Living With Our Rapido 963f Le Randonneur Motor Home.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

The Trip Home To Wigan

We prefer the train these days to making the journey to London by car. It is difficult to use the car once there in any case, and costs a fortune to park, even on the road outside our daughter's home due to the close proximity to the underground station and the resident permit scheme.

We now always use the Glasgow to Euston Virgin Trains Pendalino service, as it passes through and stops at Wigan North Western Station, which is within 5 miles of our home. Virgin offer discounted fares if you are flexible in your travel requirements and are able to book up to 12 weeks in advance. The service from Wigan to Euston makes just one other stop at Warrington Bank Quay. Once in London we board the Northern Line tube from Euston, using our Transport For London Oyster Cards, and once at our destination, our daughter's apartment is just two minutes walk from the tube station. Easy!

We normally buy tickets as cheaply as possible, but our trip home today was completed First Class, as the price differential was negligible, and cost us only £40 each.

For that we were entitled to use the Virgin Trains First Class Lounge at Euston Station, which not only included comfy seating away from the usual hustle and bustle, with relaxing piped music, but also complementary refreshments, and even a shower if that's what you require.

Once on the train we took up our roomy seats, sitting facing each other with a table between us. The added benefits during the 2 hour and 5 minute journey home were free wi-fi, free tea and coffee, free soft drinks, wine, hot snacks, sandwiches, crisps and snacks, fruit and cakes, all served at your seat by an attendant.

All that was left for me to take care of was to ensure that my travelling partner didn't take the offer of free wine to heart. I've been there before, but that was in Venezuela, and part of another story from 2012 that can be found on this site.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

A Trip To West Sussex

Today has been a relatively warm and sunny day, allowing us to make our planned trip to Henfield without an outer coat. We borrowed our daughter's car to make a lunch appointment there with a distant relative of mine, as we are always summoned to do every time we are down here these days. The journey from SW19 is only 42 miles, through beautiful country, and the village itself is stunning.

This traditional butcher on the High Street makes the most beautiful sausages, so 2lb of them were purchased to take home.

My relative, a lovely lady in her 70's is from the same generation as me. Her great grandfather on her mother's side was the first cousin of my great grandfather on my father's side. That makes her my fourth cousin I do believe.

However, her mother married a gent from the Aristocracy, so she has a much more interesting background on her father's side than I do, or perhaps just in a different way, as mine has a famous artist. Her great grandfather X 4 was Hugh Percy, 1st Duke of Northumberland. If we follow her family tree back from her grandmother, her great great grandfather was Thomas Bruce 11th Earl of Kincardine, 7th Earl of Elgin - who held a huge interest in antiquities and was responsible for controversially removing the famous marble friezes from the Parthenon in Greece and bringing them to England. She holds some fabulous artefacts from bygone days and the following are just a few that I feel I am able to publish here.

This is my cousin's mother, Claire. She was PA and friend of the actress Evelyn Laye, whom my cousin is named after with her middle name, Evelyn. It was Miss Laye who introduced Claire to her second husband, my cousin's father, at a cocktail party. (Miss Laye is also responsible for introducing the Australian speech therapist to King George VI, who was an admirer).

From her father's days at Eton, taken 1920.

Her grandmother. She is one of the children referred to in the next image. The one above was taken in Shimla in India in 1894, a place we are to visit next month to continue our family history research.

This is a telegram from the Queen, (Victoria) to my cousin's great grandmother, The Hon Mrs. Thomas Bruce, delivered to 42 Hill Street, Berkeley Square, London on May 3rd 1880. It reads:

"Deeply grieved to hear of your great anxiety. I trust the dear children are better tonight."

One of the children referred to is my cousin's grandmother above.

She is unable to tell me the reason for this telegram, but her great grandfather, like generations before him were officers in the military, although in 1881 his occupation was listed as M.P. barrister not practicing. My cousin's father's father was also a military man, serving around the North West Frontier of India. He wrote a book at the end of his service, "The Making Of A Frontier", which can be found online.

