Saturday, 16 June 2012

Day 43, 44 & 45 – Bye bye Sis, bye bye England, HELLO Australia

Well today is my last day here.  It feels like I have been away for much longer than the six weeks I have been gone.  Well I fitted everything in and my bags ended up being lighter than when I arrived, I can’t work that one out!  Mind you I have vacuum packed a lot of things which can make them lighter.  Kylie and Tom were driving me to Heathrow, which was very nice of them as it would have been awkward going via public transport.  The Railway Stations here (Underground and Overground) have lots of stairs you need to tackle, and very few have lifts. 
We left early so we can go to a pub for lunch.  We stopped at one on our way, called The Crown at Turners Hill.  It was a lovely pub, quite old and oozed old world charm, it even smelled of salt damp, which reminded me of home.  I did manage to embarrass myself there, but luckily no one was around, I was so busy looking at the gardens I went into the men’s toilets, it took a while to twig!  No one was in there .. phew!
The drive to Heathrow was uneventful, no road closures, accidents or delays.  I bought a few last minute items, like a cushion and pencil sharpeners of my favourite London things (London double decker, phone box, letter box and London cab).  These will sit nicely on my desk.  I said my goodbyes to Kylie and Tom, then ventured into the departures area.  JAL give you a ticket to go into the British Airways lounge, this was quite swish.  I didn’t eat anything as I had a rather large lunch, so I stuck to a few vodka and oranges.
Going to the departure gate, it was a bit of ‘spot the westerner’, I was the only one for quite awhile but eventually a few others came.  It is the first time since I have helped at the primary school that I felt so tall.  I was at least a foot taller than most J.
I am on the flight now, I have a Japanese lady sitting next to me who knows absolutely no English, so a quiet trip to Tokyo.  The air hostess is lovely but also knows not too much English which is surprising we don’t have someone who does as there are a few Aussies in my section.  Oh meal time soon.  I am going to spend some time transcribing the Foreign Office records we got at Kew, to make easier reading.  Mainly transcribing written interviews with my ancestor Richard Bielby and a few others on their time whilst imprisoned in Russia by the Bolsheviks.  Nice plane reading!!!!!
Sort of had a sleep on the flight, it was 12 hours long.  Jesus (Je-sous) who was the friendly air steward on the flight over to England was on this flight, but this time he was working in another section.  He was walking past right at the end of the flight, recognised me and stood and chatted to me for about ½ hour.  This was a nice end to the flight, I learnt all about where he lives, his business he has going etc.  I am now sitting waiting, waiting, waiting for my next flight.  I have nearly 5 hours to kill, so I have plonked myself at an observation window watching planes land.  Nice and quiet here! 
Wow that was a long 5 hours, I was frightened I’d fall asleep so I eventually moved to the departure gate.  I watched the workers go on and off the plane, cleaning, maintaining, delivering food, freight etc.  Boy the Japanese work hard and seem to be very thorough and everything has to be ‘just right’.
This leg of my flight back is from Narita to Sydney.  I have had the same seat 21H for all my flights (premium economy).  This leg of the trip has very few people.  Usually in this section it is full and has the capacity of 40, but tonight there are only 12 of us.  So instead of sitting in the aisle seat I moved next door to the window for a change.  Hopefully I can get a bit more sleep by not being in the aisle.  There is quite a bit of turbulence, but only minor, actually just like driving on the Hamley Bridge road!!!!
I managed to get a bit of sleep, actually  fell asleep just after tea (fish and veggies, salad & cottage cheese, fruit & panna cotta), just hope I didn’t snore, when I woke up all the lights were dimmed and the whole plane was asleep.  I can’t wait to get home and have a shower to freshen up!
Well I bombed out straight after tea, didn’t sleep too long but rested till around 4am.  We arrive in Sydney at 6.30ish.  Breakfast was a funny Japanese gluten free style .. in one container they gave me 2 slices of cucumber, 2 slices of tomato on a bed of cabbage leaves with a sprig of parsley and vanilla yoghurt … LOL .. plus some fruit salad!  Oh well I shall eat up in Sydney airport.  My ankles are ballooning out.
Sydney was just on sunrise when we flew in, what a lovely sight it is … the airport was very busy with all the overseas flights arriving, we were circling for about 30 minutes just west of Newcastle as we were early.  I got through immigration very quickly as I had the new style passport with the microchip in, it was very quick and easy, I checked myself through without going near the desk of humans!  I had nothing to declare in customs so straight out.  Boy oh boy did I get a surprise, there was Hugh to greet me, Craig flew him over a few days ago as he missed out on coming to the UK with us.  That was a very lovely thing to do.  So I had help with my bags, we checked them to go onto Adelaide and then got the Qantas shuttle bus to the domestic terminal.  We went up to the Qantas business lounge to have something to eat and drink.  After traveling on Japan Airlines where the planes are absolutely spotless, the staff very polite, softly spoken and gracious, it was a shock to go on Qantas.  The airplane was dirty, it looked as if the carpet hadn’t been vacuumed for quite a while.  The staff were ‘tromping’ around like elephants, talked very loud so half the plane could hear them, it was quite a shock and that was in business class.  The seats we much roomier though.  JAL airline seats are very narrow (I just fitted in) and they have a big pouch like thing stuck in the seatbelt which is the airbag, which is uncomfortable after a while.
Craig was there to meet us, we dropped Hugh off home.  When we got home it was a cup of tea first, unpack bags THEN shower .. so much needed.  My ankles are like elephant ankles, but I am sure they will go down when I sleep tonight.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Day 42 – Packing and trying to get everything to fit in

