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May 28th 2019
Published: May 28th 2019
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Blog 1 22 May 2019

Dear all – the travelling golfers are currently in Scotland enjoying cool sunny weather. Arrived in Edinburgh on 15th May. Picked up a hire car at Edinburgh Airport and drove straight to Crail Golf Course which is on the sea about 30 minutes from St Andrews. Had a nice round happening until we hit the tough Par 3’s and a few long Par 4’s on the back nine holes. That soon wrecked the scores and by then the sea mist was rolling in making it difficult to see the ball. It was an amazing course that had some quaint and interesting history attached to it. For example a cave where centuries ago Constantine was killed by the Vikings and a beach where a ship with the mother of Mary, Queen of Scots onboard, accidentally landed in 1538 because the Captain mistakenly thought he was at St Andrews. Now they are sights you don’t find on our Gungahlin Lakes Golf Course.

Really excited to also report that food in Scotland has changed heaps for the better. We stayed four nights in the town of Cupar, the home place of my 3x great grandmother’s family – the Hain family of Cupar. Food choices were great and lots of GF on every menu. In fact one Café ONLY served GF Scones – along with lots of amazing normal cakes - now that is really unusual!

Spent some time doing a little bit of ancestry and catching up with the people at the Fife Family History Society – they know us well there now! The beautiful village of Carnbee and Kellie Castle Estate seems to be full of Robertsons!

While in Cupar we were popping our name into the Ballot each day to try to score a game on the Old Course at St Andrews. Got the surprise of our lives when our names came up for Saturday with a 5pm tee off.

Saturday morning came and the weather had turned from 15 degrees and sunny on Friday to raining, windy and cold. We were a little disappointed. Drove to St Andrews where it was really blowing and freezing. LG had three layers on the legs (tights, Katmandu hiking pants and golf wet weather pants!) but the dampness just crept in. GG decided he needed a pair of wet weather over pants cause he had left his at home. My they know how to charge for this kind of gear at St Andrews. He will treasure this pair forever!!

Called at the starters hut and sorted out the money only to learn there was no caddy available for Leanne. We said not to worry and took our little pull trolleys down to the tee box for the big start. Amazingly the weather changed. The drizzle stopped and the wind became much calmer. Thankfully it stayed like this until the 16th hole. We had a wonderful evening strolling along on the original fairways that were set down over 400 years ago – pretty amazing when you think about it. There were lots of players doing the same as us – cameras clicking and balls flying into some of the biggest bunkers imaginable. GG had one bad bunker hole but that just added to the fun.

We each managed to par some of the par 3 holes and we both had scores that were better than expected. The 14th hole had a bunker called Hell and might I say it was massive and went from the left to the right of the fairway. We both threaded the needle very carefully and made sure we stayed well away. Had a lot of fun watching the group in front try to hit over the Hotel corner on the 17th Road Hole. It is such a fun thing to watch the longer drivers go for it. But you need about 230 yards on the carry to get over the sheds (used to be a set of old railway sheds when the train went to St Andrews). By now the drizzle was starting and it was getting a little darker. We finished our round at 9pm and loved every minute of this wonderful afternoon at golf.

Sunday saw us farewelling our B&B host Mary as we started driving from Cupar to Musselburgh, just south of Edinburgh. Along the way we visited Dunfirmline Abbey. WOW what an amazing place – built in the 1100’s it is a striking piece of architecture. We had visited the Abbey years ago but did not get the chance to go inside. What a surprise it was to find a burial plaque on the main abbey wall, naming the members of the Durie family from the place of Craigluscar. This place is the home place of our 2x great Grandmother Mary Reddie who was born at Old Craigluscar. The Reddie family house was on the Craigluscar Estate and was just a few hundred yards from the Durie family home. In our Mary’s memoirs of her life as a young girl, before emigrating to Australia, she wrote about the family going to Church in Dunfirmline Abbey and that it was the Abbey of King Robert the Bruce. It is hard for us to imagine how important religion was for many Scottish families back in the 1800’s.

