robert had decided to locate our holiday home in the Tasmanian Forests on the west coast. “When will you and Hunter be heading back to the UK?” Aunty Bea asked Robert, “We will be flying back to Launceston with you, then onto Melbourne, before boarding our flight back to Edinburgh via London,” Robert replied. The following morning, after a bit of a sleep in, I woke up to the sound of a steam whistle, and I realised that it must be the Wilderness Railway train, and I quickly dressed and headed out to the verandah to have a look northwards. I strained to see if I could see the train with the railway line being just 60 metres away from the Manor according to Robert, but all that I could see was the black smoke coming from the engine, because the forest is so thick. I also realised that the Manor was back down at the lower level, so the verandah is just slightly below the level of the treetops. After hearing the train get further away, I headed downstairs for some breakfast. “Good morning Sir Edwin, the others have all eaten, but I have kept your breakfast warm for you,” Charles said before heading into the kitchen and returning moments later with a cooked breakfast. I was about to ask where everyone was when I heard Robert’s laugh, coming from the direction of the billiards room. After breakfast, I walked into the billiards room to see Robert and Hunter playing billiards. “Good morning sleepy, did you have a good rest?” Robert said when he saw me enter. “Yes thanks, so peaceful and quiet, I only woke when I heard the train whistle, and when I went out to look, all I could see was the smoke from the engine,” I replied. “Your Mum and Bea have gone for a walk, as I have some raised boardwalks constructed,” Robert replied. Can we have some more discussions about my project, while there is no one around?” I asked, “Oh so I am a ghost am I?” Hunter said, and Robert smiled, “No sorry, I just meant… Never mind,” I said and Robert laughed. “It is alright, Hunter knows about your scholarship project, and together we have already started working on it, firstly with a plan of action, so let’s stop this and take a set in the study, so we can get to work,” Robert said. Once settled into the study, Hunter pulled out his laptop computer and booted it up. “Right to start off, we have looked into the idea of using a small cruise ship, and we have found a possible suitable ship. She is 93.5 metres long and 17.2 metres wide, with a draught of 4.5 metres. It has 54 guest cabins and 6 guest suites, 22 crew and 4 officers cabins for a total of 48 crew, although with this not being a cruise, and more of a private ship, you may be able to cut the crew numbers down, so it is not so costly.
  8. quokka

    PS Ch 9

    Thankyou
  9. quokka

    PS Ch 9

    Thankyou
  10. quokka

    PS Ch 1

    Thanks mate. I haven’t been to Scotland, but it is high up on my to do list, as my ancestors come from there.
  11. quokka

    PS Ch 9

    “Very good work with getting around the answer of having a title,” Brad whispered to me, as we sat under a tree to eat lunch, “Yes, I thought so too, and I am glad you didn’t expand on the bit about Holyrood Palace,” I replied. “All in your service Sir Edwin,” Craig said softly smiling. “By the way what sort of mobile do you both have?” I asked, “Old I-Phones, why?” Brad answered, “Mine is an I-Phone 6s,” Craig added, “Ok, we have a free lesson straight after lunch, so let’s eat up as I want to do some fast shopping,” I responded. “You mean sneak out of school?” Brad asked, “Yes, I mean that, I think this is important, and we have sports straight after, so it won’t matter if we are a little late getting back,” I replied, as I pulled out my phone, and dialled a number. “Yes, can I have a car to the corner of Joffre and Banks Street, Mowbray going to Launceston please,” I said when the call was answered, and ended the call when the request was accepted and smiled at my two friends. “Ok, what are you up to?” Craig asked, “Wait and see mate, just wait and see,” I replied, as we stood and headed to the back corner of the school. Less than fifteen minutes later, we arrived in Launceston, as we exited the taxi on Brisbane Street, outside the Telstra phone shop, and I led the way inside. Thankfully, it was quiet so we were able to get service right away. “I would like to purchase an I-Phone 11 plus for my two friends here please,” I said to the customer service man, which firstly looked at me suspiciously, and then at my two friends, who looked shocked at my request. “You got to be sh… kidding me, do you know how much they cost,” Craig said to me. “Yes I do, and I have a healthy credit card to pay for them, and it is my gift to you for your support now and in the future,” I replied smiling. “Wow, thanks dude, but do you really think it is necessary?” Brad asked, “I do, especially if we have trouble like first thing this morning,” I replied. Twenty minutes later, we walked out of the phone store, with my friends now owners of brand new phones, and the smiles on their faces was great to see, as we headed for the nearest cab lane, to catch a taxi back to school. On the trip back to school, Brad and Craig kept busy setting up their new mobile phones, and transferring everything from their old phones. At my suggestion, they shut down their new phones before arriving at school, they would wait until the end of the school day, before taking them out again, and both of them decided to keep it secret about their new phones, so as not to get me into any trouble for spending so much money on them. I was pleased that the next day, the bullies decided to leave me alone, and started picking on other students younger than themselves, which was not good, but I have my own worries to be concerned about, so I tried to stay away when they were around. As much as I wanted the time to pass quickly, until the next school holidays, it did not work out that way. I received a call from Cousin Robert every fortnight, informing me of what interesting things are happening in Scotland and other parts of the UK. The main news I told him was that I received an A+ for my assignment, and that the teacher would have given me a distinction, if I had filled in some of the blanks spots with more detailed information. With just over a week left of second term remaining, I was caught by surprise to see Cousin Robert sitting in the lounge chatting to Aunty Bea and Mum when I arrived home on the Thursday afternoon. “Well hello Cousin, this is a nice surprise,” I said, as I dropped my school bag and went and shook his hand. “Yes, I thought it might be best to come and say hello, since I have been back in Australia for almost two weeks now,” Robert replied. “Wow, what have you been doing in all that time?” I asked as I sat down next to Mum, grabbing a cream and jam filled scone from the plate before I did sit. “Well as I mentioned to you before, I wanted to organise a place for holidays