Slept in till 10am this morning!!!!  I was and still am so tired.  Now to get everything to fit in the suitcases.   I have one medium one and a small one.  I bought with me one vacuum sealable bag and bought another two in Cornwall.  I have sucked my Sooty’s and a few coats up, this makes life so much easier!  Should have done this when coming over.  I am pleasantly surprised that all fits in with room to spare and all underweight!
I did sort of have a snooze in the chair this arvo whilst Kylie worked.  Kylie and myself went out to tea, then to Tesco to buy some supplies, I bought nibble for the plane as Japanese nibbles are not very nice.  I am not sure about travelling on my own, but I have no choice really!  .
Tonight I am in my room packing the last bits and writing these last two blogs and catching up on emails as Tom and Kylie are watching the Grand Prix from the weekend.  I am not keen on that and also I saw it at Tony’s.  An early night tonight as I am still so tired.  Leaving tomorrow for the airport at around 2pm.  Arrive  Adelaide Friday 11.25am.  It is around 38 hours from when I get to Heathrow till I arrive in Hamley!  I hope I get some sleep on the plane or I shall be grumpy! 

Day 41 – Floods and more floods to Uckfield

The day started out great.  It is my last day here with Sally and Tony, it’s strange feeling because it is a bit like ‘will I ever see them again’.  I had great fun with them last night, I got a bit tipsy, others had hangovers this morning (say no more)!!  I packed my gear up and after a slowish start we took the dogs for our daily walk.  This time we only went to the end of the street as we had to leave to meet up with Kylie and Tom.  Today we were like AC/DC groupies as the three of us wore our T-Shirts and were dressed in black.  It was not too bad weather, so we decided to have lunch at a pub in New Forest, then head to Portsmouth, to look around the area a bit before meeting up with Kylie and Tom at Chichester .. well that was the plan!
We managed the drive around New Forest and the pub for lunch, then, it went downhill from there.  It poured and poured with rain.  Flooding and accidents were abound in the direction we were heading.  Luckily when on the Motorway we heard the report that the road from Portsmouth to Chichester was closed due to flooding, we were nearly at the turn off when we heard it.  So a quick detour off the Motorway  to a shopping centre to have coffee and a rethink.
Tony worked out our plan of action, after many detours etc we ended up at a town called Midhurst.  There we found a quaint teas rooms and waited for Kylie and Tom.  They we not too far away, so we were able to have a tea together.  Kylie briefed us on the disasterous Download concert that was so muddy they couldn’t camp and had to find a late minute B&B.  I said my sad farewells to Sally and Tony L, then we headed back to Uckfield  We only had a few detours and the rain eased a bit.  We got back in just over 1 ½ hours.
It was an earlyish night tonight.  

Monday, 11 June 2012

Day 40 – Mockbeggar

Excitement today, Tony and I spent the morning  deciphering all our information from yesterday.  Our ancestor Richard Bielby, was arrested, imprisoned and sentenced to execution (but managed to survive) by the Bolshevik’s in Russian Petrograd in 1918-1919.  He was working for the Ministry of Shipping and Naval Intelligence in the British Embassy in Petrograd.  Yesterday we found his written account of what happened when the Embassy was raided by the Bolshevik Commissars.  We read through his account of what happened, what a very detailed and horrifying experience.

