A Possible Home Town – A third possibility – Heart and Soul

A Possible Home Town – A third possibility – Heart and Soul


Having concluded that I don’t really have a home town (in) travelwithgma.wordpress.com/2022/02/15 – it was suggested to me, by Dr Jody Thompson, that there could be a third possibility for claiming a place as a home town. Dr Thompson suggested that maybe a home town could be where your heart and soul I had previously concluded that a connection to a place where I had not lived was not sufficient for that place to be my home town. Nor could I claim the place where I grew up, because I hated that place with a passion.

Being a “head” person, not a “heart and soul” person, I had not considered the possibility of a home town being where my heart and soul was, although I had referred to London as my soul city on occasion.

I knew London well, long before I visited it. Growing up in a country colonized by the British, the school curriculum was very anglo-centric. Kings and Queens of England and the history of Britain were taught, rather than the history of New Zealand-Aotearoa. It was as if the history of Aotearoa only commenced with the British invasion. Geographic features of of Britain were familiar. Our reading books were generally set in England, written by British writers. Enid Blyton made Cornwall pretty familiar, Peter Pan bought Kensington Gardens to life.

My Nursery Rhymes were set in London and other areas in the UK. I was very happy to finally hear the bells of St Clemens (of oranges and Lemons fame), London Bridge (is falling down), York (The Grand Old Duke of York), and many many more.

Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury writers made Hyde Park Gate and Bloomsbury familiar. My first visit to the British Museum did not feel like a first visit. I had read about and seen images of a lot of the items held there.

The British Royal Family were revered in New Zealand – possibly because of the percentage of immigrants from the UK. Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, Westminster Abbey and the Tower of London were constantly pictured in newspapers and magazines as were Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament and of course members of the British Royal Family.

My ancestors mostly came from the UK, (Ireland, Scotland and England, with one outlier from Portugal.) A lot of my English ancestors were born and lived in Southwark, London after their migration from Suffolk a couple of hundred years ago. I have previously written about my search for Uk ancestors – see travelwithgma.word.press.com/2020/02/09

I was an adult when I first visited London. The red double decker buses, with destinations such as, for example, High Street Kensington, Trafalgar Square, Oxford Street and Regent Street felt familiar, as did all the major landmarks. I was quite at home in London. I have visited London on numerous occasions, with new discoveries on each visit. Threadneedle Street, Poultry Lane, the various Royal Parks, Dulwich Gallery, Frederick Leighton’s House and the Wallace Collection.

I lived and worked in London for a couple of years. In some respects it felt like coming home. I lived in several different areas in London, so got to know those areas very well.


My first residence was a little apartment in Bruton Lane, Mayfair – joy. Bruton Lane was off Bruton Street, a few steps from Bond Street. Berkeley Square was at the other end of Bruton Street.

There was a mock tudor pub on the corner of Bruton Street and Bruton Lane, the Coach and Horses, which is apparently the oldest building on Bruton Street. The food served in that pub was excellent. A picturesque pub, serving good food and only a minute walk from home was a delight.

I have very happy memories of a visit from NZ cousins while living in Bruton Lane. We decided to go to dinner one night at a “restaurant” in Berkeley Square (A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square). We did not realise that the second floor restaurant which we had noticed was the dining room of a private club. The receptionist looked a touch startled to be confronted by 3 people, one on crutches, not dressed in accordance with the dress code, asking for a table. To her credit, she let us in, and didn’t tell us it was a private club. Pretty cool for Mayfair. I don’t recall what we ate, but I do recall cousin Ken asking the waitress if she had heard many nightingales singing. She looked blank. You know Ken said, “A Nightingale sang in Berkeley Square”. She was too young to remember a song written in 1939.

We were actually at Morton’s Club, which had a magnificent view overlooking the length of Berkeley Square, from north to south.

Middlesex Street

I then lived in Middlesex Street (Petticoat Lane) for a few months. Hearing the Cockney accents as the traders set up their stalls was quite surreal. I had not previously spent any time in this part of London. My explorations were an adventure. Spitafields market and Brick Lane with its Indian Restaurants were a quite different experience.

Putney Bridge

My longest time in an area was at Putney Bridge, in a beautiful Mews House in Church Gate alongside All Saints Church, Fulham, beside the River Thames. The tower of the church dates back to 1440. The Bishops Park and Palace in Southwark was over the back fence. I frequently walked or rode a bike along the Thames Path, sometimes cycling as far as Richmond.

