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Wednesday, 8 July 2015


I said I would post tonight from home to complete the story. It helps absorb my jet lag and energy!

I left my London hotel at 9.30 am on Tuesday and arrived at my home about 11.40 am London time on Wednesday (8.40pm Adelaide time). Heathrow was relatively easy, Dubai was difficult - involving unexpected change of terminal and lengthy walking through shopping malls without much direction or help at 1am in the morning local time. Then long, ineffective bag checks.

However, I made it in one piece and had about 5 hours sleep on the way to Adélaide (at a time that corresponds to about 6-11am Adelaide time). I was helped along by onboard wifi and messages from friends and family. 

I was somewhat disconcerted by the flight path screen that continuously depicted  the world thus 
I am not sure what this shadowy world is that I have flown into but it is a very odd view of the world outside of Europe- unless Hades were always part of the Downunder metaphor.

My passage through customs, luggage and quarantine was seamless and I emerged to see Fionn's lovely face grinning at me around the barrier. Then Niamh, Katherine, Veronica and Anthony appeared - so surprising and delightful to see them. They came knowing I had a car service,courtesy of Qantas,  to pick me up,  - so really generous and I wished the car service wasn't booked. It would have been fun to have them all come home and help me unpack. We parted at the airport with promises of catching up tomorrow.

 There was a lovely welcome home box of flowers from Alison
So I felt loved and missed - I can't  wait to catch up with my family as soon as I can.

Robbyn, who has been staying at my house was there and I caught up on a bit of Embroiderers' Guild activity. I have now unpacked, showered and begun to get my head around being home. I'm itching to get things in order at home -to get out my Scotland projects and to process it all - but also to see friends and resume some normal routines, like market shopping, Pilates, and coffees. 

It will never, however, be quite the same. I have re-established my place in a wider context - of UK cousins, friends, history, culture  and geography, as well as my Australian context and ties.  I know I am stronger for this and have confidence to bring it all together in how I live my life and shape my home. 

Thank you so much for such a rich experience and the love and support that has upheld me - an a renewed sense of connectedness.

I intend to create 2 books from this blog - one for the whole and one of just the Scottish trip. It will be a free eBook and a print copy on demand. I'll let subscribers know so they can have a look.

Until my next travel blog!

Monday, 6 July 2015

Second cousins once removed

left Nottingham by car at 9.00 am, arriving at my Heathrow Hotel at 11.45 am. The traffic was a bit heavy through Buckinghamshire, and my driver told me how sensible I was to travel to Heathrow the day before my scheduled departure. I am doing well in relation to luggage - I still haven't used the expander on my suitcase and am now unlikely to need it, as I will take my coat and another warm layer out of my suitcase before booking my luggage through.
I mentioned yesterday that I was meeting two second cousins once removed this afternoon. 

Andrew, Peter and I are all descended from David Higgs
and Lydia Webster,
who had a market garden off the Bath Rd near Hounslow. The market garden was established by David's father, Richard Higgs, who acquired 15 acres just off the Bath Road between 1851 and 1861. David and Lydia had 9 children. Alice (far left below) was grandmother to both Peter and Andrew. Emily, (far right, standing) was my great grandmother - mother to my mother's father.
Peter and I met online through our mutual family history researches. Unfortunately, Peter's health prevented him coming today. Andrew, however, bravely came to meet me and kindly drove me around the area that the market garden occupied - now housing estates
and part of the A4.
A small part is still market garden.
The old farm house was behind the current Macdonald's.
Andrew's father remembered it as a market garden and told him much about it. Andrew is my age so this is not such ancient history. It tallies with memories my Aunt and Uncle had, and recounted, of their childhood in England after WWI. It was good for me to see it today with another connected family member.

Andrew also remembers stories of my great grandfather, Emily Higg's husband, driving his mineral water delivery dray at speed down a lane and turning it at the end in one movement. This is a new slant on my G Grandfather who died of a heart attack and fell off the back of his dray!

Andrew drove me past Runnymede
 into Windsor where we parked within sight of the Castle
and walked to Cote Brassierie, on the Eton side of the footbridge where we had a most pleasant lunch while I watched the swans and ducks glide past. We were too absorbed in conversation for me to take photos until afterwards, when most of the swans had gathered upstream to be fed.
We discussed all sorts of things including travelling and family history. Once again, it is heart-warming to find such connection and common ground. My only regret is that Peter was unable to join us. I really hope I can return Andrew's hospitality in Australia one day. I am grateful for a terrific afternoon.
Tomorrow morning I leave for the airport at 9.30 am. My car is confirmed and my boarding passes printed. To complete my saga I will post one final blog after I arrive home on Wednesday night, 8 July, provided, as Hank Williams used to say, the Good Lord is willing and the creeks don't rise!

