Revisiting old memories, and places past.

Trip Start Jul 04, 2006
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Trip End Jan 16, 2007


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Sunday, October 29, 2006

October 27th Friday

After a much needed sleep we felt ready to start a new day, and while we sat and chatted over breakfast I was amazed at the similarities between Brian and his cousin Dee. Continually over the next few days there would be things that they both would do, only for the other to say that they also do that. Dee had been looking through old letters and photos and brought them out for Brian and I to read. The letters were mostly from Brian's Mum and Dad however there was also one from a very young Karen when she first got her typewriter and a couple from Robyn as a teenager. They were very interesting and Brian and I enjoyed recounting to Dee and Tony our family's history of traveling to a strange country and staying in the old Nissan huts as young children before our parents bought houses. We found it very hard to remove ourselves from the table but we were going to explore Warrington today so we had to make a move.
Tony and Dee took us in their car and could not have been more helpful. They took us to the place where Brian was born where there is no house anymore, so we got a photo of Brian standing in front of the hedge out front of where the house would have been. When we first got to England several months ago and drove to Warrington we took a photo in front of 56 Hale Street, however we have since found out that when they demolished the old houses, they also rearranged the numbers so where we thought he lived wasn't that place at all. We also visited the house his mother grew up in and the church he was christened in (we couldn't go into the church today because it was closed but we will see it tomorrow when it is opened). We also visited the site of St Benedicts School where Brian and his brother Paul and sister Karen had attended, however the school has been demolished and a housing estate now stands on the site the school once occupied.
By now it was time for lunch so we drop off some photos we want copied from Dee's album and go to a lovely little restaurant for lunch.
While in Warrington city we were shown the old fish markets and other market areas where Brian's Mum would have shopped when the children were little and it was all quite fascinating. We then went on to the library as things have obviously changed a lot since Brian was a boy, so we wanted to look at some old street maps to show where the school had been and also where the houses that the family had lived in were. It felt like we had been in there for only about 20mins or so but I think we were there for a couple of hours. One thing Brian and I know about each other is that we never seem to have enough time to see everything we want to see. We love reading about all the history of wherever we are and the time just flies. After the library we also visit the railway station where the "Little" family boarded a train when leaving Warrington for Australia over 44 years ago. This was another emotional moment for Brian & Dee, and a few quiet thoughts were contemplated followed by a few hugs to celebrate Brian's return. After a little more sightseeing we pick up the photos and head home for a cuppa before racing off to Sue and Peter's for tea. Dee had to call Sue to let her know we were coming "as we were" because we hadn't had time to have a shower, as we had spent so much time in the city.
Sue and Peter live in a very old farm house which is more like a mansion; it even has its own name, Crab Lane House. Brian and I so cherish all the time we have spent here so far and everyone we have met has treated us like family and made us feel right at home. Sue is like the lady of the manor except she likes to do everything herself and even made her own bread to have with tea which was delicious. Peter had gone out of his way to select a range of Australian wines to have with our meal, and we started off with a celebration toast of quite exquisite champagne. After a fabulous 4 course meal which included a delicious raspberry desert and some wonderful English cheese along with plenty of laughter and great conversation we were taken on a tour of the house. Peter is an amazing artist and has his studio in the house, and in most of the rooms there are pieces of his art on display.
For those wishing to view his work you should visit www.peteroakley.co.uk for more information, it is well worth it. Sue also has a lot her of her own artwork in the house and while she classes herself an amateur, I wish I could paint like her. We also proudly tell everyone about Brian's sister Peta's artistic ability and before we leave give them all Peta's web address which is www.terinu.net so have a look! The tour was fascinating with each room opening up to just the most magnificent settings, the company was fabulous and there was never a quiet or dull moment. We were there for almost six hours but it certainly didn't feel like it, and we said our goodbyes well after 11.00pm. Again Brian and I wonder why his parents decided to leave all of this for a different life in Australia, and I think it must have been a very hard decision.

October 28th Saturday

The next morning after brekky we set off for the church of St Benedict's. Karen might remember this from the photos, and as this was the church Brian was christened in, it probably was for the rest of his brothers and sisters. Brian obviously can't remember the church but is quite moved to be there and the mural on the wall is spectacular. From the photos we have taken it looks like a painting, but it is actually done in tiles. The font that had been used for christenings all those years ago is not there anymore but we are informed it is outside as the last priest that resided there made a lot of changes, and this was one of them. After looking around inside the church we went out into the garden to see the font which is now just sitting under a tap collecting water. We then toured around Warrington a little more looking at places that Brian would have spent time as a little boy and being given a lot of the history by Dee and Tony.
We moved onto Warrington cemetery where we visited the resting places of Brian's Granddad and Grandma Donlon (his Mothers maiden name), along with that of some of his uncles, aunts, and cousins. While all these relatives had passed many years ago, for Brian to be confronted with his past in this way was very emotional for him. We stayed for over an hour, and Brian was much moved and remained quiet for a few hours afterwards.

Back to Dee's for lunch then we are off again. Tony is going into Warrington to get some groceries and collect some more photos while Dee takes us touring. We went for a walk down to the River Mersey and had a look at some of the old buildings and monuments on the way. I'm sure Brian has written a little about this with his photos so I'll leave it at that. Then back to the library for copies of a few more Warrington street maps of 1964 before going for a visit to Andrea & John's house. Andrea works 12 hour days, one day on - one day off, so we have to try and fit in with her schedule as we really want to see her again. After a cuppa she brings out lots of her paperwork that she has collected over the years while doing research on the family tree, and she has accumulated quite a collection and it is all quite fascinating. Andrea and John have been to Australia quite a few times and I think John would pack up tomorrow to live there if he had the opportunity. We show them on the map where we are in Melbourne and plan for them to visit in the next two years. It is all quite exciting to go from having no family, to find not only family but also good friends across the ocean. I expect it is going to be hard to leave here, because as with Brian's Dads family whom we met earlier in Northwich, everyone is just so loving and friendly that we are having a great time and don't want it to end.
Dee had been calling her aunt Veronica all day trying to get in contact with her so we could visit, and she finally got hold of her so that will be our next stop. Lots of hugs and kisses for Andrea and John as this will be the last time we will see them on this visit, but we will be back before we return to Aussie.
Aunt Veronica is Brian's only living aunt on his mothers side and was Marge's older sister, so when we walk into her house we are amazed at how much like Marge she is. As we get to know her we realize it is not only in looks but also her mannerisms are also very much like Marge's. We spend a lovely few hours hearing stories of what life was like when they were young and took some great photos that we will cherish, and we look forward to coming back and hearing more another day.
Tony all this time is at home preparing us a lovely tea and as usual we seem to run out of time. The days are all going so fast, every day is like a race to see how much we can fit in. We finally arrive home at close to 8.00pm where we are spoilt with another great meal. Tony really has done himself proud, and over tea the talk just flows and we feel like we have known Dee and Tony for years not just a few days. While Tony was in town today getting some photos done for Brian, he also picked up a few books on how Warrington would have been back in the fifties. These are very much appreciated and we are really touched at the efforts he has made to make us feel at home. Also Dee had found some letters that had been written by Brian's Mum to her mother Emma back in the sixties which she told Brian he could keep. Brian was very touched and I think he even had a tear in his eye. Time for bed and a much needed rest as we will be leaving tomorrow and there is still much to do.
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Comments

m h owen on

thank you .

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