A Yorkshire Odyssey (2/4)

8th September Today was destined to be an epic day in more way than one. Hence this day is split into two parts, the morning and the next one will be the afternoon version. We achieved a lot in one day!

After breakfast at the B&B we set off for our tour around Scarborough chasing addresses where my great grandparents, grandparents and great aunts and uncles lived. This is the Coatham side of the family tree that we are following, my maiden name. We had planned our route the previous evening so we knew where we were heading and hopefully in a logical geographical order.

Longwestgate Street: The newer build at the front left was where Great grandad John & great grandma Elizabeth lived with 9 of their children (there was a further 5 children). The coloured terrace houses in the background would have been the style of house that was there.

From here we visited another property where John lived before he married Elizabeth.

St Martin’s Place: John lived here as a lodger. As an aside, we noticed a number of properties around here that had windows bricked up, we presume due to window tax although I feel this tax was imposed much earlier than these houses would have been built.
Hoxton Road: This small terrace property is where Great grandfather John and family shoehorned themselves into. John & Elizabeth and 5 children lived here.
The street view of Hoxton Road.
Westbourne Grove: this is the house where my great grandmother Elizabeth lived and worked in service before she married.
This street name is etched into my brain, as it was where grandpop Ernest and three of his sisters lived before we left England and was where I remember addressing many letters to.
16 Sherwood Street.

We had a good reminisce whilst looking at the street and wandering up and down. We talked to some of the residents and got a good feel of the area. Whilst we were standing in the street chatting away, we happened to glance through this snicket/ginnel (Yorkshire speak for a pass through or walkway between houses) and saw what we thought was a windmill. Shall we walk up the road and see what it’s all about? Sure, why not.

Peek through the snicket, and the Windmill – now a B&B

We ended up going in for a look at the windmill and were warmly welcomed in by the very friendly Irish owner and given a look around. What an amazing place and what a great job they are doing here. We shall definitely be staying here next time we visit Scarborough.

From here it was to visit the Rest Home where Great Uncle George, and two Great Aunties lived toward the end of their lives. It is no longer a Rest Home but a home for single men with mental health issues. Again, we were warmly met by staff and they spent quite a bit of time talking to us and explaining what they had done with the premises and the work they currently do.

Marina Lodge was Ravensmere Rest Home

We did visit another couple of addresses we had on our list but we are still checking that they are indeed the correct addresses for the right people in the right place at the right time. Our house hunting was over for the day so now time for some sightseeing.

From here it was along to the main south beachfront for a rest stop and to see the views.

Scarborough South Beach

It was time for me to complete my promise of having a Knickerbocker Glory at the Harbour Bar. This has been in operation since 1945, they make their own icecream as well as an array of sundaes and other delights.

Harbour Bar in Scarborough. Mission completed!

And yes, the Icecream delight was delicious and shared between three of us.

Scarborough street scenes

We also spent some time trying to find Yorkshire flags for a certain person, this mission looks like it may be a little more difficult than we had anticipated although Sue did find some Pontefract cakes for the said same person – you owe us BIG time John! Many thanx to Martin, the ever patient driver who stopped at every shop that looked as though it was a possible flag selling shop, we will have some luck eventually I am sure.

The afternoons tripping around will be the subject of next blog entry, it was an amazing afternoon so stay tuned.

A Yorkshire Odyssey (Part one of four)

Wednesday 7th September: Alex dropped us off at the train station at Abbey Wood just after 9am on Wednesday 7th September where we were to catch the train. First we had to get to Euston Station which required to first catch the train to Tottenham Court Road, then a tube to Euston. All this takes a little time, 25 minutes on the Elizabeth line train, then a walk to the underground to find the right platform and go down numerous steps, then a 5 minute tube ride and another short walk to Euston National Train Station, time to grab a bite to eat and drink for the train ride.

Departure Board, along with others waiting to see which platform we have to race to

We got on the train heading to Birmingham where we settled into our seats to enjoy the 2hr journey north.

Settled in our seats….trying to work on my selfie skills!

