Worcester, Herefordshire and a little bit of Wales (Part 1)

August 20, 2019

It was time for us to meet up with another cousin, this time from my Dads side of the family. I think Sue and I are actually second cousins, or maybe cousins once removed…oh I never did figure out which was which but in any case it doesn’t matter. Roy and I hopped on yet more trains to make our way to Worcester where we were being picked up. However the train journey was not to be as easy as it should have been.

Map of the journey

We left Alex’s by catching the bus to the local train station in Erith, we got onto the train and had not long left the station when Roy went off to use the toilet. Some few minutes later the drivers very quiet voice came over the intercom saying something about a problem, and I think he said something about the toilets but I didn’t really hear or take in what he was saying. Next minute the train comes to a halt, again the drivers voice came over the intercom, with indecipherable announcements. Next I see the driver walking through our carriage, I think to myself – oh, there must be a problem, oh and Roy seems to be taking an awfully long time in the loo!!!

Yes, you guessed it, Roy was locked in the toilet and couldn’t get out so in desperation he had to activate the emergency button attracting the attention of the driver. Apparently this then activates the stopping of the train which cannot be deactivated until the driver manually deactivates it from the original activation point. And did I forget to mention that we were in the very last carriage of the train so it was a long way for the driver to make his way through the train to release the button, and Roy of course!! As a result the train was then running 18 minutes late. To top that off the train was now not going to Charing Cross due to another issue further along the line so we had to change at London Bridge then take the tube with one change of lines to get ourselves to Paddington Station. Fortunately we always allow a bit of extra time for events such as this so we still arrived at Paddington with 15minutes to spare to catch the train to Worcester.

We were met at the train station by a Sue & Martin who then took us to their home a few miles out in the beautiful countryside. Now, it’s rather special to be able to meet up with cousins after such a long time and instantly feel comfortable and at home. We spent the afternoon in the garden talking, laughing and reminiscing. They live in a lovely old farmhouse which just feels so comfortable and welcoming. We also have a bit in common, one being that they also have a motorhome in which they travel all round the country and Europe as well.

The following day we were off on an all day drive to do what is called the Black & White trail which takes in a number of villages which are known for their black and white Tudor style architecture.

The general route

Close up view of the route

First we had to negotiate the odd narrow country road

Expertly driven by Martin

Through the village of Bromyard which was our first view of the black and white timbered buildings

Pub in Bromyard

Our first port of call was the town of Leominster where we were stopping for morning tea. After finding a car park, we wandered off into the village where we found this establishment.

Someone thought this was his place!

And no, we didn’t partake of the delights available in Roy’s cafe, we were to venture further into town.

Martin striding ahead in the town square.

We were heading to another cafe for morning coffee, I came across this model in the centre of the square

It is a model of the market house erected on the site in 1633 and subsequently saved then moved and renamed Grange House. It is the finest remaining example of work done by the King’s carpenter John Abel.

Grange House today

Passing narrow alleyways with buildings overhanging and not a straight line in sight, we made our way to the cafe.

Coffee for morning tea

Oh, and guess what we found just around the corner from the coffee shop? You guessed it, a cheese shop! Yes, we did sample lots of lovely cheeses and possibly some purchases were made.

Cheese shop in Leominster

Narrow alleyway and sheepy art work

Time for us to continue on our travels.

Next town on our travels was Dilwyn.

Dilwyn houses

a lovely collection of black and white buildings, all beautifully kept as well.

Onto Weobley next, where we were to have lunch in a local pub. But first a wander around the village to check out some of the unique architecture.

Weobley architecture and magpie statue

We had a lovely lunch at the pub, whilst in the pub I noticed these stained glass windows which look very much like some of the windows we had in the private spaces of Pen-y-bryn Lodge.

Stained glass window

Further along the road in Weobley we came across the Old Grammar School dating from 1660.

Old Grammar House, note the angles of the walls and windows

Now a private home with all its interesting wonky lines, the school was in continuous use until the late 1880’s. It catered for up to 25 pupils on the ground floor with the masters accomodation upstairs.

