The United Kingdom and our Ancestors

Ok, so I am almost as far away from Scotland as I could be, given that I am in the UK. Nonetheless I have taken quite an interest in the history-making Scottish independence referendum; fuelled perhaps by my recent visit to Scotland, Media of all kinds have brought this campaign to a world-wide audience and anyone who considered this issue realised that the impact of the result, whatever the result might have been, would stretch way beyond Scotland itself.

Of course being an historian, especially one with an interest in the seventeenth century, I can’t help wondering how the bringing together of England and Scotland might have affected our ancestors. It was of course a two stage process. The accession of James I/VI in 1603 created the Union of the Crowns of England and Scotland; from then on we shared a monarch, almost by default. On that occasion it was England who were reluctant for their parliament to be subsumed in that of Scotland, rather than vice versa. Had, as King James no doubt expected, the union of the crowns been also an immediate union of parliaments, would Edinburgh rather than London have been the seat of the united government?

Despite abortive attempts during the seventeenth century (1606, 1610, 1667 after the Restoration and 1689 under William and Mary), it was to be a century down the line before the parliaments of the two countries were united. An Act for a Union of the Two Kingdoms of England and Scotland was finally passed in 1706 and came into effect on 1 May the following year. This was in part prompted by the potential constitutional crisis that was on the horizon, as a less then healthy Queen Anne, who had singularly failed to provide an unequivocal heir, neared the end of her life. In 1706 the decision was in the hands of a few. In 2014 a huge majority of the population of Scotland, male and female, of all income brackets had their say.

113 4 August 2014 Wallace Monument from Stirling Castle

View of the monument to William Wallace, hero of an earlier attempt at Scottish independence

I think of the ancestors that I can name, who would have been alive at the time. A young John Braund, living in Devon (wish I knew where). His future wife Florence (I am not even sure of her surname). The Madicks and the Elfords, also of Devon and the Oughs of Cornwall. How would the new regime have affected them? Well I strongly suspect that they were blissfully unaware of what was going on. It may have been days before they were aware of a change of monarch, let alone a change of regime. Would the Act of Union eventually have been announced from the pulpit or on a news sheet? John Braund and Peter Elford may have been able to read, the latter was an overseer of the poor but I think it is unlikely that they had much understanding of the workings of parliament, united or otherwise. I doubt that any of my ancestors had the vote until 1832 at the earliest.

I do also have ancestors from Northumberland. I don’t know the names of those who lived there in the seventeenth and early eighteenth century but they are every bit as much my ancestors as those who I can name. I feel that this may have had more of an impact on their lives. To me, putting our ancestors in the context of the national events of their time is an integral part of being a family historian. So how did the Union of the Crowns or Parliaments effect my ancestors? I don’t know but it is right that those questions should be asked.

 

The Last Word on Rockstars or Mistress Agnes is Stunned into Silence (a rare occurrence)

I never win anything, not even the fete raffle. Well I did come third in a hurdles race when I was eleven but that was only because the person in front of me didn’t realise that you had to carry on running after you cleared the last hurdle. So imagine my amazement when I found out that I was the gold medal awardee for Britain in the recent Genealogical Rockstars poll, organised by John Reid of Anglo-Celtic Connections. Humbled, overawed, excited and a million other emotions. Now I guess comes the acceptance speech, where I thank my family, my agent and my cat. I would like to thank my family who have endured my historical obsessions since I took this up seriously 37 years ago – I was of course barely out of them pram at the time. I didn’t have an agent but people did champion my cause, so thank you too. And the cat? Well the cat has gone to the great cats’ home in the sky. Most of all I was truly moved by all the lovely comments from those who told me that they would be voting for me. I genuinely had no idea that my historical net had stretched so wide or had such an impact. When I look at the other award winners and nominees I know I am in illustrious company. They include people whose presentations I have listened to, hanging on every word; people whose blogs are thought provoking; people who write ‘must have’ books. An awesome line up.

GoldNow I have to live up to the accolade. So what do rock stars do? I am not about to develop drink or drug habits, to lead a bizarre personal life or to start smashing up hotel rooms, as some of the musical equivalents are prone to do. I guess I just carry on doing what I have always done, trying to enthuse others with a love of history in its many forms. So this week I have a meeting of the parish history group. I will be taking the final (surely it really is final this time) pictures of local gravestones. I will be preparing an online one-place studies course and getting ready to address the British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottowa, sadly not in person but via Skype, Then there is the next topic in the memories of 1946-1969 to tackle, there are family and local history queries to answer – as I have said before, so much history, so little time.