Another image of another one of my cousin's ancestors, Lady Augusta Frederica Elizabeth Bruce, daughter of the 11th Earl of Kincardine above. She was a resident woman of the bedchamber 1862-1863 and extra woman of the bedchamber 1863-1876, when she was a Lady in Waiting to the Queen, taken at St. James' Palace, April 1863. She would be the sister of her great grandfather.

Finally, my own lady in waiting. The location is Henfield High Street.

Tomorrow we return home on Virgin Trains West Coast Mainline to Wigan, with a treat in store. We are travelling 1st class!

Monday, 16 February 2015

Central London, (Again)!

I say "again", but that is not meant to be derogatory - we love visiting London, and always manage to find new things to do and see, even though we have been many times before.

Today we chose to visit Soho and the West End. Above is the rear of The Liberty store, which was the outlet for so much of the arts and crafts movement and William Morris from the 1870's and the end of the 19th century, again with strong links with my great great grandfather who was a print block designer in the Manchester calico printing industry as well as an artist following and recognised by Shields, Rossetti and others of the Manchester movement. Morris's old water powered manufacturing factory, now a historic place of interest is located just a few hundred yards from my current location - Merton Priory.

The last time I walked down Carnaby Street was in the early 1970's accompanied by girls in boldly patterned mini dresses and those glossy patent white knee length boots that were iconic of that era. Today it is no different to any other shopping street, except for the frequent references to its past.

We walked down Regent Steet and Oxford Street, entering the shops that held an interest to the ladies. But my terms were that if they wanted to touch handbags they couldn't afford, and feel the material of impractical outfits, then I must be allowed to enter a shop of my own choice. Today, that was Hamleys toy shop and I insisted on exploring all floors to look at the many demonstrations going on of all the new innovations of current toy technology.

Above is Oxford Circus. By now the forecasted rain had started to arrive, so we had a quick bite at the a branch of the Golden Arches - I never refuse one of those, before boarding the tube at Bond Street to start our journey back to SW19.

We are off by car to meet relatives in West Sussex tomorrow.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

A Pleasant Day Out In Portsmouth.

Today, we had a trip to Portsmouth, my first visit, and the weather was just great! We did the usual stuff - the historic Naval Dockyard where you can visit HMS Victory and the much later HMS Warrior, built in 1859, and was the first armour clad hull built on a timber frame, with a mixture of steam and square rigged sail power providing a top speed of 17 knots in any conditions. The huge propellor had to be man hauled from the water while under way on sail only to reduce drag.

There were a couple of frigates as well as the new type "stealth" destroyers in dock today, and the old Illustrious, which has now been decommissioned. An all attractions ticket is the best value, as there are many to see, including a tour around an early nuclear submarine, accessed from the main dockyard by water bus. We decided to take the harbour cruise today though.

Friday, 13 February 2015

A Day At The Museum

Today we ventured out from our South Wimbledon hideaway to take the short underground trip to South Kensington to visit the Victoria & Albert Museum where we had a 2.15pm appointment to view a collection of drawings and paintings that are held there, and were drawn by my great great grandfather Warwick Brookes in the 1870's.

The underground system always impresses. There is no need to own a car here. I wish Manchester had one.

On arrival, there is a museum entrance right from the South Kensington tube station without having to go outside. Perhaps as well as the weather was by now foul, with heavy rain.

As we waited for our appointment we took advantage of some of the time we had to view some of the other exhibits the museum had to offer. Then the curator of the prints and drawings study room arrived to meet us, and issued our passes.....

We were taken into the "staff only" area, along corridors, up flights of stairs to our destination where we were then able to handle six drawings that were the work of my grandfather all those years ago. Unfortunately, due the museum's copyright restrictions I am not allowed to publish the images I took of the six drawings today, they must remain for my own personal use. However, some of the drawings have previously been published by various poster printing companies, and can be searched and bought online as reproductions prints from them. Below are two reproduction examples of the drawings we went to see today which I have used previously on my other website