Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The people who MADE my holiday

Margaret alone in London on the EYE.
Travelling alone can be really lonely.  I remember this well from 1974 when I planned a two week return trip to Norway, a country that made a great impression on me whilst on a three week Protea camping trip for under 35s.  I booked my transport and accommodation prior to leaving London and so much wish I hadn't, since I met other young people looking for travelling partners and couldn't change my plans.

I've learned from that, so apart from key cities like London -  where I know I can cancel a booking with 24 hours notice - I've left my travels fairly flexible.  This meant I was able to stay with Alex and Viv - who I hardly knew - when they invited me to Kent, halfway through my stay.

And I'm so pleased I did.

I already knew most of the cousins and friends I stayed with this time, having met my young American cousins three years ago in Panama City, and I'd met most of my English cousins - Ray, Linda and Ange whilst on our motor home holiday in 2008, and stayed with them the following year.  I'd also introduced Carole to John in 2008, after having not seen her since the 70s. This time I was also able to meet other distant cousins - Sarah (nee Tucker), Hannah and her parents (Rose cousins), Moira (also a Rose cousin), and Claire, who is no relation at all, but we share cousins.

Some of these new cousins and I have been communicating on Facebook for what seems like years now, so meeting them was just like continuing a conversation!

Elizabeth with Isabella and Carolina in Irvine, Orange County
Caroline in San Francisco

In California, I caught up with two of my second cousin Shirley's grand-daughters, Elizabeth and Caroline.  Elizabeth advised me on accommodation, took me to Hollywood and to the Ellen Degeneres show at Warner Bros, then invited me down to Orange County to spend a day with the family.

I stayed four nights with Caroline and Kent in Menlo Park, and Caroline took me sightseeing in San Francisco and down the coast to Monterey, Salinas and to see the coast.

I love both these girls dearly.  They both lead such interesting lives, so committed to family life and their own career goals. Caroline is supporting her husband as he studies for a new career whilst totally involved in her own, and Elizabeth putting her career goals on hold whilst she commits herself to her young family.

Shirley - matriarch of my American cousins
In London, I was thrilled to be able to catch up with their grandmother Shirley, her three daughters Donna, Cheryl and Kathryn, and her sister-in-law Johnnie who had flown over from Florida and Tennessee for a 10 day holiday.  Shirley was born in London but left England to marry Nolan Ball, an American serviceman in 1951. At Cheryl's invitation, I had met the whole family in Florida in 2009 after "discovering" Shirley just a few months earlier.

Tracey, Donna, Cheryl and Trish at back, Johnnie, Shirley, Ray,
Margaret and Kathryn at front - in Banbury

We were able to travel together by rail to Banbury in Oxfordshire to meet our mutual second cousin Ray and his family.  It was so good to unite after nearly 70 years of Shirley being "lost" to the family through her mother's early passing in 1942.

Shirley, Ray and I are descended from three Reed sisters born in Southampton between 1881 and 1884.

Linda and Peter on our day trip to Chichester

After London, I travelled to Angmering in Sussex, to stay with Linda and Peter.  Linda was a Tucker, my second cousin on my dad's side.  We've become more like sisters than distant cousins since I first discovered her in 2006.  I stayed with them at the beginning and towards the end of my holiday.  They spoiled me rotten. Both times.

Linda meets Ange for the first time.

They also insisted on driving me down to Southampton - twice.  I think they just wanted to meet Ange and Paul, who they'd been hearing about for four years.

Ange and I met about five years ago through Genes Reunited (a family history site) when we discovered that we shared great great great grandparents, making us 4th cousins.

Enid, Margaret, Bette, Angela, Robert and Paul

Ange has become a dear friend, and we have plenty in common.  She encouraged me to make Southampton my base, which I gladly accepted, it was a real home away from home.  I wanted to really get to know Southampton on this trip anyway - there is so much to see relating to my family history research in the old town and in the New Forest where my Tuckers lived for at least two centuries.

John and Sue

From Southampton, I took an overnight trip to the Isle of Wight, where I met Sue and John Moxon, active members of the Moxon Society.

Back in Southampton, Ange and Paul drove me down to Branksome near Poole, where I met a Facebook friend and fourth cousin Hannah and her parents.  I don't have any photos of them unfortunately.

Sharn, April, CarolAnn, Eve and Carole

I left Ange on Wednesday 6th June, to travel to Coventry to reunite with my friend Carole who I first met in Sydney in 1972.  She was spending two years in Australia doing what I did not long after in 1973-75.  We shared a room in Strathfield for a few months.  She is now a grandmother to Eve, who is a very friendly 10 year old.  I also met Carole's three daughters, Sharn, CarolAnn and April.  Aren't they a photogenic family?

