UK 2007

In March 2007 we went to the United Kingdom, via Singapore.  The purpose of this trip was to explore our family history and to meet as many of our relatives as we could.  We were able to meet all of living relatives and find graves and houses where members of our family had lived. It was wonderful to be able to catch up with so much of our past (especially as many of those we met died soon after). 

Wednesday 28 March Wellington to Singapore

We traveled from Wellington to Auckland, and then on to Singapore with Singapore Airlines (a great way to fly!). On the way the entertainment system broke down so they gave us a voucher for $USD75 for items from the Singapore Airlines catalogue!!

Everything went smoothly and we arrived at the Excelsior ready for a good night's sleep.

Thursday 29 March Singapore

We went on a free River Cruise, courtesy of our 'Singapore Stopover', then caught the SIA 'Hop On' bus all around the city.  It poured so we had to hit the shops to get out of the rain!

In the evening we went on the famous 'Night Safari'.  This is a zoo for nocturnal animals where they have tried to emulate the natural environment and use subtle lighting so you can see the animals feeding and get up close to them.  We also saw some fire-eaters performing.


Friday 30th March Singapore to London 

We left Singapore early in the afternoon and arrived in London 12 hours later; early in the evening, London time.  We had no trouble negotiating the Tube system and finding our Hotel, the Berjaya, in Bayswater. 

Having a 2 night 'Singapore Stopover ' and arriving in time to go to bed at the normal local time meant we suffered almost no jet lag.  This is a great way to travel to London!

Saturday 31st March London 

We walked 50 metres from our hotel and someone accosted us and said 'Aren't you the Callaghans?'.  It was Miriam, the daughter of friends from Lower Hutt.  Small world!

We travelled out to Kew and went to the National Archives to search for information on Kathy's grandfather who lost his arm in the First World War.  We searched for ages but couldn't find anything!


In the afternoon we met up with Natalie Parker, originally from Lower Hutt, but now living in London. We saw the new NZ Memorial, Buckingham Palace, the Albert Memorial, and Hyde Park, then had a meal together in a pub.  It's good to catch up with old friends when you are overseas!



Sunday 1st April  London to Tonbridge

We went to St Paul's Cathedral for Sunday matins, only to find that the service was canceled as there was going to be a special service later on.  We wandered along the Thames, visited Trafalgar Square and then picked up our bags and headed for Heathrow.  By now we have the Tube system sussed!



 We picked up our Hertz rental car, a near new Ford Focus, and headed for Tonbridge in Kent along the infamous M25.  There were no problems with the traffic as it was a Sunday.

We stayed with Vera Jones in Tonbridge. Her late husband Arnold, was Kathy's Uncle.  Vera is 87 and is amazing!  Non-stop chatting about family!  

Tuesday 2nd April Tonbridge

We walked into town with Vera (and almost everyone we met knew her!).  After lunch at a cafe we visited Kath and Joe, Kathy's Aunty and Uncle.  Kath is nearly 80 and Joe is nearly 90.  We shared about old times, especially about Joyce, Kathy's mother who died 2 year's ago.  Kath reminded us of her: they are so alike in their mannerisms.




Tuesday 3rd April  Tonbridge to Isle of Wight

We travelled south from Tonbridge through Tunbridge Wells to Brighton on the south coast.  We saw the famous pier and were suprised to find the beach was pebbles, not sand.

We then travelled alon the coast to Portsmouth and caught the Wightlink ferry over to the Isle of Wight. There we were met by friends Ian and Joan Caws.  They have lived on the isle for over 25 years so are official islanders! Ian is a 'caulkhead' as he was born on the isle.  Ian and Joan took us to Whippington Church, designed by Prince Albert; Osborne House, where Queen Victoria lived; Cowes where the yacht races leave from (and we went across on a chain ferry); Carisbrooke Castle - well preserved from Roman times; Newport, the largest city; and Freshwater beach.  We also visited with Peter and Barbara Richardson.  Peter is brother to Steve Richardson, from Lower Hutt.  The isle has lovely farms, narrow lanes, thatched houses .... All very idyllic.  With a population of 110,000 the Isle of Wight is a microcosm of the English way of life. Lovely!



Wednesday 4th April - Isle of Wight to Sidmouth

Back in Portsmouth we saw the Victory, which was Nelson's flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar. It was built in 1765 and is part of a great maritime museum in Portsmouth.

Next stop was Bournemouth, where we visited Stasia Clark who married my mother's cousin and who is a long-time friend of my Aunty Norma.  Another 80-year-old with lots of energy.

