“In mid July I took my grandson to visit his ancestral homeland, Wigtown, Wigtownshire, Scotland. It was my desire that he experience travel, as I have, and what a wonderful place to do so. This was the first trip I planned myself and I was nervous about choices concerning tours and guides. I happened across Scottish Ancestral Tours/www.scottishancestor.co.uk and was in contact with Frances Black. She answered questions and was willing to both pick us up at Edinburgh airport and return us to Edinburgh for the last leg of our journey. Her price was quite appealing by comparison.
We were delayed a bit in the airport for bathroom, luggage, and exchanging money. I wondered if our guide would be waiting. Yes, she was. With a sign. I was relieved!
Frances drove towards Wigtown pointing out interesting facts and sites along the way. I did not want to drive in a foreign country on the opposite side of the road to what I am used to, nor would I allow grandson to drive since he had only recently gotten his license. We stopped for lunch at the Elphinstone Hotel in Biggar. I chose the fish chowder – Cullen Skink – which contained smoked haddock. OMGosh was it delicious. I must say it was the best of the trip and indeed I had other fish chowders to compare to.
I went to Scotland to see Scotland, not just the highlights, all the historic places. I wanted to see the landscape and the ever present seas, to mingle with the locals and enjoy what they live each day.
Frances deposited us at our bed and breakfast and returned for us next morning. We drove to Whithorn, near St. Ninians, by the former Bladnoch Distillery, to the ruins of Sorbie, to Garliestown. We lunched at the Steam Pocket Inn where I had more Cullen Skink. Afterwards we walked along the water where the tide was out. On a stop by the sea we saw ferries on the other side coming and going out as I imagined our Scots and Scots-Irish ancestors had.
We relished the sheep, more sheep than we shall see in a lifetime. Frances told us what the colors on their rumps and sides meant. She was always ready with a reply. We noted the stones everywhere among the fields, many used to build homes and walls to divide the land, to keep those sheep in. The air was fresh. Everywhere, it was clean.
Most of all, I delighted in the feeling that I was home. The low mountains reminded me so much of the ones in Virginia and West Virginia where our Scots and Scots-Irish had settled three hundred years and more prior. Though I had read ages before that folks settled where it often seemed like their former home, I could now feel why.
On our return to Edinburgh Frances stopped at a fabulous outlet that had everything, including lunch. I needn’t have been concerned about finding souvenirs. No, not souvenirs but treasures.
Our journey with Frances ended within a look at Edinburg castle which she insisted we should see. We did. We spent hours before heading to our room for the night. Frances gave me more than I expected, for she gave me Scotland. I’d love to visit and have her do it again!”
The bonus of these trips are that friendships are formed with clients from all over the world. The following testimonial from Agnes Pavelko from America sums this up after I located her family home in Slamannan – I have since met up with Agnes and Joyce on 3 occasions. With a name like “Smith” I was dubious what I would find but the family had stayed in the same area so we did on this occasion find the house.
Agnes wrote: “When my daughter and I were making plans for a trip to find our Scottish roots in 2006, we knew we would need to find a Scottish genealogist to work with us. After several days of searching the Internet, we decided to contact Frances Black. It was a wise choice. Frances is an experienced genealogist with a vast knowledge of ancestral resources that are available in Scotland. She is also a quiet spoken, patient lady who did not despair when it became evident that my daughter and I had a lot of disjointed facts about our ancestors and had failed to bring documented evidence. Fortunately, Frances had done her homework with material provided before the trip. We have kept in touch with Frances since our visit in 2006. In 2008 we returned to Scotland and Frances spent the day with us digging through the files at the General Registry Office. Last August , we were pleased to be able to visit with Frances at the Lanarkshire Family History Conference in Motherwell. My daughter and I think of Frances as our friend, but she is also a highly qualified genealogist.
Agnes Smith Pavelko, Ocala, FL USA Joyce E. Pavelko, Arlington Heights, IL USA“
Jeff & Cathy wrote:
“We wanted to send our thanks for a wonderful day. The time passed so quickly but we would not have changed a thing. You did everything we asked of you and more. You made our trip personal and quite touching”
“It was great that you had so carefully researched my families in so much detail before I arrived. With your help I could imagine what life might have been like 160+ years ago. Many thanks also for the care that you provided me on the day. Your schedule was great and your responses to my ongoing questions most appreciated. In every way it was a very profession tour”
Jim Barker from Zimbabwe found his McEwan Ancestors Gravestone during his Tour of Galloway.
Jim is very proud of his Scottish Roots and has visited often he loved the trip to Wigtownshire for his Ancestral Tour where his ancestors farmed.
Frances with Sue Mann from Adelaide while visiting St Andrews Catherdral. Sue and David loved their Ancestral trip to North Fife tracing the “Mann” family.
When my husband visited Adelaide David and Sue went out of their way to show him round.