While setting ourselves up with a motorhome, we stayed in Solihull, a borough just outside of Birmingham where my grandparents grew up. We were picked up from the train station by Trevor, my something-cousin-something-removed and Keith, his father in law, my grandfather’s brother, and therefore my great uncle (I’m getting good at this) and driven to Keith and Olga’s (my great aunt’s) house. Shall I draw a graph?
We spent three very enjoyable days with Keith and Olga (Trevor and Jane stayed too, in their motorhome parked out the front, for two days). All four are absolutely charming, and provided us with very entertaining and enjoyable company. Keith’s mannerisms are so similar to those of Alan, my grandfather, it was remarkable. It was interesting too, having conversations and realising that we are very alike — we all seem to share the some values and opinions. Keith’s even vegetarian, like I am.
After Trevor and Jane spent a day with us heading down to Chipping Sodbury to get our new home, Keith and Olga took us out to Kenilworth Castle in Warwickshire (of Norman origin, the 1100’s). My first castle! We had a very nice time wandering around and listening to the audio tour thing (and I had some fun with HDR photography).
The next few nights we spent with Pauline and Bill, my great aunt and uncle from the other side of the family — Pauline is my grandmother’s sister (the fact that both lived in the same town surprised me, until I had a duh moment and realised that Pat and Alan, my grandparents, both grew up and met in Solihull).
We originally were planning to just spend the night with them, and they generously offered to drive us down to Chipping Sodbury to pick up our motorhome. Then, the international bank transfer hadn’t gone through in time, so we had to wait out the weekend. It turned out to be fine though, and we got to spend a bit longer with Paul & Bill, and met one of their friends, an eccentric but charismatic ex-MI5 agent. This guy was good friends with Princess Di (seriously, there’s photographic evidence!), and provided security during his career for a wide variety of public political figures. Cool.
In the meantime, Pauline and Bill drove us across to Stratford-on-Avon, one of those things one has do to, as a tourist, and wandered around the town a little.
When the time finally came to go meet our new home, we went via a picturesque little village called Tewkesbury, situated where two rivers meet, and recently victim to a flood that had most residents living in caravans out the front of their soggy houses. No more though; we went for a walk along the river and back through the streets. As with many other villages we’ve passed through, we were impressed with the attention to detail: Flowers in baskets dangling from many buildings and the lamp-posts, for example, make a huge difference to a street. Aussies just don’t seem to care about that kind of thing. Whatever, mate, slap another supermarket in!
Anyway, that’s it for that chapter of our trip — we have a motorhome now! Woohoo!