This post is mainly a trip down memory lane for me so I apologise if you don’t find it relevant or interesting (Just warning you!)
I’m home now in Melbourne. It’s great to be home with family and friends after nearly six months away
Merry and I had a terrific trip to Russia (Moscow – St Petersburg on the “Volga Dream” river cruise) and afterwards by car through the Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania….. I must say the Hotels were somewhat more luxurious than my accommodation throughout Central Asia!
Merry flew back home and I returned to England to show off Azulo to some relatives and friends!!!!
England 2 – 12 October
I was met off the “Eurostar” from Paris by my friend Vic and we returned to his and Gill’s home in Crockham Hill, Kent.
Vic had “dobbed” me in to do a Presentation on my trip in the “Crockham Hill Village Hall” This was in support of Cystic Fibrosis. Azulo was to be the Guest of Honour!
Azulo however decided to “throw a wobbly” (English polite version) or as the Aussies say “Crack the shits”….He FLATLY refused to start!
This bike has “attitude”!!!!….. I had visions of going on my “Celebration Tour of England” by CAR!
We called Chris Roffey the mechanic who immediately came around and carted Azulo off in a truck…..
Imagine…I have ridden Azulo through deserts and mountains, rain, snow and wind over some 50,000 k basically without a problem and now it wont start in England of all places!….If Azulo WAS human you could understand it….IE he had simply had enough and said NO MORE and is comfortable in the warm garage!
Chris Roffey, the mechanic worked his magic and Azulo reluctantly came back to life to attend the Presentation and then kindly agreed to cart me around England!
The Presentation at the Village Hall was a rousing success….
Crockham Hill Village Hall
Geoff rousing the crowd!
I was thrilled that two old College friends, Chris Hobbs and Tony Rushbrook went out of their way to attend. Chris and I were both sponsored through College by British Oxygen and we spent nearly five years together travelling through England and Wales to British Oxygen Plants and Offices and of course at College doing our Business degree.. We got up to all sorts of mischief as you can imagine……
Azulo in Crockham Hill Village Hall
I hadn’t seen or heard from Tony for some 50 years..He literally “found me” through the blog only a few weeks ago (actually he was really trying to find Vic) He and his wife Marion came down from London especially for the evening. I was thrilled to see them
The evening started with a brief introduction by Tim Wotton who is a young man of 40 with Cystic Fibrosis.
Tim Wotton and Carol Ann Hunt (from Cystic Fibrosis Association)
It is quite amazing how he has learned to live with this horrible disease. He has written a book “How have I cheated death” which is inspirational. I feel very humble.. I must admit I knew next to nothing about Cystic Fibrosis which is a genetic disease of the lung. I think I will add links to my blog for my next trip as I feel it is a cause very deserving of support
The next day…..The tour begins!
Sunday 5th – St Albans, Hertfordshire
Firstly I rode to St Albans to see my old friends Alan and Wendy Bellinger and their daughter Karen Rains, her husband Phil and sons Tom and Alex. Karen made a beautiful Gammon Roast and a pudding that was sensational (forgotten the name...(Karen if you read this please add a comment!) After lunch Tom and I had a game of that fine old English game… “Conkers”
Alan an I have been friends for years and he has visited us many time in Australia, as did Karen and Phil on their Honeymoon!
Geoff with old friend Alan Bellinger
Karen Rains and me
Tom Rains riding Azulo
The Rains Family. Phil,Tom.Karen and Alex
Monday 6th – Pershore, Worcestershire
The next day I rode to Pershore near Worcester to see my Cousin Juliet and her husband John……Before leaving the Bellingers, Alan suggested we have lunch in the Cotswolds which is on route to Pershore, so they drove ahead of me in the good old English rain. Actually it bucketed down!