Driving on we arrived at our night’s accommodation, Carberry Towers. Little did we know that it holds a very special place in Scottish history – Carberry Hill being the site where Mary Queen of Scots surrendered and was later imprisoned and executed by her cousin, Queen Elizabeth the 1st. We did the walk to the place of her surrender which is marked by a very large old stone.

Checking into the hotel, I was very interested to see the Robertson coat of arms on the entry wall. Clearly they had my number!!!! We had come to Carberry Towers because we were supposed to stay there with Carla last year. She came with Liam and loved it so we added it to our itinerary. It was a beautiful place to visit. The 400 year old building has been renovated for use as a hotel. We had the High Tea and imagine our surprise when two plate stands arrived – one GF and one normal! The plates were loaded with sandwiches, cakes, pastries, scones, loads of cream, sorbets etc. We were so in need of helpers! We had a wonderful afternoon and needed that Mary Queens of Scots walk up the hill to walk off some of the calories.

Another thing that was so wonderful about Carberry was the view out of our window. We looked over the gardens and across to the most stunning tree I have ever seen. It was 400 year old Weeping Birch with branches that looked like a beautiful ball gown. It was truly incredible both in shape and in colour. When we awoke the next morning, there was a photo shoot occurring under the tree and a stunning young model posing for some fashion magazine. A very popular tree!!!

After another breakfast feast we farewelled Carberry Towers and began our drive towards the Scottish Border Counties heading in the direction of Jedburgh. This is a terrific drive because of the incredible architecture. There are Roman ruins, medieval forts, Abbeys dating back to 900 BC, beautiful bridges that are 200 years old, viaducts built in the 1800’s for the trains and the list goes on. We came across the Leaderfoot viaduct which is 900 feet long has 43 pillars, the highest is 126 feet high and it is now used by cyclists. It is built across the River Tweed and follows the route of the Old Roman Road from York to Edinburgh and the Firth of Forth. Sitting beside the viaduct is a truly beautiful old bridge built for the age of horses and carts and then there is the new bridge for the main highway traffic. Just shows how important this route has been for a very long time.

Arriving at our accommodation called Newton Farm, near Ancrum, we were at another fine old manor house with amazing gardens.

One of the main reasons for visiting this area of the Scottish Borders was to get some idea of where Graham’s mothers ancestors came from. She was a Miller and they also had connections to women who were from the Balmer and Gowanlock families. These three names are all old Border County names.

The searching lead us to the weaving and tweed woolen town of Hawick and a little village of Roberton. After a great deal of searching we found the old cemetery of Roberton in which every second person seemed to be a shepherd. Of course Graham’s Millers were shepherds as well. There were sheep everywhere around the cemetery and the old Borthwick Brae farm was just up the hill. We found Millers and Gowanlocks buried there – the links are there and it had a real feel that this was the place of the ancestors. Very special for Graham! Interesting some of the headstone names are not recorded in the Scotlands People Births/Marriages/Deaths registers. Back in those times registration was not compulsory and the people seemed to value the etchings on the headstones more than a formal registration.

After taking many photos of the area we headed to the pub for a good meal and a celebratory ale having learnt so much about the lives of the folk in the Border Counties.

As part of travelling around the area we had a wonderful afternoon at Melrose Abbey. Also visited Jedburgh where we went to the House of Mary Queens of Scots and a walk around Jedburgh Abbey. All these places have such amazing architecture and stories to go with them. Those old Abbeys dating back to the 800-900’s and Mary’s house about the 1500’s are a testament to the building capabilities of times well gone. Cannot imagine how they did it without any technology.

Enjoy the pictures and hopefully we will get a few hours for another blog along the way.

We have been kept busy with calls from home regarding my Uncle Alex who passed away, Great Aunty Marg in Geelong who is in her last hours, Mum having another day trip to hospital but now really well again, and Uncle Lindsay having a fall out of bed and breaking a few ribs. Whew they are keeping us on on the edge of our seats.

Golfing has been magic.

Cheers Leanne and Graham

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