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,” Robert 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,” Robert replied.
“Trying to stretch out the suspense are we?” I asked, and Robert 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?” Robert 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?” Robert asked me, “Late last year, between Christmas and New Year,” I replied. “Do you remember the small train stations on that journey?” Robert 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,” Robert 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,” Robert 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,” Robert 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,” Robert 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,” Robert 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,” Robert 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 Robert 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 Robert 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 Robert chuckled as he watched me. “I can’t help it, this is my first time flying this fancy,” I commented to Robert.
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 Robert 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 Robert.
After about two hours of work, I handed the Mac Book over to Robert, for him so see what I had done so far, and he suggested a few corrections and slight alterations of information. Once Robert 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.
Copyright Preston Wigglesworth All Rights Reserved July 2020