Sunday, 5 July 2015

One Last Cathedral: Southwell

My excursion today was to Southwell Minster, the Church of Mary the Virgin, seat of the Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham. 

There has been a church here since Paulinus, the first Bishop of York, established one in 627 AD after he had visited the area and baptised Christians in the River Trent. In 956 AD King  gave land at Southwell to the Bishop of York to build a church. A stone plinth from that church is installed over a lintel in the current 
In 1108 the Bishop of York authorised a bigger church to be built.  The Bishop of York has his residence here and it was used for theological training - which gave it the 'Minster' nomenclature, even though it never hosted monks.

The lovely Western 'Angels' window, by Patrick Reyntiens, was installed in 1996. The original windows were replaced in the 15th century with a perpendicular window. Reyntiens described it as " a great gathering of angels enjoying being with God, just all joy and worship".
That seems to be a tradition carried on in the music of the church. We were there as the choir rehearsed for choral evensong - there was joy in their singing - a superbe sound.
I'd like to have included a recording - the acoustics were fabulous.

There are a number of modern sculptures in the Minster. Christos Rex, a sculpture of oak and elm overlaid with copper and gold leaf was created by Peter Ball in 1986.
He has also contributed a Pieta.
There is a Virgin and Child by Alan Coleman from 1952. 
and The Flight into Egypt by Robert Kiddey. 
I also liked Peter Ball's Christ the Light of the World.

Alongside this contemporary sculpture is a Roman ceiling painting
the 'new' font, installed in 1661 following the disappearance of the old one in the Civil War
and the pulpit, telling the story of Paulinus founding the church.
There are some simple brasses and a cope chest 

 The  Chapter House provides wooden linings to its seats - warmer if still somewhat austere for sitting through meetings! 
The carvings are crumbling - a feature, probably, of the sandstone.
Some are still in good condition and the vaulting is lovely.

It was an uplifting visit. I love seeing the continuity - of pieces of the church in the time of Bede still being developed and strengthened with contemporary interpretation of faith,
as well as the building being filled with skilled and well- trained voices. 
I'm grateful to my friends for their hospitality and effort to take me places - especially Southwell. 

Tomorrow is my last day in the UK. I am heading to London tomorrow morning and meeting up with two second cousins-once-removed in the afternoon. 

Friday, 3 July 2015

Gallery and Gardens

There has been a lot of catching up to do with my Nottingham friends. Last night we went to the opening of the Pablo Bronstein and the Treasures of Chatsworth Exhibition at the Nottingham Contemporary Gallery. Four Gallery rooms present a contemporary interpretation of the Grand Tour, using treasures from Chatsworth and Bronstein's own drawings and artworks. Born in Buenos Aires, Bronstein is based in London.

Gallery 1 includes a series of Bronstein drawings inspired by the Via Appia, along with such treasures as Foot Wearing Sandal - a Roman Marble from 150-50BC 
a marble bath
and the Coronation Chairs of William IV and Queen Adelaide  - also used by George IV (they did look worn!)
- fragments of lives and of history. 

The architectural representations of Chatsworth on the walls of Gallery 3, apparently on wallpaper, had a great three dimensional effect while Gallery 4 features an extraordinary collection of silverware displayed in a temple construction with internal mirrors magnifying the collection even further.
It also contains a vitrine of Delft earthenware flower pyramids, right in the gallery window.
Th exhibition is an intelligent and interesting take on not only the Grand Tour, but collecting in general, the relationship between space and objects, and between architecture and domestic activity.

I am staying in the Lady Bay area of Nottingham, and this weekend is Open Garden weekend, when local gardeners open their gardens to the public for charity. It was very pleasant to be able to wander around the block, visiting people's gardens.

Most provided a brief description of their garden - formal/informal, bordered, organic, water features.
It was interesting to see, from the backs, that most gardens in the area, not just those open for inspection, are well cultivated and rich with foliage.
It also provided an opportunity to look at the always interesting chimney-scape.
One gardener provided photos, plans and progress reports on the garden's development. 
The streets themselves in Lady Bay are bright with colour and very attractive. 
I am lucky to be here when the sun is shining and the efforts of so many local people are paying off and available to look at. Lots of people of all ages were out looking. My friend's garden sports some lovely flowers, including this rose.