June 20, 2012
Ian and Anne Crawford live in the bright and bustling city of Bristol, an old tidal port town with a university and a feel that reminds us of Newcastle (Australia).
It’s now the place where the wings for the Airbus 380s are built, and their Rolls Royce engines. Don’t mention Qantas and Singapore.
Ian is lobbying to have trams reinstated to inner-city streets. Much more efficient than buses. And to keep a green belt in their neighbourhood when more housing goes in.
An atheist, a socialist and a greenie. What a find in the family tree. Graham just keeps laughing to himself quietly while Ian extols the virtues of light rail … he knows how much I am enjoying this conversation.
We sit up way too late talking family trees. At least we get to sleep in; Ian has a big day of lobbying ahead of him.
We have mostly avoided the rain on our tour, while Wales and southern England are flooding. But our trip to Bath is wet. Very wet. Bath. How appropriate. So yet again we miss seeing the historic Roman site. We see enough of the steep cobbled streets to enjoy the Georgian architecture. We’re only a little bit lost.
Maybe on another visit we’ll stop but for now we press on and eventually find a warm and comfortable hotel room out of town a ways.
The rain keeps falling the next day but we decide to call into Stonehenge regardless. It is, after all, the day after summer solstice (we only just realise). Could have been another Statue of David moment.
Graham says he’s prepared to be disappointed by Stonehenge but we can’t quite believe the collection of smallish stones by the side of the road. Is it a model? No. This is it.
You’re just in time, says the man on the gate; the Druids are about to begin their noon ceremony, but they’re running a bit late. The Druids, too, disappoint. I so wanted to be inspired, uplifted.
But they’re not much more than a rag-tag crew of people in beanies and boots and white sheets. Some are in white plastic rain smocks. A couple wear flower garlands in their hair. Mums in jeans push a couple of babies in prams at the rear of the procession. Drupies, Graham calls them (Druid groupies, get it?).
I have no idea what their ceremony represents. It’s just a bit sad, or funny. Sorry Stonehenge. Sorry Druids.
Another day, another family stop. This time it’s Graham’s turn as we visit his uncle Bob, near Brighton. It’s lovely to see him again after so many years. He is such a Harrison, very much in the mould of Neville and Ken. Such a lovely, gentle man and gentleman.
Once again, it’s a late night. Bob and I are off to bed early but Graham and Bob’s housemate William solve the problems of the known world (and some of the unknown) over several glasses of scotch. Another sleep-in.
We take photos to add to our family album before a quick visit to Worthing pier. It’s a stereotypical British seaside holiday scene. Pebbly sands, blowing a gale, and students performing a modern take on Shakespeare in a beach shelter. We are heading towards Harwich and our ferry to the Netherlands with the Daskos. But there’s one more family stop.
I haven’t seen Nicole (son of cousin Tom and Mariette) since she was a baby and I was 12.
After a full and fascinating life around the globe – Australia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, England, America – she’s settled in Suffolk, about to move into a new house with her two delightful kids and partner Michael.
We defy the weather and have a bbq anyway and the next day visit an archaeological site that we think leaves Stonehenge for dead (pardon the pun). Sutton Hoo has a fantastic name and a fascinating history as the burial site of ancient Saxons, including a Saxon king buried with his boat.
Relics were discovered just before the outbreak of WWII; now there’s a museum, a walk and reenactment days. And, as luck would have it, one was in full swing as we arrived.
Give me Saxons in full battle cry and the “home guard” doing physical jerks over Druids any day.