The graveyard at All Saints came alive in spring. A host of golden daffodils appeared. Wordsworth’s Wandering Lonely as a Cloud came to mind every time I saw them. Although the graveyard did not contain ten thousand daffodils, those in the graveyard “tossed their heads in sprightly dance” and although “my heart with pleasure filled” I did not actually dance with the daffodils.

The second and third floor windows of my Mews House looked out over All Saints and Putney Bridge. The view over Putney Bridge was ever changing and I never tired of looking at it. Morning mists in winter and at night, when it was lit up with red London buses travelling across it provided the loveliest of visions.

I could have climbed over the back fence into the gardens of the Bishops Palace in Fulham, but I resisted the temptation, and walked to the entrance. The gardens are the second oldest botanical gardens in London, and contain riverside gardens and a walled garden. I spent a lot of time in those gardens.

Sloane Gardens, Sloane Square

My final residence in London was an apartment in Sloane Gardens. Sloane Square and the Kings Road provided much entertainment and interest.

How good was it to be able to walk to the Chelsea Flower Show. This was the year Mary Reynolds became the youngest person to win a medal. She created the Celtic Sanctuary.

It was from this location that I was dragged kicking and screaming back to the Antipodes, bound for Botany Bay.

Fortunately for me – it was not “farewell to England forever”. I visit London at least annually, sometimes for up to 3 months. During these visits, I have become familiar with Islington, Primrose Hill and Richmond. When my flight arrives at Heathrow, I feel as if I am home. I don’t feel like that when my flight touches down at Sydney on my return. It takes me weeks to recover from my my return.

What is it about London which makes it a contender for my home town of the heart and soul? Is it possible to claim a town as a home town on the basis of heart and soul?

Growing up in London would have provided a totally different life than the life I experienced in London. Post war London looks pretty grim. Rationing was still in place. Post war, a little village in New Zealand showed no signs of the destruction London experienced. There was no rationing. The air was fresh and clean, and the rivers were not polluted.

What did London have that I would have found far more to my taste than what was offered by life in a village in New Zealand?

I have always loved cities. I was always in my happy place in a city, be it a small city like Hastings (which I attempted to appropriate as my home town), or better still, Auckland – when we arrived in Auckland in summer, I used to wind the car windows down (yes, wind) to smell the melting bitumen. Very evocative for a kid from the country where the roads were not sealed.

Visiting the Auckland Museum was one of the pleasures to be had in that city. There were shops, a lot of shops. The Farmers Trading Company, with a rooftop playground was a little paradise. There were lots of people. The anonymity of living in a city would have been so much more to my taste than the curtain twitchers reporting on my every move to my parents.

Living in a small village provided little exposure to culture. The first ever live performance I experienced was attending a performance by the World Famous Hogarth Puppets at the Municipal Theatre in Hastings. I was entranced – not just with the puppets, but with the whole experience. The Art Noveau interior felt very fancy.

Municipal Theatre, Hastings 1937: Spanish Mission style with Art Noveau interier.

The New Zealand Ballet Company came to Putaruru once. I can’t remember what they performed, but I do recall the thrill of “going to the ballet.” Attending a performance of Lay Bayadere at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden a lifetime later, bought back the memories of my very first ballet attendance in Putaruru.

The only musical I ever attended in Aotearoa was a performance of My Fair Lady in Auckland, in about 1961. I have never forgotten the magic of that night. Travelling to Auckland, dressing up and attending a plush theatre (well plush after the corrugated iron picture theatre I attended), and savouring every moment of the performance.

Live music performances were almost non existent, unless you can count one of the West boys playing a guitar and mouth organ simultaneously at the local hall.

Compare these cultural experiences with those available in London. I had a friend who had grown up in London at the time I was living it a little village. Coincidentally, she had lived around the corner from my house in Putney Bridge, so the Fulham Bishops Palace, park and garden were in her back garden. She went to the theatre and attended concerts. She visited the British Museum. The movie theatre she attended was not made of corrugated iron. She frequented the wonderful royal parks and gardens. London was always her home town, despite not having lived there for a long time.

If I had grown up in London, I would very happily claim it as my home town, but I didn’t grow up in London. I am sorry Dr Thompson, the head has overruled the heart and soul – I could not in all honesty claim London as my home town, but I rejoice in the fact that Charlie, the newest member of the family can claim London as her home town.

