Archive for July, 2019

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.

Food at the V&A

July 8, 2019

There is always something new to see at the Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A) and we had heard of a new exhibit entitled Food: Bigger than the Plate. We weren’t entirely sure what to expect but at the end of our visit we were both impressed and enlightened to what we had seen.

The trip in on the train was its usual relaxing way of moving across the city,

Tower Bridge, always a lovely sight from the train

then it was a couple of tube trips, first the Northern Line then the District Line to get to our destination.

Information boards on the wall of the tunnel to the museum

The museum itself is always very busy, there seemed to be a number of school groups in attendance, local schools as well as numerous school groups from Italy, France, Japan and China just some of the nationalities we encountered.

The courtyard

John Madjeski pond and gardens

Adults sat around the edge of the pond cooling off their feet in the water whilst young ones stripped off and played in the shallow pool. I’m sure that this will be Callum next year.

After a bit of lunch we went into the exhibition rooms. A bit of an overview of the exhibition can be seen in this Link

The exhibition covered every aspect of food; human waste and what we do with it, animal waste products, to where and how we get our meat, fruit and vegetables and the impact this has on the environment, alternative packaging, advertising, protest posters, communities working together with foraged and allotment gardens, art, development of food, recipes and how they are handed on, technology, and everything else in between.

The following is a selection of photos from the exhibition.

Entrance signage

New type of loo, explanation.

Examples of sustainable material uses

Compost containers made from terracotta pottery, used in India providing continued employment making the traditional pots, reducing waste, compost for gardens.

Example of sustainable production of traditional food and traditional values

Hmm, what makes the bones of factory produced chickens so different!?

Talking to plants

How far has your banana travelled?

Biscuit tins

Orange wrappers

Oranges

Protest poster

At the end of the exhibits we could have a taste of snacks prepared by chefs according to what you value as important for a food system. The following is one example of choices we made, and yes they were delicious and very different.

Which three would you choose?

The above is just a small selection of some of the displays on view, I didn’t include a lot of them so as not to bore you but things like tableware made from recycled toilet paper or things made from blood products or the art works by innovative chefs such as Ferran Adrià from El Bulli and Heston Blumenthal were just some of the other displays.

We spent a good few hours wandering through the exhibition before it was time to head home where this little fellow was waiting for us.

You didn’t think I could do a blog entry without a picture of Callum did you?

A bit of glass at the entrance, just for you Stuart!

A week of firsts

July 4, 2019

It’s been a week of firsts for Callum this past week, already we are seeing him change and grow and I’m sure he is already smiling and trying to talk…..but I am an unbiased grandma 😉. He was three weeks old yesterday and starting to be a bit of a character. He was well past his birth weight after the first week, he is a very long limbed young man which he obviously does not get from his grandma!

Summer has finally arrived so we set up the gazebo over the outdoor table on the lawn for some welcome shade from the English sun. Callum came out and just lay about on the table, happily sleeping most of the day away. I must add that it got up to 34C that afternoon so outside in the shade with a gentle breeze was the way to stay cool for all of us.

Just chillin’ laying about on the table in the garden

Sunday was family day out so we all walked down to the train station and caught the train into Greenwich.

First ride on a train

We were heading to Greenwich market, we’ve been here many times before but there is always something new to see, and taste, we were kept busy looking at all the various stalls, especially the food stalls outside.

Crowds at the market

After wandering around for some time we had a bite to eat, a pulled pork bun for me, traditional fish & chips for Alex & Ian, and Roy had to try a few raw oysters.

I do admit to buying a new scarf (after losing one on recent travels) and I may have bought some Pontefract Cakes (I was born in Pontefract, read about the cakes here) and a selection of lovely bone handled knives which we use as butter knives and pâté knives. I know, some of us have strange likes and our return luggage is going to be a very interesting and eclectic mix as I have purchased 6 toasters as well. These toasters are ones that go on the gas hob and I’ve been using since we found one in France in 2010. They do need replacing every few years but they are not expensive and work better than any of the other myriad of toasters on the market, and believe me when I say I’ve tried them all.

But back to the market adventure. We had all split up to go and look at different things. Later we all met up at the pub in the market for a well deserved drink. Another first, Callum’s first outing to a pub!

At the pub

Of course it was a no alcohol beer for mum whilst Callum slept through the whole outing before it was time to return home. The return journey on the train was uneventful but we were all felling pretty exhausted after our big day out.

The next day Alex tried out Callum in the sling, Ok, we admit it, we did YouTube it to get the instructions on how to tie it, although I must add that we went searching for a clip that included the use of a real baby rather than a doll!! Real babies wriggle and squirm so it was good to see it in real terms.

Doing the origami with the sling

and it worked surprisingly well, and very simple once you mastered the technique. Now why weren’t these around a few years ago when I needed one rather than trying to wrestle with a frontpack with buckles and clips. Yes, I know slings have been used extensively in some parts of the world for centuries, just not in my world.

Look Mum, no hands!

The sling has been tried and tested with a trip to the supermarket which proved very successful as Callum slept though the whole shopping experience.

He’s watched football and cricket and according to Ian he has to cheer for England in football/soccer but he’s allowed to cheer for the All Blacks in rugby. But of course he will definitely be a Silver Fern fan in netball!

Return to Erith

July 1, 2019

We returned the rental car in Selby, Yorkshire, where we stayed with Pauline & Pat again before catching the train back to London. however, once we got to the station we discovered that our train was cancelled but alternate arrangements were made I.e. another train to Leeds then another train from Leeds to Kings Cross. But why oh why is is always that you arrive on Platform 1 but your next train departs from platform 18 and you have 5 minutes to get there, oh and of course there are a zillion steps to go up and then down again. We made it though, just in time to settle into our seats and watch the countryside whizz past.

Leaving Leeds

Some famous stadium of some kind, Leeds!

Once on the train from Leeds we travelled though some familiar towns,including Doncaster and Wakefield, towns with strong family connections.

Wakefield, where two of my siblings were born

The weather was rubbish though.

English summer weather

Countryside and the weather improved

However, the weather did improve the further south we ventured. Once we arrived into Kings Cross it was a walk across the road to St Pancras to catch the next train to Abbey Wood station where Ian was waiting to pick us up.

It as lovely to be back again, and of course see Callum and get in some cuddles.

Although the following afternoon proved to be a bit much for Roy, Alex and Callum, where they were all caught napping!!

It’s all a bit much for these three