 

Of Diaries, Domestic Issues and a little about Rock Stars

DSCF1701I am still playing catch up after my summer away, hence the lack of blog posts. Things have been taking off on the local history front and it has been very satisfying to unite more than one set of distant relatives who have origins in my village. I also now have on loan, just over there, a diary written by a farmer from my parish between 1830 and 1864. I am hugely grateful to the owner for entrusting me, a complete stranger, with such a treasure. I can’t wait to examine it in more detail. There are one line entries for each day commenting on farming duties, the weather, local funeral, emigrations and chapel activities. Some girls like diamonds, me I would chose this over jewels any day. Happy smiley one-place studier here! Similarly, yesterday my inbox offered me two invitations for Saturday, one a free pampering day at the local outlet village and two, a change to survey a local hill fort – no contest!

The society for one-place studies had been shortlisted for a grant to develop a community mapping project and we would be really grateful for your votes. More details can be found here and voting takes place via this link.

While you have your voting fingers at the ready, there are still twenty four hours or so in which to vote for your favourite genealogical rockstars. This is an annual opportunity to acknowledge those from the English speaking genealogical world whom you think deserve recognition. I was amazed and flattered to find my name included as one of 150 nominees who were considered worthy of consideration. There are some seriously big names on there, so I am humbled to be listed in the same breath as some of these genealogical heavyweights; do vote for your favourites. First of course you have to decide what you think warrants rock-stardom, there are some hints on the voting instructions. Is it someone who delivers inspiring, entertaining and informative presentations? Someone who works tirelessly and often inconspicuously, to further the cause of family history? Maybe your rockstar has written a ‘must have’ book or maintains an informative web-presence. Often more than one of these criteria will apply. I voted for those who I feel help to enthuse others about matters historical. It is all quite light-hearted, at least as far as I am concerned but it is a chance to show your support for anyone who you think has made a noteworthy contributing to the genealogical world over the past year.

Now to matters domestic. There have been some strange household incidents lately. Firstly a new item of furniture is to be ‘delivered to my kerbside’. ‘Good luck with that one’ I thought – living where I do behind another house and up a footpath, I do not have a kerbside. Then there was trying to track done the dongle that was, according to the instruction ‘supplied’ with the not yet smart enabled TV. The conversation went something like:-

Representative of a well known electrical retailer: ‘we don’t supply those’

Us: ‘but it says ‘insert dongle open bracket, supplied, close bracket’ in the instructions’.

Representative of a well known electrical retailer ‘but we don’t supply them. You will have to pop into your local store’

All very well representative of a well known electrical retailer but ‘popping’ involves a 32 mile round trip. Still not resolved this one.

Then there are the spam emails that have been arriving at a local history archive alias that re routes to me. Am I gullible enough to think that a local history archive will have purchased nine tickets to see Peter Pan in Bournemouth?

 

 

What Happened Next or Never Rely on the Internal Combustion Engine

Will we or won’t we get our car back today? Finding out is an effort in itself as there is no phone signal for ten miles and we have to resort to using the telephone box for which the minimum charge per call is 60p. I am sure it was 2d last time I used one. At 11.00 we are to ring back at 3.30. We decide to be optimistic, pack up the van ready to hitch up and start to head for Skye in the courtesy car, intended to ring as soon as we have signal and turning round if our car is not finished. So we head over the bridge to Skye for the third and in this case unscheduled, time. We top the courtesy car up with petrol. Strangely, the more petrol we put in, the lower the petrol gauge seems to go. Confident that we must have returned the contents of the tank to the required level, notwithstanding what the gauge suggests, we seek an opportunity to contact the garage. Unfortunately phone signal and potential passing places do not coincide. As soon as we spot a signal indicating bar appearing on the phone screen we pull in to a turning, as the road is too narrow just to pull up. Immediately we do so the bar flickers and disappears. This happens several times before finally signal and parking opportunity coincide and we are told we can collect the car in an hour and a half’s time, at 5.30. At this point we realise that we really should have eaten our main meal in the middle of the day. We use the spare time before car collection to acquire some very good fish and chips from Portree harbour, highly recommended. It is raining, what a surprise, so we have to eat these in the car. This means that we have to continue our journey with all the windows open in an attempt to alleviate the smell of fish and chips.

