The long haul

Trip Start Dec 11, 2011
Trip End Jan 07, 2012

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Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Australians work hard to get to Europe! That is such a long flight, but even the longest events are over eventually. We left home at lunchtime on Sunday and finally went to bed here at about 8am Tuesday, Melbourne time. I had a few hours of fitful sleep at one stage, but Peter managed a reasonable sleep. We had a very pleasant German lady next to us who was happy to chat but didn't talk too much. She was doing the reverse of our trip and was returning to Munich after a month down under.  Quite a few people disembarked in Singapore, so there was the rush to grab empty seats and she moved so we had that precious extra space for the rest of the flight. What did we do before the personal entertainment systems providing back to back movies? One movie I really enjoyed was Remains of the Day with Anthony Hopkins. Somehow it passed us by and I had never seen it. I loved it and it passed a couple of hours out of the 23! The most cool thing was the sky cam - you can watch the take off etc from a camera on the plane's tail - awesome!

It is amazing how one can arrive at 5.30am after little sleep and be excited enough to function! We emerged and had our usual hassles with the rental car (why is it never simple?) by the light of a full moon, gasping for breath in the cold air. Good news was that we got an upgrade and bad news was that we had to take a manual. We have had a few gear crunching moments and only stalled on one roundabout in our Ford Galaxy... After the baffling exit from Heathrow we were suddenly heading north on the M25 and M1 looking for our first of many coffee stops. It was a stunning morning with a late sunrise revealing a perfectly clear sky and a crisp couple of degrees.

With two phones and an iPad the challenge of data roaming was complex before we came. Why has no-one created a site that makes it simple? We had prepaid SIMs but it wasn't easy to connect and top up but maybe we were more tired than we realized. Fortunately there was a phone shop where we stopped for breakfast and we finally got sorted. The first coffee we ordered was undrinkable and the second was big enough to swim in but perfect.

The decision to spend the first couple of nights in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire was made mainly to pursue Peter's family roots and also to enjoy a quiet country and village spot while our bodies recover. That sounded like a good plan until the local bell ringing society decided to have a long rehearsal last night that I thought would never stop!

We had an incredibly remarkable day and a sense of doors opening in ways we could not have planned. That often happens on adventure trips like ours! Huntingdon is a small town with a long history but much of it has been rebuilt. Our goal yesterday was to walk around and stay awake for the whole day looking for some of the sites from Peter's ancestry. We found St Mary's church where William Woods married Amey Brudenell in 1797 (the start of the Brudenell-Woods) but it was locked up. We then went to All Saints church where William's son was baptized. While we were there some folk turned up for a games afternoon and we found out that it was the wrong All Saints! We just had time to get back to the All Saints in town that we had missed and had a remarkable hour or so there. It just so happened that the church tour guide was there and he was a mine of information and delighted to share information someone really interested. We found the font where William the son  was baptized in 1799 not inside the church but out in the garden!  Apparently it was moved to make way for the font in which Oliver Cromwell was baptized so the old one went outside.  It was quite a moment when Peter touched it and reminded me of our last trip when I found the font in Dartmouth where my ancestor was baptized. It is hard to imagine the depth of feeling to make a tactile connection with an ancestor so far back.

All Saints is an amazing church going back to medieval times yet having a sense of life today as people came in to buy charity cards and have a cuppa. The vicar's wife, Sue, was lovely and excited on our behalf at the discoveries. So today it is all set up for Peter to go back to All Saints and for a visit to St Mary's interior. He has bookings for search time at the local archives and I know we will wish we had more time. But it is amazing the way it has unfolded and we love the way God gives us these lovely gifts and surprises.

Cheriton House is a picturesque BnB near an ancient flour mill in the hamlet of Houghton which has thatched rooves and a market square. We gamely walked down the cobbled street to the pub for some dinner but when we realized food would not be served for a little while yet, fatigue overcame us and we had a drink and came home to eat a sandwich and collapse. Which was when the bells started... :-)
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Heather Finger on

This is fantastic Jeanette. It is nearly as good as being there myself. So glad it was such an amazing trip. Love Heather

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