From here we continued on our journey, but along the route to the next village we came across this church in Kinnersley. Actually, I say in Kinnersley, but this just really an area rather than a village as there was no evidence of a village apart from the church.

Kinnersley Church

The 12th century church has an unusual slightly separate tower. It has intricate paintings and coloured stencil work decorating the ceiling and arches of chancel and nave. These were done by the famous Victorian “Arts and Craft” architect Bodley, who is buried in the church yard.

A very good, well carved marble 17th century monument to the Smalman family is on the wall inside, however it is now strapped to the wall as you will see in the picture below. The monument was described by the architecural historian Pevsner as one of the best of its kind in the country.

Detail from inside the church

More detail from inside the church

Outside the church there was evidence of old entrance doors, later bricked up.

Bricked up entrance

On wandering around to the rear of the church we came across a very large castle, Kinnersley Castle.

According to Wikipedia “The Castle of Kinnersley, was originally a stone structure, thought to have been built during the reign of Henry I (1100-1135 C.E.). The Elizabethan building that now occupies the site has obliterated all but a few traces of the medieval castle.

Although it looks predominantly Elizabethan on the outside, it has many features of different periods. It was ‘renovated’ in the 16th century by the Vaughn family and houses a fine example of an intricate plasterwork ceiling in the solar, thought to be one of the oldest in Herefordshire. There are many green men and serpent hounds to be found on this ceiling, a lot of the detail is picked out in gold. On the stone overmantel of the fireplace, carved into the stone is a boy’s head with a serpent around its neck.

Kinnersley Castle

View from over the fence

Apparently the castle is only open to the public a couple of times a year.

Enough rambling, part two will be posted in a day or so.

Cheesy crawl

August 15, 2019

Roy has a bit of a reputation for his love of cheese, cheeses of all varieties, styles and types but he is particularly fond of a good blue. There is a running joke about not letting him near a fromagerie however I’d read about a cheese crawl, something like a pub crawl that involves cheese rather than drinks, that takes you on a walk around London, trying different cheeses at all sort of establishments. That sounds as though it was a perfect thing for us to do.

We had originally booked it for a Saturday in July but we had to postpone that one as something else cropped up. Then the next time it was booked, Roy had a dodgy tummy so we made a third attempt at the trip this last weekend.

First we had to get there. This involves catching the bus to near Erith Train Station then a walk to the station, catch the train into London as far as London Bridge station, then make our way to the underground, find the Jubilee Line (heading in the right direction) and catch the tube to Green Park Station and then make our way to the meeting point in Green Park itself.

The train and tube route

We arrived with perfect timing at the allotted meeting point and with around 15 others we set off on our Cheese Crawl.

The first stop was not too far away, walking past the Ritz Hotel, shops and Arcades taking in the sights. As well as a cheese focused walk, we also had a bit of history explained to us about particularly interesting sites along our route.

One such interesting point was Burlington Arcade. It was built by Lord Cavendish (later Earl of Burlington) supposedly for his wife as she didn’t like shopping in the weather or amongst the general riff raff so he built the covered arcade with 72 shops, mainly for the sale of high end goods such as jewellery, lace and walking sticks. The arcade is probably best known for the Burlington Beadles, basically it’s own Police Force, dressed in their black frock coats embellished with gold buttons and gold braided top hats. These Beadles enforce a strict code of behaviour which includes no running or hurrying, no riding bicycles and no whistling. It was a connection with prostitution that lies behind some of the rules of the arcade. Pimps used to burst into song or whistle to warn prostitutes who were soliciting in the arcade that the police or Beadles were about. The prostitutes working on the upper level would also whistle to the pickpockets below to warn them of approaching police. Therefore a strict no whistling or singing policy is in place, however, there is just one exception. And that exemption is for none other than Sir Paul MacCartney who apparently frequently walked through the Arcade on his way to and from the studios located behind Burlington Arcade.

Burlington Arcade

From here it was into the iconic Fortnum & Mason store where we were lead through the shop to the cheese counter where our first tasting took place. It was a very nice Welsh Cheddar.

