Following Edward Rochester’s death in All Hallows at Eyre Hall, Jane Eyre, who has been blackmailed into marrying a man she despises, will have to cope with the return of the man she loved and lost. The secrets she has tried so hard to conceal must be disclosed, giving rise to unexpected events and more shocking revelations.
Romance, mystery, and excitement will unfold exploring the evolution of the original characters, and bringing to life new and intriguing ones, spinning a unique and absorbing narrative, which will move the action from the Yorkshire countryside, to Victorian London, and across the Atlantic Ocean to Colonial Jamaica.
Michael had his back to the fireplace as we entered. He turned to look at Jane, and smiled, as he always did when he saw her, as if nothing had happened, as if he had just seen her yesterday. He moved towards us and she retreated, whispering his name once again.
“Diana, could we have some water. It’s been a terrible journey, and Jane is so very exhausted,” I said as I held her arm, sure she was about to collapse.
Michael rushed to the sideboard, poured some water from the decanter, and offered it to her. She stared at him, still motionless, so I took the glass and pressed the rim to her stunned lips.
Michael was standing too close to her. He was as handsome and striking as ever; more so in his navy uniform. He looked older and larger. His arms had grown sturdier; his face was tanned and rugged. He looked like a man who enjoyed giving orders instead of accepting them. He was as bolder and stronger as Jane was weaker and quieter. I never knew why he left, and now I had no idea why he had returned, although I supposed that his departure had been the cause of her melancholy mood.
My uncle had told me they were lovers. Unnatural, he called it, but I had seen love in the way their eyes chased each other’s movements at Eyre Hall. Did she tire of him and throw him out? Did he leave her? Why did she marry my uncle? I could understand my uncle’s reasons, but what did Jane gain from their union?
Jane was trembling, so I stood between them with my back to Michael, obstructing her vision, to give her some time to adjust to the surprise of seeing him.
“Drink some water, Jane, please,” I said as I pushed the glass to her lips.
“Are you well, Jane?” asked Diana.
“Yes, she’s all right,” I replied. “Just tired.”
“Well, you already know Michael, now Lieutenant Kirkpatrick. He has come with Captain Carrington and his wife. Captain Carrington is Michael’s sea captain. He was Charles’s last captain, too, on his final mission as Admiral of the Fleet. We are surrounded by valiant men today, are we not ladies?” Diana clapped her hands.
“They’re staying over Christmas. Would it not be wonderful if we could all spend Christmas together at Eyre Hall? I would love to have you come here, but of course, Thorpe House is not big enough. What with Adele, Mr. Greenwood and his son, as well as dear John, and naturally Mr. Mason, there is just no room here, dear sister. What do you say?”
I stepped forward and offered my hand to the captain who brushed his lips over my gloved knuckles as he gave me a lecherous smile, which instantly displeased me. His wife surprised me with a friendly hug. I finally offered Michael my hand. He bowed, but his lips did not touch my glove.
After greeting the captain and his wife, Jane turned to Michael. He held her hand longer than was necessary and pressed it against his lips with a smile. “I’m very pleased to see you again, Mrs. Mason.”
She stared back in silence, so I spoke. “Lieutenant, although we are pleased to see you, you must understand what a surprise it is. You left Eyre Hall suddenly, and we have had no information about your whereabouts in over a year. It was not a courteous way to leave your employer.”
“You are correct, Miss Mason. I do apologise to Mrs. Mason for not giving her enough notice of my leave, but my decision was sudden. My sister, Susan, was leaving Eyre Hall, and I too needed a change of employment. I came to see Admiral Fitzjames, because he had helped my father, too.” He turned to Jane. “I hope you can forgive me, Mrs. Mason.”
About Luccia Gray
Luccia Gray was born in London and now lives in the south of Spain with her husband. She has three children and three grandchildren. When she’s not reading or writing, she teaches English at an Adult Education Centre and at the Spanish National University.
What a difference a day makes. Late yesterday afternoon when we arrived in Largs, it was dull and overcast, not to mention, cold with showers. This morning, it was bright and sunny. Over breakfast, I chatted with Pica, the lady who runs Tigh-An-Struan Guest House. She knew I was a writer from my email signature and asked about my book and could she buy a copy. Since I still had some in the boot of the car, I was more than happy to oblige. I gave her the price and told her I would even sign it for her. While I was at the car getting a copy and the book swag to go with it, I made a note to myself to tell hubby I wanted to go back down to the beach and take pictures since it was so different than when we arrived. Book signed, bill paid, hugs from Pica (especially after I showed her the page I had signed on), we headed to the car only for me to have to go back because I’d left my warm poncho in our room. She handed me the key and I dashed upstairs. Not only had I left my poncho on the bed, but hubby had left his shampoo and body wash in the shower. Before we left, we put as much of our stuff as possible into the suitcases since for the most part, any extra bags from purchases had just been tossed into the boot. Our rental car would be going back later today and the fewer items we had to contend with, the easier it would make our lives. Before leaving Largs, we walked down to the beach so I could take pictures.
As we’d done the day before and back on Day 8 when we headed south, I wanted to stay along the coast for as much of the drive to Johnstone where we would catch the train into Glasgow as possible.