for my Australian family, and yes I did consider your request about the disused railway line, and I have decided to do both. So for the past two weeks, I have been looking at a few places for your holiday home,” Robert said to us. “So have you found anything interesting, and what about the railway line?” I asked excitedly. “Well I may have a place lined up, but you will have to wait until the weekend before we can check it out,” Robert replied. “Are you just taking Edwin, or are we all going?” Mum asked, “All of us of course, so pack a bag ready to leave straight after Edwin gets home from school tomorrow, as we have a 4.30 pm flight to Strahan, where we will be spending two nights,” Robert replied. With Robert staying for dinner, he announced that it was the best home cooked meal he has had in a very long time, which really pleased Aunty Bea, since she did most of the cooking in the house, and Hunter was outside in the limo when it was time for him to return to his hotel suite. “Hiya Hunter, how are you enjoying the Australian climate?” I called out to Cousin Robert’s butler, “Real beaut thanks cobber,” Hunter replied with his best imitation Australian accent, which had me in fits of laughter. “Did I say something wrong? Maybe I need to study the book a bit more,” Hunter responded, looking a little confused by now, as I was sitting on the ground just outside the front door laughing my head off. “Edwin, that is not the way to behave, for an aristocrat, get off the ground this instant,” Aunty Bea said scorning me for how I was behaving. I tried my best to stop laughing, but I just couldn’t and it tool me a few minutes to get back to normal state and eventually stand up. “No mate you did it perfect, it is just that with a Scottish accent…” I could not finish the rest, as I rushed inside and began howling with laughter, and I headed to my room to try to calm down. Once I finally had, I headed to the bathroom for a shower, and prepared for bed. “Robert and Hunter will be here at 7 am for breakfast, so get to bed and no more silliness,” Mum said to me from the doorway of my bedroom, “Yes Mum, I am sorry, it was just so damn funny,” I replied. The next morning, Hunter and Robert had already arrived by the time I entered the dining room, “Good morning,” I said as I tried to keep a straight face, and I quickly breakfast as I was running late for school. “Have you packed your bag for this weekend?” Mum asked me as I left the table and stacked my dishes in the dishwasher. “No sorry Mum, I was a little distracted last night,” I replied, as I went to retrieve my school backpack and headed out. When school was finally over for the week, I dashed back home managing to avoid the bullies who had started hassling me again, when they managed to catch me alone, with the limo already parked outside the house. Mum had packed a bag for the weekend trip, and where everyone have gathered in the lounge waiting for my arrival, and once I had quickly changed out of my school uniform, we set off for the airport. When we arrived at the airport, I was surprised when Robert announced that we were taking a chartered plane, as there are no direct flights from Launceston to Strahan. “So you have gone ahead with the idea of a remote forest holiday home then?” I asked my cousin. “Yes, in a way, all will be revealed soon when we get there,” Robert responded. When we arrived in Strahan, Robert had arranged for a taxi bus to collect us from the airport, and transport us to the Manuka Yacht marina, and with some uncertainty, we followed Hunter and Cousin Robert down to one of the many jetties in the area. There we came up to a catamaran that looks to be about twenty five metres in length and about nine metres in width. “I have decided to give you a short cruise before we go to your new home, which is located on a river. I bought this for you to use for getting to your home, and also as added income, providing river cruises, and it comes with a crew of three full time staff,” Robert announced, as he led the way onboard. “So are you paying for all of this, and how are we to keep its upkeep?” Mum asked, and Robert chuckled, as we gathered in the main foyer. “You are not aware of this, but your son is quite a wealthy young man. As well as earning a lot of money that he was unaware he had, from income produced on the 1,900 acres - Fair Island in Scotland, he also has three farming properties. One of just 78 acres, located near the town of Crawford, on the banks of the River Clyde, south-west of Edinburgh, Scotland, one of 250 acres just north of Manchester and the other is 270 acres near Cupar, just north west of my home in Scotland, The property near Manchester is one of the original family homes, which we have just repurchased, and the home, which is known as Haig Hall is an operating hotel, along with a golf course and parkland, including a miniature railway line. I have transferred ownership to young Edwin here, as that is now his official residence when in the UK, and my nephew who owns and runs the hotel and golf course at Archerfield, near Edinburgh is now managing the Haig Hall property for Edwin,” Robert announced. “That would explain the large amount of income going into my Swiss bank account, which I was meaning to ask you about,” I stated, “What is this about a foreign bank account?” Mum asked. “Well I set it up shortly after Edwin received his Baronet title, while we were in Switzerland, on a two day visit for Edwin, and all of his income from his properties go into that account, once all bills have been paid,” Robert responded. We were directed to go up stairs, where we took seats in the small lounge area, as the catamaran started up and was soon heading out of Strahan into Macquarie Harbour. Less than half an hour later the catamaran, which is named Forest Explorer, slowed down and turned to enter a river, as the two deckhands arrived with trays of soft drinks and snacks for us all. “This is the King River, which is where the West Coast Wilderness Railway line follows for quite a bit of the way, and we will be passing under the railway bridge a little way upstream,” Robert announce to us, as we slowed own to a slow cruising speed as we headed upstream. Just over an hour later, we saw an approaching railway bridge. “Will we fit under that bridge?” Aunty Bea asked sounding a little concerned, “Yes Beatrice, the communications and radar section folds down to allow us to slide under it comfortably, as it has for the past week, since I have been making a few trips up this way to explore this amazing area,” Robert replied. “Folks, this is Teepookana, the site of a milling operation at the turn of the century, which you can see from the cleared area on the right hand side of the yacht. In about 500 metres, you will see amongst the trees, the Teepookana Railway station, which is used by the West Coast Wilderness Railway,” a voice announced over the PA system.
  12. quokka

