England - Autumn 2013

Note: I have included links to external sources, as well imbedding some of my Youtube videos. Enjoy!

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London

I started off, as usual with my trips to England it seems, staying with Janet in London, near Hammersmith. We were able to see a few people in those first jet-lagged days, including Judy and Dottie who bravely came into the City for a day to have lunch with Janet and me (separately unfortunately, but manoeuvring four of us around in that crowded city would have been a challenge!)

On Saturday I went with Iain, Janet's partner, to the Kew Bridge Steam Museum, where we lucky to see, feel and hear several wonderful stationary engines in full steam. They were all in great condition. There are also some gas engines and other noisy contraptions, but the soothing sound of the well-maintained steam engines made up for that! The museum is currently being refurbished and will reopen fully next year when I am sure it will be worth another visit. Might even get Janet to go next time!

Janet and I had lunch on Sunday near Kew Gardens with Mike and Kathy. The pub was full downstairs, but we were almost alone in a wonderful upstairs dining room, and were closely attended by the welcoming staff… after about 3 or 4 hours we felt it was time to take a stroll by the Thames, but we were not under any pressure… this pub is highly recommended: The Greyhound!).

Managed to spend an evening with Kathryn and Matt in their house near Hackney. We were joined by Brian and Heather who were up in town to baby sit as Kathryn is working on a contract, and by Bruce and Jane, who were also in town briefly. (I commented that I hadn’t seen Bruce and Jane for almost 2 decades. Bruce reminded me that it was only 17 years!!) Since it was Tilly's birthday we had a party - we almost had to have two parties and cakes; Cleo felt left out, although her birthday was a few days after Tilly's.

York

I set off for Cumbria by train on the Tuesday, via York where I wanted to visit the National Railway Museum. I had a rail pass that meant I could go anywhere I wanted on any of 8 days during my stay in England. Thus I could easily see the museum and then go on via Newcastle and Carlisle to Whitehaven in time for dinner! Meals were included on some trains, so I was able to sample a cooked breakfast and a late lunch on this journey.

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Cumbria

My stay in Cleator Moor was NOISY as you expect if you know that branch of the family… I was pleased to meet everyone, and go on a few short outings. No babies were born while I was there fortunately, (though they all said they wanted me to be around when at least one of them arrive!) Both the future mums, Jemma (grand niece) and Nicola (niece), looked very well, (and very ready to give birth!).

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Aimee, Rio and Alex.

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Just one of a number of pretty snails
we found near the Solway Firth.

Nicola's youngsters were well behaved, and although it took time for them to get used to my presence I was eventually able to at least get some cuddles from Alex. The older boy, Rio, seemed too fond of his (or was it grandma's) tablet computer. And both helped tidy up the living room floor when it was time to leave.

Lancashire

On Monday, it was time to leave and I took the slow train, via Barrow to Lancaster to spend a few days with friends Colin and Margaret. I was able to visit the Carnforth station where the film Brief Encounter, was made (or at least some of the 'atmosphere' shots taken).

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Colin and I posing under the famous clock.

Morecambe and Heysham were wet, but I got some interesting photographs.

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Heysham

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Morecambe sculptures

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Art Deco stairwell inside the Morecambe Midland hotel

Margaret kindly drove us all to Preston (or nearby) to visit some of Chris's relatives, Pat and Bert Roberts, whom I had contacted earlier. It was nice to meet them and exchange family history and anecdotes.

West Sussex

All too soon, I was off on the train again to see Wendy, Roland and family in Sussex. They moved to Storrington a couple of years ago, so I had not seen their house. It is in a picturesque village, and not far from Alison and Guppy in Hove.

I was pleased to visit the Amberley Museum & Heritage Centre near Arundel where they had one of the products I had helped design in British Telecom on display. Roland took this photo, and one of the volunteers commented that I seemed to know about the exhibit, and half an hour later, after we had swapped war-stories about working for the Post Office/BT we continued on our merry way. It was one of those museums where a lot of the exhibits were items common in our homes of the 40s, 50s and even 60s! An enjoyable day out.

