Eunice and I met through the internet, researching our families with the same surname in the same town. We thought for a while we were searching for the same family, until I found a death certificate that explained why names and some dates didn’t tie in! I had had to make an educated guess at one point but settled on the wrong parents for one of my Johns! Anyway we had become friends by that time so were always interested in how the other was getting on, helping each other along the way too.
We first met – in the flesh - two years ago when I visited them in NZ and they introduced me to their family, took me out and about and generally treated me like one of the family. I love them all to bits!
Anyway, after their few days in Edinburgh, we all came down to Moffat for a few days, this being the place where we each had had ancestors. We stayed in a lovely flat right on the High Street, the main street, just up the road from the old cemetery and across the street and round the corner from “ancestral homes”.
The old cemetery had revealed gravestones of each of our sets of ancestors, my James and Christina, and their John and Jean! Ken also found my James and Christina’s daughter’s and her husband’s grave. Rosemary, Eunice’s daughter, back home in NZ had suggested they put flowers on the grave, and at my suggestion we picked posies of wild flowers growing in the church yard and placed them on top of our respective ancestors’ headstones. After all, it was most likely those kinds of flowers that would have decorated their modest homes way back in the 19th century.
We walked round the various streets we knew were where our families lived and I am pretty sure each family would have known the other, as the town can’t have been very large 180 years ago. I am fairly certain some of my ancestors lived in one of the cottages in this photo the ones almost hidden by the hedge and tree, and that the nearest one was also single-storeyed, originally.
Talking of ancestral homes, next day we drove up to Peebles, via the Devil’s Beeftubs road and eventually reached Dawyck, and Stobo where some more of Eunice’s forebears had lived - in a shepherd’s cottage high up on a steep hill. I stopped to point it out, a distant speck on the hillside! Photos were taken and on we drove, past the road to the farm and the cottage itself - which I of course pointed out - to pull into the lay-by on the side of the road, where I announced that their transport to the cottage was waiting. Linda was there in her 4x4 to take us all up the steep rough track! She took Eunice and me first then came back down for Keith and Ken.
while up there admiring the view and speculating on the kind of life the ancestors must have had up there in the 18th and early 19th centuries. No 4x4s then, no electricity, no shops nearby……… a lonely hard life, looking after the laird’s sheep.
We came back down again in two journeys and after lunch at Dawyck, and a quick look at Stobo Castle Health Spa, - there is a legend in Eunice’s family that a baby long ago was left on the steps of the castle before the parents emigrated, but the castle is too late in date, and nothing has ever been found out about who the baby or its parents might have been, so nothing can be substantiated - came into Peebles where the red and white Beltane bunting was flying.
Ken even ran down to the Green and took this next picture of us giving a regal wave from our exalted position!!
We were meeting Morag and Mike later for a meal in a local restaurant but in the meantime had a cup of tea,and Eunice wrote an email to Rosemary to tell them where they’d just been! Eunice is still smiling! She said it felt like a dream!
We had a lovely meal at Osso, and then took a walk along the Green to where I had parked my car. One last photo was taken by Ken, of us with Morag and Mike, before we said our goodbyes, and set off down the road again back to Moffat.
I wish they could have stayed longer for a better look around the town, but at least they have been here, and hopefully will have plenty of memories to take home with them.
Talk again soon.