We find the garage and there is our beloved car minus its wheels. Correction, it is Chris’ car. When I see the size of the repair bill it is most definitely Chris’ car. Wheels affixed, we set off, hoping to get to Granton-on-Spey tonight, some 150 miles away from the garage on Skye. We make good time back across Skye to the caravan site. Van attached and we feel our holiday is back on track. Five miles up the road and the car begins to sound like a jumbo jet, there is also a rather alarming smell of burning paint. Admitting defeat we limp back to the site we have just vacated and settle in for the night.

The next day we return to the phone box for another call to the recovery services. Whatever is wrong seems unrelated to the previous problem and we are told the car will get us home. Ok, I’ll admit, there was no mention of when. I am not clear on the nature of the problem in technical terms – something to do with thrusts or turbos. In practical terms our top speed is 50mph and that’s going downhill, uphill is a very noisy 30mph. This is the highlands of Scotland. The clue is probably in ‘high’; there are a lot of hills. Chris is convinced that it is ‘all downhill’ on the way home; I am sceptical. We have 642 miles to go and Bank Holiday traffic is looming, deep joy.

We begin the journey home as soon as we can, at midday. The weather is that typical Scottish combination of beautiful sunshine one minute and rain the next, although this is probably the best weather we’ve seen for a fortnight – inevitable really. We nurse the car southward, including along past Loch Lomond on a route that we have not traversed previously. After 150 miles and 4½ hours of annoying the traffic behind us we reach our first dual carriageway. We arrive in Glasgow for rush hour. Signs warn us that progress will be slow for seven miles, or in our case four hundred and seventy seven miles. Our not recently updated satnav doesn’t recognise this bit of road. We decide to ignore her instruction to ‘turn around where possible’ in the middle of the M74. We finally give up at Carlisle but at least we are back in England and the site has a television signal so we can watch Who Do You Think You Are?

An early start the next day as we still have 375 miles to go and the sooner we reach the south west peninsula the more likely we are to miss the worst of the weekend get-away traffic. The weather is glorious – no comment. Now we have motorway we can manage a steady 50mph, when the road works, traffic jams and accidents allow. On spotting a caravan that has come adrift from its towing vehicle on the M6, fortunately it seems without injuries, we realise that we could be worse off. In fact looking at the traffic heading north, which is solid from Manchester to Tewkesbury, we could be a great deal worse off. Getting through Bristol, eight hours in to our journey and during the rush hour build up is time consuming. Beyond Bristol things improve for us but there are clearly still serious north bound delays. At last we are thirty miles from home and the end is in sight when we see the dreaded ‘road closed due to accident diversions are in place’. Said diversion was up a narrow (narrowish – our caravan passed another going in the opposite direction without mishap) road and our convoy is being led by someone who has clearly never driven on anything more slender than a motorway. Their response to being on a road with only four foot on either side of their vehicle is to drive at twenty miles an hour; at least we are no longer getting the blame for impeding the flow of traffic. This diversion puts another hour on what has already been a ten hour journey. I reflect that, in the past, ten hours to travel the length of England, without getting wet or saddle sore, would have seemed like a dream; sadly though I have twenty first century expectations. At least I am compensated for the debacle and missing what promised to be some of the ‘best bits’ of the holiday by the fact that half my family are waiting to greet me at home. I have gate crashed their time in Devon but at least I can enjoy being a Granny.

 

Wester Ross

Another wet and windy day in the van waiting for the garage to not mend our car. We have an amended plan here on in but it depends on our car being available the day after tomorrow and there are no guarantees. Ah well, I do manage to make progress with the Braund Society Journal whilst stuck in the van.