Fortnum & Mason was established in 1707, it was founded as a grocery store dedicated to supplying quality food which saw its reputation particularly take off during the Victorian era.

My attempt at a selfie outside Fortnum & Mason

From here in Picadilly, we walked further along the road, stopping occasionally to view interesting architecture and shops and then onto Paxton & Whitfield, the oldest cheesemongers in the UK having been established in 1797.

Paxton & Whitfield

The shop holds two Royal warrants, one from Queen Elizabeth and one from Prince Charles. Here we looked around the shop before having our tasting plate.

Delicious array of cheeses

It was here that we tasted Stilton, and oh my goodness, it was delicious. We were told that last year the shop sold 7 tonnes of Stilton over the Christmas period alone! A staggering amount.

Our next brief stop was to explain to us why Piccadilly is named as such.

Original Portugal Street

Originally it was named Portugal Street until a tailor Mr Baker bought in the area, enclosed the street and made his fortune making and selling piccadils which are those frilly neck ruffs that were predominantly worn in the Elizabethan era. Hence the road and then the area became known as Piccadilly.

Our next stop was at the American store, Wholefoods, which gave us a tasting of a truffled mascarpone filled Brie along with Parmesan crisps and a nice chilled rosé to wash it down.

Outside the Wholefoods store

Inside Wholefoods store

I should add here that there are opportunities to make purchases on our journey and a few purchases may have been made. On to our next stop

Lina Store

Here at Lina’s we tried a Prosecco soaked cheese and a Red wine soaked cheese. Apparently this tradition came about by the Italians who hid cheeses in their wine barrels to avoid theft.

From here we wandered to Neal’s Yard, but along the way found this Bambi artwork on a side wall.

Interpret as you like

Bambi is a contemporary street artist who focuses on female identity in a patriarchal society as well as political and social injustice. Interesting.

At Neal’s Yard we were to try goats cheese in the very picturesque yard.

This building in Neal’s Yard was famous for being the headquarters of Monty Python for many years.

After a session of cheesy jokes, we made our way to Covent gardens to try some amazing hot baked camembert with French bread. I think this was one of my favourites of the whole journey, probably because I had far too many helpings!!

What could be better than cheese and champagne?

Mmmm, hot baked camembert

Our next stop was just a short walk away,

Cheese and sparkling red wine

Here we enjoyed a glass of very nice sparkling red wine with our cheese.

By this time we had been walking for quite some time, one of us had developed a blister and we were both feeling quite weary. It was just a 15 minute walk to Charing Cross Station to get the train home.

Our walking route

Time to retrace our steps for the train journey home, however we were not having to change trains this time as it was a direct trip. But it was not all to go to plan, it was a very windy day and trees were down on some of the tracks so our train was not going to stop at Erith, we had to continue on to Slade Green, the next stop after Erith or alternatively change trains at an earlier stop and wait for a connecting train. However, it was not going to be a mission as we were in contact with Alex and she was able to pick us up from the Slade Green station.

We had a quick rest at home before we all headed out for dinner with Ian’s family for Alex’s birthday, and you know what happened don’t you? Yes, none of us took a photo!

Visits, visitors and a birthday

August 11, 2019

It’s hard to believe that just 10 years Alex arrived back in NZ bringing with her a new friend from the UK. Jennifer (aka Beanie) had not travelled at all before these two ventured on an epic trip through SE Asia then onto NZ. They joined us at Pen-y-bryn for a bit of a respite before continuing with their travels. We even went camping with the girls, joining them for a couple of days in Central Otago before we lent them our car and tent to continue on their trip around the South Island of NZ. So it was lovely to be told that Beanie was coming to visit us this week.

Beanie and Callum

It was fantastic to hear of her news and what she is up to these days. Beanie is a chef, she and Alex met when Alex worked at the Middle House in Mayfield when Alex first arrived in the UK. Beanie now works at an all girls school in the village, where she works 5 days a week with regular hours and no split shifts, and no stress!!! It’s so lovely that they still keep in touch and see each other occasionally and of course it was just lovely for us to see her again.

