For about 20 days, I have been travelling from Canada to England, onto Wales and France and now back to the Midlands on UK. Although it has been a busy time, it has been so delightful that I am freshed by the change. I even feel more revived in spirit to get back to writing.
Most of my joy has come from seeing people I love and spending time with them in places, they know well and share with me. I have seen some wonderful places of interest in England and Wales; in particular, Witley Manor in Worcestershire that burned down in the 1920’s but it’s basic shell and lovely baroque church remain. My friend and I had a picnic there and visited the gardens as well as seeing a bride arrive for her wedding! Another memorable place is Tredegar House in Glamorgan, South Wales which was the first red brick house built in Wales in 1660; for 320 years it was owned by the Morgan family who had a fascinating family history taking in succesful business men, spendthrifts, rich women they married and money they made out of coal and iron transportation fees. They had to sell in about 1950 because family debts and cost of upkeep made it necessary. My cousin and I found their history absorbing that we could see it as a good television series.
In Hertfordshire, other cousins took me to Bernard Shaw’s lovely home where we spent a delightful couple of hours in the beautiful garden and house, seeing how he lived there for over 30 years. We also saw his garden writing shed which he could turn to catch the sunlight
Another delightful afternoon was spent walking in a bluebell wood which brought back memories of my childhood when my parents’ home was once surrounded by bluebells but, by 1950’s, new houses brought an end to the much loved fields and spring flowers. In France I walked through colourful parts of Provence, saw many medieval churches, an ancient bridge over a river and sadly a walk through a wood called Chemin des Resistants which commemorated the deaths of three brothers,who helped with the resistance and who were discovered by the Germans in July 1944 and shot them; they and a brother in law(also shot) were all very young.
On a happier note, we enjoyed the lovely French Riviera coast line and the interesting Estrelles area where odd shaped rocks edge the coast before Cannes.
When I was in Staffordshire, I enjoyed time with another lovely cousin who is also a wonderful organist and piano teacher. We even tried a duet together one night and it washad a visit to Calke Abbey which has been deliberately kept unrestored in parts to show how stately homes have suffered from financial stress. My holiday is now over and I have to thank my friend in Bournville and dear cousins in Cardiff, London and Provence as well as Staffordshire. spending time reminiscing with them has been a real joy. We have so much in common.
Since I wrote the paragraph above, I have been to Kent where I grew up. I spent my last four days seeing my brother’s family. John and his wife had three children and now there are five grandchildren to enjoy too. I had a lovely time seeing them and noting how they had changed. My brother has died but I have a lovely sister in law who treated me so well. A real highlight of my holiday was a musical review of the Beatles life together called Let It Be. It happened at the the new Marlowe theatre in Canterbury, where I once went to school and where I once enjoyed the old Marlowe ‘s repertory plays.
My reluctance to write has gone and my ideas are flowing again especially with Wales in mind. I have been lifted up by different Church visits, organ concerts and lovely singing. Truly, I feel fortunate and thank God for such welcoming relatives and dear friends.