Same day return tickets purchased, we went out onto the platform to wait for our train. We weren’t there more than ten minutes before it pulled into the station.
As soon as we were off the train and out of the station, we immediately headed for Argyle Street where we turned left and made our way to the High Street and up to the Necropolis.
Call me weird, but I love cemeteries – especially old ones. The stonework in these older monuments is amazing, not to mention the architecture of the mausoleums.
We had barely scratched the surface of this amazing ‘City of the Dead’ when it was time to move on. From here we went to George Square where there used to be a tourist information shop but was closed and relocated to Buchanan Street. So off we went but not before taking a slight detour down to Royal Exchange Square to see the Duke of Wellington Statue.
Yes, that’s a traffic cone on his head. If my murky memory serves, back in the day people would climb up and put it on the statue only to have the city come along and take it down. Finally, once it was up there it was left as is because the statue was being damaged. Now it’s illegal to remove the ‘jaunty chapeau’. Buchanan Street was alive with bands playing and buskers on almost every block.
We stopped in at the tourist information looking to see how far out the new transportation museum was, only to discover it was far from being within walking distance. I had toyed with the idea of buying the guys something from here but that didn’t happen. From here, we walked down to Argyle Street and went into the St Enoch Centre where I visited my favourite department store – Debenhams along with a few others but didn’t find what I was looking for. On our way back to the train station, we went into The Glasgow Kilt Company on Union Street. Much to my delight, they had the tartan corset I’ve ogled and drooled over for a few years and decided that buying online wasn’t an option. There was no change room here, and with UK sizes being different than North American, I needed to be able to try it on. One of the staff was extremely helpful. He told us of their other store on Hope Street which had more tartans to choose from plus, the needed change room. He even came out onto the pavement with us and told us how to get there so off we went. What a score! It took some time trying on various sizes (hubby was even allowed to come and help me) until I found the right size. I got my corset (one that fit and less expensive than online), a couple of fridge magnets and ‘Glasgow’ hoodies for the guys. Here it is, what do you think? I’m seeing some new author photos done wearing it. Maybe up at St Lawrence Park after the leaves change since it’s gorgeous up there in the the autumn.
When we finally got back to the airport complex to return the car and check into our room, we decided to return the rental car first. It wasn’t a long walk between the two places. We made sure all of our loot was out and got one of the baggage carts to put most of the stuff on to go back. They were quite pleased at the condition the car came back in, and surprised when hubby told them that one of the back-up lights was out. I guess they don’t get a lot of people fess up?
After we got checked into the hotel, the first thing we did was re-pack up the suitcases ensuring they weren’t overweight and that said weight was relatively equal, and a few pounds below the maximum allowable so that we’d have the wiggle room we needed in the morning to put our ‘can’t pack until the end’ stuff in. Despite having a well stocked mini-fridge in the hall just inside the door and a bottle of wine on the desk, we steered clear of them (well, I used a wine glass later so I could finish up the bottle of red wine I’d brought with me from Earlsfield Farm) and visited the bar downstairs where we had a bite to eat and a few well-deserved pints of Becks, and toasted a very successful trip. It’s really hard to believe it’s gone by so fast. Tomorrow morning, we’ll be trundling our luggage over to the airport and flying home.
But one last time before we leave Scotland, let’s play SEEKING SARAH SHAND!
Our first stop this morning after getting checked out was back up to Smiths Hotel to see if my lens cap had been turned in. We did a cursory glance as we walked through the area we’d sat in the night before but saw nothing so went to reception and asked if one had been turned in. When the girl on the desk heard where we’d sat the previous night, she said check with the bar staff because it would have likely been turned in there. We did and were told to go to reception which we replied we’ve already done that and were told to come here. Then the girl asked if we’d had a good look around where we sat, which we hadn’t. I mean, going through the area, patting down chairs, looking under them without anyone knowing why would look rather suspicious. She then told us it was okay to have a good look so we did. Hubby ran his hand down between the side of the chair and the cushion where I’d made myself comfortable the night before and voila, he came up with the missing lens cap. Before we left, we made sure that reception and the girl in the bar knew we’d found the elusive contraption hiding in the chair. Yay!
Now that the lens cap mystery had been solved we could get on with our day starting with our stop at Caerlaverock Castle. I wanted to go here when we were last in this area in 2005 but time didn’t permit so I ensured a visit on this trip.
What an impressive ruin! It’s likely to be the most intact of the ruined castles we’ve visited in all of our visits to Scotland.
While we were inside one of the chambers here, a couple of kids were throwing stones down from one of the upper levels. Hubby, stinker that he can be, said to them in a ghostly sort of voice, “Do you want me to throw them back?” Funny, they quit throwing stones. Go figure.
After our visit here, well worth waiting for I might add, we headed to our next stop Sweetheart Abbey but driving along the Nith Estuary, I had to stop. Not only was it at low tide but one of the signs we’d seen at a lay-by mentioned quicksand. How can a body resit such a photo op?