A comment on My Home Town blog (published 2002/02/15) has provided me with a home town. “Allover” is my home town. Thank you mitchteemly.

England – in search of Ancestors – Part 3.

England – in search of Ancestors – Part 3.

Updated after a recent visit to Suffolk.

The Bridges name has a couple of origins.

I shall lay claim to the one which denoted someone from Bruges (Brugge), as being a more interesting origin. Apparently Bruges had extensive trading links with England in the middle ages. The spelling of the name was de Bruges, and dates back to around 1200.

The second possible origin is that the surname Bridges or Brydges, from early medieval times, denotes someone who lived near a bridge, or a bridge keeper. I was fascinated to discover that building and maintaining bridges was a feudal obligation in the middle ages. I have not managed to trace my ancestors back to feudal times or to Bruges. I do hope I could trace them back to Bruges.

My paternal grandfather Frank, was born in London in 1880, and immigrated to New Zealand with his parents and 3 of his siblings in 1886. They boarded the Akaroa which departed from Gravesend on 18 March 1886, and arrived in Auckland on 28 June 1886.

Prior to immigration, my great Grandparents, Joseph and Sarah lived at 46 Lower Tulse Hill. Lower Tulse Hill became Tulse Hill, properties renumbered and is now part of the A204. In 1843 there was a continuous line of houses predominantly detached and usually with separate coach houses along the full length of Lower Tulse Hill from Brixton to the top of the hill. The area has been redeveloped at much higher densities since the 1930’s.

There are no 19th century houses remaining in that part of Tulse Hill. The area appears to be the home of rather deadly gangs, with numerous stabbings and shootings.

There was little left in the area which my great grandparents would have seen or been familiar with. I decided to walk to the Dulwich Picture Gallery, which having opened to the public in 1817, could have been visited by my great grandparents. I passed by Dulwich College, which was founded in 1619. The new college opened in 1870 so my great grandparents would surely have seen it.

The Dulwich Picture Gallery is a gem. It was designed by Sir John Soane. It has a very fine collection of old Masters. The Mausoleum and east wing galleries were damaged in 1944 by a German V1 flying bomb, and it has been refurbished. Despite damage and refurbishments, my great grandparents would recognise the building today.

So far, I have traced my line of the Bridges family back to my 6th great grandfather, John who was born in 1665 in Aldeburgh, Suffolk, England. My 5th great grandfather was also born in Aldeburgh. He moved to Woodbridge Suffolk where my 4th, 3rd and 2nd great grandfathers were born.

Aldeburgh – which I am told is pronounced “Orld-brur”, has a shifting coastline, and coastal erosion. It was once an important Tudor Port, and shipbuilders in Aldeburgh built the Golden Hind and the Greyhound, the ships that Sir Francis Drake sailed. The river Alde had silted up and the Port and shipbuilding had ceased prior to my 6th great grandfather’s time.

Aldeburgh was a fishing village in the years my ancestors lived there. It is now a seaside resort, and would bear little resemblance to the place my ancestors lived. There are a couple of buildings which my ancestors would have been familiar with. The 16th century Moot Hall, although closer to the shoreline than it would have been, would be recognised by my Aldeburgh ancestors, as would St Peter and St Paul’s church which has a tower dating back to the 14th century, with much of the rest dating from 16th century.

Aldeburgh Moot Hall.

Woodbridge, Suffolk is approximately 17.4 miles from Aldeburgh, and today takes around 26 minutes to drive via the A12 and A1094. It no doubt took a lot longer to travel between the towns when my ancestors lived there, but I can’t imagine such a relocation would have been particularly adventurous, even then.

My ancestors may have seen the mounds at Sutton Hoo, which is an archaeological site near Woodbridge overlooking the Debden River. They would not have known that these were Anglo Saxon burial mounds dating from the 6th and 7th centuries.

It was not until 1939 that the Sutton Hoo Treasures were discovered. Excavations unearthed a great ship burial of an Anglo Saxon king and his possessions. The ship was 27 metres long. The Treasures are in the British Museum, and include a helmet, one of the “Treasures” of the British Museum.

Helmet from Sutton Hoo Treasures.