At Birmingham we were met by Susan & Martin, Susan is my cousin on my Dads side of the family, my grandpop Ernest Coatham was her Great Uncle. We have stayed with Sue & Martin on previous visits to the UK and they have also been to NZ, but this time we were off an adventure/odyssey seeking out where Ernest had lived over the years as well as his parents and grandparents.

Roy, along with others, has done on awful lot of work over the years into researching our genealogical lines so we have a lot of information gleaned from census records, birth death & marriage certificates and electoral rolls as well as family records.

After being warmly welcomed we set off with Sue & Martin on our road trip with todays destination being Scarborough. The conversation flowed, the scenery passed us by and before we knew it, we were at our first destination for a cuppa.

Todays drive is about 3 1/2 hrs but with stops it will be a lot longer. It’s all about the journey, not about getting there asap!!
The welcome to Doncaster sign, seen as we drove through. Grandpop lived in Doncaster after he retired but where he lived is now all new housing.

We arrived in the pretty village of Pocklington and quickly found a lovely little cafe for a coffee.

Bernice, Roy, Sue and Martin. Hmmm….selfie skills need more work!
Sue took this photo of me at afternoon tea, a much better selfie!

The café was where we sampled delicious local fare, friendly service, and helpful staff. Afterwards a wander around the streets was in order to unnumb bums! We came across a few lovely shops and was quite enamoured with the village. They even had an Arkwright’s store.

Arkwrights store
Local butcher shop display window

There was also a great bakery where Sue bought us a Yorkshire Curd Tart to try later. It’s all about the Yorkshire you know! We had already checked out a few shops to try and find a Yorkshire flag as I had been sent on a mission by my brother John to purchase one for him. This was the start of another odyssey within an odyssey that would unfold over the coming days. More of that later.

Shops in the Main Street, Pocklington

After a wander around the village it was back into the car for the short drive to North Dalton where we were hoping to find the house where my great grandfather John Coatham lived. It was really weird, I had a great sense of coming home, I felt very comfortable, it was quite strange and very difficult to describe the feeling that I had apart from a sense of calm and comfortably at ease in this region of Yorkshire.

We pulled into a car park at the local pub where we got chatting to a couple of very friendly locals after enquiring on directions. Now this village only has a population of around 300 so it’s not very big, we only had to walk a few hundred metres before we found the street and property we were looking for. However, the original house was now replaced by a more recent build, probably post war we thought, but on looking around we found evidence of older properties to give us an idea of what it would have been like.

The newer build that was where my great grandad John had lived
The views over the fields from the property
An older cottage with evidence of many repairs and rebuilds in the stone work over the years

It was getting late in the day by now, so it was back into the car for the drive to Scarborough and our accommodation for the next couple of nights. Once settled into our rooms, we met up to walk into town to an Indian restaurant that had come highly recommended.

We walked past the old Jail on our way into town. A very impressive building.
Martin & Roy enjoying some of the many dishes on offer.

After dinner, it was a saunter back to our accommodation to organise our plan of action for tomorrow, it’s going to be a big day.

Natural History Museum

Monday 5th September. Grandma and Grandad are off on an adventure with Callum, we are taking him to the Natural History Museum in London to see the dinosaurs. But first we have to get there, it’s a walk to the bus stop, catch the bus to the train station, then train on the Elizabeth Line into Paddington Station, then a London black cab to the museum. Phew, it’s a mission.

Bus and train route
Taxi ride through Hyde Park
On the bus, reading the paper on the train, in the back of a London cab

We had waited until schools returned after their long summer break before we ventured into the museum to avoid the crowds, as it was, it was still extremely busy.

Callum doing his best dinosaur impression
Checking out the geological exhibits
Dinosaur skeleton
Blue Whale skeleton on the main hall
This is what fascinated Callum the most, the moving roaring T Rex exhibit
Someone was enthralled for ages

We spent a good hour or two looking at all the exhibits, a little bit of sensory overload for a little man so we went outside for a break.