By the time we arrived at Sweetheart Abbey, it had started to spit rain. Just what one needs when you need a WC. Thankfully (tongue in cheek), there were public toilets in the car park. I don’t know who maintains ownership of these ones but they were functional and that was all.
As we did after leaving Kennethmont, I wanted to drive along the coast, despite the weather being grey and gloomy with occasional showers. Our trip was coming to an end so maybe that was the reason behind it. Still, I wasn’t nearly as weepy as I was during the drive from Kennethmont to Kelso.
We passed by Cardoness and Carsluith Castles vowing to put them on the next trip. By taking the coast road, our trip was longer, but despite the cloud cover and occasional showers, far more scenic than the more direct inland route.
Near Girvan, we stopped in one of the lay-bys (part of the old road) for a photo op.
By now we really had to make tracks since we wanted to go over to Quarriers Village and see our friends there who had made the journey up to Kennethmont for my book launch. Off and on during the entire day it continued to rain – sometimes harder than others. “Sat Nav Sally” took us to the M77 (not a bad thing since we needed to make up time) and onto the M8… in rush hour. No worse than driving across Toronto, but still not the easiest. Knowing where we were and where we had to exit helped immensely so it wasn’t the end of the world.
After a visit with our friends, we made tracks for Largs, taking the ‘back’ roads. Looking back, we probably should have gone and checked in first, then headed over to Quarriers Village but seeing our friends was far more important at the time than getting to our room.
Before going off for a bite of supper, we walked the other way to the beach and I was able to get a few pictures.
We went up into the town and had our supper at an Indian Restaurant next to the Royal Bank of Scotland. It was an excellent meal, and although the onion bhajias we had weren’t on the same level as the ones in Kelso, they were delicious and served on a bed of fresh, sliced onion. Yum, yum! And no heartburn later!
So before I fall asleep after a long yet fulfilling day, let’s play SEEKING SARAH SHAND!
Tomorrow will be our last full day in Scotland and the plan is to drive to Johnstone and take the train from there into Glasgow to go shopping and visit the Necropolis. Fingers crossed the weather cooperates.
Before we had breakfast, we looked up some of the possible things we could do between Harrogate and my friend’s house just outside the Lake District. One option was to take the steam train that stopped at, among other points along the line, Haworth which is home to the Bronte Parsonage Museum – the former home of the literary sisters, Charlotte, Emily and Anne.
This idea was soon dismissed when we discovered it would be better to have a full day for the journey so it’s now on the bucket list for our next trip. My friend expected us after lunch and had we done this, it would have been after supper, if at all, since we had to get to Gretna.
We debated on driving straight through to Drybeck but a signpost along the road got our attention. Bolton Abbey. Since we like poking around ruins and what not, we thought why not? We weren’t disappointed.
We spent a few enjoyable hours here before making our way back up the hill to the car park. Along the way, we stopped in at a used bookstore in the village then in the Bolton Abbey gift shop. I bought a bracelet here (among other things) but haven’t worn it yet.
Back on the road, with another bag of loot stuffed into the boot, we began the trek to Drybeck. Soon after taking the exit at Penrith, we were on narrower roads (not that I mind) going over the mountains. We passed over at cattle grid and soon after, had to be on the lookout for sheep. Some were grazing well away from the road’s surface, others next to it.
The narrow road into Drybeck was extremely so with virtually no place to get over if you met an oncoming car. Thankfully, we didn’t. Once we got into the hamlet, we had no idea which house was my friend’s. We drove right past it! Anyway, a lady was riding her horse a bit ahead of us, so when we got close, Don put his window down and asked if she knew where our friend lived. She did and pointed us in the right direction – except we counted cottages wrong. One, which looked like a semi-detached, we counted as two so ended up at the house next door. Being in a valley, cell phone reception was the pits, but after losing Pam trying to call on Don’s mobile, he finally got a signal and got her back. He suggested she come out into the road and she did. She was so close to where we were, we heard her door close! I had backed the car into the driveway next door so I didn’t have far to drive to get into the proper driveway.
The weather was gorgeous – warm and sunny and perfect for sitting in the garden. My friend’s dog, Sid, loves to play ball, but he doesn’t like to give it up when he brings it back all slobbery and slimy.
In addition to her dog, her ‘grand-dog’ Zen was there. Not as into playing ball as Sid, but he was more into wading in the pond, much to my friend’s chagrin.
After an enjoyable afternoon abeit much too short, we began our drive to Gretna. This time we weren’t as fortunate to not meet cars on the narrow road with no passing places. This time we met oncoming cars and had to back up down the road until I could slip into the driveway for a farmer’s field. Nae fun.
We made one final stop before we hit the Scottish border to see if we had the directions to Barrasgate House from back in 2005 when we stayed there. I didn’t have anything in my emails on my laptop but after some searching, hubby found the information on his iPad. Not that it mattered, “Sat Nav Sally” got us there in the end, just brought us in from the other direction so that it was on our right instead of our left. Now we were back in familiar territory. I didn’t need the sat nav or the atlas for the rest of today.
Once we got settled, we did a quick online search for a place for supper and decided on Smiths Hotel at Gretna Green just up and over the road from the historic Blacksmith’s Shop.