There has been a tide mill on the River Debden at Woodbridge from around 1170. It was owned by the Augustine Priors for 350 years until Henry VIII confiscated it. The current mill was built in 1793, so my ancestors would have been familiar with the building. The Woodbridge Tide Mill was the last productive tide mill in England. It ceased operation in 1957.

Woodbridge Tide Mill.

My 3rd great grandfather was a Salt boiler at the time of my 2nd great grandfather’s birth in 1802. As the name suggests, a salt boiler boiled saltwater until it evaporated, leaving the salt. To obtain the wood for the fires, a salt boiler would travel about the area to collect the undercover wood from neighbouring villages and farms.

Update: Visiting Suffolk in November 2022

Although I had visited the various places in London where the Bridges ancestor’s had lived, I had never managed a visit to Suffolk. The opportunity presented itself on my first “escape from the antipodes” since commencement of the plague, and the subsequent closing of the Australian border.

I stayed at Seckford Hall, near Woodbridge, a Tudor period house constructed in the 1530’s as the family home of Thomas Seckford. Staying at Seckford Hall, a place where my ancestors would only have crossed the threshhold as servants, if at all, confirmed that their sacrifice of leaving their families, never to be seen again, was of huge benefit to the following generations – all of whom could cross the threshold of Seckford Hall if they wished.

My 2nd great grandfather William Bridges, born in Woodbridge in 1882, was christened in St Mary, Woodbridge. The church was built between 1417-1545, and its tower between 1448-63. St Mary’s is sited on a hill and the tower rises 30 metres – sailors use the tower as a focal point when sailing up the Debden River. I entered the church through the spectacular north porch, to find myself in an beautiful Victorian interior. For me, the most interesting of medieval monuments was the 15th c stone “Seven Sacrament Baptismal Font” where William would have been christened. The font cover by Walter Forsyth is a much newer addition – 1937. The stained glass windows are beautiful, and I was very pleased to find one depicting St George killing the dragon. I search out St George killing dragons wherever I travel, and have published a piece devoted to St George travelwithgma.wordpress.com/2019/11/10/

A modern three panel tapestry, The Debden Millenium Frieze, telling the story and history of Woodbridge – Woodbridge’s version of the Bayeux Tapestry – was an interesting contrast to the medieval monuments and Victorian elements of the interior.

Strolling along the banks of the Debden River in Woodbridge, seemed like a gift which kept on giving. Tide Mill, moored boats, boatyards, and modern cafe’s, workshops and galleries. After a rather interesting driving experience trying to find the Tide Mill, I finally found a carpark near the railway station. I thought I had worked out how to feed the infernal parking meter – clearly I failed that challenge, and returned to the car to find a penalty notice on the windscreen on my return from the gift that kept giving.

The Tide Mill is now a museum, which was unfortunately closed. I had to make do with peering in the windows. The views across the River Debden from the Tide Mill would have been a familiar sight to my ancestors.

The Shire Hall and Market Square and Theatre Street and surroundings generally maintain the appearance they had when my ancestors lived in Woodbridge. I felt as if I was walking in their footsteps. The Shire Hall was built in around 1575. The upper part was used in a judicial capacity and the ground floor was an open corn market. Flemish gables were added in the 17th century, and the archways bricked up in the early 19th century.

There was little that I could identify in Aldeburgh that would have been familiar to my ancestors. The shoreline is now much closer to the town and most of the the old Tudor town has been swallowed by the rising sea, so even surviving buildings they would have known, would be much closer to the sea.

Images below, from left to right: Moot Hall 16th century, St Peter and St Paul’s Church and Churchyard 16th century, Landscape at southern end of Aldeburgh.

Suffolk to London

My 2nd great grandfather William, is said to have “immigrated from Suffolk as a wood turner and made good as a hat block maker”. (“Kenneth Simpson” North West Kent Family History Magazine Vol. 5 No 2, June 1989, page 8).

The family settled in Southwark, and lived at 8 Gravel Lane. William became a methodist preacher some time in the 1830’s. He began his own mission and installed a small chapel in an upper room in Gravel Lane.

William became involved in the sect of the “Peculiar People”, who believed in faith healing. Peculiar people appear in the bible apparently, and the modern translation of Peculiar People are “precious possessions and god’s cherished personal treasures.” (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Bridges_(preacher).)