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We had one of these shortly after
arriving in England in 1953.

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BT Monarch PBX and one of the inventors!

We went on a day trip to Chichester cathedral and Bishop's garden - got quite emotional there since Chris really enjoyed such places - and nearby historic Bosham (where we were NOT caught by the tide on the road outside the pub: it floods every high tide!) I found out later that Alan Turing used to go sailing in that harbour whenever he could get a chance. (I read his biography over the course of my visit to England).

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Bosham - tide's in!

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Bosham - tide's out!

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The Bishop's Garden,

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Cathedral interior.

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We drove over to in Hove a couple of times to see Guppy, Alison, Coco and Clementine. Alison was another pregnant lady I came across, and I had to adjust my visit to avoid being in town too close to the birth, though in the end baby was born in November. On Sunday, we had lunch in a pub in Hove and I was delighted when David drove down from London with little Roland to join us (and see me). He is presently working in Paris and comes over to see his son most weekends I believe.

Roland (the big one!) and I went into Brighton for lunch another day, and also toured the Royal Pavilion - another interesting museum. Also spotted some wonderful murals.

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Brighton

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Royal Pavilion

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Suffolk

It was nice to see bits of England I had not visited before, but it was time to move on: this time to sleepy Suffolk where I was to stay with Jenny and Graham. They hosted a dinner where several of my friends could get together and we duly met and had a good time catching up and reminiscing. Malcolm and Jane have a few acres which they have turned into a small woodland paradise. They are particularly interested in attracting birds and have created a mixture of habitats. Much of the land is managed, but in a caring and protective way. They are very proud of what they have achieved in a few short years, and they should be…

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The woodland today.

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A nearby field: What it looked like before!

I had never visited Sutton Hoo where a Viking burial ship had been found many years ago. The site itself is a little disappointing, but the museum fascinating. Worth a trip if you are around that way.

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Sutton Hoo

I revisited the Woodbridge Tide Mill with Graham, but was unable to persuade them to turn on the tap, so we never saw it running.

Bristol

And so off to Bristol for a week with Brian and Heather. I was delighted to meet up for lunch with my friend Viva who lives in the next village and we were able to chat about Chris and catch up on families.

We decided to drive down to Cornwall to see the Eden Project. It was a long but enjoyable day (if you discount the episode where the SatNav (GPS) took us round a circuit twice as we tried to leave and Brian objected to driving down a farm track when told to… Heather noticed first and told us to ignore the device and follow the road signs: good idea!)

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On a cool wet day Brian and I visited the SS Great Britain, which Chris and I had seen very soon after its arrival in Bristol in the 70s. They have done a remarkable job in making the ship accessible and have rebuilt some parts to resemble its appearance when it really was a steam/sail passenger ship…

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Guildford

Again, time caught up and off I had to go, this time to Guildford where Ian and Gill reside. We met up with some other friends, retired physios Bill and Vicky, who live nearby. Another day we took a trip to revisit another old ship, the Mary Rose in Portsmouth - this was vastly different from the last time Chris and I were there. They have opened a museum housing many of the artefacts recovered from the ship. This reveals a lot about life on board the vessel… fascinating.

London again

Almost done…My last stop was back in London near Epping Forest, with Julia and Adam and their really cute daughter Anna. She had such a ready smile, and accepted my presence, a stranger, very quickly. We had a good time.

I managed to get to the Science Museum where there was an exhibition about Alan Turing… coincidence. I wish I had had time to go up to Bletchley to see the museum there, but that will have to wait for another visit.

Although tiring, the overall trip was a lot of fun. Bittersweet moments when I was with Chris's particular friends (mainly physios) or in places we had been in the past, but lots of new experiences. I shall have to go back to see the bits I missed…

Got home and collapsed for a week.