There had been mixed reviews about the restaurant but we had an excellent meal, the service was great so our only issue was this modern place (and if memory serves, it was under construction in 2005 when we were in the area) so close to the Blacksmiths’ Shop. It just seemed so out of place.
Once we got back to Barrasgate House, I realized the lens cap for my camera was gone. I’d had it all along and even at supper so we decided that since the hotel wasn’t too far out of our way, we’d stop by there before our leaving the area and see if it had been turned in.
Let’s play SEEKING SARAH SHAND!
Tomorrow we’ll be off to Largs with stops at Caerlaverock Castle and Sweetheart Abbey and more if time permits. It’s really hard to believe that our holiday is almost over.
Day 11 – East Kennett to Harrogate – August 21, 2013
Today is going to be another fun day. After checking out, we headed the short distance to Avebury to see the stone circle and the avenue of standing stones leading to it. Alongside the West Kennet Avenue, is a small lay-by you can park in with a permanently parked police car with banners in all of the windows reminding folks to take their valuables or put them out of sight and lock their cars.
With the way the avenue sweeps up and over the hill, some of the stones wind up on the other side of the road.
After our time on the avenue, we went in to Avebury to see the other stones. There was a great car park along the way – pay and display (not a problem) – but the machines were all locked down or wrapped in bin bags. Was it safe to park? Not being sure, we moved on and went to the car park at The Red Lion, yet another pay and display. I hopped out and got some photos whilst hubby attempted to program “Sat Nav Sally” for our next destination but she was having none of it.
We went back to the lay-by alongside West Kennet Avenue, hoping that our ‘electronic travelling companion’ regain her satellite signal and find herself. I left hubby to it and got a couple of interesting pics of things I hadn’t seen before but when you really stopped and looked, it couldn’t have been more obvious.
I think this stone looks like a shark. When we were walking along the avenue earlier, I never gave it a thought. But a second look and… well what do you think? A shark? Or something else?
Here’s another one with different appearances depending on the angle you view it from. This first angle looks like a face with a rather large nose.
And from this angle, perhaps a chess piece? I’m thinking the knight. What do you think?
“Sat Nav Sally” finally found herself and our final destination was programmed in along with our stop for lunch. There were a number of other ‘white horses’ in the area and one on our way to Tewkesbury. We thought that since it was a short drive we’d have time to go check it out… that was until we hit a construction tailback and we were in it for what seemed to be forever. We were sat for at least half an hour. So much for a side trip to photograph another white horse.
If not for the motorway, we would have been late for our lunch date at The Bell Hotel (another place I found on google maps) with Linn B Halton and her husband.
Linn was one of the winners of my book swag pack from my e-launch splash so we had agreed I would bring it with me since we were getting together anyway. Much to my surprise, she gave me a pink, agate angel related to her Angels series (being published by HarperImpulse as Falling). I can spill the beans now about her publishing deal because she’s made it public.
It was great to meet Linn and her husband but yet again, too much to talk about and too little time. Still it was a brilliant time and I know we’ll do it again in the future.
Back onto the motorway, we headed through the West Midlands and saw places from the opposite side as we did the day before on our way south.
Since we had a lot of driving to do, stops for photo ops weren’t included in the grand scheme of things – at least until we got to Harrogate.
We passed some interesting castle/abbey ruins but will have to add them to our bucket list of places to visit.
Even with arriving in the area at rush hour compounded with the festival at Leeds, traffic wasn’t unbearable. Okay, it took a bit to whoa down the wee rental car, or perhaps it was my lead foot, as I’d been cruising along at speeds up to 80 mph. What can I say… keep up with the flow of traffic or get run over.
Maybe it was just the map but I thought when we arrived in Harrogate, our accommodations would be on our left, but it was on the right. A quick turnaround at the first set of traffic lights and I found us a place to park on the street a few doors down.
We were quickly made comfortable and shown our room. A bit of finagling and I could get our rental car into the car park, or take advantage of the complimentary pay and display badge. The badge won out.
After the obligatory room photos had been taken, we went out for a walk about looking for a place to grab a bite to eat and a bevvie.
The impressive Royal Baths building is now host to a number of other businesses. The centre section is home to what appears to be an upmarket Chinese Restaurant. We got that impression from the attire folks who were coming and going from there. Definitely not a t-shirt and jeans venue.
We walked up Parliament Street and found the entrance to Wetherspoons through the former Turkish Baths/Winter Gardens entrance to the building. Very impressive! We found a table downstairs and sat for a bit before ordering a beer each and our meal. Unbeknownst to us, we had to do the business at the bar and let them know our table number. Hubby brought our drinks back to the table and our meal was brought by the staff. It was supposedly a 20 minute wait for food because they were busy but neither one of us think it took that long.
Fed, watered (okay, it was beered) and content, we made our way back to the guest house and got settled in for the night.
Let’s play SEEKING SARAH SHAND!
Tomorrow, we’ll be back in Scotland but not before a visit with a friend who used to work for Quarriers who we’ve not seen in ten years. Will be brilliant to see her again and get caught up on all the goss(ip).