We then followed the world heritage coast to Sidmouth, via Lyme Regis, the coast has lots of quaint houses, beautiful beaches, narrow lanes and colourful rocky outcrops.  We settled into a B&B in Sidmouth and went for a wander to the mouth of the Sid river.  The cliffs along the coast are loaded with fossils and are just georgeous.



Thursday 5th April - Sidmouth to Newquay

Wow!  What beautiful parts of England.  We travelled through Devon to Cornwall visiting Torquay (which is famous for Fawlty Towers) and Falmouth.  The beaches are now sandy, and very beautiful and the cities are very tourist focused.  There are boats, tourists, hotels, B&Bs etc everywhere!  All just so beautiful.  In the afternoon we visited Kathy's mother's cousins Margaret and Charlie Beaumont (and some of their family, including Kathy's second cousin Lynne).  We caught up on lots of family history and shared notes, stories and experiences.  (Kathy's mother had written to Margaret's mother and then to Margaret after Aunty Maggie died). Once again it was great to meet up with our family.

We then travelled to the surfing capital of the UK, Newquay, and settled in at the Smuggler's Arms.



Friday 6th April  Newquay to Merthyr Tydfil

The day started off foggy but the brilliant weather continues!  We stopped at Padstow, a classical Cornwall seaside village.  Absolutely beautiful (and famous for Rick Stein's fish and chips!). 

We then headed north then west into Wales.  We got a bit lost for a while but finally found our way to Merthyr Tydfil, a tough industrial town.  We stayed in a 'Premier Travel Inn' rather than a B & B.



Saturday 7th April  Merthyr Tydfil to Chester

We had a wonderful day in Wales! We drove up through the beautiful Welsh countryside and were so impressed with the pristine farms, rivers, townships and broad expansive views.

In the tourist village of Llangollen (which is famous for its horse-drawn canal boats) we met Dilwyn and Pat Roberts.  Pat is a distant cousin of Kathy's and they share a common ancestor John Evans who was trapped for 12 days when a mine collapsed in 1819.  He was given up for dead but miraculously survived.  Afterwards he used the coffin they had made for him as a cupboard.  We found the place where the mine shaft collapsed in Coedpoeth and visited his grave.  Dilwyn and Pat also showed us around the Wrexham area including a vist to the Valle Crucis Abbey which dates back to 1200. but was torn down by Henry VIII along with most of the Abbeys in the country.




In the evening we had a lovely meal together before heading for our B&B in Chester.  Wales was lovely!

Sunday 8th April: Easter Sunday  Chester to St Bees, Cumbria

Another wonderful day!  We had a quick look around Chester (seeing the walls, Roman ruins and old clock) then went to the Easter service at Chester Cathedral.  What a wonderful big cathedral!

We then headed north and stopped to visit Gerald and Betty Smith in Holme.  Betty is Kathy's mum's cousin and had prepared lots of family history information for us.  After a big chat and a lovely lunch we headed for the Lake District.



We stopped at Millom where Kathy's grandmother Eleanor Askew was born; Bootle where the Askews lived; Muncaster Castle where they worked and Ravenglass.  We knew that the Askew family had lived in 'Back Lane' in 1881 and found a house that could have been the one they lived in.  It is fascinating tracing your family history, and going to places where your ancestors have lived, worked and died.

Then it was on to St Bees where we stayed at the Stonehouse B&B - on a farm with lots of horses, cows and sheep!




Monday 9th April St Bees to Carlisle

We explored Whitehaven and found 11 Mill Lane where Kathy's great grandmother Mary Dixon (Askew) lived and died and then went to Arlecdon where Ross's grandfather Isaac Tyson came from.  We found Isaac's parent's grave in the Arlecdon Cemetery, and then went to Lamplugh where Isaac's wife, Clara Graham came from.  Again we found her parent's grave and that of many of her family.  Only two of the children married and many of them died very young.  We also found the Beck Farm where the Graham's worked.  (It's good to be cheeky and ask elderly local people for directions!).




Next we travelled to Appleby in Westmoreland and met Ross's mother's cousin, Isobel Palmer, and her husband Phil and their daughter Jan McGregor.  Isobel looks so much like Ross's mother did!  Again it was great to share family stories and experience wonderful hospitality.

Then it was on to Carlisle where we stayed with Ian and Helen Hardcastle, and their son Johnathon.  Ian and Helen are old friends and it was good sharing with them about old times, and learning about the Anglican Church, as Ian is a Priest.


Tuesday 10th April  Carlisle to Selby

We left Ian and Helen's and headed south on the M6.  The motorways go at about 120kph so you cover a lot of ground quickly!

We turned off into the Yorkshire Dales and got a bit lost.  It didn't matter, though, as the countryside and villages we went through was simply stunning.  eg. Dent.  The farms have stone walls for fences, black-nosed sheep, fascinating stone buildings and lush green vistas.  The roads were very narrow but the views made it all worthwhile.