It took me quite some time to identify Gravel Lane. It no longer exists by that name. I obtained old maps and by identifying the shape of the old Gravel Lane, decided that Gravel Lane was now Great Suffolk Street. I turned up at Great Suffolk Street and discovered that I need not have gone to so much trouble to identify the street.

The cafe in the extension to the Tate Modern looks directly down Great Suffolk Street. I had already seen the street from above.

Great Suffolk Street from Tate Modern

My ancestors would recognise little of Southwark today. That area was extensively destroyed by bombing during the second world war. 8 Gravel Lane would have been just past the white building in the picture above.

Gravel Lane, in their day, had a power station at the top of the street, which was the predecessor to the Bankside Power Station which was converted into the Tate Modern. Census returns and London City Directories for Gravel Lane disclosed that the male resident’s were generally engaged in various trades. The only woman in Gravel Lane listed in the City Directory for 1845 was a publican. My 2nd great grandfather was identified as a hat block manufacturer or engineer. Other occupations included commission agents, bookbinders, wheelwrights, basket makers, tripe dressers, porkmen, an oilman, upholsterers, grocers and plumbers.

The area contained a number of almshouses, including one in Gravel Lane belonging to the St Saviour’s Parish congregation. Mrs Vaughan opened a charity workhouse in Gravel Lane. One of the few buildings remaining in the area, which my ancestors would have seen are the Hopton Almshouses, in Hopton Road. The almshouses have been occupied continuously since 1752.

Early Gravel Lane

When my ancestors lived in Gravel Lane, Southwark Cathedral was still a parish church. It received cathedral status in 1905. The exterior would still be recognisable by them, as would some of the monuments in the interior. They would not recognise the gift shop, where many years ago I acquired 2 replica green men plaques, which now have pride of place on my art poles.

My ancestors probably walked past a house, overlooking the Thames where Christopher Wren lived, and in 1502 Catherine of Aragon took shelter. They would have seen St Paul’s Cathedral across the river. In my cover image taken from the Tate Modern, I suspect that my ancestors would only recognize St Pauls.

My ancestors would almost certainly have purchased vegetables at the Borough Markets. These markets are still trading on the site of the original borough markets. In 2014, the market celebrated its 1000th anniversary. When my ancestors lived in Gravel Lane the market was described as “a market for vegetables, noisy and dirty.”

Today it is a global market, with traders from many parts of the world selling their goods. The Borough Markets are a tourist destination and a must for shoppers looking for superb fresh fruit and vegetables, fish, meat and artisanal food and atmosphere. The variety of cheeses available alone make a visit memorable.

My great grandfather Joseph was born in Southwark. He married Sarah Wordley from Orsett, Essex in Essex in 1860. Sarah came from a long established farming family in Orsett, where several generations of her male (of course) family owned and farmed the same property. In his will, Sarah’s father left the furniture in the house to Sarah’s mother, but the house and farm went to the eldest son.

Joseph and Sarah lived in Southwark until some time between 1871 and 1881 (prior to the 1881 census) when they moved to Tulse Hill. Tulse Hill was obviously a step up in the food chain.

In the 1881 census, Joseph was described as a hat block maker employing 5 men and 1 boy. They and their neighbours had servants. The servants were variously described as cooks, housemaids, nurses, needlewomen and companions. The occupations of the male heads of households disclosed quite a different neighbourhood to that of Gravel Lane. Near neighbours included one whose occupation was “living on income from investments”. Others included solicitors, surveyors, architects, law book seller, bankers clerk, merchant tailor and my favourite, a betting man.

What caused Joseph and Sarah to emigrate to New Zealand in 1886? Their life in Auckland appeared to see them moving back down the food chain. One daughter died of tuberculosis 2 years after arrival in Auckland, aged 24. She had had TB for 3 years. Did they come to New Zealand for a better climate?

In 1889, the family was living in Vermont Street, Ponsonby. Joseph appeared in the NZ electoral roll for 1893, living in Vermont Street, Ponsonby and his occupation was an agent. Subsequent electoral rolls also disclose his occupation as agent or insurance agent.

The Electoral Act 1893 (New Zealand) gave all women the right to vote. New Zealand was the first country in the world in which women had the right to vote. My great grandmother Sarah Bridges, of Vermont Street, Ponsonby signed the 1893 petition presented to the New Zealand Parliament to extend the franchise to them.