Roy and Ian were off to football that same evening so it was a girls dinner at home for us, and a very nice roast chicken with a pile of roast veges with a ratatouille to complete the meal. For those who are unaware, Roy doesn’t eat chicken so we take every opportunity to have our fill when he is not around!

We bade farewell to Beanie later that evening and look forward to seeing her again next time we are over.

The following day Roy and Barry (Ian’s Dad) went off to the Docklands Museum for a visit for which Roy assures me that he will write up a blog ….one of these days!! Meanwhile, Alex and I took ourselves off to Melucci’s in Bexley for lunch.

We both have double chins? Oh, I thought you said double gins!!!

Anyone for cake?

We had a lovely lunch, so much so that Roy & I are off there next week for dinner. Alex Callum & I had to sit in the cafe for a while after lunch as the heavens opened and it just poured with rain, and as we were catching the bus home, we didn’t fancy standing out in the rain getting soaked particularly as it is such a narrow road the gap between the shops, footpath, and road are all within a few feet of each other and there was a small river of water running down the road for the vehicles to go through and soak us even more. The rain soon passed and we were on our way. Even though Bexley is just a few short miles from home, we were surprised to get home to find that there was no evidence of any rain and the washing was dry on the line as well.

Later in the week Roy and I were meeting up with cousin Jackie & her husband Hossein in London for lunch as they were coming down from Milton Keynes for the Van Gogh exhibition at the Tate. Funnily enough it took us just as long to get into town from Erith as it did for them coming from Milton Keynes. We met at the OXO tower as we had a booking for lunch.

Oxo tower

The view over the Thames

Roy, Bernice and Hossein

Bernice, Jackie and Hossein

Fish sandwich for the girls and Pasta with mushrooms and hazenuts for the boys

After a lovely long lunch we bade our farewells before going on our separate journeys, our initial destination was the Borough Market for a quick visit.

Paella Paella Paella

Fish selection, and yes we did buy a gurnard

Friday also happened to be Alex’s birthday, so it was straight home to get dinner sorted for everyone. Fortunately I had done lots of prep the day before so there wasn’t much to do.

Birthday dinner L-R Alex, Ian Roy, Bernice, Vicki, Jen

Elaine getting in her cuddles

Birthday cake – dairy free!!

This was not the end of the celebrations though, the following night we went out for a family dinner in Bexleyheath with Ian’s family. We had a lovely dinner and it was great to catch up with everyone as well. Unfortunately I neglected to take any pictures, we were all far too busy talking and eating however I am sure that there will be another opportunity for a group photo soon.

Another Narrowboat

August 7, 2019

We came half way around the world and who should we meet up with? None other than one of Alex’s school friends, Kaz, from Oamaru. We’ve met up with her in London before notably Christmas Day 2017, but this time we were visiting her at her place which just happens to be on a narrowboat, right here in Central London. She is residing on board a narrowboat for the summer which is moored on the canal just behind Regents Park.

But first we had to get there. Our travel plans were complicated by two major events taking place, first a major bike race around central London which closed several roads as well as disrupting travel options. Secondly, there were planned major repair work going on on many central train lines which also disrupted travel. We drove to Barnehurst to catch the train to Victoria Station, then we would catch a bus down Edgeware Road to get off near the canal.

The general route

And here’s where we are heading.

At Victoria , we stepped out into theatre land.

Wicked show

Award winning show Hamilton

No shows for us today though, instead it was onto the bus towards Regents Park.

Kaz met us at the bus stop and we walked the short distance to the boat. Of course as is my usual manner I forgot to take any pictures of the boat or us inside it but we did take a picture or two of looking down onto the boats lined up.

The boat is on the left with the dark blue cratch cover

The canal itself is very full of weed and algae with very little water movement however it did not detract from our enjoyment.

