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    quokka
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Fordell - 2. Ford Ch 2

After leaving the large town of Dunfermline, and entering the tiny village of Fordell, we made our way down a narrow lane, until we came across large double steel gates, with a stonewall on either side. “I have never worked out why the aristocrats always made such huge entry gates, it is all a waste of money in my view,” I commented, as Robert handed me the set of keys, and I stepped out of the car to unlock and open one of the gates, and closing it again, after passing through.

A few minutes later, we crossed a small bridge, and shortly after a clearing revealed a chapel and a tiny cottage to the right, and a very impressive castle straight ahead. “Wow; I own this?” I said in amazement, “Yes, it is all yours cousin, and I have even arrange to employ some staff for you to keep the property in good order all year round,” Robert replied as we stopped at the front of the castle and climbed out.

A couple appeared from around the back of the castle, and approached us. “Lord Lindsay, it is good to see you again sir,” the man said as they both stopped and bowed to us, “Mr Aled and Mrs Edna Appleton, may I present your new employer, Sir Edwin Crawford, Baronet of Wigan, and soon to be Lord Crawford, Baron of Fordell,” Robert said to them.

“Sir Edwin, it is a pleasure to meet you, we have been following the media reports of you with great interest,” Mrs Appleton said as she shook my hand, followed by her husband, who had quite a strong handgrip. I put my hand behind my back, shook it, then opened and closed it a few times to relieve the pain, while Robert gave a knowing smile.

We were given a detailed tour of the castle, which had four levels, and is very impressive, with the Appleton’s reside in the cottage next to the chapel, and starting with the lower ground floor, there is a staff suite for additional staff, plus the laundry, kitchen, and general service area and storerooms.

The upper ground floor, which is raised about 2.5 metres above the ground, has a drawing room, billiards room, the great hall and a long narrow gallery, which has plenty of impressive wall hangings on them, two bathrooms, the huge great hall, that is used for large banquet gatherings and balls, plus the formal dining room, and the entry foyer.

The first floor has all of the main bedrooms on it, with two huge master suites, with their own bathrooms, and four bedrooms with two shared bathrooms, this level also has a private lounge room, the library and study on it.

The second and top floor has a small lounge room above two master suites, and one of them leads to the tower lookout, while at the back of the castle, there are another six more bedrooms, with three bathrooms, and a lounge room.

After taking a seat in the drawing room, where Mrs Appleton served tea and fruit cake, I asked them to tell me a bit about their past, and I was informed that they did have a daughter, who accidentally drowned when she was seven years old. That was when they sold their family farm and began working on large estates around Scotland.

I expressed my condolences on their loss, and I began to tell them a little about me, about being educated in a private school in the city of Launceston in Tasmania. Also about the assignment that I was given in my second last year at school, which led me to discovering that I had Aristocracy in the family, and I came to Scotland to meet my cousin, where my life has changed dramatically.

I mentioned that the Alexander Lindsay, my cousin and heir to Robert’s Earldom, has been assisting with running some of my properties in the UK, and more recently I also have been helping, while Alexander recovered from Malaria. I mentioned that I was brought up by my mother Alexandria, and my Great Aunt Beatrice, who now live at Wigan Manor, which is well hidden away from the media, and can only be accessed by a boat.

“May I suggest that we have the whole family here for Christmas Lunch,” Robert suggested, “Yes, if that is alright by you folks?” I replied, “Yes Sir Edwin, we will be very please to prepare for this celebration with your family,” Mr Appleton said.

“That is good, as there will be a bit of a crowd, Alexander, Margaret and their four children, and my Mother is flying up from Tasmania, who else Robert?” I said, “Just my three staff, James Hunter, Mr & Mrs Parker and you two of course,” Robert responded.

“That makes fourteen including staff,” Mrs Appleton said, “yes that sounds right, and make sure that all staff including yourselves are dining with us please,” Robert said, “Yes My Lord, we will need to use the great hall as the dining room won’t fit us all in it,” Mr Appleton replied.

“Excellent, we can do some dancing afterwards, to make it a real celebration,” Robert said happily, and the way he said that, made me think that he had something a lot bigger in mind, as I stared at him and he just chucked and winked at me.

After tea, we thanked the Appleton’s and I let them know that I would be returning in a few days time, as we made our way back to Balcarres House. We just relaxed for the rest of the afternoon, and mentioned to the three staff that Christmas lunch would be at Fordell Castle, and that all staff is invited to attend.