Sarah is registered on the New Zealand Electoral Roll for 1893. Voting is not compulsory in New Zealand. I like to think that she did vote.

I have lived in London, and visited on numerous occasions. It always felt very familiar – not because of my ancestry, but because growing up in a former British Colony involved learning the history of England, reading books written by English authors and hearing half the population referring to England as home – even those who had left England as children.

Travels with Lolly Girl.

Travels with Lolly Girl.

New Zealand, Istanbul, Oslo, England, Scotland, Ireland, Iceland, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Australia


Lolly girl and gma go back a long way. Further than I care to think about. From child brides in a small parochial country at the end of the earth, to mature travellers. Having dispensed with the child grooms, and seen our children grow up and move on, we had no ties. The world was our oyster.

Lake Taupo, Mt Tongariro and Mt Ruapehi

Gma dispensed with the husband, and escaped the small parochial country fairly early in the piece. Lolly girl still lives in the small parochial country, but that country has matured, and is currently a far kinder place than the place to which gma escaped.

Lolly girl and I are not alike, but the differences make for a harmonious relationship. I am a relaxed traveller. Lolly girl, on the other hand, is a very anxious traveller. Her anxieties have occasionally saved us from disaster when my relaxed mode of operation would have had us stranded.

On a recent visit to Oslo, my city mapper took us to a wharf from which we were to depart on a trip around the fjords. Gma is happily sitting in the sun, relaxed and not bothering about the fact that there was no boat in sight, and no people. Lolly girl, getting anxious about no boat and no people indicates that she is going to “make enquiries”. Gma rolls her eyes, and continues to lounge in the sun. Turns out that we are on the wrong wharf, and only just had time to get to the correct wharf, where a queue of thousands were waiting for the boat. Last on, meant worst seats.

Early on we had travelled together to London, and around places nearby. Lolly girl was born in a south coast seaside town in Sussex, and had migrated with her family to the parochial country at the end of the world as a child. She was moderately comfortable travelling in the country of her birth, where the language was similar to that of the parochial country. She was less comfortable with the journey.

On one occasion the landing at Heathrow was aborted and our plane roared up into the fog covering London – an obstacle on the runway we were told. As we circled past Windsor Castle for the third time, Lolly Girl was extremely anxious. “What if we run out of fuel”. We won’t, we will go elsewhere to land”. “Nooo, we can’t X is waiting at Heathrow to meet us.”

Lolly Girl’s biggest challenge was joining Gma in Istanbul. Gma had been travelling in Eastern Turkey, and was returning to the antipodes from Istanbul. Lolly Girl was in London, and had to travel on her own, and get herself from the airport to the hotel in Istanbul. Neither Lolly Girl or Gma could believe it when she booked on line, and actually hit the “buy” button on the airline site.

There followed a few weeks of “oh my god, what have I done” from Lolly Girl, which ramped up when demonstrations began in Taksim Square. Our hotel was in Sultanahmet on Kennedy Cardesi, just down the hill from the Blue Mosque. Geographically we were a reasonable distance from Taksim Square, so after consulting the map, Lolly Girl relaxed – kind of.

Lolly Girl emerged, triumphant from the taxi at the hotel in Istanbul, ready to explore. She took everything in her stride. The incredible beauty of the mosques overcame any residual anxiety Lolly Girl had for her first encounter with Islam.

We were sitting on the terrace of our hotel, overlooking the Sea of Marmara one evening, when the relaxed mode moved abruptly to not relaxed. Plumes of smoke could be seen from Taksim Square, and what appeared to be a naval boat came chugging into view.

A glass of wine restored equilubrium, even though the smoke from Taksim Square was still billowing. The boat had disappeared from view.

After an epic fail of our GPS in Scotland – which instead of taking us north toward Ballater, took us up a road which became narrower and narrower and then turned into a track, ending at the grand gates of a mansion beyond, Lolly Girl decided we needed paper maps as a back up. Gma does further eye rolls, but Lolly girl was not daunted.

As it happened, it was as well that Lolly Girl had paper maps when we got to Ireland. The GPS was unable to cope with numerous places, and on several occasions took us up a roads which led nowhere near our destination. It was beyond the ability of the GPS to take us to a village in Kilkenny, where a part of my family had originated. Actually, it was also beyond the ability of Lolly Girl and her paper maps to get us there. We retired, hurt, to a pub for lunch. Lolly girl accosted a staff member for directions, and we finally made it to Galmoy.

