George S. Patton
Thirty two years ago, David and I embarked on an overseas holiday; our maiden voyage. Many people who were born in our generation were lucky enough to travel overseas regularly but this was our first time and we were very excited. Just before exiting through the boarding gate, my father asked me to look for a town in Scotland where his ancestor, George Morison, was born.
He couldn't remember the name but knew it started with C and scribbled Crieth on a lolly wrapper. David said 'Oh God! We're not changing our plans to go off on a wild goose chase for a town with no name!' My father often did this to me. He would never, ever allow me to relax and enjoy the moment without asking me to do something complex and frustrating at the very last minute.
Dad is a clever man despite being slightly dyslexic, which always complicated matters. An opportunist with remarkable timing, he confidently manipulated his daughter's guilt by making what seemed at the time, crazy and unreasonable demands and... I always jumped through hoops to oblige. My desire to gain his approval, along with an insatiable curiosity meant he usually got his way!
Remember, thirty two years ago there were no mobile phones, no lap tops and no way of contacting home other than an expensive long distance phone call. Anyway, we did look for the mysterious town in Scotland that started with C because given a challenge like this I couldn't resist the urge to follow through. The search took us on the highland railway and across the center of Scotland, from Inverness to the River Spey. How I knew where to go, I'm not sure, but it felt I was being guided by intuition.
David kept saying 'You'll never find it! It's impossible. You don't have enough information!' But I was determined and felt sure I was on the right path. The quest created a wall of tension between David and I and on the banks of Loch Ness we had a blazing row. I got out of the car and started hitchhiking in the other direction. I waited for half an hour but the road was deserted, so eventually we reached a truce and agreed that if in two days we hadn't found the Morison town, I'd abandon the search.
At Abelour I made some inquiries and then our B&B proprietor mentioned the name 'Craigellachie'. Why did that name sound familiar? I know it sounds impossible but somehow I knew that Craigellachie was the place beginning with C and at the little Church of Scotland (or was it the Presbyterian Church?), near the bridge across the Spey, I found records of our famous ancestor who it would appear was my great, great, great grandfather.
Painting of the Telford Bridge, Craigellachie by Rob Wigham.
There was a reference to an illegitimate son but my research was limited by a lack of time and finances and I thought the rest could wait for my father to find at a later date. Needless to say this was not what my puritanical father wanted to hear but the truth did eventually win out. David thought it served him right and so did I.
David managed to make up for lost time at the local Glenfiddick distillery and we both enjoyed the beautiful journey along the Spey and into the hills, eventually arriving in Edinburgh on a hot August night!
My first overseas holiday was a Scottish magical mystery tour spurred on by my grumpy old Dad leading us up the garden path to a beautiful place called Craigellachie.