After a few hours we had to have a break, so after lunch we went for a walk to Fritham then few a drink at the Royal Oak, a different Royal Oak this time.  It is a quaint tiny pub built around the 1300’s.  After a wonderful, refreshing vodka and orange we had a drive around.  We again saw the stupid ponies on the road, oodles of wonderful thatched roofed houses.  Tony showed me the tourist place called the ‘Sandy Balls’  .. they have funny names for places over here!
When we got home I had another V&O as the other was so nice.  Sally cooked a wonderful lamb shank meal, I met one of their neighbours (who thinks me as bonkers just like Tony and Sally)!
Then after tea I sat down with Tony and Sally and we have written this and the last 10 days of blogs over a few bevvies!  And the dogs drove us mad with playing toys!

Day 39 – Russian spy business

Today was the BIG day .. Tony and I went to the National Archives at Kew to seek information on our ancestor who was believed to be a spy in Russia during the early part of the 1900’s.  The trip was a good one and took just over 1 hour.  It is a massive place.  I had to register to be able to look at anything, this involved doing a computer test, then having to show my passport and drivers license.  I got a photo ID that was barcoded and enables me to order and look at any records that are available for public viewing.  The security is much higher here than in Adelaide.  Tony and I ordered our Foreign Office records we required, had a coffee whilst they were being retrieved.
At first it was a bit laborious then we hit the Jackpot!  Quite a bit of documentation was there about our ancestor Richard Bielby, we got quite excited to be able to find anything.  Then the biggest find we could have imagined possible, his written account of what happened.  I ended up taking 181 photos!  We left with big smiles on our faces.

Tony decided as we had a successful day we could go home via Salisbury to see Stonehenge.  We didn’t pay to get in, but looked at it through the fence, as you can see by the photos we had a good view AND the sky was blue!  Sally sent us on a shopping mission, so we went into Salisbury to get the goodies.  The Cathedral is huge, I didn’t get to have a close look, but it was good.  We got home a tad late, 7.30 actually, but Sally wasn’t too annoyed, well it didn’t show.  She cooked a magnificent risotto, washed down with pear cider.
Tony and I were to go through our finds today, but were so tired, we chose to wait till the morning.

Day 38 – Back to Mockbeggar

Kylie and Tom were off to a 3 day concert called Download.  The main acts were Prodigy, Metallica and Black Sabbath, it is a camping weekend concert.  As I was not remotely interested I went back to stay with Tony and Sally for the three and a half days.  We organised to meet Tony near junction 11 of the M25 .. talk about heavy traffic, it was nearly at a standstill for a big section of the M25, so we were over 30 minutes late.  Kylie and Tom had yet another 2 hour journey to get to their concert, but later we found out this took 7 hours as the traffic was horrendous.
Tony and I made our way back to Mockbeggar and had a wonderfully quiet journey as the traffic was quite light.  We had lunch of cheese and biscuits.  I had a bed set up inside this time instead of the van.  We went for a walk in Abbotswell, this got quite windy and a bit drizzly.  We came back and chatted then went to the Forresters pub in Frogham for tea.  The lamb shanks were exceptional so we decided that we would have these for tea on Sunday night!
We sat up till quite late, chatting and going through photos.

Day 37 – Quick trip to London

Kylie had a meeting this morning so I was able to have time to work on the family tree.  When she returned we had to go to East Croydon to meet her friend Emily, to give her Download ticket that we had.  Emily could no longer go to the concert and had arranged to meet someone here who she sold the ticket to.  After we met the guy, we had a coffee, then hopped on to the train to London.
We went to the V & A again, this time to see the special exhibition of fashion.  I am glad we didn’t pay to get in as it was pretty woeful, the only highlight was the free section, which was of old clothes from the 1700’s to the late 1800’s.
All the mess around Buckingham Palace
After we saw the exhibition we decided to walk to Victoria  Station (about 30 minute walk).  Kylie asked if I had see Buckingham Palace, I have had two attempts without success, so we went the have a look as we were so close.  You wouldn’t believe it, it was closed to the public today AND to top it off, there was scaffolding everywhere!  So no regal visits this trip.  We had tea then caught the train back home.  Tom picked us up from the Uckfied station to save us from walking home.  Off to bed not long after as we had to get up early tomorrow for our trip.
Footnote:  not much sleep as there were helicopters flying around, then strong winds and rain!

