Ready to get moving in 2023

Isn’t it amazing how you forget the harrowing times during your travel and remember the best of it. I look back down on our journey last September and the highlight, of course, was the time with my niece and cousin and our husbands exploring the haunts of our ancestors and meeting many more of our extended family.

I remember that wonderful feeling of snow gently falling on us as we walked to catch our train in St Moritz. I know that lots of you had far too much snow last year but it was such a treat for us Queenslanders to be there for the first snow of the season. I remember sitting comfortably on the trains enjoying the beautiful Swiss scenery and especially the snow capped mountains. I remember the delicious dinner we enjoyed on our last night in Zurich and try really hard to forget the horrible rissoles we were served on our first night in Munich.

I think the best parts of travel are the anticipation during the lead up and enjoying the memories and photos after you reach home. I think the travel itself is hard work especially as you get older.

Ten days after we arrived home, I underwent major surgery and it is only now that I’m feeling like my usual self. Thank goodness. I’ve just been resting up and I’ve done lots of reading. I haven’t even thought about family history until now. However, over the last fortnight I’ve cleaned out my cupboards, refocused on my exercise, walking 2 or 3 kms each day and spending an hour in the pool doing gentle water exercises. So now it is time to dive into 2023.

Where will I start? Which side of my family will I delve into? There’s a mystery on David’s maternal side that I’d like to solve with the help of DNA. I’d definitely like to tick that off but I’m no expert so I’ll need to seek assistance from the DNA group at the Queensland Genealogical Society to which I belong. That’s a good place to start!

I’m going to get back into my coloured pencil art this year with my first ‘Splat and Chat” session booked for early next month. I will go with one of my daughters who lives nearby and is very talented. I think it will be a pleasant way to spend a couple of hours on a Saturday morning. I used to be able to go to my book club on a Friday morning and then straight to my bridge game in the afternoon but that hasn’t been possible for a good while as book club was changed to the afternoon. I’m taking a break from bridge at present so I’ll be heading off to book club this afternoon.

During my post-surgery enforced laziness, I’ve been following three main authors. I’ve written before about Fiona McIntosh and “The Lavender Keeper” set in France during WWII. I love that book. I’ve just recently read “The Orphans” which is set in South Australia where Fiona lives. Previously her books were set in Europe but during Covid she was unable to travel there to do the extensive research she always undertakes. The story revolves around two orphaned children who meet up as children and then again later in life. The girl is adopted by a couple in the funeral industry and she develops a passion for helping people at this sad time – especially mothers and babies. It’s a lovely story. I strongly recommend it. Fiona has also written four detective stories, based around Jack Hawksworth, a London Detective. The last one, Dead Tide, has just been released and Jack is in Sydney Australia as Fiona couldn’t get to London to do her research. I can’t wait to get it!

I’m also enjoying a series of Norwegian crime stories by Anne Holt, based around a detective called Hanne Wilhelmsen. The last one I read was “Death of the Demon”, the third in the series. A twelve year old boy with many issues is placed in an orphanage as his mother cannot cope with him. The director of the orphanage is found stabbed with a kitchen knife. All of the staff come under suspicion as the clues are followed. It was a really easy read and interesting to see the interaction between the law and justice.

The third author I’m reading is Peter Lovesey. My cousin Kay suggested we find his books as they are set around Bath and, of course, we were there in September. Peter Diamond is the detective in this series of crime dramas and David and I are both enjoying them a lot. They are all really easy reads. “The Finisher” was the last I read and it contains it all: people smuggling, an impossible murder, competitive running – all set in the lovely countryside around Bath. It’s really fun to be able to picture the places you are reading about when you’ve actually visited them. We wish we’d read them before we went so that we could have visited more of the locations. Mind you, we were really busy trying to visit all the locations where our ancestors lived in just a week so we probably wouldn’t have had time anyway.

So that’s where I’m at. If you’re reading along, I hope you have a wonderful 2023!

Safely home…

It’s lovely to be home and we are so lucky to live on Brisbane’s Bayside. It’s a great spot. We’ve enjoyed catching up with our kids & grandkids who live locally and will have to plan a trip south to visit those in Sydney and Tasmania.

We are very glad we did the trip even though it was hard work in places. We had looked forward to it for so long as we booked it in 2019 for 2020 and now we have wonderful memories and beautiful photos to enjoy.

If only the jet lag would pass. I’d like to sleep my full eight hours in one stretch. Maybe tonight…

Time for home…

I’m writing this sitting up in Business Class on SingaporeAir. We left Zurich at 11:45am and it’s now 7:20pm in Switzerland and 1:20am in Singapore. We are somewhere in the middle. I enjoyed my glass of champagne before take-off and another when we were airborne. We had a delicious lunch served on board: Singapore Chicken Satay, followed by Marinated Shrimp with Pickled Melon. For the main course I had Gaeng Kiew Waan Talay (Thai style green curry seafood with vegetables and rice) and then for dessert, Apricot Tart with Balsamic Mousse. I hope it reads as good as it tasted.