The next day we decide we really should do something. First, in to Kyle of Lochalsh to find a cash point and get some food. There is a very tiny general store and meat comes from the butcher’s next door. We show ourselves up by being unsure of the weight of the mince that we require. I hate to admit that we normally grab pre-packaged mince in a plastic box that looks the right sort of amount, without being aware of its weight. In this area there are plenty of road signs exhorting us to drive on the left. This of course is for roads that have space for two vehicles to pass and given the number of European tourists, may well be necessary.232 19 August 2014 Wester Ross

We head north across the breathtaking countryside that is Wester Ross. We have chosen a destination somewhat at random and are aiming for Torridon Countryside Centre. The weather is what we have come to expect of Scotland, raining one minute and sunny the next. Along the Wester Ross Coastal Route we encounter a sign to Stromferry. Helpfully, the sign warns that there isn’t actually a ferry at all at this location. We have seen many abandoned and ruined crofts, either a relict of the ‘clearances’ or signs of where a more recent crofter has found themselves unequal to the demands of life in the remote highlands.244 19 August 2014 Deer

On arrival at the Countryside Centre, we are able to watch a short film about the flora and fauna of the area. Accompanied by an evocative smell of pine, we walk down to the small deer museum and park, where we can see captive Red Deer. There are meadow pipets and curlew and as ever, rowan trees (Mountain Ash) full of berries. As the year progresses and we get further north, the Rosebay Willow Herb that has been prolific since the Lake District is finishing and the heather is becoming more noticeable.

We take a slightly longer way home to avoid retracing the whole of our route. Firstly, along Glen Torridon, alongside the towering Beinn Eighe range, then through Glen Docherty and Glen Carron. Here we re-encounter the convoy of Italian camper vans that we first met at Killin. Here also our first close up view of a wild, full grown, male red deer, unfortunately not in a position where we could take a photograph.

Our car is still being described as ‘a work in progress’, which is less than helpful and may mean that the revised plans require further revisions.

In Search of Monsters

DSCF2319After our exploits on Uist we spend a day recovering in the van; the stormy weather making this an attractive option. The following day we are still marooned in Kintail and the weather is no better. Although we would rather not have had our plans diverted, there is some comfort in realising that this is the day we should have been on a boat going to Orkney. The weather is reputedly worse further north. It remains to be seen if we will get there but if we do the conditions can only be better.

We decide that we will take our courtesy car eastwards to seek out monsters in Loch Ness; maybe our form for wildlife spotting will improve. In rain and mist we pass the site of the battle of Glen Shiel, which took place in 1719 when the Jacobites and their Spanish mercenary allies fought the British troops. This was the last time that the British army faced foreign troops on British soil. We view Loch Ness through wind and rain. We drive further up the loch to Drumnadrochit, planning to utilise the car park of Castle Urquhart, which we can enter free, in order to photograph the loch. Here we encounter numerous foreign tourists on their ‘every possible castle in Scotland and then some’ coach trips and the car park is full. Fortunately someone is just departing and we slot in to their space.

Although it wasn’t on the itinerary, Castle Urquhart (bizarrely pronounced Uff-irt) is an interesting location and yet another example of serious investment in Scottish tourism, with an impressive visitors’ complex. Apparently, this met with local opposition when it was proposed in the 1990s and it is set partly underground to minimise the impact. Like everywhere else, the staff are very friendly and we are greeted by two members of Clan Grant in ceremonial dress. We are asked where we hail from and they decide that Devon just about qualifies us for entry. We are probably more local than 90% of today’s visitors; rain is doubtless keeping the less intrepid British holidaymakers indoors.

We are herded in to watch a well put together video presentation about the history of the castle. In the sixth century, Saint Columba visited the Pictish chieftain Emchath, who owned the fortress on this site, and converted him to Christianity. Sir Alan Durward built the stone Urquhart Castle in 1230. Edward I captured Urquhart in 1296, during the wars of Scottish Independence but it was soon regained. In 1395 it was seized by Donald, Lord of the Isles, seeking to increase his power. In 1509, James IV stripped the MacDonalds of their land and titles and gave Urquhart to the Grants. Raids by the MacDonalds continued. In 1545, they captured 2,000 cattle and many other animals, as well has taking furniture, cannon and the castle gates.

In 1689, the Grants supported William and Mary and there was an unsuccessful Jacobite raid on the castle. Nonetheless the Grants abandoned the castle, firing the gatehouse so that it could not be taken over by their enemies. Grant was compensated by Parliament but although they retained ownership until 1912, the castle remained in ruins. Much of the interpretation for this castle, one of the largest in Scotland, are of the ‘this may have been’ nature. Amongst the remains is what’s left of a ‘Doocot’, or dove-cot, which John Grant was obliged to build as a condition of his being granted the castle in 1509. There is a full size trebuchet in the grounds, accompanied by the proviso that there is no proof that one was ever used at Urquhart. What next, a nuclear war head complete with a similar caption?