Day 36 – Blogs and Lewes antique shops

This morning is catch up morning.  I did my washing as it needs days to dry because of this wonderful summer rain and drizzle!  Then I thought I should catch up on all my blogs, I am about 9 days behind now, so I managed to knock 3 off the list.  The photos are what take the longest.  First I sort through and delete all the duds, then make sure they are all the correct way up.  Then put them all into folders under the correct day, then make the photo combinations for the blogs.  Well this took me about four hours :-/, I had time as Kylie was back working today, luckily she works from home.
Later this afternoon we went to the next larger town called Lewes.  It is an old town full of antique shops and many wealthy land owners live in the area.  Well what would you know, the first shop we walked into had a Sooty mug that I do not have, so I just had to buy it.  I made sure they wrapped it up in plenty of bubble wrap for my journey.  Then the next shop had a Sooty bowl that I don’t have, I couldn’t leave it there neglected on the shelf, could I ?  Just as well all the shops were closing after that, as there were plently more shops to go in and could have been difficult for me.
The local pub here in Uckfield was our tea-time destination, then back home.

Day 35 – Bugger all day

Did bugger all today.  I am so tired all this travelling has caught up with me, so the rest has done me good.  I did do some work on my family tree, working on the neglected Beer side.  I didn’t realise how neglected this was till I went to Cornwall.  I also watched a few TV programmes on my computer and had an afternoon sleep.
That is about it!!!!!!!!!!

Day 34 – Walking in Ashdown Forest

I met Tom’s family today, his Mum Vanessa, Step-dad Jason (who is also Kylie’s boss) and his Dad Hugh.  They all get on with each other and even holiday together, a rare thing and quite unusual.
Went met up at a coffee place called Trading Boundaries at Sheffield Park near Ashdown Forest.  After that we all went for a walk in Ashdown Forest, that is what I was told we were doing. Well it was not a walk as such, it was more a blinking big hike up and down mountains is more like it!  Talking about huffing and puffing  … when we left, Kylie, Tom and I popped into the shops to get a few things for tea, when Tom and I got out of the car, we felt dizzy and needed something to eat and drink rather quickly.  Kylie was wondering who was going to pass out first!  Well after a packet of crisps and a fizzy drink, all was better again … obviously I am not made for mountain climbing, I shall leave that to the goats.  Considering most days of my holidays I have been walking at least 5-6 hours each day I was surprised, but then again it has been stairs and slopes, not mountains.
Home straight into the shower it was for me … the rest for the rest of the evening watching the Queen’s Jubilee Concert.

Day 33 – River Thames Queen’s Jubilee flotilla

I was quite excited about today, what an occasion to be attending.  We shall never see anything of the likes like this in South Australia.   The patriotism over here far outways anything we have for Australia Day.  There is bunting (small flags strung together) everywhere, hardly a house is without it.  Just red, white and blue everywhere, most people were wearing red, white and blue.  Even I wore a red jacket!!!  We drove to Haywards Heath and caught the train to London from there.  We had to change trains twice, but travel is easy here.  It was a cold day and a bit drizzly fortunately we were to be inside for the day. 
What a great position we had.  We were on a first floor apartment, just down from where the Queen boarded her small boat and where all the rowing boats were mustered to start.  So we saw all the boats except the large boat the Royal Family was on.  There was quite a few Aussies here and lots of wonderful food was laid on by our host and hostess Alistair and Natasha.  It is a pity it rained so much during the flotilla.  The boats were great and so much effort was put in by the people involved.

We left around teatime to get the train back to Haywards Heath, then drove back home.

Day 32 – Uckfield

A day of recovery was required today.  Nothing at all happened, not even a photo!

Day 31 – Mockbeggar to Uckfield

Another lazy start as Tony had a different inspection of the same orifice!  I do wander what he does with his orifice’s to warrant all this inspection.  He was quiet when he got home so another gentle stroll was in order.  We went for a walk up a big hill in the New Forest.  We had to go to the top as Craig and Emily were trying to ring me and this is the only place I could get a signal.
Kylie and Ieft after our walk as we wanted to beat the traffic, it was the beginning of the four day long weekend.  The road trip home was event free, but if we were going the other way it would have been a different story.

When we got home, we walked to the main shopping area of Uckfield as we needed to stretch our legs.  We had tea there and bought a few groceries for the weekends festivities.  On the way home so many people were putting all their flags and bunting up in readiness for the Jubilee.  So of course we joined in and a great big Aussie flag was displayed along with the Union Jack.