Now we are meant to be sleeping and I’ve had two tries but my mind just says that I don’t sleep in the afternoon so I’ve watched Where the Crawdads Sing. I really loved the book and I enjoyed the movie. I’m also half way through Elvis and am enjoying that too. We missed them both at the theatre. I brought a book to read but when I started it, I realised that I’d already read it. Now that’s frustrating. I have plenty of books on my iPad so I could be reading them but it’s not the same.

This is such a long flight. It’s not much fun here but I can’t imagine what it’s like in economy. We still have another four hours to go. Ugh! Were the 30 days we had in Europe worth the pain of the flights? Of course they were!

I hear you asking what were the highlights. Without a doubt, the best part was the week we spent in Wiltshire with my cousin, Kay, my niece George and our patient men who gladly came along and participated in our family history quest. Then we had that wonderful day in Swindon when we caught up with cousin Wendy and our wonderful genealogical friend, Fran and met cousin Christine and many other cousins. I still haven’t sorted out in my mind who is whom in some cases. I’ll have to ask Wendy and Christine to put a name to all the people in the photos for me.

We visited all those beautiful places where our ancestors lived- Bradford on Avon, Westbury, Lacock…. It was wonderful and now I’ve got lots to do to record it all on my family tree.

The Swiss Mountain scenery was everything I hoped it would be and riding the trains through that scenery was great. It even snowed for us in St Moritz – the first snow of the season. I loved all of that. Every bit of it. It was stunning.

However, we were very disappointed with the Travel Marvel Alpine Train Tour. It was not run by Travel Marvel. They have an arrangement with Great Rail Tours who actually organise the tour. Our itinerary stated that Travel Marvel promise luxury travel of the highest standard and premium accommodation. Some of our hotels did not provide premium accommodation and the organisation of the tour left much to be desired. It was not luxury travel.

In the past, we’ve organised our own travel. In 2015, we travelled around Spain by train staying in appartments for six weeks and we had a great time. Managing your own luggage is difficult when you’re getting off on on trains, some with three steps and limited luggage storage aboard. We could do it then. But we are older now and have a few issues we didn’t have then. We were worried whether we could manage. So we booked a luxury tour with full porterage, thinking we’d pay someone to do the hard work for us. Except it wasn’t luxury travel and a lot of the time we had to manage our own luggage. It was very difficult for us. Other guests on the tour were very helpful and took care of us but we weren’t their responsibility.

We had thought that we might do a similar trip on the trains of New Zealand but we won’t be doing another Travel Marvel tour anywhere.

Sunset over Bern

Yesterday we caught the bus to the Zenter Paul Klee, an art museum. We’d never heard of the artist but thought we’d have a look. It was not our cup of tea. It’s housed in an interesting building and we had a pleasant sandwich there for lunch.

On arrival back in the city we found more fountains.

And a Swiss Chocolate Shop. Switzerland is a very expensive place. Check out these few chocolates we spoiled ourselves with:

Guess how much they cost? About $30! just as well the grandkids weren’t here!

It was a day of extravagances! We had dinner at the Rosengarten Restaurant just near our AirBnB. It’s up on a hill and is renowned as the place to see the sun set over Berne. It had been raining on and off all day so we were a bit worried. Would there be a sunset? We were lucky.

The restaurant is quite lovely and we really enjoyed our meal. Our waiter was very pleasant and very professional and we would recommend it. After dinner it was a ten minute walk down the hill to bed. perfect!

Bern, city of fountains

It was raining quite heavily this morning when we woke so we had a lazy morning. We have a pass for free public transport so about 10 we caught the Number 10 bus into the city to the farmers markets, always a favourite of ours. We were particularly looking for white asparagus which David loves, but there was none to be found, sadly. I think the markets in France are more impressive than those here but the flowers were beautiful.

The markets were held in front of this lovely old building which was decorated with more pretty red geraniums.

Time for coffee and cake after all that walking.

Since Bern is known as the city of fountains, I’ve been taking pics of some of them. Apparently they all tell particular stories.

Bern has a lot of choice in public transport: buses, trains, trams & trolley buses.

The weather chased us home again after we had salad baguettes for lunch. Just relaxing now!

Settled in Bern

We managed to get ourselves to Bern quite easily. It’s just 52 minutes from Interlaken by train and we took our time at the hotel this morning. We dawdled over breakfast, had a wander up the street, finished our packing and caught a cab to the Interlaken OST train station for our midday train.