    Papa Stour

    I have been away, and I didn't take my laptop with me, so I am sorry about the lateness of the next chapter.
  13. quokka

    PS Ch 6

    Thanks for returning Q
  14. quokka

    PS Ch 7

    My apologies Sir Wolfie, #tagwolf, the error has been corrected... Q
  15. quokka

    PS Ch 8

    “Yes mother, I went to Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh, where this Baronet was awarded to me by Her Majesty the Queen herself,” I said to Mum, and Aunty Bea was smiling broadly. “My great nephew a Baronet, I would not have ever guessed for that to happen, I am so proud of you,” Aunty Bea said to me. I chuckled a little, and suddenly I realised that I had picked up Robert’s habit, as I walked with my family out of the terminal and to the car park and twenty minutes later, we arrived home, which is so small compared to what I had been staying for nearly two weeks. For the rest of the afternoon, I told Mum and Aunty Bea about my holiday in Scotland, visiting all of the homes and places that were or still are owned by the family, including meeting Cousin Alexander and his family at Archerfield Estate, and the two-day holiday to Zurich, Switzerland, on the return journey. I informed Mum and Aunty Bea that Cousin Robert would be coming back to Australia in time for the mid-year school holidays, so he can take us on a short holiday around Tasmania. A day before school was due to start for another term; I caught up with two of my friends, Craig and Brad, while attending the St John’s Anglican Church. We attend St John’s when on school holidays, which we are in the choir for St John’s, and during school, we attend the School’s own chapel. After the church service, Craig invited us both too have lunch with his family, and go horse riding afterwards, which we accepted, as we enjoyed visiting his place, which is just 28 kilometres north- north east of school, in North Lilydale. The property is four and a half kilometres from the town of Lilydale, with the 50 acres property having a mixture of grazing land, some bushland, and they have set horse trails on the property. “So how was your holiday to Scotland?” Brad asked me as we began our ride after lunch. “Great, had all sorts of adventures, played golf at St Andrews, saw a lot of ancestral properties, so which are still owned by the family, and some are not. Did a lot of looking around Edinburgh, including the castle and Holyrood, and my cousin even treat me to two and a bit days in Zurich, Switzerland, before flying home,” I replied. “What is Holyrood?” Craig asked me, “It is a palace, which is the Queen’s Scottish residence,” I replied smiling, “What? You went to see the Queen?” Brad asked sounding shocked, and I chuckled, “Actually yes, I did meet her, I was nervous as hell too,” I replied. “Wow dude, that is incredible, does your Cousin know here?” Craig asked, “Well yes, he is the Earl of Crawford, so he does attend some of the special events like all British aristocrats,” I replied. “But you said you don’t have a title, because you are only a second cousin, so how did you get to meet her?” Brad enquired. “Unknown to me, Cousin Robert had made a request to give up one of his minor titles, the Baron of Wigan, so as to allow me be given the title of Baronet of Wigan, which Her Majesty conferred on me on my second day in Scotland,” I replied. “Holy cow, you are a Baronet. What exactly does that mean?” Craig asked, “Well, a Baronet is one rank above a Knight and one rank below a Baron, so my official title now is Sir Edwin Crawford, Baronet of Wigan BT,” I replied. “Oh, I can see it now, the teachers and students calling you Sir Edwin,” Brad stated, “That is why I need you to keep it a secret, as I don’t want to have any problems with media and all of that stuff. I am just ordinary Edwin, who just happens to have a cousin who is an Earl and has a title. I want to ask you both, without revealing my new title, to help-out with being my minders of sorts, and in return, you will be rewarded with some holidays somewhere in Australia, starting with the midyear school holidays,” I stated. “You have a deal there buddy; you can count me in,” Craig said, “Me too mate, we are now your official body guards,” Brad added. “Good, as I may need your support when we return to school tomorrow, as the headmaster already knows about the bullying that took place at the end of last term,” I said. We enjoyed a few hours of horse riding, before returning to the stables to unsaddle and clean the horses, feed them and let them enjoy the rest of the day, and as we approached the house, I recognised Mum’s car in the driveway. After thanking Craig’s mum for lunch and the hospitality, Mum and I headed back to Mowbray. “There is a disused small railway line here, which I would like to talk to Robert about, to see if we could get it restored and operational again,” I commented to Mum. “That’s nice, but who is going to pay for it? Sounds like a very expensive project,” Mum responded, “That is what I need to speak to Robert about,” I replied. When we arrived back at home, I checked the time, and worked out the time difference, and it was just after 9 am in Scotland, so I dialled Robert’s number. “Hello Edwin, have you missed me already?” Robert said when he answered the call and I chuckled at this comment, “No, I just wanted to ask you something and… I just remembered, you are still in Zurich, so you must be an hour or two ahead of time to your home,” I replied. “That is right, two hours, now what is it that you wanted to ask?” Robert said to me, “Well you mentioned the Wilderness railway on the west coast of Tasmania. I was at a friend’s place today horse riding, and there is a disused railway line nearby that goes from Scottsdale, all the way down to Launceston, and I was wondering if restoring that would be an ideal project instead of buying us a holiday home,” I said. “Well, that is an interesting proposal, send me as much information as you can by email, and I will look into it for you. That is all I can do until I see the information and make an assessment of the project,” Robert said to me. After the phone call, I went online and researched the rail line, and emailed it all to Robert, and by the time I had done that, it was time for dinner, and straight after I had a shower and went to bed early, as I was still a little tired from all of the travelling. When I woke the next morning, to the sound of my Mum calling out that I had better get up soon, or I would miss school, and I groaned on hearing that it was back to school today. I quickly dressed, before going online to check my emails, and there was an email from Robert, but I did not have time to read it just now, as I packed my schoolbooks, laptop computer and assignment into my backpack, grabbed my phone and wallet, and headed to the kitchen for some breakfast. “Good morning all,” I said as cheerfully as possible for a Monday morning, “Good morning Sir Edwin,” Aunt Bea said to me, which made me groan, and mum laughed. “None of that please, especially around school or at church, I am just plain Edwin, who is lucky enough to have a cousin, who is an Earl in Scotland, and who gave me an awesome school holiday trip,” I responded. I was just finishing breakfast, when the doorbell rang, and Mum went to answer the door, while I stacked my dishes in the dishwasher. “You security detail has arrived to escort you to school,” Craig said happily, and both Mum and Aunty Bea frowned as they looked at me. “I had to tell someone about it, to help protect me from those school bullies, and they know not to say a word to anyone,” I said to Mum and Aunty Bea. A few minutes later, Craig, Brad and I were walking to school, and soon after stepping onto school property, the gang of bullies appeared, and straight away Craig and Brad to a few steps forward to take the lead. “What is this Crawford, your own goon squad?” the leading bully said to me, “No, just good friends here to make sure you idiots, don’t pin some sort of false accusations on me,” I replied, and we walked through them group, with Craig and Brad pushing them out of the way. “Thanks guys,” I whispered to them as we headed to the library, to hang out until the first bell sounds. Thanks to my mates, I did not have to deal with the bullies for the remainder of the day, and I hoped that it would continue that way. It was hard to get back into a routine back at school, but that was about to change with the history class, being the last lesson for the morning. “I believe that I asked for an assignment to be completed by today, and as a result, we have one student, who went as far as travelling to Scotland to gather information about his family. Mr Crawford would you like to come forward and give a brief summary of your trip, and what results you manage to get as a result of it,” the History teacher said to the class, and reluctantly I stood and walked to the front. “Well sir, for my assignment, I was able to do research on an ancestor from back in the early 1830’s who was a Scottish born Army officer, serving in India, who refused to fight. Because of this, he was declared insane, and sent to a remote island, called Papa Stour, on the central west coast of the Shetland Islands, where he remained for a period of four years, until he was rescued by a female Quaker preacher, who negotiated for his release. His older brother was the 24th Earl of Crawford and 7th Earl of Balcarres. In London, a large court case was held in regards of his detention, and the result was a large award, plus ownership of a small remote Fair Island, to the south of where he was detained. My grandfather, the grandson of the Earl’s brother, emigrated to Australia where he changed his last name from Lindsay to Crawford, and now many years later, I was able to visit some of the ancestral properties of the Earl of Crawford and Balcarres, with the current 29th Earl, being a second cousin to me,” I stated. “Do you have a nobility title?” one of my classmates called out, and I looked towards Craig and Brad, who looked just as surprised as me at the question, “Because I come from the line of the younger brother of the 25th Earl, no I was not entitled to a title, but I am still aristocracy by blood, being a direct descendant, from the brother, who is my great-great grandfather,” I replied. “Thankyou Mr Crawford, I look forward to reading your assignment later on, does anyone have any questions,” the history teacher stated. “Yes sir, Edwin, can you tell us some of the places that you visited on your holiday?” Craig asked. I looked to the teacher who gave a nod to go ahead, “Well I saw quite a lot actually, I learnt that the family still owns a number of properties, and while in Scotland, I stayed with my second cousin, the current earl of Crawford, at his main residence called Balcarres House, which is on the north side of the bay from Edinburgh. I also visited a few properties that the family had sold off, including Dunecht House, located just west of Aberdeen, which is where the 25th Earl was buried, and where his body was stolen, which is a completely other story, plus Crawford Priory, located near Cupar, north west of Balcarres, an incredibly beautiful gothic building, which sadly is in ruins. I played a game of golf with my cousin on the famous St Andrews Golf links, visited Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood, before flying to Zurich for a two day stay in Switzerland, before flying home,” I responded, “What is Holyrood?” another student called out, “Does anyone know the answer to that question?” the teacher asked, and Brad put up his hand. “Sir, it is Holyrood Palace, the Scottish Royal residence of the Queen, located in central Edinburgh, where Her Majesty spends a week before going onto Sandringham for her annual Summer holidays,” Brad said smiling. “Very good, you are correct with that,” the teacher said.
  16. quokka