At Lower Slaughter or was it Upper Slaughter, (which are perfect little English Villages) we had fish and chips (or at least I did) in a delightful English Pub
Lunch with Alan and Wendy Bellinger in Upper or Lower Slaughter in the Cotswolds
Now onto Cousin Juliet’s lovely Country Home in Pershore Worcestershire
John and Juliet Tollit (Juliet is my first Cousin)
Cousin Juliet and me!
My cousin Juliet had asked her daughters Penny and Moffa to dinner. Moffa’s husband Paul and daughter Hannah (Bransbury-Hare) were also there. I hadn’t met Moffa, Paul or Hannah before so that was terrific. We had much too much to drink (or at least I did)
Paul & Moffa Bransbury-Harris, Penny Dowley (Moffa & Penny are Juliet’s daughters) and Hannah Bransbury-Hare (Moffa’s daughter)…Good to see the Bransbury name carries on. Cousin Juliet & John Tollit sitting
Hannah Bransbury-Hare with Nellie
That night I slept like a log in the comfiest bed I’ve slept in for years in Juliet and John’s beautiful country property.
Tuesday 7th – Bath Somerset, Corsham Wiltshire
This will amaze you!
A few weeks ago I received the following comment on this blog:
“Geoff, I can’t believe you are doing this!! I haven’t seen you for over 60 years and you were such a quiet inoffensive boy!! Hey hey – good for you. Please get in touch so we can catch up on respective families/lives etc. I was Gill Wells from 70 Gayton Road ……
I read and re-read this comment…Gillian Wells…I hadn’t seen her since I was 8 years old. We used to call her Gillywigs!
We lived two doors away at 66 Gayton Road…..We used to live in Harrow, Middlesex and we had a gang of us kids in the street.
The Gayton Road Gang (about 1952)
Back left – Geoff (me!) ,Hil and Ros Thomas, Val Bransbury, front at back- Gill Wells, Raymond East and in front with poles Don’t know.
..Gilliwigs is the little blond girl on the left…The blond boy behind her is me!
We used to have such fun creating havoc in the local County School grounds that bordered our houses or playing backyard Cricket etc. Those days are a wonderful memory…We used to call Gill, “Gilliwigs”
Me at 66 Gayton Road
Dad showing me how to do a forward defensive shot with a straight bat!
Notice how damaged the house is…Many houses in this area were hit by German V1 Doodlebugs. They caused lots of damage.
Gill’s parents had a TV ( this was 1952) whereas we didn’t so we used to watch Tex Ritter and other Westerns at Gilliwig’s house!..
Another memory, which still haunts me, is when I almost killed my sister Val….see the photo…
Me and Raymond East
Val took the picture of me and Raymond East (I still remember his name) about to fire arrows…As soon as the photo was taken I released the arrow by mistake…Luckily it missed her….. How do we ever live to become adults?
Gill now lives in Wales with her husband John but she was visiting her daughter near Malvern which is just 20 minutes from Pershore! Unbelievable coincidence!
So, naturally, I dropped in to see my old friend “Gilliwigs” for a good old natter about times long gone. Poor John went for a walk!
Re-united after 60 years!
Geoff and Gill Wells (now Gil Chalk)
John and Gill Chalk
After leaving “Gilliwigs” I went to Bath where I used to go to school and visited Locksbrook Cemetery where both my parents are buried.
Visiting Parents grave in Locksbrook Cemetery, Bath
I then rode on to my old home town of Corsham.
Corsham Court, Corsham Wiltshire
I checked out my old home and the lovely little Village of Corsham
Hudswell House, Near Corsham. Our Army Home from 1955-1959
Also nearby Lacock (both in Wiltshire, 15 k from Bath). Lacock is wholly owned by the National Trust and is picture perfect. They make period TV shows and movies here often
Wonderful 14th Century Coaching Inn at Lacock Wiltshire “The Sign of the Angel”
Whenever I’m in England if I can I always try and stay in the Angel. Sadly it was closed this time so i had to “rough it’ in the Hotel in the photo below! Sorry, I’ve forgotten the name but it’s in Corsham!