Margaret and Claire

From Coventry I caught four trains to Barnsley in Yorkshire.  This was a long way north, but I'd promised John to check out the villages and streets where his great great grandparents lived.  My Facebook friend Claire, who also lives in Yorkshire offered to drive me around.  I'd never met Claire, who I'd discovered on Genes Reunited when we were researching a test cricketer who was related to both our families.  We had a great day together.

From Barnsley it was back to Banbury where I stayed overnight with Ray and Trish.  Ray was still recovering from his big heart operation.  The next morning, our mutual cousin Alex arrived from Kent.  We'd never met Alex, and he was keen to find out about his newly discovered family.

Alex and Viv
Alex and his wife Viv drove me back to their place in a small village in Kent, and I had a lovely time getting to know them and going through his family photos.

Strangely, their surname is the same as my mother's mother's family who came from a neighbouring village - Ightham, but the families are not related.  But because of my interest in Ightham, Alex and Viv spent a great deal of time showing me places of interest to me in the village.

I also met their son and daughter and their two grandsons, at a pleasant night out at the St Julian's club at Seven Oaks.

Margaret, Sarah and Linda - all with maiden names Tucker
Alex and Viv drove me down to Sussex, where once again I'd arranged to stay with Linda and Peter.  We'd arranged to meet another Tucker cousin - this time it was Sarah in Surrey.  Linda and I had phoned her and been in touch by email and Facebook since about 2008, but this was the first time we'd managed to arrange a "date".  And what a fun night we had.

From there I returned to Southampton, once again being driven down by Linda and Peter.  I stayed a further five days with Ange and Paul, and we continued to explore Southampton, Winchester and the New Forest.

John and Moira

Ray reading the John Rose story
I also took the opportunity to meet another fourth cousin, Moira and her husband John who live near Bude in Cornwall.  Moira is also a descendant of John Rose, the subject of the book I distributed to cousins on that side of the family wherever I travelled.  (I had taken 13 copies with me).

So you can see why I enjoyed my trip - wonderful times with some great cousins and friends.

Still it was lovely to come home after more than five weeks away.  It was good to be able to talk to John almost every day via Skype, but nothing like the real thing!

Thank you dear friends on four continents who followed my blog - my brother Jim was touring Thailand at the time.  I think the French views were from our friends Stewart and Lesley who are touring the canals of Europe in their wheelchair accessible narrow-boat.

Here are the statistics, which include multiple dip-ins, apart from your author.

United Kingdom
United States
New Zealand

Goodbye for now. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, hosts and blog followers.  Happy travels, all of you, and may we meet again!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Just where did that five and a half weeks go?

Enjoying a coffee with John and friends near the Parramatta River
I've actually been home three weeks now, and am just about back to the grindstone called "retirement". Not back to computer training yet, but committee work yes, website and newsletter editing yes.  Also I am three weeks into a four week online training course called Your Military Ancestors , so that's keeping me busy.

I shouldn't have gone away.  In my absence the Computer Club scheduled me to train Facebook beginners on my birthday!

St Pancras station
But back to my travels.  My last day in London was very pleasant.  I had picked up an all day travel card from the Underground the day before (yes, you can pay ahead), so I caught a bus and train into Kings Cross/ St Pancras to look at the architecture.  I've been there before of course, but usually rushing around to catch a train. It's a fascinating place.

My friend Julie in Sydney wanted me particularly to see the interior of the hotel - a magnificent building, but I couldn't find the public access - I'd approached it from the wrong side.

I saw a sign to the British Library, and since it had been 37 years since I'd been there, I thought I'd take a look.  I was so pleased I did.  It's not only a brand new building (well, since I'd last visited), but there was an exhibition on, called Writing Britain.  This exhibition highlighted the places that authors wrote about - industrial, rural landscapes, the river and the sea.  It included manuscripts of famous books.  I spent almost two hours there.

Then it was time to go back to Clapham to pick up my luggage, which the hotel manager had kindly stored for me.

My Qantas flight was not until 10.30pm, but I wanted to avoid the rush hour, so left Clapham around 3.30pm.  I caught a bus across country to Knightsbridge.  The Piccadilly line was the easiest way to reach Heathrow without paying a premium, but you wouldn't do it when the office workers were travelling home.  Not with a rucksack and two other bags.  (I travelled light to California and England with only two bags, but purchased another because I was taking home at least a dozen books on local history).