Gma considers it a huge fail if directions have to be sought, and refuses to ever ask for assistance. It is very fortuitous for our travels that Lolly Girl is happy to ask for directions. If she wasn’t, we would be driving around in ever diminishing circles forever, never getting to our destination.

The distrust of the GPS can have some issues. On a trip to the Lake District, the GPS was working well. Lolly Girl nevertheless had the paper maps to hand. Approaching huge roundabouts, just as the GPS lady started instructing which exit to take, Lolly Girl would instruct me which exit she thought we should take, drowning out the GPS lady, and occasionally had the GPS lady hysterically yelling at us take a U turn. Finally we had to decide which of the GPS or Lolly Girl was excess to requirements.

Gma generally drives. One year Lolly Girl borrowed a car in London, which she had to drive. The car was a Porsche Boxter S.

Lolly Girl was anxious about the drive out of London, and most anxious about driving a Porsche. Our first journey was to York. We did all right under the circumstances. Going through a red light on a roundabout 5 minutes from home set the pace.

Driving up the M1 was memorable. Here we were in the Porsche crawling in the far left lane, with every other vehicle overtaking us, including big trucks and buses, the latter towering over us like a huge block of flats on wheels. Our windows seemed to be level with the top of their tyres.

We then journeyed south to visit the seaside town which Lolly Girl had come from, in Sussex. Lolly Girl was far more relaxed – the A roads suited her better than the M1. It had been snowing heavily, but the roads were cleared. Lolly Girl’s friends were not relaxed about a Porsche being parked in the street, so their car was unceremoniously moved onto the street to allow the Porsche to be locked into the garage.

It was rather fun emerging from the Porsche at country petrol stations. We whooshed into the forecourt – the young male attendants came rushing out. The looks on their faces when Lolly Girl and Gma unfolded themselves out of the car was priceless.

Gma is generally the travel agent and tour group leader. A more agreeable travelling companion than Lolly Girl would be hard to find. No matter how hideous the accommodation or travel turns out, she does not complain. Gma had booked a serviced apartment in Reykjavic. It looked very pleasant on its website, and was very close to everything. Emerging from the airport bus, Gma was quite suprised at the direction the city tripper was taking us. It certainly wasn’t the direction Gma thought it would be.

It turned out that the serviced apartment owners had several buildings, and put us in a different building than Gma had booked. The apartment was a hovel, for which we had paid non hovel prices. Lolly Girl was extremely kind about the hovel, and its smell, although she did produce a bottle of french perfume which was liberally sprayed around the hovel.

The act of travelling makes Lolly Girl anxious. We were catching a train from Copenhagen to Oslo, with a change at Gothenburg. On reaching the Copenhagen railway station, Lolly Girl zips off to ascertain which platform we were departing from. “Its not on the list of departures.” We were early, so sat down to wait, with Lolly Girl darting off to check departures. Anxiety sets in when trains later than ours are on the board.

Gma goes off to check the departures board, found the train and platform. Seems Lolly Girl was looking at the arrivals screen. When we arrived in Gothenburg, our train for Oslo was there, but locked. We did have about 45 minutes, but because it was not possible to reserve seats, people started standing in front of locked doors to make sure they got their seat of choice, and somewhere to stow their bags. Gma was consuming coffee and not inclined to move from her sunny spot to stand in a wind tunnel for 20 minutes. Lolly Girl put up with Gma’s indolence for fully 5 minutes, then moved off to stand behind the first person in the line at the locked door of choice.

Gma idly wondered if Lolly Girl had any idea of the scrum which eventuates when the doors open, and thought about warning her that coming in from the side was more effective if you were not the first person in the queue, and that using your suitcase as a weapon was required.

The doors open. Gma loses sight of Lolly Girl as the crowd surges forward, the side flanks moving in with precision. By the time Gma gets on the train, Lolly Girl has secured the 2 best seats in the carriage, and has obtained spots for the bags. Gma is duly grateful, and graciously declines the offer to sit at the window. Lolly girl is quite shaken by the experience of kill or be killed, although she most admirably was not killed, and reigned triumphant.

Some of Gmas happiest travel experiences have been with Lolly Girl. Getting drunk and disorderly with Lolly Girl around the world for the rest of Gma’s travelling life would be a joy.