Day 30 – Exploring New Forest

We had a slow start as Tony had an appointment this morning involving a camera and an unspecified orifice.  So after his grand adventure we had a gentle stroll through a beautiful part of the forest called Appleslade followed a recovery drink at the Red Shoot Inn. 
We returned home for lunch in the garden because it was actually sunny!  We had a lovely meats and salad.  An afternoon sleep would have gone down well, but we went off for a walk to see the large trees.  They are the largest trees in England, but nowhere as big as some Aussie ones.  It is so green and tranquil in the New Forest.  You don’t need to panic when leaves rustle here :-D unless you are with Tony!!!!
We drove through Brockenhurst then went to Lyndehurst for an icecream.  The cemetery was tempting as the original Alice in Wonderland is buried there, but the looks I got when I suggested this mean’t we were to pass up on this visit.  The shops were shut by now so we drove back home.

Now where to go for tea .. we ended up at yet another pub called The Royal Oak.  This was a lovely thatched pub, pity the inside didn’t match the outside.  They are trying to modernise it as an upmarket place but is failing dismally.

We came back and socialised till early hours of the morning .. I am becoming quite partial to pear cider.  We managed to swap AC/DC songs on our laptops before the night got to ………………..

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Day 29 – More rellies then off to New Forest for even more

We didn’t have to leave too early this morning, so we walked Imogen to school, she especially came over with Gillian (mum) so we could walk with her.  Karen (cousin) was at school so we were able to say our final goodbyes to her as well. 

Over the bridge to Plymouth to visit Auntie Ann, another to whom I have not met before.  Auntie Ann is the youngest of Dads siblings.  She was thrilled to pieces to see us, found out a lot of family history from her as well.  I had a great time even though she kept saying I was morbid J!  We left and went for a look at Plymouth Hoe as everyone kept mentioning it.  This is where Sir Francis Drake set off on his adventures.  It is a very large open area right on the waterfront, you can still see all the gun defence areas from wartime.

On our way to the New Forest we popped into another Trago Mill as it was next to the petrol station we were at.  There was huge traffic delays going the other way due to accidents.  Over here if there is a car accident, they close all the lanes, the traffic is at a standstill, till it is all cleared away, cleaned up and investigated.  A total pain in the ‘you know what’ if you are stuck in it, also not many ‘escape’ routes either.  We hit one big delay, but that was due to roadworks.

Finally got to Mockbeggar, which is in The New Forest. We are staying with Tony and his wife Sally and their 2 poodles, Rosie and Molly, for the next few nights.  Tony made contact with me around a year ago through Ancestry as we are both researching the same family tree, he is Mum’s second cousin.  What a lovely place New Forest is.  Wild ponies, horses and even donkey’s everywhere, they are quite tame.  They stand around like statues.  We went to the local pub for tea, where some donkey’s came to have a drink from the old trough set up out front for them!

Day 28 - More Looe and more headstone hunting

This morning we had to get up early as our cousin’s children came over in the morning to have breakfast then are walked to school by Auntie Eve.  This is a regular Tuesday event as both mother’s work on this day.  I showed them some of my photos from the Harry Potter exhibition before they got ready.  Kylie and I asked if they wanted us to walk them to school, talking about being excited.  They were even more excited when they found out we are cousins as well!  It didn’t take long before half the school knew were their Australian cousins.  We also had a guided tour of the classrooms etc.

Today on our agenda is to find the former family homes in Saltash, visit the National Trust house Antony (where Alice in Wonderland was filmed), go to Trago Mills at Liskeard, then to go to Tavistock for a bit of shopping.

First off is to go down to the waterfront under the Tamar Bridge.  Here we found three of the streets that they all lived, none of the houses are standing on two of them.  The bridge is very large from down below.  Kylie took me to where our grandparents, aunties and uncles lived (Dad didn’t live with them) before, during and after WW2, it is quite small for the size of the family.  It has fabulous views over the river and I can see how they had loads of playing areas when they were young (Dad was one of 12).  After this it was off to Antony.