We spent a lovely afternoon checking out the boat, interesting for us as this was a very different layout to NB Waka Huia and also very different finishes. The afternoon was spent talking and catching up with Kaz and what’s happening with her life in London, she will be leaving her abode on the canal soon as the owners will be returning to the boat she is on but she is seriously looking at another “boat sitting” stint or perhaps even purchasing a boat to live on. We shall see what eventuates.

Time to retrace our steps

Callum’s first bus trip

Along Edgeware Road onto Park Lane we travelled

Past the very upmarket houses, hotels, shops and cars back to Victoria Station. Then reverse the train trip back to Barnehurst, pick up the car and then home.

Back home again where the fellows put together a play gym for Callum, it very much reminded me of the Christmas scene where the young child gets a train set and Dad and Grandad then spend the rest of the day playing putting it together.

No, this bit goes here….or perhaps we should read the instructions!!!

Callum testing out his new toy

Yep, I quite like this!!

Visitors

August 3, 2019

Last week we stayed with cousin Jackie & Hossein in Milton Keynes, once we had arrived back in Erith we were to have a visit from Jackie’s sister Dawn, whose son Richard just so happens to live just a few minutes away from Alex & Ian. Dawn was down visiting Richard so we arranged to meet up.

Dawn & Richard with Callum

Was that a wry smile?

Richard’s turn to play

Richard has a broken foot so he was hobbling a little with his leg in a cast, this is just a few months after he had surgery for ACL reconstruction, not the best for someone who plays football semi professionally.

We retreated to the garden for morning tea and talk.

Someone was relaxing

And talk we did, somehow time just disappeared and before we knew it, it was mid afternoon.

Time to say hooray

Cousins

The oldies with the young ones!

Bernice, Dawn, Alex with Callum and Richard

Hopefully it won’t be too long before we meet up again.

Family are friends

July 29, 2019

There is an old saying that goes something like ‘you can choose your friends but not your family’ which has some negative connotations about family relationships and all that goes with that. However, we have yet again experienced the absolute opposite of all those implied connotations when we went to stay with Jackie & Hossein in Milton Keynes. To put our relationship into context, Jackie’s Great grandmother and my Grandmother Alice are the one and the same incredibly strong, amazing, formidable woman who gave birth to 19 children. We are in awe of Alice’s energy and fortitude as we piece together more and more information about our genealogy and in particular Alices story.

But back to our visit to Milton Keynes. We were met at the train station by Hossein and Jackie on a very hot day and were whisked away to have lunch at a local community charity facility where we had a very nice relaxing lunch.

Lunch in the garden, Willen.

From there we went to a local park where we went for a walk around the park grounds. We were surprised to find a Japanese Pagoda in the middle of the park.

Peace Pagoda

Further along we came across a Japanese Pagoda. Why the Japanese connection you may ask?

Japanese Temple

A peace pagoda is a Buddhist monument built as a symbol of world peace and is meant to promote unity among all the peoples of the world regardless of race, creed, or border. Peace pagodas have been built all across Asia, often in places that seem to need the most healing such as the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki where American atomic bombs took the lives of more than 150,000 people at the end of World War II. There are now more than 80 peace pagodas across Europe, Asia, and the United States, but the first of the Western temples was built in the town of Milton Keynes in England.

From here we walked to the nearby Tree cathedral, a lovely leafy avenue of trees with its cathedral shape becoming more evident from an aerial view.

Centre of the tree cathedral

Aerial view borrowed from the park trust web site

Margherita’s for the ladies

Cheers boys!

Pad Thai

Pad Thai for dinner made by Hossein

Unfortunately Roy had come away with a bit of a dodgy tummy so it was an early night for him, without any dinner!

The next morning Jackie and I headed off early so I could get a haircut before returning for a late breakfast with the boys. Roy was still not feeling well and Hossein had a few things to do so Jackie and I went out for a look around and also to visit a couple of shops. I have to add here that we have been quite taken with Milton Keynes, I like the layout, the trees and green spaces laid out in grid patterns and the of lack high rise buildings.

A couple of purchases may have been made

A few tea bags may be coming back to NZ with me!!!