View of Lake Thun out the train window as we travelled
Views of the mountains as we travelled.

We had lunch near the station and caught a cab to our AirBnB where our landlord, Jürg, met us. It’s quite comfortable but there’s no washing machine and no TV. We haven’t had the TV on in our hotel rooms so we won’t miss that but a washing machine would be useful

David had a nap while I unpacked and then we walked around to the Coop where we stocked up. So tonight we had our first home cooked meal since we left Wiltshire. Tasty, it was too.

Nice to see some trees out the window of our apartment.

Early night tonight, I reckon. This time next week we will be up in the air on our way home. We will be ready for it.,

Free day on tour AKA Rest day for us!

Today we took it very easy. Slept in until after seven, enjoyed a relaxed breakfast with time to ask the chef to make me an omelet and then came back to the room to read the paper.

Before lunch we had a relaxed stroll around the town. There was still some snow lingering on the mountain tops but by mid afternoon it was all gone as the sun shone brightly. Many places were closed until the winter season on the first of December. A few were open but we just window shopped.

Prices here are very expensive but we enjoyed both our lunch sitting outside in the sunshine and dinner in the restaurant across from the hotel at Hauser. There are some pretty views from town and here are a few.

David having a few minutes rest during our walk about town.
You can still see the snow in this one.

Our visit to Herrenchiemsee

Herrenchiemsee is a complex of royal buildings on Herreninsel which is the largest Isla in the Chiemsee Lake in Bavaria. It’s about 60k SE of Munich. So yesterday morning we packed up all our gear and left Salzburg by coach about 9am to head to Prien am Chiemsee where we caught a boat across to the island. It’s just a short 15 minute ride. (By the way, masks are still required on public transport in Germany & Austria- seemed a bit strange when we sitting on an open top deck of the boat.).

Another beautiful drive on the way to the lake.

King Ludwig built a palace on the island to rival Versailles. David & I did not do the walk to the palace – we’ve seen plenty- so we enjoyed a quiet, peaceful time sitting in the gardens, gazing into space and reflecting. It was very pleasant. Of course, we visited the restaurant for coffee and cake too. Those who walked to the castle said some rooms were even more ornate than Versailles. How could that be possible?. What a waste of money. It seems he ran out of money so it couldn’t be finished. He spent 10 days on the island and mysteriously drowned in the lake.

Check out my Apple streusel at the restaurant overlooking the lake.
Out coffee spot!
A view of a section of the Palace Gardens

After the boat ride back, we caught a little steam train up the hill where a different bus collected us to bring us here to Innsbruck. We got in at a very civilised time of 4:30 but unfortunately our luggage didn’t make it until 9. We were compensated by being served a delicious dinner in the hotel restaurant. The first included dinner that has been really delicious.

Our little steam train

Today’s itinerary was a bus ride to the famous castle, Neuschwanstein Castle which is said to be the inspiration for the famous Castle in Disney’s Sleeping Beauty. Then, having bought your lunch yesterday, you had to eat it on the bus whilst driving to the station to catch the train to the highest mountain in Germany, Zugspitze. In order to do all that, departure by bus was at 7:30 and arrival back at the hotel was expected to be at 7:30 pm. Both excursions necessitate a lot of walking and not easy walking.

My medical issues mean that I can’t possibly have that early a start so I have stayed in Innsbruck but I did get up early & wave them all of this morning for a huge day, especially for those in their 80s. I’m hoping David is ok!

Instead, I’ve had a very pleasant wander around the old town, a delicious morning coffee and cake and sushi for lunch. It was meant to rain and be very chilly on the mountain but the top looked clear earlier so I hope the views from up there are amazing.

Coffee and cake in the old town of Innsbruck.
Very tasty sushi for lunch
Amazing old steps in the Art Gallery I wandered into – Ferdinandeum
Will it be fine up there? I hope so.

Now to read my book and rest.

One of the great reads by Fiona McIntosh. This one’s set in York. She always does extensive research so the background is fascinating. Fiona is currently visiting Wiltshire, doing research for a book set there. I wonder if any of our Alley places will get a mention.

Roaming Lacock & Trowbridge searching for our lot

This morning we headed off early to Lacock, a beautiful little village taken over by the National Trust after WWII to maintain as it was then.

It is beautiful and people still lived there. My photos are a bit spoiled by the cars parked in the street but I think they do show how lovely it is.

Two Harry Potter movies, Pride and Prejudice and numerous other shows have been filmed here and you can see why.

This is St Cyriac Church in Lacock. We have some burials in Lacock but we couldn’t find any headstones for names we recognised.