We drove down a wrong street, the sign said Antony but it was for the wrong Antony.  When back-tracking we went past the St Stephen’s Church, I noticed how there were many cars were around, so Kylie dropped me off to find out what is happening whilst she parked the car.  Well, to my great luck they were preparing for a Jubilee Flower Show and had people everywhere setting up.  I went inside the Church and asked if I could look around and gave my, I am from Australia spiel again.  With this they introduced me to a lady who handles all the burial register, she offered to get it out to show me plus the plans of the burials.  I shot out to get Kylie and bring her into the church.  The lady was so helpful, Kylie had to go out to get my laptop as there were so many ancestors buried there (I couldn’t remember them all from memory).  Unfortunately most do not have headstones, but I did get their plot numbers and importantly their burial dates.  Next time I return I shall make sure I have the list handy and printed out, this was totally unexpected.  The Church is lovely inside and well looked after.  It dates back to around 1258, we gave a generous donation for the help and for restoration work. Most of our ancestors are buried in the same area, so off again we went headstone hunting (just in case there were any).  We didn’t find and headstones.

Well that was an unexpected delay, we headed to the furthest point we need to go, that was Trago Mills.  This is a very large complex, which is former working mill and has been transformed to a shopping complex, not unlike Harris Scarfe’s as it used to be.  I bought a red trench coat (my first buy for myself on this trip) and Kylie got a few dresses and shoes, also we bought Auntie Eve some Union Jack/Jubilee things as a thank you for having us.  We had yet another late lunch as time keeps flying by.  As we enjoyed Looe so much yesterday, we went back today and had Cornish clotted cream icecream, yummo, and had another look around the shops and the tide was out again!

Everyone did get a chuckle as we didn’t get to barely any of our destinations!!!  Uncle Winston and Auntie Evelyn asked would we like to go out for Chinese or something for tea.  If course we said yes, with this Auntie Eve rang Sean to get his discount card for the Golf Club, with this he asked could he come along, then before it, everyone was coming along.  To top it off it was cousin Lee’s birthday.  It was a great unexpected night out.  At least we got to see them all before we leave in the morning.

Day 27 – Tour around Cornwall and cemeteries

We were asked by some dear family friends if we could go to Pendennis and find a bench put there in memory of their mother and other family members in Cornwall.  Uncle Winston offered to take us today as it is a fair way down the coast and he wanted to come with us.  Also, I wanted to go to Looe as this is where Dad lived from the age of four.  So it made sense to head for the furthest place first, so Pendennis was the first stop.  Our directions was a bench on the bluff, huh, there are memorial benches everywhere here.  There were a few overlooking the dry docks, we didn’t think it would be here but checked in case, not here.  So we headed to the car park at the ‘point’.  Benches, benches, benches, as we knew it was fairly new I thought it might not be as weathered, so hopefully easier to spot.  Luckily it did stand out and what a prime position.  It overlooks the water to the other ‘point’ (not sure of name).  Pity the weather wasn’t the best, it was overcast and windy but thankfully not raining.  We had our photo shoot then headed off to Looe.

As I am into the family tree I couldn’t help myself when I saw the sign to Ladock.  Knowing that Uncle Winston’s aunties and uncles were born there I asked if we could stop at the church.   It is a small quaint church and churchyard.  We had look around the graveyard, there was a gardener working so I went up to him and gave my usual ‘I am from Australia’ spiel and asked if we could go into the church.  He said it was open, whilst inside a man came in and showed us where the lights were and also a book listing the burials.  To my amazement there were some family members whom I didn’t know were buried there, they were mine and Kylie’s 2x great grandparents and Uncle Winston’s great grandparents.  To our surprise they even had a headstone, so I took photos and also one of Uncle Winston with the headstone.

After this delay we finally got to Looe for lunch, well it was 3pm by now, so we were very hungry.  We had fish, chips and mushy peas with a cup of tea.  I absolutely loved the streets of Looe.  They are small narrow little street where all the shops are.  They lead to the river where all the fishing vessels moor.  Pity the tide was out. The seagulls are a lot larger here and so much noisier, it is very noticeable.  We walked to the street where Dad grew up.  It is a narrow very steep street in West Looe. There were two houses he lived in, two doors away from each other both have been done up, so they looked nice.  After this we made our way back to the car and headed back to Uncle Winston and Auntie Evelyn’s.