Day 10 – Market Rasen to East Kennett (near Avebury) – August 20, 2013
See I told you it would be a long day, although it wasn’t as long as we expected it to be.
In the back of my mind, I thought we would do Stonehenge AND the Avebury stones the following day but we arrived early enough that we had time for at least the former and this was before we even found the B&B where we’d be spending the night!
The next two photos are of The Heel Stone. Don’t you think it looks like a face? A creepy face, but a face nonetheless.
After we left Stonehenge, we came up on a tailback for something. There was a road off to the right and I took it not having any idea where we would end up. Obviously, the others either thought I knew where I was going or they did because they followed me.
This detour from our planned route paid huge dividends because we came across this…
Next on our quest for the day was to find the Old Forge B&B. The first time we drove by, we missed it but once we turned around and came from the other direction, it stood out – especially the green B&B sign in the grass verge across the road from the house.
Like when we stayed at Fernbank House at Dufftown, we had a private bathroom. Not quite so close to our room but our own.
We walked to The Bell only to find it didn’t open until 6:00. This was about 4:30 so we walked back to the B&B by way of the back roads (much safer). One of the fields along the road was home to rabbits. We counted less than ten but think there were more.
After a short rest and WC stop, we wandered back towards the pub. This time we took advantage of a footpath that took a good chunk off the walk if you stuck to the road.
The pub still wasn’t open when we got back but it was close enough to 6:00 and we were parched enough that we waited. Whilst we ‘loitered’ about the car park, a family arrived so we waited together, although when the doors finally opened, they went to the restaurant while we were content to sit in the bar.
The menu we had seen at the B&B was the lunch menu so we couldn’t get any of the dishes listed on it. So, we had fish and chips and mushy peas. I had mushy peas. They were served in a small sealer jar. I ate mine and hubby’s as they didn’t do a thing for him.
After all the walking we’d done during the day but especially before and after supper, we were tired so had an early night.
Let’s play SEEKING SARAH SHAND!
If you think you know where the pictures were taken, leave a comment with your answers or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org You could win a 2014 A Shadow in the Past calendar!
Tomorrow is going to be another long day as we’re back north to Harrogate with a stop in Tewkesbury to meet another online author friend, Linn B Halton. Woo hoo!
Today’s the day I meet Nicky Wells. Squee!!! We’ve planned this for ages and I found a location near Whitby where we could meet for lunch that was convenient for everyone. But that’s getting ahead of myself. After all, we’ve got to get from Scotland into England.
Before breakfast this morning, we went out for a short walk. First to the Bank of Scotland in the square then dropped in to the newsagent’s on the way back for copy of today’s The Scotsman.
We sat in the lounge at Duncan House while we waited for breakfast to finish cooking. While we were there, the owner came in from his walk, although we didn’t meet him straight away, we did meet his black lab who charged into the lounge and practically turned himself inside out getting someone to pay attention to him. At one point, he did a backwards somersault.
Jeff, the owner, greeted us at the breakfast table where we were served yet another hearty start to the day. He felt bad about leaving the note on the door for me the day before but to us, that was part of the charm.
When we were finally ready to check out, not only did I get a handshake from our host, but also a wee kiss on the cheek.
At the Scotland/England border we stopped so I could take photos. There’s a huge lay-by with parking for cars and buses (and whilst we were there a bus filled with tourists pulled in).
Beyond here, you’re in England. On the small table that was set up beside the boulder marking the border, were CDs you could buy for £5.00 and a tray with a paperweight where you could put your money.
I crossed into England and got this photo of Scotland. The red car in the background was well and truly in Scottish lands as was ours although with it being closer, it got cropped out of the picture. Was it difficult leaving Scotland? Sort of, but I had a number of adventures ahead of me and I knew that I would be returning to Scotland before we came home.
While we were at the border, the piper arrived and soon he was playing. I bought one of his CDs and when I asked hubby to take a picture of me with the Scottish border sign, the piper turned so that he was facing the camera along with me. It was windy here as you can tell from my hair. I wonder if that’s why my Robertsons all had such wild curly hair?
After spending some time (too much) here, we had to get on the road. The plan was to meet Nicky and her family around 12:00 ish. Well that wasn’t going to happen and I texted or had hubby text and advise we were running late. I think it was about 1:15 when we finally blew in at The Cross Butts Stable Restaurant.
I really had no idea exactly how close to Whitby the restaurant was but as we crested the last hill before there, Whitby Abbey came in to view. We’d visited the abbey when we stayed in Whitby back in 2005 but this view of it was totally different than what we had seen on our previous trip.
I had brought two wee (not sure of the scale) die cast models for Nicky’s sons since they love “all things lorry” and the TV program Ice Road Truckers. They went down a real treat with the boys.
Really hoping that our hubbies had the chance to at least talk to each other because Nicky and I were so involved in talking writing, publishers and the like that we rather neglected them. I really like the phrase Nicky used over on her blog – “we talked nineteen to the dozen”.
It was so much fun finally meeting the entire family that it was sad when it came time to say our goodbyes and go our separate ways.
