Time to move on. Edinburgh was really cool, we all had a ball there but it is now off to Stirling for a night before heading through some of the highlands then on to Loch Ness.
Yesterday at the people center we also got a form to fill out which enabled us to get another copy of Angus’s birth certificate, which had been lost in the floods back at home last year. We filled the form out and dropped it in on our way through town – so that should get posted back home to Australia.
After getting all that done we headed off towards Bo’ness. When we arrived we found a park and headed to the address where Angus was born. It was a large block of flats right in town and he was in No, 115. It was still there – probably had a few coats of paint over the years. We took some photos then had a look around town.
115 North St Bo’ness – Angus’s birthplace and home.
Yeeeew – We found it!
Lea outside the 115 apartment.
On the way back to the car we decided to call into the post office and ask where the address of Angus’s parents is – we thought that might be worth having a look at while we were in town. That is when our day took a very interesting turn… Neil walked in and spoke to the person behind the counter, asking about the address we had written down. Before he could really get an answer a man in the line jumped in and said, “I can help you! Come with me”.
This man spoke in a thick Scottish accent at about 100 miles an hour. He asked about the family and Angus then said that he knew the old postmaster in town who had been here for all his life. He is retired now but knows all the families and where they all live. He then pulled out his phone and said, “They call me Sean Connery, but I’ve shaved my beard, now I’m going it back again, but look at this” He scrolls through some photos to 1 of him standing on a beach somewhere – and he did look very similar to Sean Connery. He then started telling us about his family and so on. He was one of those amped up, super enthusiastic people and really funny – just joke after joke. His name was Brian.
He jumped in his car and had us follow him. For the next few hours we followed him around as he knocked on random doors and spoke to all these different people. We spoke to a lot of different Hamilton’s (Angus’s surname). We found out that the Hamilton’s were all over Bo’ness. There was a massive old estate that he took us to – abandoned now, but was once where Duke Hamilton lived it was huge, it even had the remains of an old chapel on it’s grounds. We visited the Church of Scotland where most of the family got married and it had a stone carving of the Hamilton coat of arms above the door.
The local Church of Scotland.
The Hamilton family crest above the door of the Church.
Brian had by now assumed the roll of our own personal tour guide. He would just stop the car in the street, jump out and run back to us and point out an old building, or distillery, or graveyard. He gave us a full history of when the town was booming due to the coalmines. We went to the local library where he had them pull all these old archives out and search for more info. He told us about his wife and likened her to the Loch Ness monster hahahahaha. He was out of control, did not stop talking the whole time. We kept on saying, “Brian are we keeping you from something? You can leave us if you want” and he is going, “No, no I love helping people”. Then he said, “Let me show you my garage”.
We even found Hamilton Lane.
Duke Hamilton’s old estate.
So he took us to his house, he gave us all a can of his favorite soft drink and showed us his garage. It was meticulously organized and clean – you could eat your lunch off the floor. He had all the tools hanging in their place on the walls, every thing was in draws and labeled. He even had 3 pairs of the same hedge trimmers 1 labeled ‘front hedge’, 1 labeled ‘back hedge’ and 1 labeled ‘front lawn’. Yes he may have been a little obsessive, compulsive. He then took us to his ‘summer house’, which was a shed in the back yard that he had fully furnished with a couple of armchairs and a radio. By now he was out of control, so hypo and talking so fast – he even pulled a chair out from the wall to show us the power point behind it! Tina and Lea were nearly on the ground laughing by this stage.
Brian also told us that James Watt lived and carried out research in Bo’ness. Watt is responsible for revolutionising the steam engine in the mid 1700’s which pretty much changed the way factory’s operated throughout the UK then the world. The cottage pictured below is built on the Duke of Hamilton’s estate because he owned the coal mines at the time and they were worried about Watt’s research being copied.
This is the James Watt cottage.
Brian was a great guy and was really proud of his home and his town – he really wanted us to see and enjoy Bo’ness instead of just passing through. We tried to buy him lunch to say thank you but he would not accept he just kept saying, “No, no I just like helping people”. Then just before we left him he did give us his address and say, “I’m not a writer so I won’t respond to you – however what you can do for me is send me a post card from the area you live in Australia so I can see your home”. Hahaha good on ya Brian.
Neil, Lea, Brian and Shaun.
We left Bo’ness and travelled a short way to Stirling, where we were staying the night. We had pre booked at a B&B right at the base of Stirling Castle called Castle Croft. It was really nice. A great price and very nice people ran it. The lady there told us all the good places to eat and ran through everything we should do in our short stay at Stirling.