    PS Ch 7

    Baronet
  17. quokka

    PS Ch 7

    “Good morning Lord Lindsay, good to see you again,” Robert was greeted as we entered, “Good morning Thomas, this is my second cousin from Australia, Edwin, Baronet of Wigan,” Robert responded, “Welcome to St Andrews Sir Edwin, I hope you have an enjoyable visit with us,” the waiter said, before leading the way to our table. After the early lunch, we set off to play a round of golf, and with the help of tips from Robert, I was not as bad as I thought I was in the game, as we started with nine holes of golf and continued on to complete eighteen holes, by which time I was getting better at the sport. I think I will play a lot more golf when I get home, as I have enjoyed today very much,” I said to James as we walked back to the clubhouse. “That is good to hear, maybe we can have another game before you leave next week,” Robert replied. The following morning, Hunter drove us to the Kirkcaldy train station, and for the next four hour’s we travelled south to Wigan, just north of Manchester, where Robert had arranged for a limo to collect us and take us the eight kilometres to Haig Hall. On arrival we were greeted by the doorman, “Good afternoon, we have made an appointment to view Haig Hall,” Robert said, “I am sorry sir, but we are in the process of closing down the hotel, with plans to sell it,” the doorman informed us. “I see, well I still would like to speak to the manager please,” Robert asked, “Who may I ask is enquiring?” the doorman asked, Lindsay of Crawford,” Robert responded, “Yes Mr Lindsay, please follow me, the doorman said as he began to turn to head inside. I cleared my throat loudly, and the doorman turned to look back at us, “That is Lord Lindsay, Earl of Crawford to you,” I said with a frown, “My apologies My Lord, please follow me, and I will inform the manager of your arrival,” the doorman said, and I heard Robert chuckling beside me as we followed. “I understand, that you are the Earl of Crawford, whose family built this magnificent house,” a man who was dressed casually said in a strong southern American accent, as he entered the drawing room. “That is correct, Lord Robert Lindsay, 29th and current Earl of Crawford, and this is my second cousin from Australia, who is on holidays, and is Edwin Crawford, the Baronet of Wigan,” Robert replied. “It is a pleasure to meet you Lord Lindsay, and you too Baronet Crawford. It is my day off today, but I would be happy to give you a tour of the house and the grounds,” the American man said. “I have been here a number of times over the years, I am just here to show my cousin one of our original family homes,” Robert commented as we began the tour of the house. Although the American tried to give a history of the house and grounds, Robert had to correct him a number of times, including that the land was in the family from the year 1787, and that the current Haig Hall took 13 years to build from 1827 to 1840 by the 7th Earl of Balcarres. We learnt that Haig House plus the 250 acres of land, including the gold course, fun park, miniature railway and the woodlands, would be for sale, and Robert was given the name of the Estate gents who are handling the sale. “During the ride back to of Wigan, we just watched all the scenery around us, and at Robert’s request, we were dropped off at the Real Estates office in town. While Robert was in there, I went to the nearby museum, to see what it has there, also the park across the road. About half an hour later, I received a text message from Robert. “Meet you at the Wigan Train station in fifteen minutes,” and once I had my bearings, I headed for the train station, which was a good fifteen minutes walk away. On the train journey northwards back to Scotland, Robert informed me that he had made an offer to purchase Haig Hall, but at a far less amount than they were asking for, and that he would have to wait until the company’s board meets to discuss the offer. It was almost dark when Hunter collected us from the train station at Kirkcaldy, and it was well and truly dark by the time we arrived at Balcarres House. While eating dinner, I stopped for a moment and frowned as I tried to work out how many days it has been since I arrived in Scotland. “How many days have I been here?” I asked my cousin, “Today is day seven, but it has been eight days since you left home,” Robert replied. “When have you got me booked to fly back, and will you be coming too?” I asked, “Tomorrow we go and meet your other relatives at Archerfield, where we have been invited for lunch and a game of golf afterwards, and we will be staying there overnight, before heading back to Edinburgh in the morning. Once there, we will have a few hours to relax and have a better look around Edinburgh, including having some lunch, before we board an afternoon flight to Zurich, where we will spend two days. From there I will send you off home, on your own, and I am sure that you will be perfectly fine travelling on your own, and Alexandria, your mother knows of your return travel plans,” Robert said to me. “Wow, two days in Switzerland, that is a real treat,” I responded, and Robert chuckled at this. “I own a two level modern villa on one and a quarter acres of land, just out of Zurich, which I use for a summer holiday each year, and the rest of the time it is rented out, so that is where we will be staying,” Robert informed me. “So I have to be fully packed before we leave for Archerfield tomorrow?” I asked, “That is right, I will be taking a week’s holiday in Zurich after you have gone, late morning on Wednesday next week,” Robert replied. “How long is the trip from Zurich to Melbourne?” I asked my cousin. “Well it is twelve hours to Singapore, and there you have a two hour layover, before flying to Melbourne, which will take seven and a half hours, arriving at 5.15 pm Melbourne time on Thursday, that way you have a few days to recover from jetlag, before returning to school,” Robert said to me. “When will I see you next?” I asked my cousin, as I realised that I was sad that my trip to the UK was almost over. “I plan to travel to Australia in time for your next school holidays, so we can explore Tasmania, and see about getting a family retreat somewhere, so your family can take holidays,” Robert said to me. “The mid year holidays start on July 12th for two weeks,” I responded, “That is good to know, and I will look forward to seeing your mother – Alexandria and your Aunt Beatrice, again,” Robert said, “I am sure they will be glad for you to come and visit again, especially Aunt Bea,” I said smiling. When we arrived at Archerfield the next day, Robert’s nephew – Alexander, and his wife Margaret were there to greet us, and after been shown to our accommodation suites, we sat down for a family gathering for morning tea, along with Alexander and Margaret’s children. James Robert who is ten, Julia Margaret who is seven, Emanuel Robert who is four and Andrea Margaret who has just turned one year old. After morning tea, Robert and I were given a tour of the main house, the stables, the golf club house and once saddled up, we took a horse ride around the park, and although it had been a long time since I last rode a horse, I really enjoyed being in the saddle again. After dinner, while I entertained my cousins, Robert and Alexander talked privately in the study, what about I was not sure, apart from it being to do with business. The next morning after a delicious breakfast, we said farewell to the family at Archerfield, with Hunter collecting us in the Bentley, we headed to the city of Edinburgh to do some shopping, with Robert suggesting that I get some warmer clothing, as it gets quite old in Switzerland, even in the spring. A little before 11 am we boarded our flight to Zurich, with all of my luggage, and the small amount of luggage that Robert brought with him, and Hunter brought with him. We were soon in the air heading southeast for Switzerland, and just over two hours later, we landed in Zurich, Switzerland, where I could hardly believe that I am here. The next two and a bit days few by so quickly, with Robert and Hunter showing me lots of wonderful places, and it was very sad for me when it was time for me to catch my flights home to Tasmania. “I thanked Robert for such a wonderful trip and thanked Hunter for providing the transport to see all the wonderful places that I had seen in the past week and a half. “You are most welcome cousin. It has been a great pleasure to have you here with us, especially since I have not laughed so much in such a long time. You have done a lot more for me, than I for you. Remember you still have that credit card, spend the money wisely, and I will see you again in mid July,” Robert said to me, as he handed me my airline tickets, and I was a little surprised that they were for first class seats to Melbourne. The long flight from Europe to Australia, via Singapore, was quite a treat, with my own private cubical, and I enjoyed every moment of it, including a good night’s sleep for the first segment of the trip. By the time I arrived in Melbourne, I was feeling great, having got plenty of sleep and now adjusted to eastern Australian time. When we arrived in Singapore, I had very little time to do anything, as the plane was a little late landing in Singapore, so I had to go directly to my next flight. In Melbourne, I had four hours before my flight to Launceston, and after passing customs and quarantine; my luggage was transferred to my next flight. I had just my back pack, with my laptop, tablet and a change of spare clothes in it, as I headed into the city for a little bit of a wander around, before catching the train back to the airport. When I finally arrived in Launceston, I was pleased to see Mum and Aunty Bea there waiting for me, giving me a big hug. “I received a call from Cousin Robert this morning; he said to ask you about your visit to a special place in Edinburgh? What on earth is he talking about?” Aunty Bea asked, and I smiled before retrieving my award from the inside pocket of my backpack, where it has been kept safe for the trip home. Contained in a ten by twenty-centimetre presentation box, that has a felt covering, I handed it to Aunty Bea, and with Mum looking over her shoulder, which was not hard to do, as Aunty Bea was a lot smaller in height, she carefully opened the lid, to reveal the Baronet Medallion attached to an orange-tawny ribbon. “What on earth is that Edwin?” Mum asked, “Oh my, I know what this is, did Robert recommend this to you, and did you go to Holyrood to receive it?” Aunty Bea asked, “Yes Aunty to both questions, and he kept me in the dark about it right up to the last moment, and it happened on my second day in Scotland,” I replied smiling. “What is it, will you please tell me what this is Edwin?” Mum said sounding a little annoyed, “Now, now, dear, calm please. From now on, at official events, you need to address your son as Sir Edwin Crawford, BT,” Aunty said to my mother quietly, and I nodded my head to signify that it is true. “What? What do you mean Sir Edwin, and what on earth does BT mean?” Mum asked, “It means mother dearest, that Cousin Robert gave up one of his minor titles, so that I could receive the title of Baronet of Wigan,” I explained. “He did what!” Mum said sounding shocked, “Come dear, let us get your honourable son home to relax, after such a long journey and between us we will explain,” Aunty Bea said. “Ok, but I want to know everything, and… wait a minute, your said something about Holyrood… isn’t that the Scottish residence of…” Mum said stopping short of saying it all.
  18. quokka