Callum and Grandad playing hide and seek

Back inside we found the clock from the CBeebies shows Andy’s Dinosaur Adventures and Andy’s Prehistoric Adventures that Andy uses to travel back in time to see dinosaurs.

Andy’s clock….and no, we had no idea about this either until we came to London. Fortunately I’d been to the CBeebies Proms a month or two ago, so I knew all about it!

For those not in the know, the CBeebies is the BBC’s children’s channel and Andy is one of the presenters.

It was time for lunch so we headed down the road to find a pub for lunch. As we sat eating our lunch another family came in and sat at the next table, it turns out they had just arrived in the UK that morning and guess what? They live in Auckland! Although the dad was English, and the mum German, they had lived in China but now reside in NZ. We ended up having a lovely chat. Small world!

Lunch at the pub

After lunch we had a bit of a wander before reversing the mornings travel arrangements to head back home. Callum had a fantastic day, he really enjoyed the exhibitions and he was so good for us too. The next museum trip is already in the planning but first we have a few adventures of our own to go on. Mission accomplished.

Eltham Palace

Thursday 1st September Barry had kindly invited to take us for a visit to Eltham Castle which is not too far away, for a tour around the Palace and gardens.

Eltham is a unique marriage between a medieval and Tudor palace and a 1930s millionaire’s mansion. From the 14th to the 16th century it was an important royal palace, where monarchs often stayed and hunted in the surrounding parks. After centuries of neglect, Eltham was leased to Stephen and Virginia Courtauld in 1933, who built an up-to-the-minute house here that incorporated the great hall.

Eltham Palace

The history of the Palace is long and rich with kings queens and other royalty residing there as well as significant events held. You can read a brief history on the Palace here.

The moat surrounding the Palace

We took the audio self guided tour of the Palace, first through the Art Deco inspired main building that the Courtaulds constructed in the 1930’s. We meandered through lavish living rooms and then through the bedrooms and bathrooms.

The Art Deco entrance hall
Table setting in the Dining Room
The lavish gold leaf covered bathroom wall
Top row the marquetry wall panels in the entrance hall, below a couple of examples of the inlaid panels on the doors in the dining room

As part of the agreement the Courtaulds brokered to build on the site, they agreed to restore the great medieval hall and ante rooms.

The medieval hall
Outside view of the hall
Commemorative stone

After spending a good amount of time wandering through the buildings, we ventured out to walk through some of the extensive gardens. I obviously forgot to take any pictures of the gardens, it was just so nice to wander at our leisure.

Many thanks to Barry for taking us out for the day, we really enjoyed ourselves. .

Around and about

There’s a bit of a joke going on with our UK family about the fact that Roy and I have never been to a Weatherspoons pub or a Greggs café, remarkable really considering the numerous times we have been in the UK. We will see how that plays out over our remaining time here.

We needed to get a few chores done so we headed off into Bexleyheath, spotted both said establishments and just had to take a photo of them both and tease the family that we may venture inside one or both venues.

The above mentioned establishments

No, we didn’t go into either of them, however I’m sure we will at some stage though. Whilst we were meandering through the Main Street we heard a little voice calling our names. Really? Are we hearing things? Who could it be? We eventually saw who it was, it was Beth, Ian’s niece who was in town with her grandparents and sister.

Top: Roy, Chris, Beth & Olivia, bottom: Bernice and Barry

We had a cuppa and a chat with them all before we headed off on our separate journeys to complete the days shopping. It’s a small world!

Another day and Roy goes out with Alex & Callum, along with Sam Beth & Olivia to Mudchute Farm. As I’d been here just a few weeks ago, I stayed at home catching up on a few things whilst the others went out for the day.

Roy and Olivia feeding the goats
Alex & Callum
Left: Beth Olivia and Callum on the DLR train, top tight: Callum with grandads hat, bottom right: lunch at the pub

Another day, and an another outing this time to Swanley Park with its playgrounds, miniature train, lakes with pedals boats and more.

A happy day out and about.

Tomorrow we are taking Callum out for the day on a big adventure with grandma and grandad, but you’ll have to wait for the next exciting episode to read about that!