Due to our late lunch Kylie and I didn’t want any tea, so we decided to go for a walk to St Stephen’s Church, this is where several generations have been buried.  It was a lovely evening for a cemetery walk.  We entered the old part and started to read all the headstones, I took photos if any name might be in the tree.  After about half an hour we started to only read names, then after about an hour we turned the corner and was hit by absolutely 1,000’s of headstones!  We looked at each other in amazement and decided to head straight for the wooden crosses of our immediate family and forget the rest!  It is a very large cemetery but totally hidden from the road.  I would have loved to go into the Church, but it is always locked unless someone is in attendance due to vandalism.  I took note of the phone numbers and will call them tomorrow to see if I can get in to have a look.  We got back just as it was starting to get dark, only to find out that a few cousins popped in to see us, but we were not home.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Day 26 – Sooty, Sooty, Sooty and Cornwall

Old School House, Hook

Today we leave our accommodation at Hook to head down to Cornwall to spend time with the rellies.  BUT most importantly we had to travel via Fun City at Brean Leisure Park to see the Sooty exhibition.  It was a fairly long drive to Brean, I couldn’t wait to get there, being an avid Sooty collector.  So many people were there as it was a warm day and being near the beach.  We had to pay for parking again, but as entry was free this was fair enough.  Fun City is like the rides area at a Royal Show, noise, kids screaming, people everywhere … looking for the Sooty TV Studios wasn’t too obvious, I finally spotted the studio down the back.  It wasn’t too large and as we approached it, Kylie said “I hope this isn’t all there is” (we did travel a fair distance out of our way to get here). 

 It was small, but packed with so much memorabilia and sets from the TV Shows, from the days when Harry Corbett started Sooty, to when his son Matthew had Sooty, to the current owner Richard Cadell.  I started to take photos of all the different things, when I noticed the lady who worked in there watching us.  Kylie took over the photography as it was quite high up, whilst she was doing this I went up to the lady and asked if she didn’t mind and that I was from Australia and came specifically here to see the exhibition and collected Sooty memorabilia etc etc.  She was a bit blown away, then mentioned that Richard Cadell (owner of the Sooty name and franchise, producer, writer and presenter of the Sooty Show and also owner of Fun City) was working incognito at Fun City today (a rare occasion on a Sunday) and she will try to let him know, but held no promises.  Well in a few minutes she came back to me and said he was coming over and would love to meet me.  Talking about being excited!!!!  He was blown away as much as I was.  He gave me two autographed cards, then a DVD … I showed him my Sooty that is nearly 50 years old, with this he asked me to wait and came back with a Sooty puppet that was used in filming the TV show and presented it to me, then had a photo taken with the three of us!!!  We chatted for a while and Kylie asked some questions.  Whilst he was there a lady went up to him and said she watched it when his ‘grandfather’ did the show, Richard muttered under his breathe that he wasn’t his grandfather, but smiled and gave her an autograph!  He had to get back to work, we continued on with photographing, I bought another DVD and a large Sooty, I bought Kylie a large Sweep in a superdog costume then we left.  I had such a big smile on my face …….

Now it was back on track to Saltash, Cornwall.  We had to be there by 5pm as the family were holding a BBQ for us.  The weather deteriorated the closer we got to Cornwall.  At Plymouth we stopped to take a few photos of the Tamar bridges and Saltash over the water.  We got to Uncle Winston’s on time, here I met my first cousins for the first time.  We had a wonderful BBQ tea and a natter to everyone.

What a GREAT day. J

Day 25 – Warwick Castle

Today was another day with a reasonably long drive ahead of us.  We had slight detours, as per usual, in other words we got lost, but, by doing this we have seen some wonderful small villages and always got to our destination!!  We had to go to Warwick Castle today as we pre bought the tickets online.  If you buy them at least 7 days ahead you can save 40%, but silly us, we bought them 6 days ahead.  Kylie read comments last night about Warwick Castle by visitors, there was a mixed bag of comments, if we didn’t pre-purchase the tickets ahead of time we might not have gone BUT I am so glad we did.  This is an amazing place.  There was oodles of parking available and as usual you had to pay, in my opinion for the price they charge for entry parking should be free.  The first visions of the castle are amazing, as it is up on a hill and is so big.  Near the entrance was a stockade, so we got a lady to take our photo in it, I was the village idiot and Kylie, the drunkard.  There is a restored Victorian rose garden that was opened by Princess Diana near the entrance, so we had a meander through that as well.