Wednesday 8th Alton Hampshire
This day I rode to Alton in Hampshire to visit my Cousin Ian and Amy and their daughter Salette and her husband Cliff. Ian and Amy had driven from Bristol for the occasion!
On the way to Alton I saw a sign to the Village of Thruxton. I remember my mother used to tell us about how she and my father used to live in Thruxton in “Veronica Cottage” in the 1930’s She loved that house.
I had never been there so detoured to see if I could find Veronica Cottage.
Thruxton is another picture perfect English Village with lots of thatched Cottages and a lovely old thatched Pub!…. I saw a Post Van and asked if the Postman if he knew Veronica Cottage. He showed me the house….I assume this is where Mum and Dad lived in about 1935. It’s bang next door to the Pub….. which is appropriate for a Bransbury!
Veronica Cottage Thruxton. My Parents lived here in 1935
Veronica Cottage in 1935…It IS the same place!
I stopped for lunch in another “Lovely Pub” then on to Alton.
I stayed at Cliff and Salette’s home in Alton. Ian and Amy came down from Bristol
The evening with them was great fun with much laughter and was enjoyed by all. Salette despite full time work somehow managed to produce a simply amazing and superb dinner of Venison. Again I drank much too much wine. We naturally solved all the major problems of the world as well.
Cliff and Salette Dieppe, Ian and Amy Mackenzie. Ian is my first Cousin, Salette his daughter
It was great seeing them all again
Thursday 9th – London
I left Alton and rode to Guildfrod, Surrey where I spent my teenage years. I visited my old home, “The Hatch” 98 Wodeland Avenue
My teenage home in Guildford Surrey…”The Hatch” 98 Wodeland Avenue
and took a photo of the seat near the bus stop that Mum had presented to the City in remembrance of Dad. He used to wait for the bus at this spot on his way to work in London in all sorts of weather, sun,snow,rain
Mum gave this seat to the City in memory of Dad…Beside a cold bus stop where he used to wait in all weather going to work
I then headed for London. I had a lunch date with my Niece, Cecile Algie who is currently living in London (from Melbourne)
Before meeting Cecile i visited the Tower of London to see the World War 1 Memorial of poppies in the moat of the Tower. One poppy for every British soldier killed in WW1
Poppies in the Moat of the Tower of London. A very emotional Memorial to the soldiers killed in World War 1
I had all sorts of trouble parking Azulo but eventually I met Cecile in Soho at Yauatcha Restaurant.. Cecile works for the Restaurant group called Hakkasan.
It was great to see her and we had a terrific lunch which the Restaurant had kindly provided. They must think a lot of Cecile. She is obviously very happy and is enjoying life in London. Oh to be young again!
Cecile Algie, my niece and me at Yauatcha in Soho (Excellent food!)
Lastly I went up to Hampstead to stay with my old Boss and close friend John Kirkham and Hilary.
John and Hilary Kirkham
I’ve known John since 1977 and Hilary nearly as long. At that time John was running the UK operation for an American Company, Advanced Systems and I was running the Australian Distributor. We met at the International Conference in Chicago. Later, I worked with John in London.
John and I have enjoyed many good times together….Cricket matches together between England and Australia, countless curries and much more. John and Hil are very special friends
Just for “Old times sake” the three of us went out for a Curry! It was such a fun evening.
Friday 10th Harrow Middlesex, Crockham Hill, Kent
My “tour’ was almost over. After leaving the Kirkhams I dropped in to see Tony Rushbrook and his wife Marion in Highgate. As mentioned earlier, Tony is an old mate from College days.Tony found me on this blog only a few weeks ago…I hadn’t seen him for nearly 50 years!
One last stop! I rode to Gayton Road Harrow to take a photo of my old Home at 66 Gayton Road, I was born in this house!