    PS Ch 6

    When I entered the dining room the following morning, Cousin Robert was already having his breakfast. “Good morning, sorry I am so late,” I said as I sat down. “That is fine Edwin, I thought we might have a change of scenery today, and make a trip up to your Fair Island,” Robert replied, “That sounds fine, is it a long distance to the island, there doesn’t seem to be any mention of how far away it is,” I asked. “Yes it is quite a journey to get there from the preparations I have had to make to get there. The island is a good 260 kilometres north of Aberdeen,” Robert said to me. “So how exactly are we going to get there?” I asked, “Well, I have arranged to charter a plane that will fly us from Aberdeen directly to the island, and it has a population of 55, who live and work on the island, managing the farms on behalf of the owners. They have flights twice weekly from the Shetland Islands, and a ferry brings supplies and mail, three times a week. Soay Sheep are the main breed of sheep, as they naturally shed their wool, and the farmers collect the wool and sell it on the mainland, which pays for their work on the island,” Robert informed me. “Wow, I look forward to seeing the place,” I commented. “Firstly we have to get there, and to do that we need to catch a train from Kirkcaldy to Aberdeen, which will take us nearly three hours, and from there it is a 80 minute flight to the island,” Robert informed me. “Good I like train rides, especially here, where I can see a lot more. Will we be staying on the island for very long?” I commented. “We have no time limit, as we are staying overnight at the guest house on the island, so you need to pack a small bag for up to two nights. Once we return to Aberdeen, we will lease a car and take a short drive to visit nearby Dunecht House, before returning to Aberdeen, to catch the train home,” Robert announced. The train journey to Aberdeen was uneventful, but there was plenty of countryside to see, and once in the air and over the North Sea, I was very nervous for most of the trip, as there were just lots of water below us. As we approached the island, the plane circle the island twice to allow us to get a good aerial view of the island, before preparing to land on the grass airfield, which was a bit bumpy. “Welcome to Fair Isle, I am your guide and host for your visit Mr Lindsay, and is this your son?” a stout looking man said as we exited the plane. “Thankyou, and it is Lord Lindsay, the Earl of Crawford, and this is my second cousin from Australia, Sir Edwin Crawford, Baronet ofWigan,” Robert replied. “My apologies My Lord, I had no idea that we were receiving dignitaries, please allow me to gather your luggage, while you get settled into the vehicle, and my name is Hector Willington,” the man said, before he headed to the plane to get our luggage. “Are you familiar with our tiny island?” Mr Willington asked, once he had loaded the luggage and taken a seat behind the wheel of his vehicle. “Yes, we are, but this is my cousins first visit, while this is my third visit,” Robert replied. “Oh, it must have been before my time, as I don’t recall you visiting before,” Mr Willington responded, “No, it was quite some years back. Edwin here is the direct descendent of the original owner of the island, Edwin Lindsay, the brother of the 25th Earl of Crawford,” Robert replied. “So if you are related, why do you not own the land My Lord?” Mr Willington asked, “That is because I am the Earl of Crawford, so I am not entitled to it, where young Edwin here is,” Robert replied. “Oh, ok. So does that mean that Sir Edwin here is the current owner of this island?” Mr Willington asked, and Robert chuckled while I just smiled. “That is correct Mr Willington, and I have only just recently learnt that I have aristocracy relatives, so apart from a short holiday to New Zealand two years ago, this is my first time well away from home, which is Tasmania, in south-eastern Australia,” I replied. “In the morning, we would like to have a detailed tour of the island please, and see if their any issues that may need to be dealt with,” Robert asked, “Yes, My Lord, that can be easily arranged,” Mr Willington replied. “I think the first thing we need to do is to improve the airfield, I will arrange for it to be extended from 550 metres to 900 metres and to be sealed, plus have a proper air terminal and some aircraft hangers built, to protect them from the strong winds,” Robert announced. “That is wonderful news My Lord, can I maybe suggest having a community meeting at the local primary school, and so you can get ideas from the locals, and meet them?” Mr Willington suggested. “Yes, that would be good; can you arrange it for 11 am tomorrow?” Robert responded, “Yes My Lord, that will be perfect,” Mr Willington answered. With it getting very cold outside, we decided to remain indoors for the remainder of the afternoon, and during that time, I worked on my assignment, while Robert read a book and relaxed. “How is your assignment going?’ Robert asked me, after about an hour of reading. “Very good, I have so much information, it is hard to be able to condense it down to 3500 words, and I might do a visual presentation with all the photos that I have taken too,” I replied. “I have a photo that I took of you as you were receiving your award at Holyrood Palace, that I can add to that,” Robert said to me, “I think I will keep that as a memento photo only thanks cousin,” I replied. After dinner, with it still daylight, Robert continued to read, and I found a good book to read on Kindle, and when it was starting to get dark, I was shocked when I looked at my watch and it read 10 pm. “Holy cow, the days must be very long here, it is 10 pm and still not dark,” I commented, “Yes, I forgot to mention to you that during the middle of the year, they have up to 18 hours of daylight here,” Robert replied. The next morning when I woke, the sun was well up, and after a wash and change of clothes, I headed out of my room for some breakfast. “Hey Robert, what time does it get daylight here, if it is not even dark at 10 pm?” I asked. “Just before 4 am I believe,” my cousin replied, which was a real surprise, “Wow, only six hours of darkness, that is strange,” I responded. “Yes it maybe, but remember at the end of the year it is the opposite too that, on Christmas Day the sun rises at around 9 am and sets at about 3 pm,” Robert said. “Wow that is a very short day. Back at home, the sun rises at about 7 am and sets at about 5 pm in winter, and rises at about 5 am and sets at about 8 pm in summer,” I replied. After breakfast, we spent the next three hours having a detailed tour of the island, which was very interesting. The community meeting went well, and although there was not many requests for changes, Robert did have a long list of things he wanted done, which he asked the community to consider. They include extending the runway to 1.1 kilometres and sealing it, and building a small air terminal, plus two aircraft hangers to protect the planes from rough weather. Robert also suggested building a bigger boat repair shed, and improving the boat lifting facilities, plus building an additional jetty to accommodate more visiting sailing yachts. Extensions to the school to include a bigger library and a large undercover recreation space, plus new reverse-cycle conditioning in each room. He also suggested doubling the number of wind turbines to accommodate more power demands in the future. Reroofing any buildings including houses that need it done, and finally, building a few additional buildings near the general store, to provide additional income for the community, with selling woollen products as well as souvenirs. The only suggestion that the community put forward, was to provide additional buildings to accommodate the increasing number of tourists to the island, and Robert suggested that he arrange to have a tavern built beside the post office and a guest lodge built on the other side of the road from it. The residents were pleased to hear, as they would have a place to socialise apart from community events, and Robert informed them that the Crawford Earldom would pay for, all of the improvements that he had suggested, as the residents had paid a fair amount in tenancy fees over the years. Robert also stated that once the improvements have been made to the airport, that there would be four times weekly flights from Sumburgh Airport, Shetlands, plus three times weekly flights from Aberdeen, Scotland, to allow for an increase in tourists coming to the island. After the meeting, Robert and I met nearly the whole island population, during a community luncheon at the school and at 2 pm, we headed back to the accommodation, to pack ready for the trip back to Aberdeen, where Robert booked us into a four-star hotel for the night. The following day, in a rented vehicle we headed west to visit Dunecht Estate, we arrived shortly before 10 am, after passing through the village of Dunecht, and I was amazed once again, at how big the house was. Robert informed me during the road trip, that the fifth Viscount Cowdray and his family own the property, and that we have been invited for morning tea, before taking a tour of some of the main areas of the main house, and a look around the gardens, which are spectacular. “Where does the name Wigan come from?” I asked Robert as we climbed back into the vehicle after an enjoyable visit to Dunecht. “It is one of my minor titles, the Baron Wigan, of Haig Hall, which I gave up, so that you could have the title of Baronet of Wigan,” Robert replied. “Ah, so that is how Haig Hall near Manchester is connected,” I asked, “That is correct, and we will go and visit it, the day after tomorrow, as we both deserve the rest of today and all of tomorrow off,” Robert replied. Robert spent the rest of the afternoon in his study doing work, while I just relaxed in one of the many huge rooms in the house. The following day after breakfast, I continued exploring the house, which I estimated would take about a month to explore the house properly. “Edwin, where are you?” I heard a shout come from somewhere in the house, and I ran to the main staircase, “Third floor, exploring,” I called back, “Ok, can you come down to the main drawing room please,” Robert asked, as I began making my way down the many stairs in the house. “Have you ever played golf?” Robert asked when I arrived, “I did a term of learning to play, as part of extra activities at school, why is that?” I replied. “Well we are only half an hour drive away from the famous St Andrews Golf Club, and I thought you might like to have a go,” Robert suggested. “Would I ever. That would be great thanks Cousin Robert,” I replied and twenty minutes later, we were on out way to St Andrews on the coast. With it being late morning, Robert suggested that we have an early light lunch first, so we headed to the restaurant.
  19. quokka

