Saturday, August 1, 2009

Back home again

It's now over a week since I returned to Sydney so it is about time to complete this family reunion blog. I should have completed it before this, but somehow, ordinary life took over.

And you should see the weeds!

The house however was tidier and cleaner than when I left it. What does that say??

When I last wrote, I was spending my last evening in Totton near Southampton with Ange and Paul. The next day Ange was taking her mother Enid (my dad's 3rd cousin) out to lunch for her birthday, so all four of us went to a modern restaurant at Ocean Worlds, which is the port from which many ocean sailing events commence and had a very pleasant lunch. The bay reminded me of Darwin or Fremantle, except for the design of the buildings.

At 3pm, having said sad farewells, Ange delivered me to Southampton Central railway station, where I was able to catch a train directly to Horsham, with Linda and Peter meeting me at the station. It was a very pleasant journey through lovely green Hampshire, Surrey and Sussex countryside, and took about 90 minutes. Purchasing a rail ticket a day ahead for a particular journey is very cost effective, and even more so with a seniors railcard, which cost me 26 pounds. It is valid for a year, but not transferable. However, it was beneficial because I did so many train trips, but not enough to warrent purchasing a Britrail pass.

That evening, we walked around to Linda's son Dave's place, since young Ruby was turning three. She is the youngest of Dave's children. This was the second time I'd seen them on this trip, and she decided I was worth talking to! That's not always the case - note young Isabella in Panama City - so I was chaffed. After a big lunch, the chocolate birthday cake didn't agree with me, so I didn't eat any dinner that night.

On Wednesday, I basically had a lazy day with Linda and Peter, preparing for my flight, but we did go into Horsham for lunch at a very nice pub. The following day, it was an early start for Heathrow since Peter wanted to avoid the worst of the M25 traffic. It was very sad saying goodbye, but they are planning to come out to Australia for a four week visit, all being well. Next year? or 2011.

Just before I checked in my luggage, for a flight which I knew was heavily booked, I was offered - by Qantas - 516 pounds if I would take the 10 pm flight instead of the midday flight! I refused because my mind was set on seeing John at that stage, and I really am too old to sit around an airport for 12 hours prior to a 22 hour flight. But of course, John said I should have accepted - he could have bought the camera he wanted for that!

The flight was 50 minutes late leaving Heathrow since the airbridge wasn't functioning, and after failing to fix it, we had to walk over the tarmac and up the stairs to the plane. Nevertheless, we arrived in Sydney 10 minutes early, so we made up some time in Singapore and on the Sydney leg.

If I ever take another flight from Heathrow direct to Sydney (not really recommended!), I'll time it the same, because I didn't really suffer jet lag on the return leg. Probably because the Singapore to Sydney leg was in daylight, and we arrived in early evening. I slept very well that night.

John reckons I haven't stopped talking since I got home. I had so much to tell him and show him, despite being able to communicate by email and/or Skype most days. I'm sure he's still confused about who's who in Florida with so many cousins! He loved the video Margaret meets Shirley, as did everyone I've shown it to in England. He reckons it's right up there in erms of interest compared to those we've seen on TV.

I was able to bring home a considerable amount of information about my new "grandfather", the Oxford professor, which also generated a lot of interest. I may have mentioned that Olivia gave me one of his childhood books (probably from about 1891) inscribed with his name in his own handwriting, so that will become part of my treasured memorabilia. A highlight was the trip to the former family "ancestral" house in Kent, arranged by Olivia. Purchased by our stockbroker gg grandfather for his son in about 1881, it has been out of family hands since World War II.

I met an elderly 5th cousin - so really does that count? - in Chippenham in Wiltshire, and she invited me back for lunch. We met through GenesReunited, so it was good to put a face to a name. Jean's family has remained in Wiltshire - our common Tucker ancestor was born in 1788.

And it was so good meeting up again with Ray and Trish in Banbury, Ange and Paul in Southampton, Dot Gurd (family researcher extraordinaire) in Salisbury and Linda and Peter in Horsham. Surprisingly I achieved most of what I set out to do, but missed out on Weymouth (yet again) and couldn't face going to London because there were increasing number of tourists by the end of July and I was getting rather tired.

It was an absolutely fabulous trip - quite different from last year with John - and there was many a time that I wished he were there to share it with me, but at least I could talk to him via Skype and email. This time I was able to stay with my various cousins, including Olivia and they were all exceedingly generous with their time, their hospitality and with taking me out various places.

None of it would have happened if Ray (my second cousin in Banbury) hadn't shown me the photo of Shirley as a young child in 1935, and I hadn't been curious as to where she was! Thank you Ray! And thank you JoAnn, Cheryl and Elizabeth for making my trip to Florida possible.

And to John, who said "Go for it! And why don't you detour via Heathrow on the way back to Sydney?" YES indeed.

Thank you to the many friends and colleagues who cared enough to read this blog. Some of you commented on the blog, seven of you became "followers", but I'm aware of many more, particularly members of Parramatta Computer Pals for Seniors and ASCCA who followed my journey and the links to my various Web Albums.

And thus ends this story of cousins lost and found, furtive fathers "found out" 100 years after the dastardly deed was done, and family friendships cemented across the world...


  1. Well done Margaret! love it all, a good precis! when does the book come out??
    Love Olivia

  2. Well, yes Olivia - it's one thing doing the research, but now I have to write a few family stories for private consumption. You can be sure that there will be one about Nevill. I'm not sure Felicity would have approved though!