The graveyard of St Cyriac Church, Lacock

Then it was off to Trowbridge where Ben found a great car park but then we lost ourselves. We had a wonderful walk alongside the river trying to find the street. When we emerged from this pathway we were in Castle Street, just where we wanted to be. This street was very relevant to our search.

After lunch in a dodgy cafe, we went looking for 62 Castle St where Frederick ALLEY (my GGrandfather) was born to Job ALLEY & Ann RICHMAN on 12 March 1845. Most places had no number so it was very difficult to actually locate No 62.

This was the best we could do. Is one of these No 52? We were not sure.

On 30th March, 1851 the family stilled lived there and Job, aged 52, was a dyer. Martha, their 13 year old daughter was a dressmaker. We couldn’t identify No 75 Castle St either where the family lived on 7 April, 1861. Here my G Grandfather Frederick was a cordwinder or shoemaker & his mother Ann ALLEY nee Richards was a grocer. Her daughter, Annie helped in the shop.

We then went searching for the Baptist Church and there we had a great find it is no longer a Baptist Church but is a Vineyard Church. We were very lucky that the Minister was there and he let us into the church.

Inside the Vineyard Church which used to be The Baptist Church and on the back wall we found……..
A plaque on the wall of the Trowbridge Baptist church honouring Louisa Matilda Richman ALLEY, my Great Grand Aunt, Frederick’s sister. She was involved in the church and lived to be 104.

It was in this church that my great grandparents Frederick ALLEY and Elizabeth GOULD were married on 14 July 1864. I think it was a very important part of the life of that family.

As we walked along the street we passed the Alms House where Ann ALLEY nee RICHMAN died 11 Oct 1892. She was 83 years old and had been born in Hilperton.

The Trowbridge Alms Houses where Ann ALLEY nee RICHMAN died. It’s the left hand one of the 4 matching gables on the left hand side of the picture. They looked very pretty today not sure what they would have been like in 1892.

We found the remains of The Baptist Tabernacle but unfortunately it’s a building site and is becoming apartments so we couldn’t really take a good photo. This was where my grandparents Frederick Ernest ALLEY and Rose YORK were married.

At St James Church my GGG Grandparents, Thomas RICHMAN and Martha MARTIN were married on 3 April 1804. William ALLEY, son of Job ALLEY and Sarah GUNNER was a bellringer here and was very famous for his skill.

St James Church, Trowbridge.

We searched the graveyard here but the inscriptions were very hard to read so we didn’t find any we recognised. On our way back to the car, we found the free Trowbridge museum which showed much about the wool trade which was interesting.

Then it was time to head back to Freshford, being chauffeured by our trusty driver Ben. At home, the kettle was quickly on, tea made and we sampled the traditional Wiltshire cake, The Lardy Cake, so named because it’s made with …. You guessed it – lard. Not our favourite but we had to try it because we all leave Wiltshire tomorrow.

Pieces of Wiltshire Lardy Cake.
Our trusty driver Ben!

It’s quite sad that tomorrow we all go our separate ways. We’ve had a lovely time, we’ve reconnected with Wendy and Frances and it’s been great. Thanks everyone.

STEAM museum at Swindon

I’m celebrating. My body clock has realigned. Lights out at 10ish, wake about 6:30. Thank goodness!

Yesterday we returned to Swindon to visit Steam which is a museum telling the story of Great Western Railways. Everyone agreed that it’s one of the best museums they’ve seen. So many of the men in our family worked here and many did their apprenticeships there.

The first was my GG Grandfather, Frederick ALLEY, who moved his family to Swindon about 1869, 1870 and he started work as a labourer. Prior to that he was a cordwinder or shoemaker in Trowbridge. By 1881 he was a machine man and his son Frederic Ernest (my grandfather) was apprenticed as a boiler maker. His younger sons became apprenticed as they reached the age of 15. Twins, Frank & Jesse, we’re too; Frank as a tin smith and Jesse as an engine painter. Jesse’ apprenticeship was for 6 years! Others of the family joined the company too. When Frederick retired he was instrumental in forming an organisation for the retired men & he was secretary of it for many years.

When we arrived at Steam we were very happy to meet up with Fran and Wendy once more. (Christine was too busy getting ready to fly to the Greek Islands). Wendy showed us a wonderful old family bible given to my GG Grandmother, Elizabeth GOULD, by her mother Ann GOULD née MILLARD on her 21st birthday. It has all the family dates written in the front. What a find!

A page from the bible

I’ll tell the story of the museum in pictures

The wheels used initially. It was 7ft
It was tough. Only 10 minute toilet breaks or you were docked pay

Life was tough. There was no safety equipment of any kind not even noise protection and there were many horrible accidents. The company built a whole town of housing and set up a health system which became the beginning of the National Health.

We really enjoyed our visit to Steam to see how and where our ancestors worked.