This is not so much a Blog post as an alternative to an overly long Facebook update in order to inform any of my readers, who may be wondering, that YES I am alive and well. Hubbie and I are currently in England.
I must say, this long-distance flying lark is not getting any easier. More than nine hours Sydney – Hong Kong, heading north and over the Cape York Peninsula, instead of north-west across country. Why? The captain said there were military exercises taking place in the middle of the country – a.k.a. “The Outback”. This was not general knowledge, so I suppose the exercises were classified Top Secret – unless of course, you happened to be an air traveller. Then a six hour layover in Hong Kong airport, then a connection to London of around twelve and a half hours. Add another two hours for baggage, immigration, car hire collection, and then another two to drive to destination. In the past we have hit the ground running, but this time we needed two days to recover. On top of which, we came down with the sniffles, which is not surprising given we had been breathing recirculated air all that time.
We had an interesting chat with the guy on UK immigration. They always make it sound as if they are just passing the time of day with you, when really they are pumping you for information and waiting for you to slip up. Like getting Austria and Australia mixed up – that sort of thing. Anyway, we passed the test, although I am not sure he appreciated me asking whether we were better off on the M2 or the M20 to our destination 🙂 . . . Trying to sound as if I knew which way was up. I am guessing he wasn’t deluded, and just thought I was a smart-ass.
Anyway, he let us into the country, so all’s well that ends well. On top of which, our English “almost” daughter gave birth to her first child on the same day as we arrived. And “S” – if you are reading this – as you have yet another sleepless night, once again we send you both our big congratulations, and suggest you just keep repeating, “it will get easier“, “it will get easier“. If you sing it, baby might even mistake that for a lullaby.
Now we are in Beautiful Bradford. Okay, that is an oxymoron in some circles, but seriously, this city has some impressive buildings, and a long, fascinating history that can be said to epitomise the Industrial Revolution. I am on the trail of my great-grandmother who left here around 1880, to travel alone to Australia. I still can’t work out how or why, so if anyone can enlighten me on Female Middle Class Emigration, (as opposed to poor Irish Famine girls) please speak up now. And while I am on the subject, if you happen to be a WHITLEY of West Yorkshire: Allerton, Thornton, Shipley or Bradford (UK) I would love to hear from you.
I have had an interesting couple of days stuck in the archives office readings accounts of voyages to Australia, and letters home to the relatives left behind, dating from around 1840-1880. At least three months in a leaky boat and lots of stories of those who died en route. Looking up old newspapers turned out to be more tedious than I imagined, so thank goodness for digitisation, which I fell back on after trying to do it the “old-fashioned” way. Amongst other things, I came across a gem in which my g.g.grandfather – a bootmaker – had ‘a’ boot stolen from his shop. The chappie who did it got ten years’ transportation. So let’s hope that, at least, he stole a pair of boots for his trouble.
I have seen where he had his shop, and I was taken to one of the houses where the ancestors had lived, and we ended up banging on the front door and introducing ourselves. You can get away with that sort of thing when they will never meet you again. It turns out that one of the young ladies of the house was also into history. So another piece of the puzzle fell into place. Later in the day we traipsed around a cemetery which has become very overgrown. Thank goodness that a Bradford local had sent me a photograph of the headstone more than twenty years ago. Now it is somewhere under several feet of brambles and privet bushes.
Tomorrow I am off to a present day Grammar School, which, in the 1870s and onwards, was a school for orphans.
So much to do . . . so little time . . .
Poor old Liz Thurlow has had to take a back seat while all this is going on – but I do promise to get back to her as soon as time permits! In the meantime, we can leave her having it off with Tony Babic and living in dreamland – until – ?
I have just read this post before hitting the publish button, and it is not the most coherent piece I have ever written. I hope you will all cut me some slack: I am tired, brain-dead, over-stimulated, out of my depth, and in need of a calming wine . . .