With this being the third overseas trip in five years, I've learned how to pack now.  For the first time, I wore every item of clothing I'd taken with me.

I'm pleased that I took both a laptop and my iPad though.  I had thought of just taking the iPad, but whilst great for reading the Sydney Morning Herald and planning my travels with various apps, it was not easy to use for updating my blog or editing photos which I then uploaded to Facebook.

I watched virtually no television whilst away - apart from the Jubilee concert - and didn't miss it.  I decided to keep up with Australian news via the SMH.  The English were immersed in the European Cup and the Leveson Inquiry  so I just let it all wash right over me.

I spent no more than 10 nights in hotels, but when I did, I didn't turn the TV on once.  Instead, I used the time to edit the day's photos, catch up with Facebook friends and write my blog.

And at Southampton, Ange and I would sit contentedly at the dining room table, each with our laptop.  She'd be looking up museum opening times or finding a train timetable for me whilst I'd be editing my photos. Or we'd be swapping family history tips.

The less said about the flight home the better.  It's always a chore, unless of course you go first class.  The flight was slightly delayed reaching Singapore, and we Sydney travellers had to change to a BA flight and there was not even time for a comfort stop. I still like Qantas better than BA though.

We reached Sydney on schedule at 5.05am, and having missed the announcement mentioning my name on the flight, I waited and waited for my second bag to appear on the carousel. I finally found that I was one of four passengers whose luggage had been left behind in transit.  I'd last seen my suitcase in London, but at least it was in Singapore, and flights from there were more frequent.  The luggage arrived home by courier within 10 hours, and at least it was one less bag to carry to the taxi.

With very little traffic heading out to Parramatta at that time of the morning, I was home in a flash - well 45 minutes anyway, and surprised both John and his support worker who was busy vacuuming the lounge room.

I suggested to the support worker that he take an early mark.  It suited everyone!

I tried to stay awake for the day to adjust my body clock to Sydney time, but I found it impossible.  It took me almost a week before I stopped falling asleep at 7pm.

But the downsides of travel are few compared with the wonderful holiday I'd had - almost entirely due to the folk I shall mention in my next and last posting.


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Farewell Ange, hello London

Sadly, I said goodbye to Ange and Paul at Totten, after spending a total of 12 days with them.  What a generous couple they are - I had a brilliant time, and it was nice to hear Ange say she enjoyed every minute of it.

Ange drove me everywhere, often with Paul, and they liked visiting the museums - most of us don't do it often enough in our home towns and they are no exception.

The train journey from Southampton to Clapham Junction took only an hour and 13 minutes.

Clapham Common tube station
So here I am in London, staying at the Clapham Guesthouse on the Wandsworth Road.  It is a clean and friendly place, but rather a scruffy district on the main road.  But walk towards Clapham Common (about 15 minutes walk away) and it is entirely different, a very pleasant district.  Not cheap to live there either.

I spent the evening planning my day, but changed it after going to the London Eye.  I was so lucky - I booked a flexi- ticket about six days ago - meaning I could take the tour any time of day as long as it was today, Tuesday.

The weather was perfect - 23 degrees and sunny, with no breeze.  No need for a jacket.

At the London Eye, we were first shown a 4D overview.  Not only could we almost touch the seagulls flying past, but we were hit by "spray" and by fireworks coming straight for us.  Very realistic.

I loved the Eye.  It was very slow so that photos could be easily taken.  A marvellous view.

I never tire of this view of Big Ben.
I then wandered across the bridge to Westminster to Parliament Square.  There is always a demonstration or two at the Square.

I'd never visited Westminster Abbey on my previous trips, so it was good to finally see the tomb of Elizabeth I and other monarchs, and to visit Poets' Corner.

My final place of interest today was the Docklands Museum (associated with the Museum of London) at Canary Wharf.  This entailed me travelling on the Jubilee Line Extension.  I found it interesting that the train line is behind a glass barrier, which is sensible.  If I have any phobia, it is about feeling unsafe on the Underground platforms, particularly in large crowds.  I felt much better on those platforms.  It just means that the platform doors and the train doors open simultaneously.  Aren't the drivers clever lining them up neatly!

Unfortunately my camera battery died at Westminster, so I was unable to obtain photos at Canary Wharf.  But you can check it out at

The whole place is really impressive.  There is a huge shopping centre leading from the underground station towards the river.  The museum is fantastic.  The first stage is about the river as a port, starting in Roman times to the present day.  There is a very thought-provoking exhibition about slavery and the sugar trade, and also a smelly wander through a sailors's ghetto.  Not pleasant at all, very creepy.

