Frank Couch, The Titanic and Southhampton’l

My maternal great grandparents migrated from Port Isaac in Cornwall (Port Wen of Doc Martin fame) to Melbourne Australia in 1862. Elizabeth Couch and Isaac Hawker had just newly married and had a baby son when they boarded The Accrington. They had worked as farm labourers at Roscarrock farm but all the males in Elizabeth’s family were fishermen, mariners or master mariners.

Elizabeth’s father was Francis Couch and her brother, Francis had a son, Frank Couch, making Frank my first cousin three times removed. Sorry, that became a little complicated. Anyhow, I claim him. He was born in 1884 but he died in 1912. That’s right. He was Able Seaman Couch which means he was an experienced sailor, as you would expect growing up in Port Isaac with his background, and he was in a lifeboat of The Titanic. The lifeboat sank, he died and is buried in Halifax, Canada.

Hence I’m interested in all things Titanic.

In Southampton, there is a both a park and a museum dedicated to The Titanic.

David didn’t want to explore and I thought the museum would be closed on Good Friday. We even had breakfast in the hotel because we thought everything would be closed. Anyway, I asked at the desk where the park was and the guy sent me off around the corner and up the main road. I don’t know if I misunderstood his accent or what but I ended up walking through a footpath of weeds which included nettles trying to grab me.

A couple of ladies who were at reception had said to head for the old church tower so I retraced my steps and headed for the tower. Thankfully it was at the museum.

To my surprise, Sea City Museum was open so in I went. I found Frank’s name on the list of crew. I had a quick walk through and took a heap of photos. (We are currently moored off St Peter’s Port and the internet is weak at the moment so I can’t seem to load photos. I’ll post them later.)

I then wandered through the old town which was lovely. All the shops were open and it was market day. With four ships in port, I guess they couldn’t afford not to open. I mislaid myself at that stage but eventually found David at the Ibis

Then we checked out and caught an Uber to the Gate 10 where we boarded the Oceania Marina, our favourite ship for our fourteen night cruise to Barcelona.

We’ve had a lovely first night – great dinner & a very enjoyable performance by one of the ship’s entertainers singing and dancing to some of the tunes from musical movies.

Shortly we will ride the tender across to explore St Peter’s Port. I’m looking forward to it.

The secrets of The Marais, the old Jewish Quarter

We’ve wandered the old Jewish quarters of quite a few European cities and we always find them interesting. Today we did a walking tour with a young man named Emmanuel who grew up in a Jewish Family but is not a practicing Jew. His grandparents managed to escape Paris to America in 1942 because he was a physicist. Emanuel is a film maker & photographer and he personalised the tour by talking about specific people. It was very interesting.

Firstly we noticed the beautiful cakes in the window of the shop where we met. There a family from San Francisco joined us for the tour. We returned to this shop at the end of the tour to catch our metro but, of course, we took home some goodies to have with our cup of tea when we got home.

There are many beautiful old buildings in this area. Originally Dukes & wealthy people lived in them but during the revolution many escaped or were killed, leaving their homes empty and they became neglected and dilapidated making them cheap to rent. Jews migrating from Eastern Europe came to France as it had a policy of freedom of religion and they took up residence here.

The plaque above is a Memorial to the family who lived in this house in 1942 but were deported and exterminated because they were Jewish.

We were permitted to enter this synagogue which was used by Jewish people during World War II when they were not allowed to worship under the Occupation of the Nazis. It was a secret synagogue and is still used today. A young man was there studying the Torah.

It was lunch time and there were long queues at some shops which all sold kosher food.

During the occupation this was a Jewish school but the students were not taught any traditional Jewish learnings. One of the teachers was Joseph Migneret who assisted 252 of his pupils to escape from the Nazis and this plaque honours him. I think that number is right but I could be wrong.

The street below had its name changed to honour non Jewish French citizens who assisted Jews to escape the Holocaust and did this without any prospect of payment. As you can see there are many names on the wall of the street which honours them. It is the Street of The Just.

Emmanuel had planned to finish the tour at Notre Dame but all the streets are closed off. I imagine this is to allow investigation of the fire and to begin the clean up and rescue of whatever can be saved. David and I went as close as we could to get the following photo

And I’m very happy to report that I found a very delicious, traditional onion soup and now I feel we can leave Paris happy tomorrow. We’ve been to Giverny to see those spectacular gardens of Monet. We’ve seen his wonderful work in Musée de L’Orangerie and his work as well as that of the other impressionists in the Museé D’Orsay and at the Foundation Louis Vuitton. We’ve had our incredible day in the Somme with Myriam discovering the story of our family members who fought in WWI.

We’ve bought and eaten delicious food from the markets and restaurants. We’ve wandered some interesting streets and laneways. We’ve loved our cute little apartment and tomorrow it is time to move on. Will we ever return to Paris? Who knows. But I can tell you that I love Paris in the Spring time – in fact anytime!

Early morning musings

It’s so exciting to be in this beautiful old city of Paris. I look out the window & see an old skyline, not high rise just a series of different shaped ups and downs.

It’s 5am and I’ve been awake for two hours. It seems we can’t stay awake past 8:30pm which, of course, means I wake at 3 having had a really good sleep. David sleeps on. We must stay up one night until the sun sets so that we can brave the cold and go down to the street around the corner to watch the Eiffel Tour put on a show on the hour as it does every night. My almost four year old granddaughter told me yesterday that Peppa Pig went to The Eiffel Tour so I do need to send her some pictures of it, I think.

That does however mean braving the cold. This Queensland girl is not used to the cold and I don’t enjoy it much but it is manageable if I have the right gear. There I have a problem at the moment. I did some of my packing in a stressed state so I have come away with an unmatched pair of boots so, alas, they are unwearable. My joggers will have to do. The zipper on my trusty bubble coat won’t work either. Oh no! How will I manage? I was lucky though as a stall at the markets was selling bubble coats so I have a very nice new one.

When Jac shared her love of the Museé D’Orsay and Museé de l’Orangerie with us in 2013, I loved it too. And I’m very excited because we are returning to them today. I’m really looking forward to sitting on a stool at L’Orangerie and just gazing at those water lilies. Hope it’s not too busy.

I could wax lyrical about the sweetness of the strawberries and cherry tomatoes here. We think they are so much sweeter than at home. I don’t think I’m imagining it. Have a look at them. The cherry tomato bowl was full initially but I’ve been eating them like lollies. And what about this fruit loaf? Yum! French bread is amazing.

So now David has woken up so it’s time to get stuck into that yummy food.