An ice cream at IKEA, and no, it was not the only purchase made there

The other good reason for heading to the shops was to be in air conditioned comfort, with England experiencing its hottest July days on record, it was pleasant to be in air conditioned surrounds.

The Grand Union Canal Milton Keynes

Jackie and I visited the Grand Union Canal for a look around.

Another return to their home where dinner this evening was to be an Iranian meal of a Celery Lamb stew ( Khoresht-e-Karafs) followed by Sholesh zard, a fragrant and very light rice pudding.

Sholeh Zard

The temperatures did not abate with Thursday bringing with it record temperatures hitting 40C at some stage during the day, debilitating, oppressive heat with no escape from it. Roy, Jackie and I were heading out to go visit Jackie’s mum Hilda, my cousin, via a little village called Earls Barton where we were going to visit a little museum called the Jeyes museum, yes dedicated to the pharmacy renown for Jeyes Fluid.

Roy perusing the exhibits

I have to add that this museum was upstairs in rooms that were quite small, and with record temperatures it was a very hot experience.

But not only was the museum dedicated to all things pharmacy, one section was dedicated to the business Divine Shoes, made famous by the film and stage show Kinky Boots. The original factory was in this village and one part of the museum was dedicated to the boot manufacturer.

Your size?

These boots were made for walking!

We were back to the car ready to continue our journey in air conditioned comfort when we got the message that Ken & Hilda had decided to visit us. So we turned around and returned to their home, calling in on this property further along their road.

Chichely Hall

As an aside, this property was used as the film location of the movie Enigma, which as a coincidence when Roy & I owned Pen-y-Bryn Lodge in Oamaru, we hosted two of the stars from this movie, namely Dougray Scott and Saffron Burrows.

We were soon back at the house and hadn’t been home long before Ken & Hilda arrived for an afternoon of reminiscing, memories and catching up on their news.

Family

L-R: Ken, Bernice, Roy, Hilda, Jackie and Hossein.

After a lovely afternoon it was soon time for Ken & Hilda to return home and time for another wonderful meal courtesy of Hossein.

Pulled Lamb with coleslaw and wraps.

The following day it was time for us to return to London, another trusty train ride to London Euston, then to the tube for London Bridge and then the train to Erith.

Waiting for us was this wee man

The Thinker!!

Oh, and his parents too 😉.

A lovely time spent with family in and around Milton Keynes. Many many thanks to Jackie & Hossein for making us feel like we were at home with friends where we could relax with them. We look forward to the next time we meet up which will hopefully be soon.

A week in Erith

July 22, 2019

We returned to Alex, Ian and Callum in Erith settling in for a quiet week. There’s always bits to be done in the garden as well as the usual cooking, washing, cleaning, and cuddling Callum of course.

Callum asleep practicing his meditation hand gestures!!

And of course it was a week to watch netball on the tele. Regular readers will know that we are huge netball fans with Alex and I attending three previous world champs and although Alex had tickets for us for this world championships, a certain wee man meant we made the choice to watch the games from the comfort of the couch with tickets instead going to netball friends.

It’s also been a week of doing a bit of baking and experimenting as Alex is off all dairy foods as they seem to upset Callum (just as they did for his mum). So it was out with the very old recipe for a chocolate cake that I used to make years ago, I think it’s based on a recipe from either the war rationing years or the depression years as it contains no butter or eggs. And what is even better is that it’s all mixed together in the cake pan so no washing up either. It is a very tender cake crumb as well and very moist too so everyone enjoys it. From there it was a look for some recipes online for vegan baking as they contain neither butter, milk or eggs, as we are not sure if Callum may also have an intolerance to eggs as well (again, just like his mum did). Some very successful cupcakes were made, made so much easier today with the proliferation of alternatives to dairy available in the shops. The baking was so successful that an afternoon of baking lessons were done by me with Ian’s mum Chris. She now has a few very easy and successful bakes under her belt which she can bake with her other grandchildren for a bit of fun.

Roy and Ian’s Dad Barry had a day out together for a visit to the Science Museum in London, for an exhibition called Top Secret: From ciphers to cyber security. Expect a blog entry on this exhibition once I have nagged him into doing it!!!

