Tuesday, January 28, 2014

A Journey into The Past

I spent New Years Eve with my brother in Wombwell, a small town in Yorkshire, near the coal mining town of Barnsley.
We talked about going on a drive and seeing if we could locate some of the houses we had lived in during our times in England. 
Initially, I had just requested a ride out to Penistone, a village we had moved to in 1967, when I was 17 and he 14. 
 Well, Len and I decided to extend our search to everywhere we had live while with our parents in Yorkshire.
Len had all the places Mum and Dad had lived on a list and so had some ideas where to go.
On a sunny, bright January 2nd, 2014, we set off in search of our past.
First we headed towards Barnsley.  We  needed to get  to Stairfoot.  This is the area of Barnsley where mum lived as  child. 

My mum's first home was in Victoria Terrace.   On our way to there, Len pointed out the old route where the canal had been. He told me that Grandad Galloway had walked along the canal on his way to and from work at the coal mine.  It was a long way to walk and I can't
 imagine how exhausted he must have been to have to walk back home after a long shift underground in the pit.  Len told me the story of what a great day it was for the miners when they actually got showers at work so they could wash the coal dust and grime off before heading home. 
 He pointed out Victoria Crescent where my Mum had first lived with her family while her Dad was a miner and her sisters all went off into service as soon as they were fourteen.
 We reflected on what life must have been like for my Grandma Galloway raising eight children in such a small terraced house.
Next we set off to find our first home in England, in a part of Barnsley called Gawber.
These place names are magic to my ears, as I have heard them in conversations all my life.  It was so great to see the street names and to be right there where my mum had grown up and lived.
After their first time in Canada my parents returned to England with me when I was only eighteen months old.  Our first home was at 25, Beever Lane in Gawber.  

I have pictures of myself with my Mum in the back garden of the Beever Lane house.  This is what it looks like now.
I remember the ginnel, (a passage) that led from the road to the back of the houses. 
Our Len was born here and by then my parents must have already decided to go back to Vancouver. 

Next, we said good-bye to Barnsley, and Len drove us over the hillsides and down the roads boardered by drystone walls to Penistone. 

The interesting thing about England is that there are so many small villages and it was great to read all the familiar signposts to Silkstone Common and Denby Dale.
I was surprised to see all the windmills on the hills, This was new since I was last here.
As we came into Penistone we passed Penistone Grammar School.  

This was the school that I went to for only one year.  I remember the culture shock of my first year in England, especially in this part of Yorkshire, as the accent was so 'broad' and I really did have a hard time understanding the colloquialisms used as well as the accent.  
There was a walkway over the street to get to the other part of the school.  The school has gone through lots of changes but the walkway is still there. 
When I started at Penistone Grammar, I thought it was kind of like a storybook, as I had never had to wear a school blazer and tie.
Also I was in awe of the fact  that the school had been founded in 1392, it was over 500 years old!  And Canada was only celebrating a hundred years since confederation.  Sitting in the classrooms, I couldn't help but imagine what the site had seen over the centuries. The sense of history and antiquity made an impression on me. 

Driving up and down the hills from the Grammar School and through the village and up to where we lived on Cubley Rise Road brought back lots of memories to us both. We always walked to and from school and it was a very long way.  
The winds are expecially strong in Penistone, and we were blown about and rained on during our walks.  We used to pass all the other kids from Cubley Rise waiting for the bus and wonder why we had to walk.  We laugh about it now, but at the time, we felt hard done by. 

As we drove through the town, it was great to see the library where my mother worked part time, and all the shops. 
The Penistone Vinegar Factory that was at the bottom of our hill is gone now, but as we went up Mortimer Rd we spotted the bungalow we used to live in.  Len stopped at 8, Mortimer Road, and I got out to take a picture.
A man was unloading groceries from his car, so I asked him  for permission to take a picture, explaining how I had lived there many years ago.
My dad had sold the house while I was at college, so the family could move into Barnsley where my mum could be nearer her family.
He mentioned that he thought he was probalby the one who bought the house from my Dad, and after doing some calculations, it turned out that he had.  He offered to let me see inside the house but I declined.  
Seeing the bungalow reminded us of a funny story we always recall when we get together. 
 Whenever we moved into a new house, my Dad always made some alterations to it. It was the way he was, and it seems to be a bit of a family trait.  In this bungalow, he had added a door into the living room from the kitchen, to save us having to walk all the way round through the entrance hall to get into the long living room/dining room.  He always used to joke as he went through one of the doors.
 "I'm going through THIS door now!" he would say in a loud voice.  