    PS Ch 5

    Yes that is correct, just north east of Wigan, England is Haig Hall, which was the principal home for the 7th Earl and family from 1840 when they built the Hall, until 1947, when it was sold. The only family that was outside of Scotland.
  20. quokka

    PS Ch 5

    Sorry to spoil your fun, but the locations are indeed real, and the Baron of Wigan is a real title held by the current Earl of Crawford, who is also the Earl of Balcarres, his other title the Baron Balneil, usual is passed on to the heir apparent, but in this story that hasn’t happened... yet. Q
  21. quokka

    PS Ch 5

    “Any more juicy bits of history that you can tell me?” I asked, and Robert chuckled at this comment, “Well yes, there is also the Crawford Priory, built by the 21st Earl of Crawford in 1758, and remained in the family till 1871,” Robert informed me. “Any chance we can go and have a look at that too?” I asked, “Sure, the priory is in ruins now, and after a few years of hard negotiations, I have now bought back the land that includes the priory and a few other buildings, including about 270 acres of land,” Robert said. “Great, I will definitely want to check it out in that case,” I replied happily. “There has been a lot of trees and shrubs growing in and around the priory, so I have begun a project of carefully removing them, so as to stop any further damage to the building. Once that is done, I will get an assessment done by Historic Scotland, to see how we can preserve the building, to stop it from decaying any further,” Robert informed me. “Wow, that sounds like a big and expensive job,” I responded, “It is, but I think it is worth the effort, there is also one other place that has a family connection, Haig Hall in Greater Manchester, the only place not in Scotland, but was built for the 7th Earl of Balcarres, and was completed in 1840,” Robert replied. I went for a walk to explore more of the house and after getting lost a couple of times, I finally made it to the dining room in time for an early dinner, and afterwards I retired early as the jetlag was catching up to me. The following morning, I managed not to get lost on my way to the dining room, and during breakfast, Robert asked me which I wanted to see first, Dunecht House or Crawford Priory. I asked what the distances are from Balcarres House, and I was told that Dunecht is a 152 kilometres 2 hour drive, while the Priory is just a 22 kilometre 30 minute drive, so I elected to see the Priory first. As we neared the end of breakfast, Hunter entered the dining room, “Good morning Master Crawford,” he said to me, which caught me by surprise a little, and I squeaked out a good morning in reply. “My Lord, the appointment that you asked me to arrange has been confirmed for 2 pm this afternoon, at her Edinburgh residence,” hunter said to Robert before leaving. “What was all of that about?” I asked, “Just a small surprise that I have lined up for you, and we must not be late for that, so we better get a move on, if we are to be showered and dressed for the afternoon appointment,” James said. A bit over 40 minutes later, we turned off the main road, and passed through a stone and high hedge entrance, with a gatehouse on the left. “That on the right are the old stables building, which were leased out to a neighbouring farm until recently,” Robert said as we passed the building about 500 metres in from the front gate. About 300 metres further on Robert slowed down as we passed under a large rock archway, and stopped soon after. “Welcome to Crawford Priory,” Robert said, as we climbed out of the vehicle. “Wow, this is just as big as Balcarres, you don’t do things small in the home country do you,” I said and Robert laughed at the comment of mine. We spent nearly two hours looking around the Priory, with trees and shrubs already cut away, that were growing inside the building, and some of the bigger branches that are close to the buildings outside walls. Back in the vehicle, we took a different route, soon we entered the town of Cupar, and we parked just outside a small tavern. I followed Robert inside, we took a seat at a table near the side of the tavern, where it is a little quieter, and a man at the bar soon approached. “Sorry kid, you are too young to be in here, you will… oh Lord Crawford, this is an unexpected honour, is the lad with you?” the barman said, when he realised who I was with. “Yes, Master Crawford is with me, he is my second cousin from Australia, visiting for a couple of weeks,” Robert replied, “Very good sir, what may I get for you both today?” the barman responded. “A menu for an early light lunch and two orange juices please,” Robert replied, and the barman raced off to get the menus and two glasses of juice. “So, what do you think of the Priory?” Robert asked me, “I think it is awesome, what is the name of the river that I could see close by?” I replied, “That is the River Eden, and it is the western boundary of the property, while the minor road we entered from is the northern boundary and the A914 road is the Eastern boundary, and an access road is the southern boundary. Apart from the gate house that we passed, there is one other large house on the property,” Robert replied. “Are you going to tell me what this important appointment that you have arranged for this afternoon” I asked, “No, you will just have to wait and see,” Robert replied smiling. Once back at Balcarres, I was asked to shower and get dressed into one of my new suits, and to be ready to leave by 12.30 pm, so we are not late for the appointment. This time, Hunter drove us in the Bentley, as we headed south-west. “Are we going to Edinburgh?” I asked, “Yes, and maybe later we can have a look around Edinburgh Castle,” Robert replied. When we arrived in the City of Edinburgh, I was looking at all of the old buildings, which were all amazing. “This building we are passing now is the old original Scottish Parliament building, and the next to