The initial part of the trip over the North Yorkshire Moors to Market Rasen was so familiar – partly because we had travelled these roads in 2005 and partly from watching the TV programs Heartbeat and The Royal.
When we reached Beechwood Guesthouse and checked in, we had the same room as when we stayed there in 2005. Other than Earlsfield Farm at Kennethmont, this was the first of two repeat accommodations from previous trips.
After getting settled in our room in Market Rasen, I gave my cousin who lives in Dragonby a call so we could go meet him. He gave me his post code so we could program it in to “Sat Nav Sally” and off we went. I knew this cousin existed but had only discovered where he was living in the last 3-4 years and made the initial contact. Since then, it’s been via email and/or Facebook that we’ve gotten to know each other.
One of the cool things that the hamlet of Dragonby has going for it is the Dragonby Dragon – a rock formation that resembles, you guessed it – a dragon.
After visiting the dragon, which is almost in my cousin’s back yard, we went back to the house for a cuppa and a chinwag. The photo albums came out and I was able to identify some of the people in the pictures that were taken on this side of the pond.
Since we had a long day ahead of us, said our goodbyes and hubby and I returned to the Guesthouse in Market Rasen.
Let’s play SEEKING SARAH SHAND!
As I said earlier, tomorrow is going to be a long day. We’re headed south to Avebury.
There were likely faster ways of getting from Kennethmont to Kelso but they wouldn’t have been as much fun. I wanted to go the back way to Banchory then over to Stonehaven and down the coast – well at least as far as Dundee.
It was mid morning by the time we got away from Earlsfield Farm but we expected that and not just because of the late night. We had so much fun when we stayed here it was really hard to say goodbye.
We stopped in at Kildrummy Castle in the heart of Aberdeenshire – another Historic Scotland property – on our way south. It’s well-maintained, has a small, but well-stocked gift shop and WCs! The gentleman working there had a brother who used to live less than 30 miles from where we currently live. Talk about a small world.
The further we got away from Kennethmont, the more melancholy I felt. There were a couple of times that I could have pulled the car off the road and bawled my eyes out. Thankfully, we had an argument or two with “Sat Nav Sally” over where we were going which temporarily took my mind off things. I knew the route I wanted to take (been there, taken it before so knew where I was going) and she refused to recalculate and get on the same page… or perhaps I should say the same road.
We stopped briefly at Dunnottar Castle just south of Stonehaven on the North Sea, primarily for a photo op and maybe make a point. Long story…
Okay, back to my long story. Some years ago, I started reading a novel set in Scotland (author and title shall remain nameless) and a castle on the North Sea south of Stonehaven was wrongly named Kildrummy Castle. Having been to both castles, I knew it was WRONG! The only castle fitting this locational description was Dunnottar. Try as I might, I couldn’t get past this glaring error. I might have passed up a good author but that was a chance I was willing to take. I mean, if the author didn’t want to use the ‘real’ name, then make up a fictitonal one, don’t just plunk an inland castle on the coast. Rant over now.
At Dundee, we agreed to “Sat Nav Sally’s” route and we continued on without her nagging “turn around when possible”. The rest of the trip to Kelso was quiet (well at least on the sat nav front). I was still sad but not so much as before. Now, I had new territory to get excited about. Yes, we’d been to The Borders before but not Kelso.
When we arrived in Kelso, I couldn’t remember the name of the street the B&B was on, only that it was a one way street. It seemed most of the way in to the town centre was just that. I wanted to stop in the square where the Tourist Information was located but I missed the turning and ended up going up yet another one way street. And guess what! It was the right one. Just at the top of the hill was the sign for Duncan House and their car park. How fortuitous was that?
There was a note on the door addressed to me, telling me where the keys were and how to get to our room so we began the process of unloading the car. On one of our trips to the car, we opened the front door at Duncan House to be greeted by a young couple wondering if we were the owners and was there a room going for the night, We disappointed them but told them to try the phone number on the note in the window. Making sure the front door was securely locked behind us, we got the rest of our loot from the boot of the car.
One of the first things I had to do was plug my laptop in and charge it as the battery was almost flat and I didn’t want to give it a case of “chargus-interruptus” before we left Kennethmont.
Once we were settled, it was time to go exploring but first we stopped off for a bite to eat at The Empress of India, just down the street from our B&B.
After a fantastic meal, an Indian beer (Cobra) and the best onion bhajias I’ve ever had, we headed to the abbey. Unfortunately, the gates were locked but I still got some great photos – likely even better than from within the gated part of the grounds.
Let’s play SEEKING SARAH SHAND!
Tomorrow will be another big day! We’re going ‘south of the border’ with our final destination being Market Rasen, but on our way we’re stopping near Whitby to meet my author friend, Nicky Wells, and her family and my cousin in Lincolnshire that I’ve not met in person before. How exciting!
Day 7 – Launch Day at the Rannes Hall in Kennethmont! – August 17, 2013
The big day was finally here! Was I nervous? A wee bit. Mostly because I still had no idea how many people were coming.
Besides my book launch today at the Rannes Hall, I appeared virtually on two blogs – one is my author friend, Nicky Wells’ Romance That Rocks Your World blog and I did an interview with Peggy Stanton over at Famous Five Plus so I hope you’ll pop over to these wonderful sites.