Alex had a return to her first game of netball since falling pregnant so I went along as spectator and babysitter.

Callum cheering on Mum.

Later that day he helped cheer the Silver Ferns onto their semi final win over England.

Then of course we spent Sunday watching the semi finals and then the epic final. One of Alex’s friends came round to help us cheer on the kiwi girls, the blood pressure pills were taken, the location of the nearest defibrillator was established, and we settled down to cheer, yell, scream at the tv all the while getting messages from the girls hi were at the stadium watching. The England supporters became Kiwi supporters for the final and the noise was apparently deafening. I have to admit to tears being shed from sheer joy at the result, go girls, you are amazing athletes and ambassadors for the game, women and New Zealand in general. We hope you get to party hard.

Alex had placed a cheeky bet on the NZers winning the tournament well before the tournament started so she was especially happy with the result with a very nice return on her investment.

Winners!

Family get together

July 19, 2019

Our train from Carlisle originated in Glasgow, apparently the toilets were not working on the train therefore the train was stopped for 20mins in Carlisle to let passengers disembark to have a rest break. That meant we would have just 3 minutes to then catch our connecting train in Manchester assuming that there would be no other delays.

Of course you know what happened don’t you? We arrived in Manchester a further minute late but at platform 13. We then had to get ourselves to platform 2 in 2 minutes battling with the Friday 5pm commuter traffic and as well having to exit through the ticket turnstile and then re enter further along at the correct platform. As a result we arrived at the barrier to see our train departing without us. Never mind, there’s another train in an hour and we can transfer straight over, or so we are told.

We duly arrived on Selby an hour later than planned and Pat was there waiting to take us to their house. The following morning we all headed off to Castleford and Glashoughton for a family reunion of descendants of my grandmother, ie my mothers mother. We attended the first of these reunions 9 years ago so I already knew a handful of people mainly cousins and second and third cousins as Mum was the 17th of 19th children born to my grandma and grandad. A lot has changed in the subsequent 9 years with all of the remaining children, including Mum, having since died. There were not only descendants from that particular line of the family but also other branches, all with a Womersley connection. Grandads brother had 15 children so the family tree for just a couple of generations before I appear is rather large, in fact cousins Jackie & Dawn had one together, running to in excess of 48 pages!!

Joan, Pauline & Brenda

Jackie & Hossein
Denis

Some of the group

Womsersley family circa 1936, with my Grandma front centre and my mum Hilda second right in the front.

It was a very successful get together, meeting new faces and seeing familiar ones as well.

Once we had finished reminiscing Pauline & Pat took us to see Bourne House where grandma and the family lived,

Bourne House

This is how Bourne House looks today. I didn’t realise that a number of family members had also lived there under Grandmas wing, including some of her adult children once they had married as well as grandchildren. Pauline (cousin) told me that she lived there with her parents and brother Peter when they were young for a few years, and then she also lived there when she was newly married before getting their own house.

I have an essay that my mum (Hilda) wrote of her recollections of her early life at Bourne House as a young girl, I am now endeavouring to get a few more of my cousins perspectives with their recollections which I will put together so these memories are available for future generations.

We returned to Selby with Pauline & Pat for the evening then returned to London on Sunday afternoon on the train whilst avidly trying to keep up to date with what was happening in the cricket. Alex picked us up from the train station to return to her place to watch the end of THAT riveting cricket match! Enough said on that matter.

This week will be a week of avid netball watching, GO Silver Ferns, you can do it!

Carlisle

July 17, 2019

We often make spur of the moment decisions aka we are not ones to plan too much or stick to a schedule so when we heard that my niece Fran, hubby Clive and their two girls Bea & Emily happened to be in the UK visiting Clive’s family, we thought it was too good an opportunity to not miss out on meeting up. With that in mind we booked our train tickets to Carlisle for a quick catch up to coincide with a planned visit to Yorkshire for a family gathering on my Mums side of the family ( more on that in another post).