it, is the new buildings,” Robert said to me, as we slowly passed them, before taking a turn, and we came up to some enormous gates, guarded by the police. “Lord Lindsay, the Earl of Crawford and Master Crawford, here for the 2 pm appointment,” Robert said to the police officer who approached, “Yes my Lord, you are expected, please pass through,” the officer replied, after looking closer at Robert. “Hey wait a minute, isn’t this the Scottish Royal Palace, I forget the name of it just now?” I asked, and Robert chuckled, “Holyrood Palace, and yes you are right, it is Her Majesties Scottish residence when she is here for a week during the summer,” Robert replied. “What? You mean we are here to meet with the Queen?” I asked in shock, “That is right, we have a special appearance before her at 2 pm,” Robert replied casually. “I presume by your easy manner, that this is not your first time to meet her, or be inside the palace,” I asked, “Correct,” Robert replied, as the vehicle parked. “Just do as I do, and you will get through this just nicely, and remember to breath, as we don’t want you fainting in front of her Majesty,” Robert said to me, and I groaned, “None of that either,” Robert said as we climbed out of the vehicle and headed to the front door. A few minutes later, we were directed down a hallway towards a closed door, and I was getting extremely nervous. “Breath normally and try and relax,” Robert whispered to me, as we followed the Palace staff member, and as we arrived at the door, he knocked before opening the door, took a step and stopped before bowing his bead. “Lord Lindsay, and Master Crawford to see you Ma’am” we heard him say before he stepped to one side and Robert entered with me following, and I nearly collided into the back of him as he stopped and bowed his head, and taking a half step to one side I did the same, without looking. To nervous to look in front of me, I followed Robert as he started to walk and stopped again, this time I did not stop in time and I went into the back of him. “Oops, sorry cousin Robert,” I said softly, “You must forgive my cousin Ma’am, he is new too Britain and I sprung this surprise on him without explaining the reason,” Robert said. I once again stepped to one side of him and for the first time I looked directly into the smiling face of her Majesty, and I bowed my head, too nervous to say anything. “A shy young man too by the looks of it,” the Queen said, and I heard Robert chuckle softly. “That he is Ma’am, maybe you should explain to him the reason for our visit today,” Robert replied. “Yes, please sit Lord Lindsay and Master Crawford,” the Queen said to us, which we did once the Queen had taken her seat. “Young man, your cousin here, has made an application with the Privy Council, who are my advisors, to have the title of Baronet bestowed on you. I will let your cousin explain that to you later. It is my honour to agree to this application for the Baronet of Wigan to be bestowed on Master Crawford,” the Queen stated as she stood and we did the same. “My full name is Edwin James Lindsay Crawford, “Ma’am,” I said, and a few minutes later the ceremony was all over, and I was now officially a Baronet. I thanked her Majesty for taking the time to meet me, and wished her an enjoyable and restful summer holiday. “That is very kind of you, thankyou for that,” the Queen said, as James and then I took some steps back before bowing, and a few more steps back, till we were nearly at the door, and we exited the room. As we were guided back to the front door, I remained silent, still shocked at what had just happened. “So how do you feel, Sir Edwin, Baronet of Wigan?” Robert asked me as we stepped outside, “What? Wait, did you say Sir Edwin?” I asked, “That is right, you are one rank above a Knight, and one rank below a Baron, so that is now your official title, which you don’t have to use if you don’t want too,” Robert replied. “Crikey’s, I only came to have a look at where you live and work, and now I end up being a Baronet!” I stated, and Robert laughed, “You have always had aristocracy blood in you Cousin, now you have a title as well, even thou it is just a small one,” Robert said to me, as we walked towards the car, where hunter opened the doors for us. “Congratulations Sir Edwin,” Hunter said to me smiling, “Oh boy, this is going to take some getting used too, and Hunter, please just call me Edwin or Master Crawford, I don’t know if I want to use that title just yet,” I replied, and Hunter smiled and nodded his head. After a tour of Edinburgh Castle, we headed south of the city instead of heading northwards. “Where are we going now?” I asked, “One other place that has family links, the town of Crawford, and the old ruins of Crawford Castle, about an hour’s drive from Edinburgh and still inside Scotland,” Robert replied. “Wow, our family certainly had a lot of land and buildings,” I commented, “Yes, indeed they did, and I have purchased seventy eight acres of land that includes the old ruins, as well as a farm house, and a cottage, which have both been empty for a few decades, that I want to restore,” Robert informed me. “Like you are doing with the Priory?” I asked, “Yes, and as a gift to you, with your new status, you now own that small Crawford Farm, as well as Crawford Priory,” Robert announced to me. “What? Really,” What am I going to do with all of this land and buildings when I live on the other side of the world,” I asked, “Come and visit a few times a year, that way I can get to see more of my Australian cousin,” Robert replied smiling. We arrived back at Balcarres House just before dark, and I was tired from a very long day, and after a light dinner, I retired to my room for the night, had a quick shower and I was soon fast asleep in bed.
  22. quokka

    PS Ch 4

    Balcarres Estate is the home of the Earl of Crawford, Kirkcaldy is the nearest train station. I try and use real places in a fictional story.
  23. quokka