Having done enough to feel that we haven’t wasted the day, we retire to the van to watch the European athletics championships.

Up South Uist without a Clutch Pedal: or you couldn’t make it up

I wake up early as usual. This is just as well as we need to leave the van at 7.00am and something weird has happened to my alarm clock, which thinks it is still 1.00am, so it would have been no good relying on that. What more can go wrong? We drive across Skye to Uig. Chris is convinced that this is pronounce ‘You-eee’ and he has been here before so who am I to gainsay him. I would like to place on record that we were not first in the ferry queue, nor indeed, second or third. The ‘Hebrides’ ferry arrives with a distinctly worrying tilt to starboard. We can only hope that this does not have a detrimental effect on our voyage.

We are bound for North Uist and by the judicious use of bridges, will be able to visit five islands for the price of one. Okay, so it was quite a substantial price but there are only two return ferries and one of those leaves five minutes after we arrive. The other is later than we might have chosen but it does mean that we will have plenty of time to explore. On the journey across, we see, ranged across the skyline, the myriad of rocks that make up the tiny islands of the Outer Hebrides. From a distance, they resemble the humps of the fabled Loch Ness monster.

I have brought my laptop with the intention of finishing the Buckland Brewer History Group newsletter whilst on board and make good progress. As the ferry draws in to Lochmaddy we see notices that instruct us to ‘wait for instruction to move before starting engine’. How difficult can this be? Very difficult it turns out, as most of our neighbours are turning their ignitions before the ferry’s ramp is lowered. North Uist, where we land, is distinctive, much flatter than Skye, with many inlets and stretches of water. At last heather is in abundance. I opted to visit this chain of five Outer Hebridian islands, rather than Harris and Lewis, primarily because I liked the sound of Benbecula. First stop is the island of Berneray, so we head north. Like much of Skye, this is single track road with passing places, involving much slowing down and changing of gear. The road is blocked by a van pulling a trailer containing a digger. We wonder why they are hunting around in the ditch instead of moving out of the way. Ah, they are searching for one of their trailer wheels, that explains a lot.

The mobile bank arrives as we draw up at the only shop on Berneray. Chris attempts to get them to part with money but they can only cope with Royal Bank of Scotland customers. We call in at the Berneray Heritage Museum in the old nurse’s house, given to them by the council for a peppercorn rent when the district nurse was discontinued. Worryingly, there were not only problems with the paperwork relating to the original purchase of the building but also with the lease, so they may be on borrowed time. We learn that kelp gathering and horse breeding were the staple industries here. Of a 1911 population of between 500 and 600, 86% were Gaelic speakers, although schooling was in English. Each child took a piece of peat to school every day for the fire. In the 2011 census one Berneray resident from the 1911 census was still on the island. The museum even has a photo of a yacht that Chris’ Devonian grandfather crewed, along with men from the Western Isles. We learn of Angus MacAskill, born on Berneray in 1825, who is accepted as being the world’s tallest man ever at seven foot nine inches. We ask about some of the traditional ‘black houses’, which here have a roof that slopes down inside the line of the front and back walls, leaving a shelf like projection at the top of the wall. We are told that this is to deflect the rain so that it doesn’t drip on those leaving the dwelling. This doesn’t seem very logical to us as surely this makes the walls more vulnerable. The island location means that there is rarely snow here so roofs do not have to cope with that.

219 15 August 2014 Short eared owl Outer HebridesBack on North Uist we somehow miss the RSPB reserve but nonetheless see lapwing, hear curlew and manage to take a photo out of the car window of a short-eared owl sat on a rock. Our progress is hampered by playing dodge the sheep on the narrow road. We stop at the ruined Trinity Temple, allegedly Scotland’s oldest university. It was a medieval monastery and college founded by Beathag, daughter of Somerland. After an extension in the sixteenth century, it was dissolved during the Reformation, although there were later repairs.