Compared to other days (especially our ‘free’ day), we did nothing. We both think we went in to Huntly that morning but for what, we can’t remember. We’d been there the night before. Still, we did something/went somewhere nearby in the morning and for the life of us, we have no recall whatsoever.
Fast forward to the afternoon… we loaded the car with books, book swag, door prizes and my silver sharpie pen for signing and made the short journey down the road. We could have easily walked, but trundling a suitcase behind us and me in my ‘ruby’ slippers, it wouldn’t have been a very comfortable walk.
I’m not sure when this sign popped up. I don’t remember seeing it the day before when we walked to the Old Kirkyard and we walked right past here – trash day, wheelie bin in front of the hall. I guess it ‘grew’ overnight.
Here it is – the venue for my book launch. Isn’t it a grand looking building? It’s home to many a Robbie Burns night and other functions.
When we pulled in to the car park, I was gobsmacked to see my friend, Bill Dunbar, still sitting in the vehicle beside us while his wife chatted by the side entrance with David, my Rannes Hall connection (and owner of Earlsfield Farm). He and Helen made the drive up from Quarriers Village for my launch. I got a huge hug from him as did Don (who insisted on it, since they’d come so far).
So, let’s go inside and see what it looks like in there. I have an advantage having been to a dance here in 2000 and seeing photos from Burns Night celebrations online.
My table was set up in front of the stage with alternating Canadian and Scottish flags affixed to it and three rows of seats were arranged in a semi-circle.
With the hall empty, it seemed even bigger than it really was. It was between 1:30 and 2:00 pm and so far it was only Bill and Helen, David, and Don and me. Nail biting time.
Soon, it went from hardly anyone to almost every seat filled. The original plan of doing my reading, followed by a Q&A session, then signing and selling kind of went out the window as people wanted to purchase their copy right away, or if they already had one, get it signed. Who was I to argue? It worked.
I had three draws for the following door prizes.
David wanted one of these so it was sheer serendipity when it was his wife’s ticket number that was drawn.
If our murky memories are correct, Helen Dunbar won the tote bag.
And the calendar was headed off to Dubai with a teenaged cousin of mine. And speaking of cousins…
Ian’s and Norman’s fathers were two of my Dad’s brothers who remained in Scotland. And it was Norman’s great-granddaughter who won the calendar.
By the time the afternoon’s event was over I sold… drum roll, please…
copies of A Shadow in the Past! Yippee!!!
People mingled afterwards over tea/coffee and shortbread before gradually saying their goodbyes and heading homeward. Once everyone was out of the hall, we did the same and went back to Earlsfield Farm to change and relax before going out to supper at The Hunters Moon in Auchleven.
In the end there were ten of us who went to supper. The food was amazing!
After our meal, we went over to Rhynie for the dance at the gala. There was a dance the night before for the younger crowd but they were all back in full force. I got bowled over trying to get in when security couldn’t wrestle a drunk out. Not the most auspicious start to the rest of the evening.
It was well after 1:00 the next morning when we finally got back to Earlsfield farm and we would be back on the road that morning heading south to Kelso.
No SEEKING SARAH SHAND today… we all know where she was. It will resume on Day 8.
It wasn’t actually a “free” day but more a “what shall we do today?”. Better still – an “open” day. Earlier in the week, we had taken advantage of the gorgeous weather and visited the churchyards in Gartly and Insch that we wanted to visit.
We decided that after breakfast, we would walk down to the village and the Old Kirkyard where my grandparents were buried.
Before we reached the junction of the road our B&B was on and the B9002, this sign begged for a picture. I’d seen it when I drove past it but never had the opportunity to get a good look, until this morning.
In order to get to the footpath to the Old Kirkyard, we had to walk past the Rannes Hall where I would be launching my book the next day. I did take a couple of photos but as it was trash day, there was a huge wheelie bin out front. I decided then, I would try the next day or Sunday (depending on the weather) to get another photo.
Look who is in the Rannes Hall’s outside announcements board. You’ll likely have to click on the picture to get the full-sized image to be able to see, but my event is in there.
We continued on up the road to the footpath. It starts out as a lane up to a couple of houses, then becomes the footpath to the Old Kirkyard and on to Leith Hall.
From what I’ve read, this used to be the Old Kirk at Kennethmont. The door was padlocked shut but I was able to peek in the windows.
We continued making the most of our day and carried on along the footpath.
Despite being near the railway line close to train time, I missed being able to stand on the bridge and photograph the train as it approached. And there were two trains! One to Aberdeen and one to Inverness and I missed both of them.
As we still had other things we wanted/needed to do, we didn’t walk any further but turned and made our way back along the footpath, this time taking a different route and coming out at the B9002 at the opposite end of Kennethmont.
One of the things we needed to do was laundry, and even though the wash machine at Earlsfield was offered, with it being so close to when we’d be leaving, I needed a tumble dryer to ensure everything washed was dry by the time we packed up to leave. My luck, had I hung them on the line, it would have poured rain and there I’d be with a load of soggy clothes.