    PS Ch 4

    When we arrived in Melbourne, we collected our luggage, and headed for the international terminal, where we checked in our luggage, and I kept my computer briefcase with me. Once we had done that, we grabbed a taxi and headed into the city, where we had a light lunch. “Apart from all of these new gadgets, I also made an enquiry about getting a unique holiday home for your family,” Robert announced, “you have already given me enough, so what is this holiday place?” I asked. I had one of my staff in London do some research, before getting in touch with a real estate agent, with the property to be very unique remote and maybe a bit of history to it,” James announced. “What did they come up with?” I asked curiously, “I think they out done themselves, as it fits all the requirements that I asked for, and it is definitely remote,” James replied. “Trying to stretch out the suspense are we?” I asked, and James laughed. “You know I have laughed so much in the last two days, far more than I have in the past few years, you are a great cousin to have around. Let me ask you this… Do you know of the Wilderness Railway, and have you been on it?” James asked me, “Yes and yes. It is the railway line going through the deep forest from Queenstown to Strahan on the far west coast of Tassie… that’s Tasmania in your lingo,” I replied smiling. “Excellent, when were you last on that train ride?” James asked me, “Late last year, between Christmas and New Year,” I replied. “Do you remember the small train stations on that journey?” James asked, “Yes really old stone train stations with platforms, crosses over the King River twice,” I replied. “Well one of those railway station sites that is no longer there, and consisting of a short spur line, with an area of just eight acres, is available for sale,” James announced, “Really, that hardly seems possible considering where the railway line is in the middle of the World Heritage area,” I commented. “It took some convincing, and they agreed on the condition that there be no more clearing apart from what is already cleared, which is about two acres, and the property is 38 acres in area, and located on the northern inside loop of the railway line, at the location of Camp Spur. Which is approximately 12 kilometres from Strahan and 22 kilometres from Queenstown,” James announced. “So how do we get there if it isn’t a stopping point for the tourism railway?” I asked, “Two options, ask the wilderness railway to kindly stop briefly to let you off, or maybe we can get a four wheel drive with the special fitting to drive on the tracks, but you will need to be careful of the trains using the track, which can be up to three times a day,” James said. “I think that is a bad choice, mainly because of the problem with access,” I commented, “Well there is a second option, and island located in the Bass Strait, called Great Dog Island. It is 870 acres in area, located in a sheltered bay, just 2.5 kms south of Flinders Island, and 4 kms north of Cape Barren Island,” James said to me. “I think I like option two, even if you do need a boat to get there, with it being sheltered that should make a big difference,” I commented. “Very good, I will arrange a viewing when we return in two weeks,” James said to me. After some window shopping we headed back to the airport, since we were going on an international flight and had to be there 2 ½ hours before departure. “You are going to enjoy this flight, we are in Business class, which is very comfortable,” James said to me, as we joined the line of business class passengers. As we boarded the A330-300 plane, we were directed forward from the doors, with James being right about the comfort, with just four seats across instead of the eight seats across in economy. We were all in row seven, which was just ahead of the galley and doors. I have a window seat, while James and Hunter are sitting in the two middle aisles, across from me. While waiting for the rest of the passengers to get seated, I fiddled with all the gadgets to see what each button does, a bit like a little kid in a toy store, and James chuckled as he watched me. “I can’t help it, this is my first time flying this fancy,” I commented to James. The flight to Perth took four hours, and in that time I watched 2 movies and had a meal, and I watched out the window as we came to land at Perth. Once there, we headed for the departure lounge for our main flight to London, which would also be on an A330-300 plane. This time when we boarded the plane after an hour wait, we were allocated the same aisle except I was on the window seat on the other side of the plane, and this is a direct flight that would be 23 hours long, which I was a little hesitant on the amount of time being in the air. Before taking off, I set my alarm on my new phone to vibrate and to go off in 10 hours time, which will be when I will try to get some sleep, and to be on UK time when my alarm goes off two hours before we land, on UK time, but I was not sure if I would be able to stay awake until then, since I have already been awake for eight hours already. Once we were in the air, I decided to watch one more movie, near the end of it, we were served our first meal, which was very delicious, and James even let me try some of his red wine, when the stewards were not watching. After the meal, I opened up my new laptop computer, and began working on my assignment. Although I have the documents with me, I also have photos of them all, which I was using for reference, along with photos I had taken of internet searches of the family history, including a family tree from the 25th Earl down to me, which also includes James. After about two hours of work, I handed the Mac Book over to James, for him so see what I had done so far, and he suggested a few corrections and slight alterations of information. Once James handed the Mac Book to me, I closed it down and packed it away, before taking a walk around the Business class area, to stretch my legs a little, and took the opportunity to use the bathroom. Back in my seat, I opened up the Mac Book again, I noticed a few added apps, including Kindle, so I opened that up and found a great selection of books to read, and I chose an adventure drama book and began to read it. Time seemed to pass quickly, and after another meal and reading a whole book, my alarm went off, to mark the time to get some sleep, and surprisingly with the fold down chair, into a bed, I was soon fast asleep, and I woke when my alarm went off again. “Good morning, did you have a good sleep?” Robert asked me, “Yes, surprisingly well thankyou,” I replied smiling, and shortly after I was served breakfast, and just over an hour later, we landed at Heathrow Airport, just out of London. With us being Business Class passengers, we passed through quarantine and customs quickly, and once our luggage was loaded into the boot of the limo, we were on our way to the train station for the journey north to Scotland. “I thought you may enjoy the train journey, as it will give you a chance to see some of the English and Scottish countryside, but before that we have to tackle the London traffic, so it will be about an hour before we board the train,” Cousin Robert said to me. When we arrived at Kings Cross station, we stopped off at a café to have some breakfast, before boarding the train, where we have first class seats for the five-hour journey, and Robert was right, it was great to see the English countryside, once we had left the City of London and its outer suburbs and towns. I must have drifted off to sleep at some stage, as I woke up with Robert speaking to me. “Wake up cousin, we are approaching the Scottish border,” Robert said to me, and I looked out the window to see the sea on my right, and then I saw the large blue and white flags, and a big sign – “Welcome to Scotland.” “I have changed our itinerary slightly, so that we travel by train to the town of Kirkcaldy, before the car comes to collect us, which will cut the travel time by half,” Robert informed me. After a brief changeover of trains, we were heading off again, and about forty minutes later, we stepped off at Kirkcaldy Station, were the air was fairly chilly, and I was glad to have my new Scottish woollen jacket on. There was a silver Bentley parked out the front of the modern looking railway station, which was a bit of a disappointment, as I was hoping to see lots of old and spectacular buildings. A man stepped out of the Bentley and opened the two back doors. “My Lord, welcome home,” he said to Robert, “Thankyou Parker, this is my 2nd Cousin - Master Crawford,” Robert replied, as he climbed into the back seat, and I walked around to the other side and climbed in. We travelled along the main motorway just inland from the coast for most of the journey, until we entered the town of Upper Largo, where the driver turned right at a Y junction, and about five minutes later, we entered the village of Colinsburgh. “So this is Colinsburgh, we must be close to your home now,” I asked, ‘We are indeed,” Robert replied, as we soon left behind the village, with open fields on one side of the road, and a forest of trees and a wooden fence on the other side. Soon we began to slow down, before turning left onto a small sealed road, with a sign stating that it is a private road. “Welcome to Balcarres Estate,” Robert said to me as we travelled down the narrow road, through a grove of trees and turning left at a cross junction, where I got my first view of Balcarres House. “Holy cow, that is enormous, and it is just you and the staff who live here?” I said. “That is right, and with my nephew having a young family, I hope it will be filled with many children for years to come. He and his family often come and stay here, especially on weekends, so you will get to meet them during your stay,” Robert informed me. “What does your nephew do for work?” I asked, “Well, he is doing very well for himself actually, Alexander owns and runs Archerfield Estate, which includes accommodation, spa and golf course, which is 20 kilometres due south in a straight line, but on the other side of the bay, and just 35 kilometres east-north east of Edinburgh,” Robert informed me. Once I was shown where I would be staying for my stay, Robert gave me a detailed tour and history of the house, which took nearly two hours to complete. “Sounds like our family has a lot of history in this house,” I commented, as we ended the tour in the main drawing room, where we were served afternoon tea. “Yes, but not just here, we have other places that have family history, sadly some are no longer in the family, mainly because of their size, in particular Dunecht House, which the family owned from 1845 till 1900 and there is an interesting story about that place, involving the stolen body of the 25th Earl of Crawford,” Robert informed me. “Wow, now I want to see this place and hear all about this, as it will make a great addition for my assignment,” I responded. “I have spoken to the current owners of Dunecht and they are more than happy to give us a tour,” Robert said to me.
  24. quokka

    PS Ch 3

    Thanks mate Dont sink too deep.
  25. quokka

    PS Ch 3

    Very remote, located midway between the Orkney Isles and the Shetland Isles in the North Sea. 128 kms N/E of mainland Scotland, 370 kms due west of Norway.
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