The Marina – Ardfern

Excerpt from Chapter 44 – A Stand In – Ardfern

With his mind still full of what he had just seen, Zander went into the Estate Office where, as promised, his client gave him maps showing the positions of the lodge and the loch. They were copies of the  1906, six inches to the mile Ordnance Survey series, and although beautiful examples of the draughtsman’s art, they had no contours. All they showed was a scattering of spot levels and even fewer benchmarks1. Nonetheless, from what Zander could see, it looked as if his task might not be too difficult.

Ordnance Survey Benchmark

If we find the benchmarks running down the track from the lochan to the lodge, all we need to do is a bit of levelling2 at the top and at bottom – a ‘piece of cake’.

With his business attended to, Zander took the proverbial bull by the handlebars and asked if everything on the estate was up for sale. When the Agent assured him that it was, he had to struggle hard to maintain his composure,

“What about the grotty old bike in the outbuilding?” he enquired, in as normal a voice as his dry throat would allow.

“Oh that! Are you interested in that old thing?” was the agent’s non-committal reply.

Trying to appear indifferent, Zander plunged right in again,

“I might be, if the price is right.”

The agent looked at him but said nothing. Zander, his anxiety flooding the space around him, swam on,

“How would it be if I did the survey work in exchange for the old bike plus a few out of pocket expenses?”

“Are you sure?” was the frowning agent’s response.

A glimmer of hope. Zander thought. This guy might know everything about estates but he does not know a lot about motorbikes.

A voice broke into Zander’s reverie,

“Are you absolutely sure that the old bike will be enough?

“Oh, yes!” Zander replied as casually as he could, only just cutting off the “please, please, please.”

“All right then, that’s a deal,” the agent confirmed and they sealed this with a handshake. “I’m heading off on holiday next week, but if I’m still away before you get back, I’ll make arrangements for you to get the bike.”

Still unable to grasp the ease with which he had pulled off his fantastic coup, Zander found it difficult to keep a smile off his face until he was out of the room,

As soon as the job is done, that beautiful old bike will be mine!

Nothing quite ever goes to plan for Zander and his crew though! Buy your copy of A Storm in Any Port to discover the outcome!


 1 A benchmark marked by a small arrow, on both a map and the ground, is a point of known fixed level relative to the Ordnance Survey datum at Newlyn. On the ground it is incised on an easily identifiable feature such as the corner of a building, a monument etc. In rural situations, rocky outcrops and fence corner posts are used.

2Levelling is the process of determining the relative heights of points on the earth’s surface. In the field, this is done by projecting a horizontal line through a small telescope, forward on to a measuring stick. The telescope is then moved to beyond the measuring stick and a further reading taken back to the measuring stick. By calculation, the relative level difference between of the first point and last point is determined. This operation is continued as far as is required.(A run of levels) At the end of a run of levels, a second run back to the starting point is always taken and this second overall level difference has to agree with the first to within a millimetre or so.

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