And so much more.  I was worn out by the time I finished looking at everything.

So I wandered outside to the West India Quay, beside a canal built in 1802 so that goods could be brought right up to specially built warehouses.  Only two of these very large warehouses survived the war.  The Museum is in one of them, and the remainder of the buildings are now mostly restaurants.  It reminded me of a very upmarket Darling Harbour.

It was about 6pm by the time I finished at the Museum, and since I wanted to miss the worst of the peak hour on the trains, I had a nice light bite to eat (crab cakes and salad) and a gin and tonic at the Quay.  Very pleasant and so was the weather.  I certainly didn't need a jacket today.

I then caught the light rail from West India Quay to Bank, and changed to the Northern line back to Clapham Common.

A VERY pleasant day - albeit on my own for the first time in a month.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Finding the Tucker ancestral villages in the New Forest

For my last full day in Southampton, Ange and Paul drove me to Minstead in the New Forest.  In the early and mid 1700s, my Tucker ancestors lived in Minstead.

Many Tucker marriages and baptisms took place here.

Here is the baptismal font in All Saints Church, Minstead which dates from 1292.  The core of the church is very much the same as it always was and the church pews date from the 1700s.  There are sections with fireplaces for the local squires.

However the church building is one of the ugliest I have seen, with part of it painted cream but obviously not finished. The square tower is Georgian.

Doubtless, there are Tuckers buried here, but the gravestones from that time are too weathered to read.

I imagine the local children have fun playing in this tree.

Was this the Tucker farm?

We then journeyed on to Fritham which is a scattered and very small settlement attached to Bramshaw.  One of my William Tuckers had a farm at Fritham which he bequeathed to his wife Mary upon his death in 1712.

So my Tucker ancestors lived in the depths of the New Forest - it is a beautiful place.  However, in winter I imagine they were snowbound for considerable periods.  I wonder how many of them were able to travel by horse and cart?  Not many I suppose.

As we travelled, we came across many horses and cows on the open land and on the roads.  Here are some:

We stopped at a little village called Burley, near Ringwood for an icecream.  The village has been taken over by tourist shops and cafes, rather spoiled really, but still very pleasant.

A pretty house at Burley

Close of day for the tourist shops in Burley

John Rose and his tithe offering at St Marys church

Many of you will know that my favourite ancestor is my 3 x great grandfather John Rose 1804-1884 of Southampton.  I recently researched and wrote a 19 page booklet about him.

My quest started when I made contact with Moira, my fourth cousin in Cornwall, who I met in Dorchester for the first time last Saturday.  Moira had sent me a news clipping from the 1930s, celebrating an event which took place in 1839 at St Marys Church, Southampton.

My ancestors would have walked through this door

In 1836 England introduced the Tithe Commutation Act which replaced the ancient system of payment of tithes in kind (for example, produce) with monetary payments.  So the issue of the fairness or otherwise of tithes was a significant issue in 1839 when this incident took place.

By 1839, John Rose had sired ten sons by his wife Isabella, and no daughters.  Only one had died in early childhood.  He named his 10th son, baptised on 9th September 1838 at St Marys Church: Guilford North Rose, after the church rector, Francis North, 6th Earl of Guilford.

The rector, Francis North was the formal rector of a number of churches in Hampshire, and was in the habit of giving an annual sermon once a year, where he collected the tithes due to him.  For the rest of the year, the church was left in the hands of a curate who was paid a lowly salary.

On the appointed day, John Rose approached the rector with his tenth son in his arms, handed him to the Earl and suggested he take the child as John Rose's tithe.  The Earl had been fussing over the babe, but upon hearing John Rose's request, promptly handed him back.

John Rose later wrote a poem, which he sold very successfully as a pamphlet.  Here it is:

A letter to the Hon. And Rev. the Earl of Guil(d)ford (sic), Wiltshire Park, Dover

I’m certain your Lordship would hardly suppose
You’d receive an Epistle in verse from JOHN ROSE
Well-known in Southampton, whiled courting the muse,
As Father of Children and Vendor of News.

Ah, hinc illoe Lachrymoe! One thing is sure.
Though in young ones I’m rich, in the pocket I’m poor.

Sad drawback it is on connubial joys
Ten bantlings to rear – and the whole of them boys,
Everyone of them hearty, my Lord, and no question
With appetites keen and unfailing digestion;
And who, as to eating, though not over-nice,
Would make a sirloin disappear in a trice.
Your feelings, my Lord, I had no wish to shock
When I offered you lately a TITHE OF MY FLOCK –
A fine chubby lad which, as flower of the crew.
Guildford North I have christened him, in honour of you.

