No matter how well you can plan out a day’s itinerary, some days leave you with your jaw hanging. Not because they’ve gone so terribly awry, but because they haven’t, despite the weather’s best intentions and how strong the will to just not bother becomes. Today was one of those days. We woke with the overwhelming feeling of ‘ahhh feck it, why bother’, as the day before we’d kind of struck out on all accounts where some of our family history sleuthing was concerned. Yesterday we couldn’t find several places we were looking for, or we did and they were an utter let down, others were so ‘dead’ that we were left feeling hollow, not even disappointed, just void of any feeling at all. Today however was an interesting mix of surprise and shock. After a proper cooked breakfast our first ‘visit’ was actually touring about through a few old family-related villages and areas, including the Vale of Pickering and the Howardian Hills, both extremely attractive, true postcard material with their sweeping green and pale yellow fields, the ever flowing Derwent River and shaded woodlands that are full of both large and small native animals. Several times we found ourselves slowing down accidentally as we were awe struck by the beauty of it all. Of course we also found a property that would’ve been absolutely magic, an unaltered Georgian/Victorian stone house with 6 bedrooms, and all the original period features (including cast-iron water hand-pump, and copper boiler in the laundry), several outbuildings, and on 2 acres with an adjacent 14 acres with river frontage. Sigh.
The next stop was into another Great-Aunt’s outside of Norton, and spent a lovely hour with her chatting about what the family have been up to since our last visit five years ago. Apparently quite a lot actually! Next stop was a bit of a mystery that was finally solved, but that also laid to rest the ghost of a man I would have liked to have known, but he died 10 years before I was born, a remarkable man who served in and, obviously, survived the Great War, but not without paying a huge price. For years we’ve held onto a few photos he’d sent to the family in Australia shortly before his death, and today we were finally able to track down the site of these photos, his home, the one he’d lived in on his own for about 30 years, and what must have felt like a million miles away from his family who’d immigrated. We’ve tried several times before to find it, thought we have only to discover from a well meaning Aunt or Uncle that no, that’s not it. Today we cracked it! After a little success yesterday we narrowed down the location, and today walked up and down the street with one of the photographs and inspected every single house that looked even vaguely possible. Success. We found it. Not only were we able to locate it, but met the current owners who were kind enough to invite us in and give us a tour of the cottage. It was a little eerie standing there, parts of the cottage hadn’t been renovated, so were exactly as he would have left them 50 years ago, and it almost felt like he was hovering, watching us and hopefully smiling, that somehow two of his descendants had come looking for him, had come to pay their respects. I hope it pleased him.
After that we rambled on to see my Grandmother’s cousin (and the resident mog pictured to the right), who’s batting 99 and eyeing the bowler down for her tonne, and I really hope she gets it. She’s a remarkable woman, so much like my Nan in the best of ways, quick witted, kind, funny, mischievous. She’s seen a lot in her time and I’m sad to know the reality of the situation, that the odds are heavily against me ever seeing her again, but at least I know she’ll be in good company, and I truly pity the angels when her and my Nan are reunited, nothing stopped them on earth, I see no reason why that should change in the afterlife!
As a nice wind down on our way ‘home’ for the night we stopped off at the Ryedale Folk Museum for a wander and to clear our minds a bit. We first visited the museum five years ago and it was really very impressive to see what’d been done since then. For those that aren’t familiar with it, Ryedale is a complex of historical buildings that’ve been re-situated to the site from their original location, so an early 1700s house from X, a Victorian cottage from Y, a reconstructed Roundhouse from approximately Z (cause they’re long since gone!), and as such is a wonderful study of social/architectural history. They also have various rare breeds of pigs, chickens, goats etc, as well as extensive gardens. It’s a lovely spot to spend a few hours reminiscing in what life must have been like for our forebears. A steak pie with chips topped off the day nicely at the local pub.