Warwick Castle is over 1,000 years old it was under the stewardess of the Earls of Warwick till 1978, it is now owned by Merlin Entertainments Group (they also own Madame Tussauds) who have spent over £6,000,000 in the last 10 years alone on restoration.  Here is a timeline on the history and restoration

Upon entry we were greeted by many dressed in costumes from the time.  We watched rat-throwing and decided to have a go, talk about embarrassing ourselves!  First throw of Kylies was straight up in the air, I laughed so much that I did exactly the same :-/ … next throw was straight along the ground for both of us … the rat-catcher condemned us back to Australia, but we decided to go to the Goal instead!  This was a very dark, damp, miserable place.  Many previous occupants were left there to die without food or water.  We went on a ghost tour after this, where a very entertaining chap took us on a 30 minute tour and told some funny stories of treachery, murder and ‘carry-ons’.  Then we were off to explore the castle ourselves.

The Kingmaker exhibition was first up, this is various displays of times in the castle throughout it’s history under the rule of the various kings.  It is great the group who own Tussaud’s, own this as the displays as so life like with the waxwork models.  So much money has been spent on presentation.

 The Victorian house section was so funny.  It was lovingly restored as it was in that period of time, with hidden extras!  A lady named Daisy lived there and told the story of her affairs with several notable men.  As there are many hidden rooms everywhere, you could hear recordings of so called “carrying on’s” behind the hidden doors!  It was well done.

The great hall was magnificent with displays of armour and weaponry.  This lead onto an older section of the building that was from the 1700’s all decked out magnificently.  The oak panelling and detail of plaster work is mind blowing.  At the end was a room with Henry VIII and his wives.  Of course my camera went flat during this section so I have no pictures from here on, just a few on my phone.

There is a ‘walk’ through the towers that has 520 stairs.  Warnings are placed at the beginning about how many stairs, how you cannot go back etc.  So off we went, the first section wasn’t too bad, we had wonderful views over the castle grounds, then it started, tiny spiral staircases that went on and on and on … the views at top were amazing, views over the whole of Warwick, of course no photos L.  Just when you thought it was over, more tiny spiral staircases and even higher up, some people were so red and hot I thought they were going to collapse.  It was about 28 degrees, nice and warm to me, but hot to the English, they were acting as if it was 38 degrees. The downward climb was just as bad, the stairs are so small, you really had to concentrate not to over step them.
The finale was the trebuchet, which is the largest in the world, measuring 18 metres high and weighing in at 22 tonnes.  We walked back to the car through the peacock gardens, which have topiaries of peacocks and also real ones wandering around showing everyone their wonderful display of feathers!

Day 24 – A day out in Bath

Today was spent in the historic city of Bath. Bath has origins back to at least 50 AD. Kylie decided to drive to a park & ride car park and get a bus in. So much easier than trying to find somewhere to park in Bath as there is nowhere really to park.  Such a busy place, mainly with tourists!  When we got off the bus, we saw the sign for the Jane Austen centre so we thought we’d hit that first up.  The centre had the history of Jane Austen’s brief life in Bath.  Firstly a lady gave us a talk which explained Jane’s life and the various residences she lived at.  Then we went down to look at the displays of dress during that period. Also there was a short movie that we watched which went into detail on her life in Bath and her opinion of the city changed from a good opinion in her first book, Northanger Abbey, to

her bad opinion and hate of the city in her last book, Persuasion.  These opinions are greatly reflected in her writing style in both books.  Whilst looking through the exhibitions one of the ladies working there was sitting down doing cross-stitch, of course I had to stop to chat.  All staff there where period costume as well, anyhow this lady asked if Kylie and I were mother and daughter!!!  I quickly rectified this, much to the amusement
of Kylie, this proves my case for not wanting to be grey haired yet!!!!

When we finished in the Jane Austen centre we walked around to the Assembly rooms nearby. Unfortunately they were closed for a wedding so we did not get to see the chandeliers that are worth around £1,000,000 each!  They have weddings every day over here, not just the weekends like in Aus.

We decided not to go into the baths and also refrained from trying the ‘healing’ waters which apparently taste quite foul. There was a Big Bus tour here, so we bought tickets for it as it is a great way to see the city as it is very big and hilly. It is a very busy city. When the city tour finished, we changed buses to do the skyline tour. We sat on the top deck as per usual, but had to be careful of the low lying tree branches, I got hit a few times when not paying attention. 

Next stop was Prior Park, which is owned by National Trust. The original homestead  is a massive house on top of the hill which is now a Catholic school. Kylie and myself walked the gardens and took photos of the Bath Skyline. At the bottom of the gardens was a Palladian bridge which is one of only four built.