And I fervently hope, though the last of the race,
That – much honoured name he will never disgrace.
Now, My Lord, it would make my paternal heart glad
If you’d kindly consent to provide for the lad,
And to the rich bower, where your lordship reposes,
Would transplant this fair sample, the Flower of the ROSES.

But your Lordship may say: “Now my feelings you touch,
And truly John Rose, you are asking too much.
Were I to provide for each brat that is born,
Every ROSE in the lot would be turned to a thorn,
And the whole of the wealth of the County of Hants,
Would be quite insufficient to cover their wants.

This poem and a covering story was provided to the Southern Daily Echo by Mrs Frederick (Amy) Walbridge, a daughter of Guil(d)ford North Rose 1838-1900 in the 1930s.  She well remembers her grandfather John Rose and her father having a chuckle about this story, especially when discussion of tithes arose.

When Ange and I went to look at the church yesterday and try and find the graveyard and parish workhouse, we were yet again astonished that this church was not destroyed in the 1940 blitz of Southampton.  It is surrounded by buildings dated from the 1960s, a sure sign of the extensive bombing in that area.

John Rose's father Simon Rose was buried in the churchyard in 1820, but there is no sign of any graves.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

A day in Dorchester with Moira and John

Today I met another fourth cousin Moira who is also descended from John Rose of Southampton.  She and her husband John travelled from north Cornwall and we met in Dorchester, a lovely old Roman town in Dorset.  I caught the train down from Southampton, taking 70 minutes.

John and Moira

I have known Moira for about four years through our family history research, but we have never before had the chance to meet.  Some years ago, she posted me a newspaper clipping about John Rose, which sparked my interest in researching him further, resulting in my 19 page biography which I distributed to various cousins.

They picked me up at the station, and we made a beeline to an olde worlde coffee shop.  Morning tea morphed into lunch, whilst we talked about their visit to Australia a few years ago, my trip and our mutual enthusiasm for our ancestor John Rose.

We then walked around the town.  There was a good market in the street adjacent to the High Street, and it was "heaving" as they say over here.  In other words, crowded and buzzing.

The Old Tea Rooms, built 1635

There are more photos on Facebook for those interested.

Ange (who really spoils me) picked me up at the station, and then cooked a chicken supreme casserole and apple and blackberry crumble with custard.  Both Paul and I were VERY appreciative.

She's a great cook!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

A day in Winchester

I've never before been to Winchester, so I was looking forward to our visit there today.  Ange drove me of course and she and Paul enjoyed it too.  Mind you, Paul doesn't like wheeling around Winchester - too many cobble stones and rough footpaths.

First we visited the Hampshire Regiment Museum.  My grandfather was a volunteer (territorial) in the regiment from 1900-1908, and I think my great grandfather was too, although I can find no record of his service.  We also have a teaspoon at home inscribed Hampshire Regiment  South Africa 1900-02 which suggests my grandfather went to the Boer War, but there is nothing else to suggest he did.  And he was at home in 1901 for the census.

Military school in the 1800s

Here is a detail from the museum.  My father remembers his grandfather having a portrait of himself as a redcoat in his house.  He was a sergeant, and described as such when he entered rifle competitions for the Hampshire Regiment.  Maybe he never went abroad???

After this, we drove to the Hampshire Records Office where both Ange and I wanted to do some research.

I found heaps of Tucker baptisms in Minstead parish in the 1600s and 1700s - seemed as though there were four brothers: William, Thomas, George and John - so I have plenty of puzzles to sort out.

I also looked at the Bramshaw parish records, and that was very disappointing.  The records are on microfiche but the originals were really badly damaged by water, and as well as that, much of the handwriting was appalling.

The day flew by, and at 4.30 we drove around Winchester and stopped at the Cathedral for a photo opportunity.

Street view near the cathedral.
Winchester is a lovely place - I must return some day.  There are more photos on Facebook.

Paul is totally absorbed in the European Cup at the moment, and is VERY excited - England is playing Sweden right now, leading 1-0 - and I've been turfed out of "my bedroom", with my mattress upended so he can watch the match on the big screen.

Paul is a Southampton supporter (soccer of course) and goes to matches whenever they are playing at home.  He's always writing letters to the chairman about access issues, and lack of invitations for disabled members to attend lunch with the chairman!

Tomorrow I'm off to Dorchester by train to meet another distant cousin who helped me with research.