Busy bank holiday weekend

We had no sooner arrived back from our few days away when we were off out again, this time to see a show at the Orchard Theatre. The show was BIG, based on the Tom Hanks movie and put on by the Orchard Theatre youth group.

Ready for the show to begin
Alex, Chris, Bernice & Roy ready for the show to start

Roy and I went along with Alex and Ian’s mum Christine for a very enjoyable night out. Earlier in the day Roy and I had been round at Chris’ to help her with a jigsaw she had been struggling with. I must say it was a very hard puzzle but we managed to move it along a little but we promised to return in a day or two to hopefully complete it for her.

The following day was the annual summer BBQ that Julie & Brian put on for the family. I had offered to make dessert so Callum and I made a pavlova, a plain vanilla pav and we topped it with lemon curd, cream, mango slices and passionfruit. It was delicious too….and I forgot to take any pictures of making, decorating or the completed article so you will have to take my word for it that it was probably one of the best I’ve ever made!! Must have been the 3yo assistant who gave it its specialness.

Everyone relaxing in the shade
Dennini (Denny/Vannini) family
Callum with grandma and grandad
Roy and Alex
The Dennys showing us how it’s done
Fun and games for all
Group photo

It was a great afternoon and evening, wonderfully hosted by Brian & Julie, thanx for the great afternoon and evening, we had a blast.

And as promised, the following day Roy & I went to finish off Christine’s jigsaw puzzle, a few hours later and it was done!

The finished jigsaw puzzle

A busy old weekend but much fun was had by all.

St Neots and back to London

Another day out visiting, this time to Jackie’s parents, Hilda and Ken. Hilda is my cousin as she is the daughter of my mums eldest sister Ella, Ella was 2nd in the family whereas my mum (also called Hilda) was the 17th of the 19 children! Confused? Never mind, read on!

We had a very wet start to the day, our first real rain since arriving in the UK at the beginning of June so it was a slower than usual drive to St Neots.

Newton Parnell to St Neots

We arrived safely and were warmly greeted by Ken. Jackie was taking Ken off to an appointment so we stayed with Hilda at home. Hilda is unfortunately suffering from dementia, but we managed to have a nice relaxed chat with her before she headed off back to bed.

At 91 Ken is looking great, is his usual chirpy self and still very active. Jackie & Ken returned with a fish & chip lunch for us all and we happily chatted into the mid afternoon.

Bernice, Ken and Roy
Bernice (having a laugh), Ken and Jackie.

The afternoon quickly wizzed by before it was time to bid farewell and head back home, this time in fine weather so we could admire the countryside. We did have some minor diversions though as Roy wanted to purchase a data stick to transfer the enormous amount of data that Hilda and Jackie have put together on the family tree. However, after many fruitless attempts, we gave up and headed back to Newton Pagnell where Jackie & Hossein live.

We had a lovely couple of salads for dinner (after our fish & chip lunch we didn’t need much), it was time to head to bed as we are off in the morning back to London. We bade fond farewells to our magnanimous hosts, but we shall see them again in a few weeks time when we head further north for a family get together. But first a reversal of the travel arrangements to London where we safely arrived mid afternoon back in Bexleyheath.

A days outing to Olney

We spent a day in Olney, a village not too far from Jackie & Hossein’s which is famous for a couple of things. One, it is where they close the Main Street one day a year (shrove Tuesday) and hold the annual pancake races. And two, it’s where Amazing Grace was written.

Pancake Café

We didn’t sample the pancakes however we did go to the Cowper & Newton museum. The museum celebrates the work and lives of two famous local residents:William Cowper (1731–1800), a celebrated 18th-century poet; and John Newton (1725–1807), a prominent slave trader (and subsequent abolitionist) who was curate in the local church. Together, Cowper and Newton wrote the Olney Hymns including one of the world’s most popular hymns, Amazing Grace.

Newton & Cowper Museum
Museum sign

2023 is the 250th anniversary of the writing of the hymn with many events being coordinated around the world to celebrate by singing the hymn.