Our travels over the next few days

Ian dropped us off at Abbey Wood train station where we caught the train into London Bridge, then transferring to the tube and the Central Line to Euston Station (yes Alex, we know we could have got the train most of the way and not got on the Tube but we don’t mind travelling on the Tube!!) where we then transferred over to the train for our trip up to Carlisle.

We took our seats on the train, at a table, with another couple already sitting in the other two seats. “Excuse me” says I, ” but you aren’t Kiwis by any chance are you?”…the Kathmandu backpacks as well as the accent gave them away. They were indeed from NZ, from New Plymouth. We then chatted throughout the rest of the trip, exchanging details at the conclusion of their journey. Like us, they too have a daughter living in the UK and come over whenever they can to see grandchildren. It’s a small world!

Clive, Fran and the girls were waiting at the station for us. We were all keen to watch the end of the England vs Australia cricket match so it was straight across the road to a pub where we could watch the game and have an early dinner.

My attempt at another selfie

Emily and Bea enjoying dessert

We were then dropped off at our hotel where we were warmly met by staff. We had an early night as the next morning New Zealand had the opening game of the netball World Cup, I had planned to have an early breakfast then return to our room to watch the match.

Sometime later I heard a commotion outside our room, drums banging and loud singing, what on earth was going on?

It was some kind of celebration, wedding perhaps as the women danced together and the men in another group danced separately from each other.

The women’s dresses were stunningly beautiful.

I did manage to chat with one of the older women as they left to continue their celebrations somewhere else, it was not a marriage but an engagement celebration. I did also get told that it was an arranged marriage and the potential couple has just met but this theory flies in the face of tradition, I guess it could be a combination of old and new ways?

Fran & Clive picked us up from the hotel late in the morning (after the conclusion of the netball) and we headed into town for a wander around.

Around the cathedral

Following these three

Streets of Carlisle

Info board on the Guildhall

After a bit of lunch and on our way back to the car, we had to pass Carlisle Cathedral, and with a bit of time to spare we decided to have a quick look inside.

Carlisle Cathedral

The cathedral was built in 1122 – I know, amazing isn’t it? One of only 4 Augustinian cathedrals in the UK, most other monastic cathedrals being Benedictine.

Heading off into Carlisle cathedral and inside

East window

Pieces of treasures in the cellar, and the amazing sky ceiling

another view of the ceiling

View from the 13th Century choir

At the conclusion of our visit we were asked to sign the visitors book. “oh look” said I, “someone from Rotorua was in here earlier today”. Looking over my shoulder Clive said, “that’s my Mum, she must have brought the girls in for a look”. Small world getting smaller!

Soon it was time for us to catch our train to Selby. See you back in NZ Fran, Clive and girls.

Wetting the baby’s head

July 10, 2019

There is a tradition apparently of when a baby is born that the father and close male family and friends go out to ‘wet the baby’s head’. But where did that term ‘wetting the baby’s head’ come from?

Traditionally taking its name from the Christian baptismal rite, during which the head of a baby would be wet with blessed water, the phrase now commonly relates to the consumption of large amounts of alcohol as a celebration of the new arrival.  The true tradition meant that the Dad went out with his friends the night after the baby was born, I guess it’s some sort of male bonding or show of virility or something along those lines but in this case the celebration was a few weeks after Callum’s arrival.

The upshot of all this was that Roy and Ian headed out on Friday night to the William Campden Pub to meet up with Ian’s Dad, brothers and mates.

The happy celebrations

Eagled eyed readers will note an interloper, Ian’s Mum just so happened to be going past and popped in to say hi. Meanwhile Alex and I were at home with Callum, so what did we get up to? After a very simple dinner, Callum went to sleep and Alex and I followed suit shortly thereafter!

Apparently the blokes imbibed in some suitable liquid refreshments and spent a jovial evening together. Callum has had his head appropriately dampened, next will be registering his birth so all appropriate documentation is done. Next it will be time to get his passport so he can visit all his NZ family.

Showing off Mums new passport, won’t be long before he has his own.