Leaving the bungalow we drove further up the hill and turned right to get to Cubley Rise Road.  This was the first house we lived in when we moved to England.  It was brand new at the time, and seeing the hill it was built on made us realize how reallly steep that hill is.  
Fortunately our house wasn't too far up the hill.
 Number 4, Cubley Rise Rd was a semi-detached house and a new concept to us kids.  
Also there was only one coal fire to heat the entire house, which to us Canadians used to central heating was a major shock.  We used to huddle round the fireplace with our coats on and argue about who had to go into the kitchen to put the kettle on.
Eventually, my dad hunted around till he found someone who would put us forced air central heating in. Nearly all the central heating in England is hot water, but being my dad, that wouldn't do.  
The man who currently lives in the house came out when he saw me taking pictures. I explained what I was doing and he said that the owner previous to him had taken out the heating ducts, and put in a regular boiler with traditional British central heating.  He said how he had recycled the metal as it was worth quite a bit.
Coincidentally the current owner, Mr Leggett, was a retired headmaster from Penistone Grammar School. He started out there as a music teacher and I am wondering if he didn't teach my younger sister.  
Driving back to Barnsley via another route, which took us past Browns and the blackened stone terraces and houses, I felt stangely connected to this village which I had lived in for such a short while.  

I used to walk up into the moors for long solitary walks, and it was the place I made my first connections with English life and culture. 
Penistone seemed so strange to us when we first moved there from small town British Columbia, but it opened its heart to us; gave my dad a job and my mum her time in the library, where she got to go out on the library buses to service the remote villages.  
My brother made friends at school in 
Penistone, friends he still sees today on a regular basis. My sisters still have firends from those days. I am probably the one with no real people connection as I was only at school for one year. I had one friend at school, Janet Steele, who was so kind to me and used to invite me over to her house.
Then I was off to Scarborough and only home briefly during the holidays.
As we left Penistone, we were once  again out in the gorgeous Yorkshire countryside, heading back to Barnsley. 
There are pubs out in the middle of nowhere.
It was such a great day, and the weather was sunny and the sky was blue.
What was so special about this day was that Len and I experienced it together.  As he has never moved back to Canada, he is probably the sibling I have spent the least time with as an adult.  
Whenever I am in England I get to stay with him at his lovely home and we have been out driving the moors together, visiting Haworth, where the Brontes lived etc.  But this was a personal family journey and we had such great conversations while driving, recalling our times together and guessing at what it must have been like for mum and dad. 

Finally we arrived back at Lens and I got some pictures of his place too. 

We had another few days together before I headed off to Portsmouth and the ferry to France. 
Of course, that's another story.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A Special Time in Yorkshire at Years End.

After celebrating Christmas with my siblings, it was back onto the M62 and across country once again.  Once again my brother Len was driving. This time our destination was Leeds. 

 I went to college in Scarborough way back in 1968 and made some life-long friends there.  One such friend is Jill who  lives in Leeds with her talented husband.  
Jill and I were friends from the first year of college and like my friend Sandra, who I visted earlier in December, she also moved down to Kings Lynn to a teaching position after we finished at North Riding College of Education.  
So we weren't just friends while at college, but we lived and worked in the same community after becoming qualified teachers. We have always been closely connected
It has been years since we last met and ten years since I last visited their home.  Still, we just picked up as if it was yesterday.
Len has been to Jill's before, so he was able to come in for a visit before heading home.  Its always so welcoming to arrive at Jill and Gavin's. 
Once again my days were filled with lovely conversation, and yet more delicious food.
When we went shopping I was surprised to learn that there were Marks and Spencers stores that sold only food.  This was new to me since I was last in England. And they sell very unusual food too, lol. 

Jill is a wonderful multi-media artist as well as a talented quilter. Her work hangs  on my daughter Laura's wall. My grand daughter Kayla loves her underwater scene quilt and she always mentions it every year when Jill sends them a digital advent calendar.
Here is some of her work, created in her specially built work room in her attic.
There were two single beds in my room and they each had hand made quilts on them!
This wall hanging graced my bedroom wall. 
Gavin is also an artist, who is transitioning from water colours to oils. He has a studio set up and I was so happy to visit and see his work.

