Friday, 19 September 2014

Suffolk scenes and an Abbey

We went to Anglesey Abbey on Sunday for a wander through the house and gardens. The highlight apparently was the dahlia display. I didnt think it was as good as some we have seen though.

We came home with bags full of conkers to see if they really do kill spiders...not so far we have seen and dealt with two brazen ones who were not affected by the power of the conker at all.

We did spot this cute wee kitten in the secret garden though, no sign of his mother or any siblings though.

We didnt go and explore the mill at the other end of the water.

One day we went for a drive to get some photos of Suffolk. We really like it here, but I'm not sure it is going to work out.

Autumn is coming....

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Julius, Julius, wherefore art thou Julius ?

Last Monday I took a trip to Essex. Mostly I was going so that I could meet Lauren off the train on her way back from Belgium. But also because I thought it was an opportunity to do some family tree research without having a reluctant companion.

So off I went in search of the elusive great great grandfather who hasn’t left much of a paper trail for us at all. I drove around in circles a little in the area I “think” he was from, and spent some time at the Essex Record Office reading parish records. Very helpful people there, with all sorts of advice. But still, he is hiding. Grrr. 

Nana always said that "in England Timms' were ten a penny, but you never heard of much of Fuller's, although in New Zealand it was the other way around". She was right again I think.

So anyway, these are my photos from my day in “Julius country” 

they have these here too it seems...

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Flowers are everywhere

One thing we have noticed is the pride each hamlet, village, town and city takes in it's appearance. There have been beautiful flower baskets and tubs adorning buildings and lining streets everywhere we have been.

The other thing we've noticed is the community and life even in the smallest village. They mostly all have a pub and a church. Some have a Post Office and a Store, others only one or the other. There are other services too, doctors, small hospitals, banks. And everywhere village war memorials, cleaned and adorned with poppy wreaths. There are a few lessons here for NZ I think. 

Don't suck the life out of small towns, if you maintain services people will stay, housing will be affordable and with better commuter links unemployment wont be such an issue. Also, villages, towns etc here have to provide for social housing too - so they aren't elitist and all from one socio-economic band. Then you don't have deadbeat soul-less little towns with no employment, services or future for the inhabitants, and they wont be condemned to live on benefits with no hope.

Anyway that's my idea - feel free to pass it on to someone in politics with the sense to see the benefits.

Some of these are from streets and villages, others from parks and gardens we've visited, or just the roadside.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

The Sunrise Coast - the Gisborne of England

We’re in that bit of England that sticks out on the east like a rounded ball shape. It is pretty flat, and sparsely populated. There are a few notable cities; Norwich, Ipswich, Bury St Edmonds and a greater number of holiday resort towns.

We’re staying in one such place. The beach where we are is more like a cliff, but there are actual beaches close by. The area is great for bird watching, although I think bird watchers are immensely more patient than we are. Plus, they know what they are looking for, and we haven’t a clue really.

We went to Minsmere near Dunwich Heath and although we walked about 4kms around various trails we didn’t actually spot anything remarkable. The list from the visitor centre said we might see woodpeckers, avocet, sandpipers, otter, deer, godwits, herons, geese, harriers, warblers, coots, tits, swans, ducks, wagtails, squirrels, foxes to name a few. We will need to study our photos to determine what we actually did see later.

We did see a fox as we drove in, but weren’t quick enough to be able to get a photo of it before it disappeared into the undergrowth off the road. On the way back to the car we saw a squirrel, but it was camera shy too. Apart from them, we mostly saw swans, a heron, some wading birds – possibly little ringed plovers, geese, moor hens, a marsh harrier, ducks, and an abundance of dragonflies and damselflies (very tricky to photograph).

They were all a wee bit further away than we expected

It was a nice afternoon out, the only thing missing was food for us - again. Then to top off the day our planned excursion to the supermarket to stock up on ingredients for our stay was foiled. The giant signs reading “24 hours” at both Tesco and ASDA lie. When you get close the small print actually says they close at 4pm on Sundays. What’s with that ? We get caught every time, you’d think we would remember by now. We did find an alternative which was open, but no salads, no meat free options, and not much else either. So, another night of poor takeaways.

Just as an aside, I can’t understand why there is apparently an obesity problem here. I wouldn’t choose to have takeaways ever, if I could avoid it. The only ones we have tried and been impressed with are Domino’s – much better than at home, and the Chinese at Shipston-on-Stour. Even McDonalds, that great US Embassy found all over the world has been a disappointment. Vegetarian options all have quorn patties, getting a plain salad burger isn’t possible, and some stores don’t even sell vegetarian “sandwiches” or wraps. Breakfast was also not what we expected either. No BLT bagel, and hotcakes are pancakes with golden syrup and no butter. Blerk.