Checking out the gardens…..well, we were all wearing checked clothing!

After a good wander around the very interesting museum we headed off to find somewhere for an afternoon cuppa.

Hossein underneath the wonky window. I don’t think it would open.
Walking through a side street
Along the main road
Beautiful flower baskets adorn the lamp posts on the main street.

After a lovely day out we returned home to have a delicious dinner of salmon with a Persian quinoa, preserved lemon and courgette salad.

Off to Milton Keynes

We had a planned visit to family in Milton Keynes organised so it was off on the bus to the train station at Abbey Wood, then the train into Tottenham Court Road to then get on the Tube to Euston to catch the train to Milton Keynes.

We were met at the station by Jackie & Hossein. Jackie is the daughter of my cousin Hilda. Hilda is the daughter of my mums eldest sister Ella, Ella was 2nd in the family whereas my mum was the 17th of the 19 children! Hence Jackie and I are close in age and get along rather well.

Now a number of people don’t have positive things to say about Milton Keynes, but I really like it. It is a planned city, planned around a few existing villages with smaller hamlets linked by roads, cycleways and green belts. There is a 3 story limit on buildings therefore the large apartment blocks and housing estate look of other newly regenerated areas is not evident. The layout is sensible, it’s easy to find your way around, and it’s clean and tidy.

Once we were collected from the train station we spent the afternoon at the Milton Keynes Art Gallery for the Vivian Maier photographic exhibition.


Vivian Dorothy Maier (February 1, 1926 – April 21, 2009) was an American street photographer whose work was discovered and recognized after her death. She worked for about 40 years as a nanny, mostly in Chicago, while pursuing photography. She took more than 150,000 photographs during her lifetime, primarily of the people and architecture of Chicago, New York City, and Los Angeles although she also traveled and photographed worldwide. This exhibition is a small selection of those works.

Inside the exhibition
A selection of pictures

We spent a good few hours wandering our way through the exhibition, it was very interesting and well worth going to see if the opportunity arises.

Afterwards we headed to Jackie & Hosseins home in Newton Pagnell, just outside of Milton Keynes where we spent the rest of the afternoon and into the evening talking. The evening was so lovely we stayed outside to have dinner.

I managed a half decent selfie!!
Dinner al fresco – Persian dishes of Lamb and spinach with plums (from the garden), rice cooked with the delicious crusty base (tahdig) and a yoghurt, mint & cucumber sauce.

I have been given the methodology of making the rice dish which I am keen to try as it is so delicious. After dinner we retreated inside to have dessert as apparently bats come swooping along at dusk…..I’m not keen on bats!

The rest of the evening was spent catching up on family news, people, places, and life in general. I think we put the world to rights! Tomorrow we have a planned day out which will be the subject of the next blog.

Another busy few days

Another few days before we are off again and there is always plenty to keep us busy.

Alex spent a morning baking with Callum (grandma supervised) which he really enjoys.

Alex & Callum making muffins

Another afternoon and the blokes went off to the local pub whilst Roy, Alex and I were off doing other things…..I have to admit now that I can’t remember what we went off to do but I’m sure it was important!!

Ian, Matt and Callum having light refreshments

Another day Roy & Ian went off to Charleton again to watch a game of football.

Yes, they were at the game

Meanwhile Alex and I took Callum off to a local farm to see the animals and gardens. Callum enjoyed trying his hand at milking.

Milking the cow

There were playground visits

At the playground

And Roy and I went into Greenwich one day. We were on a mission to find a couple of books Roy had seen at the bookstore on our previous visit to Greenwich but he only now decided to purchase them. Of course the store had sold them and so plan B is sorted to get them delivered.

But whilst in the bookstore, I noted a display of books with an interesting selection grouped together.

Interesting selection of books

Of course we took advantage of being near the Greenwich market and had lunch there.

Roys lunch.

Of course there were the usual trips into Bexleyheath, Abbey Wood or Crayford for shopping where no pictures were taken as these form a part of daily life. But now it’s time to head away for a few days so best I get packing!