Saturday, June 14, 2008

Family Reunion: Part 1

Well this is a bit of a special post. In May, I got my first (and probably only) familial visit to London - though my dear Mum and Dad didn't need any excuse to visit their old stomping ground. And I got the distinct impression that they would have been quite happy to take my place here!

Their visit was wonderful for lots of reasons but especially given that it was a chance to retread some of the ye olde Chalke history, and to revisit some of the places I could remember from my childhood. First up was Worcester, where we went round to the house my Dad spent his teenage years, and where he got up to questionable, though I'm sure perfectly innocent, activities with girls at the school across the road, which he was about to elaborate on when Mum cut him off!

Here's Dad and I with Worcester's favourite son, Edward Elgar (Pomp and Circumstance, Land of Hope and Glory etc):


It is amazing what lies in the dark recesses of the memory. Walking down the high street, somehow I could remember where the Marks and Spencer was, and which corner Boots was on, when it had been 13 years since I had last been there.

We also did the tour of the old school, and the old Cathedral, and all those other mainstays of medium sized English towns. All of which Dad seemed to know the history of and have an accompanying story about (which I am hoping he will record someday - hint!)

We went to the little village Dad grew up in, Crowle, and saw his old house and schoolhouse, and the stream he used to swim in as a boy and the big house on the hill. We went to the Old Chequers Inn where Grandpa Jack used to drink and take to Dad (who was waiting out front) a bottle of Vimto and crisps. We saw the barn where Dad used to park his bicycle which was near the stop for his school bus. We saw the old town hall where my grandfather used to dress up as Father Christmas for all the village children (prompting my Dad to recall a horrible year, when he was little, when the nasty boy behind him yelled 'That's Chris Chalke's Daddy!' thus ruining my Dad's fastasy of Father Christmas. Little Chris fled the room in tears - poor duck). And this was the village church:


A highlight was when we drove out to the real life house where Guy Fawkes and cronies planned the Gunpowder Treason and Plot. It was the coolest house in the world, all Tudor and wonky, with huge chimneys and it's own moat and it's own church - which was what we pretended to visit when we really wanted to snoop about the house, which is still privately owned:


We also visited what we know as the bluebell forest, which I have a vivid memory of from my childhood visits, the memory in question being a forest of hundreds of bluebells and a little make shift cubby house that my Dad had played in as a kid. How times have changed. Now the bluebell forest is fenced off by barbed wire, and all the gates were locked. We hardly saw one lousy bluebell, but it did give us the chance to see the beautiful countryside. Even though I've seen quite a bit of it over here, I don't think anyone that grows up in Australia ever gets used to seeing a landscape that's so green:


There is more to come, this is only the first installment, but it is obvious that I loved being back with the fam and in a place where I felt I had heritage, which due to being a first generation Aussie, is not something that I've ever felt particularly strongly at home. Because of this, being able to walk down the street and see where different generations of my family lived seemed truly amazing. It was this stuff, I think, which was what originally made me what to come and live in England, rather than that whole cliched thing about spending a year getting pissed in London. Well, I'd like to think so, anyway.

Next up: Hay-on-Wye (a whole town dedicated to books! Heaven!), the Golden Valley and the Cotswolds.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

So jealous. More so then Crete! Mum and Dad, I know you will read this so when i grow up and have some money i will pay for all three of us to go do that exact trip again so i don't feel left out. Can't believe that boy was nasty to dad. How dare he!
see you in a month and a bit Pen.
x (you only get one x cos I am feeling too much jealousy to share much love toward you at the moment)

Anonymous said...

Hi Pen,
Very glad to hear you enjoyed it so much. The 'nasty boy' was the same age as me - about three or four! We were friends for years though. Dad had the only Father Christmas suit in the village and he wore it on Christmas Night to creep into our rooms with a pillow case full of presents. I remember having one eye open once - so naturally I believed it was the real thing!
The Guy Fawkes house is Huddington Court and I think it was in the same family (the Wintours, I think) when I lived in the village as it was when the plotters met there. Though their ancestor did go to the execution block of course. I went into the house once when they opened it for the village fete and there was a priest hole in there - where Catholics hid priests when Protestants ruled and Catholicism was outlawed. It was a hidden cubby hole with a secret entrance - sitting down space only.
That's the bluebell wood in the far distance of the last photo by the way - and yes it does look green.
Anyhow, glad you had a great time.
Love Dad xxx

Anonymous said...

Hi Penny,
It was wonderful to be able to take you to Worcester to re-visit the past. Maybe one day we can do it in Wellington as well!The photos bring back great memories that we will all never forget.Love mumx