Friday, July 17, 2009

Plymouth, Southampton, Bath and Chippenham

Summer seems to have disappeared - maybe it was just last week - and we have had nothing except grey skies and rain!

On Tuesday, I caught the bus from Tavistock to Plymouth - about 50 minutes through beautiful rolling countryside - but Plymouth was a real disappointment. It was probably nicer down near the Hoe, but the city itself is quite dismal. Very 60s, with unimaginative town planning. I was glad to get back to Tavistock, which I really like.

On Wednesday I said farewell to Tavistock, and Brown's Hotel which I really enjoyed, although it was 69 pounds per night, and headed for Southampton. Now you'd think that would be easy by train, but in fact it was three trains from Plymouth - changing at Exeter, Westbury (in Wiltshire) - three hours altogether. In Southampton I am staying with Ange and Paul. Ange is my 4th cousin - we have a common ancestor William Moody born 1784. We met them for the first time last year and clicked straight away. We were able to have a four way chat with John yesterday morning.

On Thursday morning Ange drove me up to Salisbury to meet a most remarkable family history researcher, Dot Gurd, who is extremely helpful to anyone who asks on the Moonrakers List (for people who have ancestors in Wiltshire). She also manages a one-name society for the Gurds.

On the way, we stopped at Bramshaw in the New Forest, because I discovered since we were last in England that that is where my Tucker ancestors lived in the early 1700s before they migrated to Downton a little further north in Wiltshire. We poked around an ancient graveyard and Ange found one Tucker grave for me.

John and I had met Dot Gurd last year, and she insisted on buying us lunch so this year it was my turn. We had a great chat and took a walk around the outside of the cathedral which I will never get sick of looking at. It's as awe-inspiring as Uluru!

Mid afternoon, I took my leave of Dot and Ange who dropped me at Salisbury Station because I'd booked two nights at the Bath YMCA, so that I could have another look at Bath (I loved it last year, and didn't see enough) and spend today at the Wiltshire History Centre at Chippenham.

The YMCA accepts women (of all ages) these days, and is much the same as a Youth Hostel. I have a single room for two nights @ 27 pounds per night. Much cheaper than Browns in Tavistock, but VERY basic. One pillow, not a power point in sight, no pictures on the walls, and a shared toilet block down the hall. But fine for two nights. I am currently using wi-fi in the common area, surrounded until 30 minutes ago by about 50 young people from Spain. It doesn't worry me at all, but I'd hate to live like this for a month! I've certainly had extremes - the Hilton in Panama City for a week; comfortable rooms with various cousins in Horsham, Shere, Banbury and Southampton.

Today was a VERY wet day, but with an umbrella I managed to get to Chippenham by train without too much damage - just needed to change shoes and socks when I got back. Chippenham is the home of the Wiltshire History Centre (county archives) and I was looking for some Tucker wills to assist in filling in the missing links for my Tucker ancestry. And I was successful. I found a baptism certificate for my William Tucker (c 1728) who married in 1761, and also a couple of Tucker wills which confirmed relationships. so I can now go back to a William Tucker of Bramshaw who died in 1710 and his widow Mary who died in 1725. So they must have been born in the second half of the 1600s.

I'd arranged to meet up with a 5th cousin (sounds ridiculous doesn't it) who lives at Chippenham, and so Jean met me at the History Centre and we cabbed it back to her place for lunch, which was very nice of her. She is a former school teacher who I met through Genes Reunited (computer site) and she is an active member of the Wiltshire U3A. We have a common ancestor William Tucker born in 1764.

After lunch she called me a cab to go back to the History Centre. Did you know that in the UK, taxi drivers actually knock on the door?? Instead of blasting the horn in the street as they do in Winston Hills!!!

Tomorrow, after exploring Bath some more (I'm particularly interested in exploring Jane Austen's Bath) I catch the train back to Southampton where Ange will once more pick me up, for three more nights at her place.

This time next week I shall be back home. The time has gone fast, but I'm getting homesick. I've been able to talk to John via Skype about four times per week and we email each day, but we are really missing each other. It will be good to see my dad as well. John has been visiting him, so he's also following my trip via large print copies of the blog and some photos.

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