“By the way, I managed to convince Beatrice to travel with Alexandria, to we will have an extra family member with us,” Robert said to me after dinner. “Shame that Charles and Elizabeth Dawson can’t come along too,” I commented, “Oh yes; they are coming too, and I have informed the staff at Fordell of the three extra people coming, with all but Alexander and family staying overnight or longer,” Robert announced.

“What are we going to do for entertainment?” I asked, “I have that organised also, we have a local pipe trio that will be doing all of that for us, Robert replied, “You have thought of everything,” I commented, “Well I hope I have, please let me know if I have forgotten anything,” Robert said to me.

The following day, Robert and I flew down to Windsor, to attend the ceremony of me receiving my new title, of Baron of Fordell, which was done with just a few Windsor staff there to witness the event. Afterwards, the Queen asked for an update on the work that I am doing with renovating the old Priory and any other buildings, which I was happy to give.

Two days later and just a day before Aunty Bea, Mum and staff arrive in Scotland; I was driven to Fordell Castle, my new Scottish home by Aled in a flash new Royal Blue Rolls Royce Ghost, with the private licence plate of ‘Ghost 1’ which I was not really sure about.

“Is this all that I have available for transport?” I asked Aled as we made the short journey from Balcarres House to Fordell Castle. “No My Lord, we also have an olive green coloured Range Rover Defender, and also a Toyota Rav 4 which is our runabout car for shopping and other duties,” Aled replied.

“Our four Australian guests will be arriving in Edinburgh tomorrow afternoon, I think I will take the Defender to collect them, as it is a bit less obvious than this vehicle,” I suggested, “As you wish, My Lord,” Aled replied, as I tried not to groan with annoyance at been addressed that way.

“Actually, with the media probably hovering around, I have a better idea, if you have a spare chauffeur uniform, I will go in disguise to pick them up in this car, I just need to have a sign printed out to hold up as they arrive,” I said, and Aled chuckled at this. “Good plan sir, you will definitely have them fooled, I will make sure a clean suit is pressed and hat, are ready for you,” Aled responded smiling.

I spent the rest of the day being settled into my new home, spending a few hours wandering around the castle to get my bearings, and I discovered that the library has some very interesting books on the shelves and with some lounge chairs in the room, I settled down for a few hours of reading.

“I have found my favourite room in the castle, the library wins by a large margin”, I said as we sat down at the kitchen table, on the lower ground floor, which I insisted be less formal when there is no one else in the castle. Although my staff seemed to like the idea, but took sometime for them to get used to it, and we were able to chat a lot easier in this setting, as we got to know each other a bit better.

The following day, straight after lunch, I showered and changed into the chauffeur uniform with a hat, and I was given a printed sign, “Petworth/Crawford” written on it in big clear lettering, and Aled said that he would be following in the Defender to carry the entire luggage.

I let Aled lead the way to Edinburgh International Airport, as I was still getting used to the area, even thou the car has a navigator system in it. It was strange driving the Ghost, as it was quite a heavy vehicle and it took me most of the trip to the airport to get used to it.

Not sure where to go, I just followed Aled into the Valet Parking area, and parked directly behind him, and once all locked up, we walked into the terminal as just two ordinary uniformed chauffeurs. No one took any particular interest in us at all, as we spotted a few people that could be media, with large cameras, and camera bags hanging off their shoulders.

I decided to test my theory, that they were after my family members or me so I approached one of the cameraman, and in my best Scottish accent, “Excuse me Laddie, what’s with all the media interest today?” I asked, noticing that Aled was keeping close by, in case all went bad.

“We have a rumour that the Baronet of Wigan is on the flight from Heathrow to Edinburgh, after flying in from Australia earlier,” the cameraman replied, “Is that so, what does this Baronet look like?” I asked keeping up the accent.

“Not sure really, he is about 21 years old, he has been in hiding for the past four years, so he may have changed in that time,” the cameraman replied. I wished him all the best of luck and walked away with a huge grin on my face, and Aled was laughing softly.

“That is the dirtiest and most daring trick I have ever seen, well done sir,” Aled said to me quietly, “I think we had better change roles, as there is a lot more media than I expected. You hold the sign and greet our guests and take them to the car, while I will deal with the entire luggage,” I said to Aled.