Anyway, enough of the moaning. 

Suffolk on the whole seems quite nice, we took a trip to Ipswich yesterday just to see. Lowestoft near we are staying is the most easterly point in England. Just like Gisborne at home, the sun's rays reach here first every morning. Maybe, hopefully we might have found where we want to stop for a bit. The job hunt is about to go into overdrive.

Wolverhampton – don’t go there if you can avoid it

Well, I thought since we had a couple of days to kill, that some family research in the Wolverhampton area might be an option. The hotel I found was in the same area as where my forebears had lived so seemed like a good option.

On arriving there though, it was actually AT the racecourse and there was a twilight meeting scheduled for Friday with an after race concert by UB40. Yes they are still alive and well. We thought we could cope with that, but as Holiday Inns go (and we’ve stayed in a few) this one was definitely not one of their best. Our room was changed twice before we even got any luggage out of the car, and then the wifi was pitiful. So pitiful that only one laptop would work and the other couldn’t even connect to their network. Don’t even ask about the 30 minutes of my life I’ll never get back, which I spent  “talking” to their helpdesk guy…who was looking up his answers and the process from a cue sheet or google while he “helped”.

We had a drive into the town centre, which was short-lived and very depressing. Didn’t even find the information centre or the archives. Never mind. The next day we went to Dudley. I promised to spend only 1 hour max at their archive centre, which is brand new and right next door to the Black Country Living Museum. Perfect.

I found the burial record for my 4xgreat grandfather – to confirm our hypothesis that he was buried at St John’s Church, Kate’s Hill in Dudley. Yay. So we walked around the 26 acres of museum looking at life how it used to be and chatting with some of the “residents”. It’s well worth a look if you are able to get there. Then before heading back to the hotel (hopefully ahead of the race crowd) we went to find St John’s and have a wander around the church yard. It doesn’t appear that there is a headstone for great-great-great-greatgranddad, so no luck confirming the death date for his wife with whom he was apparently buried. I might have to go back and read more burial records sometime I think.

Back at the hotel we had a great view of the parade circle from our room to check out the horses, and also the big screen to watch the races if we wanted. Bonus was – we got to see the UB40 concert as well. (was that really a bonus ?)

Up and away early the next morning, to take some photos of the streets our folk had lived in, and then off to the seaside we went – for our next journey of exploration.

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Cotswolds, Gardens, Houses and a bit of detective work

After our whirlwind trip to London, we have been spending a quiet few days in Shipston-on-Stour getting to know 2nd and 3rd cousins better.

I had been waiting to hear about a job I had applied for…but as yet, nada. Very frustrating. However, life goes on and so did our week. We didn’t actually do very much at all which was a welcome change. As the Bank Holiday long weekend approached though there were a few trips.

We had a lovely stroll around the gardens at Hidcote and then up to the top of Dover’s Hill to admire the view one afternoon.

On the Sunday of the long weekend we all piled in the car and went off to Blenheim Palace and spent the day with more 2nd and 3rd cousins. There is a lot to see there, inside and outside to fill the day. There was also a Classic Car show on in the grounds which was like a magnet for small boys…and not so small boys.

We picnicked on the lawn where generations of the Duke of Marlborough’s family will have wandered, and where Winston Churchill may have played with his brother as a child.

Afterward we headed to Woodstock the small town next to the palace in search of somewhere for dinner. There was a music festival on, so many eateries were not serving food, since so much was on offer in the Square. But we found a charming Italian restaurant which could accommodate all nine of us and had menu options for children and vegetarians too.

Back in the 19th century there was a workhouse in the Woodstock area which may be the one where some of our family lived after the death of their husband & father in the 1840’s. But that story, is for another day.

Some family tree-ing has been done through the week, too much for some people though. It has to be said that some of us are detectives, and others are sponges who soak up all the information that has been found.

We’re off on another journey now. Two nights in Wolverhampton first (not sure why, I was going to do some researching but it doesn’t seem conducive to that on first impressions) and then off to Suffolk for a couple of weeks – hopefully to hunt down some jobs.

Before we left tho, we went and took photos of the house on the property where Nana was born. We had always assumed it was nearer the church at Old Milverton. But some of the detective work this week proved that theory wrong. It was actually at Blackdown. The coachman’s cottage where they lived (because great granddad was the coachman) doesn’t seem to be there now, but the house is pretty impressive.

 I just need to track down which house, in the same road, was the one where great grandma was in service before her marriage. I think it could have been very close by.