We met Alison Ambrose and her father Fred Jones in a pub along the way and had a lovely lunch together.  Alison is Kathy's second cousin and they used to write to each other when they were children.  Fred is Kathy's mother's cousin.  Once again we had a wonderful time sharing with distant family members that we had never met.

In the late afternoon we travelled on to Selby and settled into a nice little B&B.

 Wednesday 11th April Selby to Tain, Scotland

We headed south and soon came to Burton Salmon, the tiny village where Kathy's mother was born and grew up. We saw the house where she lived in Poole Lane and visited Burton Salmon School where she was a pupil. We met Delia, the Head Teacher, and others from the school, including someone who was around at the time, and remembered Kathy's grandfather (because he only had one arm).  We gave the school two New Zealand books on behalf of the family, and some badges for the children.  We also saw old school records and reminisced about old times.  We hope that our visit will lead to a link between Burton Salmon School and Paekakariki School, where our daughter Sarah teaches.


Next stop was Sherwood Forest, famous for Robin Hood and for its big old oak trees.  Fortunately Robin didn't rob us, and we were soon on our way to East Midlands Airport, heading for Inverness in Scotland via Ryanair.

We were met by Bill (Kathy's cousin) and Ann Jones and taken to their lovely place in the countryside of Tain in the Scottish highlands.  Although we had never met Bill and Ann we knew them well, as we often chat on skype.

Thursday 12th April Highlands

Bill and Ann took us for a tour around the local area.  We looked out on Dornoch Firth from Struey Hill; visited the grand Dunrobin Castle - ancestral home of the Sutherland clan; and then Dornoch Cathedral - much smaller than the one we saw in Chester, but with a tempestuous history.  The cathedral was built in the 1200s, was at times Roman Catholic, Anglican and Church of Scotland, and was destroyed and rebuilt a number of times.

The wildlife around Bill and Ann's place is amazing!  They have resident pheasants and at one stage we saw thousands of geese in formation heading off to the north.



Friday 13th April  Highlands to Nottingham

Bill and Ann took us to Nigg where we saw the lovely "old church" with its magnificent 'cross-slab' - an ancient relic from the Pictish period of the early church.  We then visited Tarbet Ness at the end of the Fearn peninsula with its lighthouse and magnificent views.  On the way home we visited the lovely village of Postmahomach.  The weather was just great during our stay in Scotland - showing off the Highlands to perfection.

Bill and Ann took us to the airport and it was sad to leave them after experiencing such wonderful hospitality.


We flew back to Nottingham, picked up our rental car and checked in at the Premier Travel Inn.

Saturday 14th April Nottingham to Cambridge

We drove down from Nottingham to Cambridge through lots of lovely countryside.  We stopped at Rutland Waters, visiting a bird sanctuary and at Ely to see the magnificent Cathedral, and the house where Oliver Cromwell lived.


In Cambridge we met up with Sally Wise from Lower Hutt, and her friend David.  It is hard to find parking in Cambridge as it is a walking/biking city with thousands of people out enjoying the sunshine.

After a quick look around the university city (including Kings College and the Circular Church) we went punting on the River Cam.  With so many boats and not much control there was lots of bumping, but no-one fell in!

In the evening we had a lovely meal with Sally and David before settling into our B&B. Once again, it's great to catch up with old friends when you are overseas!


Sunday 15th April  Cambridge to London

We drove south stopping for Church in a lovely old Anglican Church, and then headed for London on the dreaded M25.  If we got our rental car back after 1.29pm we would have to pay another day's rental but we made it (with the petrol tank full) at exactly 1.29!!

We then caught the Tube into London and settled in at the Thistle Euston, ready to start our month long Cosmos tour of Europe next day.


Overall our trip to the UK was just wonderful.  The careful planning sure paid off!  We achieved everything we wanted to and more.  Special highlights were:

  • the wonderful weather: perfect from start to finish.
  • the ease with which we were able to navigate the roads and find the way in our rental car.
  • the wonderful relationships we established with friends and family along the way.  Often we had not met people before, but each visit turned into a wonderful sharing experience.  We sure hope that everyone we met was blessed by the short time we were able to spend with them.
  • the fantastic scenery we saw, especially Padstow, the Isle of Wight, central Wales, the Lake District, the Highlands, and the Yorkshire Dales.
  • finding so much of our family history.  It was wonderful to find graves, houses, villages etc. where our ancestors had lived and worked.
  • visiting Burton Salmon School and being able to give the School a gift on behalf of the family in memory of Kathy's mother.
  • the quaint little villages and beautiful countryside outside of the cities.

We feel privileged to have had such a wonderful holiday.

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