One evening Jill drove me over to Burton Leonard to visit her daughter. My daughter Beth is Jill's god-daughter and her and Tamsin are like sisters.  They drove across Canada together. 
It was so nice to see Tamsin and Brian's new home and she cooked us an amazing meal after rushing in the door from a long drive down from Scotland.
Of couse we had to take the other important member of the family over to visit. Lexie is spoiled to death, and loves every minute of it.
We spent a wonderful evening with them, sharing lots of laughs and great memories in their Christmassy living room.  It was sad to have to say good-bye. I got some great pics before we headed out the door.
Here is Jill, Tamsin and Brian and below, a farewell pic with Tamsin and Brian and myself in their entrance hall. 
On New Years Eve Len came to pick me up and we were treated to a deleicious lunch before we set off for Wombwell.

We have been so lucky with the weather every time we heve been travelling.  Once again the weather was wonderful.  
We spent a quiet New Years Eve with a Chinese Take Away and Harry Potter.  As 12:00 approached, we put on Jules Holland and saw the New Year in with his many talented musical guests. 
I have never read any of the Harry Potter books and Len had recorded the entire series of movies while it was on TV over the holidays. So while I was visiting him we managed to watch five films in all. :-) A marathon.
While I was in the Barnsley area we went out on a search of all the places we had lived as children. Now that is another story!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Over The Pennines for a Family Christmas

December 22nd my brother came over from Barnsley He joined me at the care home to have a visit with my Mum and then take me with him to Elswick in Lancashire, where my sister lives. 
It is a beautiful drive through the Vale of York where the views go on for miles.
Then we headed over the Pennines. The Pennines are know as the backbone of England and separate Yorkshire from Lancashire.  Since the War of the Roses there has been a friendly rivalry between the two counties.  My Mother is from Yorkshire, and that is where we lived when we moved to England, when  I was seventeen.  My sister went to college in Lancashire and married and settled there.   The scenery is wonderful and the sky was especially dramatic on this day.  

The M62 is  busy highway that allows travel across England. 
Soon we saw signposts to familiar places and I was surprised to once again see Horwich mentioned.  My friend Carole's hometown just keeps popping up in my life. :-)
We were very lucky with the weather, especially as England had been experiencing freak storm and flooding.  We did get a little rain at one point and suddenly this huge factory loomed ahead, surrounded by mist.
Finally we left the main motorway and were on the country roads leading to Elswick.
We arrived just in time for tea. Geraldine had a completely stellar meal awaiting us. Roast pork and crackling, roast potatoes,veggies and for dessert, an incredibly light, sweet and sticky delight.  She had made us a home made treacle sponge and custard!
Memories of school dinners surfaced as we enjoyed  each mouthful.

Monday the power went out and we watched the workmen dig up the road across from their house. 
I went into Preston with Steven and managed to get my last few gifts for Christmas. I saw the market there, which is huge, and also visited the modern shopping mall.  It was nice to get to see this city.  My cousin lives here, and it is also where my friend Mik hails from, (he is married to Carole from Horwich lol)
Here is an impressive pub opposite the shopping centre. 
 Inside the mall was lovely and warm, and the decorations were quite impressive.  Christmas was in the air. 
Hardier shoppers wandered the outside market for bargains.
The market was very busy  
We got all our errands run, and even picked up the turkey from the farmer who raised it.  We met him in a pub car park on our way back home and the deal was done.
We arrived home and were surprised there was still no power. By tea-tiime we heard it was expected to be back on around 10:30 so we all walked around the corner to the pub.  The Ship is just minutes from Geraldine's door and by this time Steven's sister had arrived, as had my nephew Kevin.  So there were six of us for dinner and we had such a wonderful meal together.  We got home to a dark house and the power finally came on around 12:30.  It was a great excuse for a good night out.
Paul arrived on Christmas Eve and our company was complete
This was the first Christmas I had been with my sister and brother in England for many years.  It was truly a blessing and we had the most amazing time together, fine food, drink and so much love and laughter.
Christmas dinner was a feast. We started with Kathy, Steve's sister's piece de resistance, scallops and bacon.
It was so good.  Then we had a breather while the main course came together. It was a family affiar.
The table setting was lovely and we shared a toast to good times and family gatherings.
Len and I stayed with the Hargreaves until Sunday, December 29th.  My sister made sure I compiled a list of where I was going on my journey so she could keep track of me just in case I dropped off the face of the earth.  She really looks after me. I also used her printer to print off my train tickets and hostel reservations too.  It was so great to get those jobs done. 
I packed my bag and when it came time to say good bye we said what a special time we had had together and how lucky we are to all get along so well.
Back in Len's trusty car, we set off for Leeds, where I would stay for a few precious days with my college friend Jill. 
That is my next story.