Benbecula may have a cool name but it contains the least of note of today’s islands. As we traverse it, along the slightly longer coastal route, the car begins to make a strange noise. The driver seems unperturbed (or is a very good actor) and we continue to weave our way in and out of the passing places in order to venture on to South Uist. Flora MacDonald was born here, near Kildonan. It was she who helped Bonnie Prince Charlie to escape after his defeat at Culloden in 1746. Peat cutting and kelp gathering are still carried out here. South Uist is hillier than the three more northerly islands in the chain. The car is still not well and there are mutterings about a lack of clutch fluid. We stop at Kildonan Museum, hoping that letting the car cool down will help it recover from the excesses of gear changing over the last couple of days. Kildonan Museum is another example of a Scottish community valuing its heritage in a way that is not seen in England, with archives and research opportunities available on site. South Uist is the heartland of Gaelic culture, home of oral tradition and Fair Isle knitting. There are several telling quotations round the museum’s walls. ‘There is always a danger that history comes to mean the past, as opposed to an interpretation of it.’ and ‘However we interpret it, there is nothing surer than that history has as much to do with the present as the past.’

220 15 August 2014On leaving the museum, we find that we no longer have to worry about the clutch being overheated; there is no functioning clutch. We have to abandon plans to reach Eriskay, the southernmost island of the chain, noted for its wild ponies and the wreck of S.S. Politician in 1941. The vessel was laden with 260,000 bottles of whisky and its story became the basis for the book and later film, ‘Whisky Galore’. We limp back towards Lochmaddy, attempting to do so without stopping or changing gear, next to impossible on a single track road. In the middle of absolutely nowhere we find a lorry servicing garage. The mechanic confirms the demise of our clutch. The good news is that he can fix it on Tuesday. It is Friday. If that is the good news I don’t want the bad. We are four islands away from our caravan and several miles from anywhere where we could potentially sleep or obtain food. I have only had a lemon muffin since 6.00am and even Chris’ full English breakfast on the ferry is a distant memory. Now comes the very long wait while the recovery service try to work out if they can indeed recover us. Chris is patiently spelling out our current location, once we confirm where that is, where we have to get to, via where and most importantly by when. We really need to get that ferry back to Uig.

I’ll admit it, I am hopeless at doing nothing. I could read my Kindle but the battery is low. I could use the laptop – ditto. What about good old pen and paper. I can manage the former but the car is lacking in anything to write on. Finally I locate a single A4 printed receipt that I took to exchange for our ferry tickets. If I write very very small I can occupy myself for a while using that. I need something to stem the rising tide of panic, made worse by the fact that we have very little cash, thanks to not being RBS customers and that Chris’ phone battery, like every other battery in our possession, is getting very low. I know, I know, this is a time when I need my ‘emergency phone’; inevitably it is back at the caravan.

After what seems forever, recovery truck one arrives. The car is loaded and the driver ferrets around in the back for something resembling a seat to put in the middle of the cab for me. This ‘seat’ doesn’t rate a seat belt but this seems not to matter. I am sandwiched between a broad Devon accent and a broad Gaelic accent, acting as interpreter but truth be told, I could only follow half of what our rescuer was saying. I did catch the bit when he said he though his clutch was going but I ignored that. In the process of getting the car on the truck it was apparent that no way was our car going anywhere, like on a ferry, unaided. Understandably, our driver would rather not have to tow us on and become marooned on Skye overnight. Not to worry, this is the Outer Hebrides, everyone knows everyone. In the queue there is a random van, with someone known to our driver at the wheel. He is approached to tow us on and off the ferry and our driver even donates a tow rope as a souvenir. I look pathetically at the dispatchers, not difficult as I am both sleep and food deprived and they agree to load us as a towed vehicle, by no means a foregone conclusion. Despite our lack of automotive capacity we are on the ferry.

The ferry is half an hour late arriving and all we want to do is get home but finally we are aboard. After consuming the welcome curry from the café, there was the issue of getting off the ferry. Our helper accelerates away at a great rate and the tow rope snaps. We tie it together but it was short to begin with and now Chris is very close to the almost new van in front. He manages to avoid running in to it and we are handed over to recovery truck two. We are on Skye, this driver drives at Skye speeds. I do have a seat belt this time but as he hurtles round the many twists and turns our knuckles are whitening rapidly. We arrive at the garage, deposit the car and collect a courtesy car that has been left out for us. We are still an hour and a half from ou destination. Arriving back just before 1.00am, I don’t think we have ever been so pleased to see the van. Now we have to work out how to cope when we are fifteen miles from a shop or a phone signal and fifty miles from our car. Thank goodness for the internet connection. Working out what needs cancelling or rearranging in order to get our trip back on track can wait until morning.