I could see he was about to protest, but he closed his mouth and smiled, “As you wish sir,” he responded quietly, “One more thing, once we have driven off in the Ghost, can you hand that reporter that I spoke to my business card, and just walk back to the Range Rover,” I suggested, and Aled smiled broadly. “Oh that is good sir, rub his nose in it, so to speak,” Aled said, “yes exactly,” I replied smiling, as I handed him one of my newly printed cards, that includes my new title.

“The Right Honourable Lord Edwin Crawford, Baron of Fordell, & Baronet of Wigan – Dunfermline, Scotland, Cupar, Scotland, & Strahan, Tasmania.”

Aled decided to ring me just before walking back into the terminal, after loading the passengers and helping me with the luggage, so I would listen in on loud speak, so my passengers could hear too, when he presents the card. “Excuse me sir, my employer asked me to pass this on to you,” Aled said as he handed over the card.

“What is this, he is already here? Where is he?” I heard the reporter ask in surprise, “He was here, he was the gentleman in the Chauffeur uniform that you spoke to earlier, have a good day,” Aled said before walking off, and shortly after the phone went dead.

I burst our laughing, as I drove away from the terminal, heading for Fordell Castle, and I took off my hat, “Hello Aunty Bea and Mother, it is good to see you again, and you to Charles and Elizabeth,” I said to my passengers, “Edwin, what on earth is going on, and why are you dressed like that?” Mum said to me in shock surprise.

“Just playing a little prank on the media, that were expecting the Baronet of Wigan to arrive on your flight, totally unaware that I have been here for months already, I just wish I could have seen the expression on that reporter’s face when Aled, who is my staff member handed him my business card,” I announced.

“I see, and is that the way aristocracy should be behaving?” Aunty Bea said to me, “No, but I couldn’t resist it, I actually walked up to him and asked why all the media activity in the terminal, with my best Scottish accent, and he didn’t even know that it was me.

By the way, Robert and I made a trip to Windsor yesterday, where I was presented with a new title for my work in restoration of important Scottish historic buildings, namely the Crawford Priory, which is now restored to lockup stage and looking magnificent,” I announced to my family and Australian staff.

I passed a business card back for them to have a look at it. “My word, this is for real?” Aunty Bea asked, “Yes Aunty, I am now the Baron of Fordell, and it is Fordell Castle, my new Scottish home where you will be spending Christmas with us,” I announced.

“Holy cow… excuse me My Lord, but this is a real surprise, congratulations,” Charles said to me, and Elizabeth said congratulations to me, as well. “Are we going to see Balcarres House while we are here?” Aunty Bea asked me, “Yes Aunty, Robert is hosting a by invitation only New Years Eve Ball, so we will have to prepare for that too. Therefore, you will get to see Balcarres once again.

Apart from Charles and Elizabeth, we also have Robert’s three staff, who will be joining us for Christmas, which will be held in the Banquet Hall, as the dining room is too small to fit us all in, as there will also be Alexander, Margaret and their four children, and their four staff too,” I announced.

“Alexander is Robert’s nephew and heir to the Earldom,” Mum explained to Charles and Elizabeth, “Yes, Alexander runs a hotel and golf business just East of Edinburgh, on the south side of the harbour,” I added. “Does very well too, from what I hear,” Aunty Bea commented.

“It is an amazing business, practically runs on its own with all the excellent staff there, I have been delayed returning to Australia, because Alexander fell ill with Malaria, and I had to take over tunning the business while he was recovering,” I explained.

I noticed the range Rover pass me shortly after crossing the bridge, “He will have to pay his own fine if he gets caught speeding,” I commented, “Who dear?” Mum asked, “Aled, my butler he is in the other car with all the luggage, that just passed us,” I replied.

Shortly we passed through the outskirts of Masterton, as we exited off the M90, and circled around to get onto the road that crossed over the motorway, and we soon passed through the village and long the driveway, that is the entry to the Fordell Estate. With the gates left open by Aled, he no doubt will return to close and lock the gates, now that the media know that I am in Scotland.

As we drove through the heavily forested woodland, it soon opened up to reveal the chapel, cottage and the castle itself.

Copyright © 2020 quokka; All Rights Reserved.
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Awesome chapter. Great to see Edwin's family and staff in the UK visiting him for Christmas. I love the trick that Edwin played on the media.

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Good chapter 'Q' but hoped Lucas would be included.

Old but good trick to tweak the nose of media & paps. Used something similar over the years. 

Vanity Reg plates on the Royce would actually have mix of capitol letters & numbers, and look like this: GH05T 1.

ttfn

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