Lorna was the family’s genealogist. When she revealed to her mother Vera that their ancestors had been tenant farmers in Aberdeen, Scotland, Vera determined to walk the walk of the ancients.
‘I want to be where they’ve been,’ she declared, ‘breathe where they’ve breathed.’
Boldly go where no living family members have gone before, thought Lorna.
Vera particularly wanted to explore the private graveyard where the ancestors were buried.
Marianne, Lorna’s 30-year old daughter, wanted to come along too. ‘It’ll be such an adventure,’ she cried.
Lorna had reservations. The ancients’ farm was on an estate called Fetternear, which meant Western Forest. Vera and Marianne were fiercely urban.
The day before the trip the three converged at Vera’s, intending to have an early night, but were so excited that they chatted into the small hours. They still rose before dawn, as originally planned, to cover as much of the 300-mile journey as possible before the roads became busy. Three weary family members captive in a car equals irritation and bad humour. The journey was one long nightmare. Aberdeen is known as the ‘granite city’, and by the time the three adventurers arrived, it wasn’t only the city’s buildings that were made of rock.
The stony-faced family drove away from the city centre, out into the countryside. Their only clue to the estate and graveyard’s location was an old map with so few markings on it that the graves might well have been suspended across a black hole in space.
Boldly go, thought Lorna.
Miraculously it didn’t take long before they chanced upon the entrance to Fetternear. They drove inside, along a dirt track, until the track petered out. They’d have to continue on foot. Ahead of them lay dense woodland. Rain fell steadily. Mist rolled towards them through the trees.
‘My legs are too bad …’ Vera suddenly wailed.
‘And my shoes are too good,’ exclaimed Marianne, who was wearing totally impractical Italian leather pumps.
‘We’ll stay in the car,’ Vera told Lorna, ‘Take lots of photos, it’ll be just the same.’
Lorna set off on her own. In the pouring rain, fighting her way through the forest, she searched in vain for the graveyard. Eventually, drenched, mud-splattered and exhausted, she returned to the car. To find no sign of her mother or Marianne!
‘Over here, dear,’ shouted a voice from a nearby clump of bushes. Seeing a large opening in the bushes, Lorna climbed through.
In a small enclosure, protected from the weather by an overhanging canopy of trees, sat Vera and Marianne. They were sitting on fallen tombstones. They’d found the graveyard.
‘We got out to stretch our legs a little, and here it was!’ explained Marianne.
‘What’s taken you so long, the light’s nearly gone?’
‘Walking the walk, mother. Remember!’
‘Well, don’t worry. But we’d better be getting back before it’s too dark to see our way out.’
Beam me up Scottie, willed Lorna, as she climbed back into the car for the journey home.