Sometimes its best not to return…Gayton Road is totally different now …It used to be a sleepy side road….Now it’s virtually a through road. The houses have been ruined. All the neat hedges cut down for parking etc. Very sad.
66 Gayton Road, Harrow. I was born in this house, as was my sister Val
The County School playing fields behind the houses, where “Gillywigs” and the “Gayton Road gang” used to play, is now all built over.
I revved up Azulo and headed back to Kent!
Saturday 11th Crockham Hill Kent
One LAST reunion took place at the Royal Oak, Crockham Hill
We had a reunion with three of my old College mates….Vic Roberts, Chris Hobbs, Andrew Cochrane and me….We’ve lost contact with our other close mates from those days…in particular Cliff Lichfield,William Johnsen and Paul Penna. Maybe somehow they will see this blog as did Tony and Gillywigs!
My College mates!
Vic Roberts, Andrew Cochrane, Me and Chris Hobbs
Dawn, the Publican at the Royal Oak
Chris has always loved his old cars…Today he has many…His pride is the wonderful Lagonda 1932, 2 litre Low Chassis Tourer.
He also has a 1933 MG K1, a 1989 Porsche Carrera 911 plus Kate his wife has a MG TC and 1980 MGB Roadster!
Chris with two of the “loves of his life”…Kate and the Lagonda
Chris in his 1989 Porsche 911
At College Chris had a 1952 Morgan Plus 4 in which we rattled around England together! He also had a 1929 Austin 12/4.”Doctors Car”
Chris’ Austin 12/4 was like this…from memory it was yellow too?
Chris and I shared “Digs” in Woolwich together in 1964/5 in the home of a family with the unlikely name of “Scroggins”…..Chris used to park his 12/4 on a hill as the starter didn’t work. My job was to push it down the hill every morning!
Andrew, who I haven’t seen for 30 years owns a Yacht which is moored in Menton,
Andrews Yacht at Menton France
France….. He came up with the brilliant idea that we all go to France for a few days sailing on the Med between Nice and Monte Carlo!
Sounds great to me and we’re doing just that in June 2015!!!!!
Sunday 12th Flight to Melbourne Australia. HOME…Hooray!
My trip is really over and I’m heading home. I say goodbye to my dear friends Vic and Gill who have put up with me and continue to put up with Azulo till my return next June.2015.
Vic and Gill Roberts
We went for a walk on the last day. Vic and Gills house is very near “Chartwell”, Winston Churchill’s home…I didn’t have my glasses but the Volunteer Guide at the entrance lent me hers! ….Some might say she was lucky to get them back!!!!
As we left Chartwell….there was a beautiful rainbow which somehow was a very appropriate way to end my trip
Vic drove me to Heathrow and we said farewell for now!
Next year’s plan –
England (France) – Canada – USA
I return to England on 2 June 2015 and “the boys” fly to Menton France to sail in Andrew’s boat for a few days
Azulo should be shipped to Halifax Nova Scotia arriving around 15th. I arrive Halifax on 18th June
During my stay in England, I hope to catch up with some friends and relatives again. I obviously couldn’t see everyone this time so hopefully I’ll catch up next time
Merry meets me in Los Angeles and we have booked an Alaskan Cruise and intend afterwards driving through the Canadian and American Rockies through Yellowstone to Denver and also catch up with some American friends.
So where will Azulo and I go in 2015?… Currently I’m not sure…I’ll ride through Nova Scotia to Quebec, Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto..After that….Not 100% sure yet. Maybe I’ll ride through the Appalachians and down to New Orleans to Texas, then West through Phoenix to see my ex Business partner Jim Josephson and Susan..Maybe if I have time I’ll go North to Salt lake City and then San Francisco where I hope to see some friends we met on the Volga Dream, Susan and Dennis…. then down to LA to meet Merry I’ll ship Azulo home from LA or San Francisco.
If you have any suggestions, please let me know!
I hope you will travel with me on my next adventure!
email me on firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any suggestions!!!!
Bye for now!