Laundry in the car, we drove up into Huntly to the launderette which had since moved from its location known to us (Bogie Street) right onto the main street going into the town (Gordon Street). This location was far more convenient. After our laundry was washed, dried and folded, we walked up to the square and the Brander Library. They were the only one I sent a book launch poster to that acknowledged receiving it. I asked if they would like to purchase a copy of my book for their branch and was told that all acquisitions had to go through the branch in Old Meldrum. She did take some of my postcards and bookmarks. I thanked her for her time and we went back to the car.
The rain that had fallen earlier had stopped. No bright sunshine yet but at least no rain. Since I had wanted to see Auchindoun Castle for years and it wasn’t too far from Huntly, that was the direction I pointed the car in.
When we arrived at the small car park (essentially just a wee lay-by) along the A941, it was spitting rain again. We grabbed our outerwear and started up the footpath which is actually a road up to two farms. If you look closely at the picture, you can see the steel beams running across the road at regular intervals to keep it from washing out in heavy rains. The photo doesn’t really show how steep the incline was but trust me, it was.
I think the fact there were some ominous, black cloud looming when we got to a vantage point where we could see the castle added to the atmosphere of the place.
Now that we finally reached the last of our journey up the hill, we still had some climbing to do. We didn’t realize it until we were leaving but if you walked along the fence line, there was a far less steep approach to the castle. Oh well, this was all part of the experience.
By now we had seen and done everything we wanted to at the castle, so we picked our way back down the hill to the road and our car. Our next stop was the Walker Shortbread Company where we picked up some shorties to bring home and some to have whilst we were away.
After getting stocked up, we headed to the Aberlour Distillery. Hubby had enjoyed the sampling the night before so we thought we would take their tour. It was a bit disappointing to find out they only do two tours a day and they had just filled the final two places for the 2:00 pm tour fifteen minutes before we arrived. Still, we were told we could walk about the property and take pictures… so I did.
The cemetery at Rhynie was one of the stops we wanted to make today since we hadn’t got there yet. We could have taken the main roads into Huntly and down the A97 to get there but what fun is there in that? Instead, we went down the A941, waving as we went past Auchindoun Castle.
I had an ulterior motive for taking this route even though the road in the middle section isn’t the widest or affords the best places to pull over when meeting traffic. The small Essie Cemetery is on this road and Essie is mentioned as places my ancestors came from. So I had to investigate, now didn’t I?
All along the road the heather was blooming on the hills and until this point never in a location where a body could pull over. Then, the opportunity presented itself and I didn’t let it pass.
When we arrived at the small Essie cemetery, we tromped around but found no one related. Or if they were, I’ve not come across their names in my genealogy – yet.
After our short prowl here, we carried on to the village of Rhynie and the cemetery (where I do have relatives).
This is my great-grandparents’ (on my dad’s mother’s side) grave and one of their children, although we’ve never been able to find a birth or death registration for him. Things that make you go hmm…
Probably the most interesting thing here at Rhynie is the Gordon vault built into the back wall.
Oh yeah, and a lean-to at the far end of the car park where three Pictish, sculptured stones are on display protected from the elements.
From here we went on a bit of a cross-country adventure where we drove past the restaurant in Auchleven (The Hunters Moon) where we would be having supper the next night and before we knew it, we were in Alford. Unfortunately, we were too late to tour the Grampian Transport Museum properly as they were closing in fifteen minutes at 5:00 pm, we did get to see a Dalek in the Tourist Information and museum gift shop.
Right after I took this photo, it came towards me shouting in its Dalek voice, “Exterminate!”. Not every nice…
For a day that was free, we managed to do a great deal – and we weren’t done yet! We went back to Huntly, this time by way of the two main roads – the A944 and the A97 where we stopped in at the Tesco for an Indian takeaway, bottle of wine, another poncho and a long-sleeved sweater for me. When the sun was out, it was lovely and warm but when it wasn’t it got cool and long sleeves were nice, especially in the evenings.
After eating our supper, we decided to take advantage of the fact that the sun came out and we walked up to the stone circle on the farm. Our hosts gave us each a pair of wellies and off we went up the road to the top of the hill and through the five-bar gate at the top.
The cows were at hoot on our way up. When we got what they thought was too close they ran off, but it wasn’t long before they were hanging around and following us – the nosy parkers.
They scattered shortly after this picture was taken.
See what I mean about being nosy? Had to see exactly what we were doing up there.
See, it really is visible from the stone circle if you know where to look.
We started back towards the gate and the cows closed ranks between us and it. As we moved closer they parted – slowly – and allowed us passage. Even the bull didn’t move any faster than need be and we didn’t see him at all on the way to the stone circle. I think before he got bored with us, I was only about four feet from him. When he sauntered off, the rest of the herd took their cue from him and off they went.
The gate might not have been chained quite the same way, but I made sure it was secure and we started down the road, this time to be greeted by the “ladies” in the field across the road from the stone circle.
Now it’s time to play SEEKING SARAH SHAND!
Tomorrow is a big day for me, not because we’re travelling but because it’s launch day for A Shadow in the Past at the Rannes Hall! Wish me luck!