From sheep to windmills

This week, I continued my exercise program, making the trip from Insch to Fyvie to the north. My three-greats-grandmother, Jane Cooper, once lived in Fyvie, according to the 1851 Census of Scotland. She lived there with her husband (my three-greats-grandfather), John, an older man named George (84 years old) who may have been her husband’s father (and my four-greats-grandfather), and eight children, at least some of whom were hers.

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DateDistance (Minutes)From/To
Feb 2720Insch to Fyvie
Feb 2920on the way to Fyvie
Cumulative Distance
(Since Dec 30)
290

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As I cycled north from Insch towards Fyvie, I saw lots of sheep, which made me think of spinning.

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And, as I thought of spinning, what should I see but a windmill farm, all of the blades spinning.

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Then, since spinning makes me think of balls of wool, I loved seeing these ‘balls’ (bales) of hay.

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Next time I cycle (spinning), I should reach Fyvie.

My best to all of you!

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Alexandra

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Cycling through Scotland: What has changed since my ancestors lived there?

As I continue to travel virtually with Street View and cycle on my stationary bike through the countryside of Scotland where my three-greats-grandparents once lived, I ask: What has changed?

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DateDistance Traveled (minutes)From/To
Jan 2020Auchleven to Keig
Jan 2220Auchleven to Keig
Jan 2420Keig
Total Distance since Dec 30, 2021 250 minutes

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My three-greats-grandfather, John Clark, was born in Keig in about 1793, according to his military record. Between 1851 and 1861, he emigrated from Scotland to Nova Scotia, Canada. But modern Keig looks very little like a 18th century village. Keig today is a series of relatively modern houses along a asphalt country highway.

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There is one old church and associated cemetery, down a short side road. The church was built in 1834, before my relatives left Insch for Canada, so they may have known this church.

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They may also have known the much older church ‘nearby’ which the 1934 church replaced. To see some photos of the remains of this old church, see https://canmore.org.uk/site/18056/keig-old-parish-church-and-burial-ground

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There are maps of the old layout of Keig. The Ordinance Survey of Scotland (First Series) done in 1856 shows what has changed in 160 plus years. It is fun to follow the 1856 roads on the modern map and see how old farmsteads have survived (often rebuilt) until today. To see this old map, visit

https://www.visionofbritain.org.uk/maps/sheet/first_edition/1856-95sheet76

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So what is the same? The landscape probably has not changed and John Clark would recognize the terrain of the flat valley and distant hills. The course of the River Don and the Keig Burn are basically the same. The road pattern of 1956 is still visible on the landscape, although some roadways have fallen into disuse and some new roads have been built. The crossing of the River Don is at the same location. Curiously, the 1856 map shows the old church closer to the river and does not show the 1834 church. A landmark known as Castle Forbes is on both 1856 map and the modern map. A ‘stone circle’ marked on modern maps is not noted on the older map.

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Comparing old and new maps is one aspect of genealogy I enjoy. It gives hints about how much has changed and about what would still be familiar if my ancestors traveled forward through time.

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Enjoy your own exercise routine!

Alexandra

stationary cycle and virtual travel

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DateDistance (Minutes)from/to
January 1120Insch to Auchleven
January 1320Auchleven
January 1520road to Keig
January 1720road to Keig
January 1920road to Keig
cumulative total (since Dec. 30/21)190

Continuing on my virtual travel in Scotland while on my Stationary Bike at home: this week I cycled every second day and increased my time to 20 minutes per session. Travel in the country side is very much like travel here in New Brunswick.

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Along the road are plants that seem familiar. This is probably a relative of our fireweed.

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Along the road are plantations of what I think must be Christmas trees. Acres and acres of Christmas trees.

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Back Burn near Auchleven

Crossed a couple of streams, called Burns.

Occasionally I see forested areas and I love the older, bigger trees. Perhaps some were there in the 1700s when my ancestors lived here.

On Friday, I will reach Keig, a possible birthplace of my third great-grandfather John Clarke.

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Stay well,

Alexandra

virtual biking in Scotland

When I am stationary cycling, it is always a challenge to alleviate boredom. Of course, I can read or edit, but sometimes my eyes are tired, or the light is not quite right. By far the best activity during biking is to take a virtual tour of any countryside. In the past, I have cycled through France, Cornwall, Southern Ireland and northern New Brunswick. All virtually, using Google and Street View.

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This time I decided to tour a part of Scotland. My third great-grandmother, Jane Cooper (1799 to 1887), came from Scotland. She married my third great-grandfather, John Clark (1793 to 1855?), from Insch, Aberdeenshire, Scotland in 1822. I have never been to Scotland, so I thought I’d use this biking tour to bike the roads they may have once walked.

I decided to start my tour in Insch, Scotland and after a look-around there, work my way to Kaig, Aberdeenshire and north to Fyvie, Aberdeenshire (I have found a military record showing John Clarke was born in Kaig, southwest of Insch; I also found the 1851 Census for Scotland, listing Jane’s birthplace as Fyvie, Aberdeenshire).

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Today I started in Insch, biking to the edges of the village. The countryside is rural, agricultural, not that different from the area where I live.

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In Insch, the charming stone and wood construction I’ve seen elsewhere in England dominates. A great way to start my tour.

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Off I go!

All my best to you in your wellness journey!

Alexandra

virtual cycling

One of the strategies I use to encourage a regular stationary biking habit is ‘virtual cycling’. I began this in 2012 and, with the use of Google Earth and Street View, I have cycled virtually through:

  • central France (Lusignan, France to La Patache, France): six phases, January 30 to June 28, 2013; 196.8 km and 1975 minutes.
  • southern England (Rame, UK to Landwednack, UK; and from Predannack Wollas to Prussia Cove, UK): two phases, July 1, 2013 to December 21, 2013; and August 8, 2014 to November 24, 2014; 209 km and  2295 minutes.
  • northern New Brunswick (Campbellton to Bathurst): December 31, 2013 to March 25, 2014; 150 km and 810 minutes.
  • the upper part of the St. John River (La Frontière to Edmunston): four phases, January 27,  to February 16, 2015; 246 km and 1860 minutes. 

In the last year I gave myself a break from this virtual travel, using my time on the bike to read or make entries in my journal. Now I am ready to take on my next program of virtual travel.For this adventure, I will continue to follow the St. John River.  It is a beautiful river dominating the landscape of much of New Brunswick. The River is about 673 kilometers long (418 miles) from its beginnings in northern Maine and eastern Quebec to its mouth at the Bay of Fundy in the City of Saint John.

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St_John_River_Map

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Now I will begin Phase 5, from Edmunston to Fredericton, by way of the older highways, a distance of about 300 km. I know this part of New Brunswick very well, since I have driven the road many times.

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All the best,

Alexandra