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.

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.

A day of farewells and moving on…

This morning it was time to pack and make sure we left our lovely Freshford home clean & tidy.

Firstly we farewelled George and Graeme who walked to the little station down the hill at Freshford to train to Bath & then Paddington then Kings Cross then to their new home in York. I’m pleased to say that they made their fast changes and arrived safely.

Then Ben loaded up the car with our luggage, dropped us off at the Bath Spa Station & returned our car. Then the four of us sat in the station lounge until our train to Paddington at 13:13. Once there we hopped on the Heathrow Express and then cabbed to the Ibis Styles Hotel where we are staying the night.

We’ve just had a very pleasant dinner in the hotel restaurant with Kay and Ben & have said our goodbyes. It’s a long way from Canada to Australia. Will we see them again? I certainly hope so. I’m feeling very sad that we have parted once more.

Queen Elizabeth’s death was announced whilst we were having dinner. I think Australia should be a republic and have our own flag but I still feel sad. She was a great lady who worked long and hard and I admired her for that.

Tomorrow we are off to Munich bright and early so now it’s time to sleep.

We are so lucky to have spent this week with our extended ALLEY family; to have met new members and to have explored the places where our ancestors lived. It’s been absolutely great. Thanks everyone.

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.

Beautiful Bradford on Avon

This share house is working very well in Freshford. Yesterday Graeme produced eggs on toast for breakfast and a joint effort led by Ben produced a very tasty spaghetti bolognaise accompanied by a fresh salad for dinner. It’s great fun being all together and making deeper connections.

After breakfast Ben drove us to the Railway Station in Bradford on Avon along some very dubious roads – they are very very pretty roads but they wind and weave; the hedgerows are high and you can’t see ahead of you. Why does the GPS do this to us, I wonder?

At the station we met our guide for the day, Phil Arthur who is an accredited guide for SW England. We were very pleased we hired Phil for a couple of hours because he was so very knowledgeable and he explained the history of the town and what life would have been like for our ancestors who lived there back in the 1800s.

My grandmother was Rose YORK who was born in Trowbridge which we will visit on Wednesday but going back from her, the YORKS, HARRINGTONS and HUDDS lived in Bradford, I should have taped Phil’s talk because I’ve forgotten so much of the detail. I think the first written record of Bradford was 1152 but it is much older. Roman ruins have been found, as you would expect with it being so close to Bath. It is named because it provided a crossing place or ford across the Avon River.

The bridge across the river with its funny jail where drunks were thrown to sober up. They were said to be “under the fish and over the water”. Look closely and you will see the fish on top of the jail.

There’s an amazing Saxon Church which has had many uses, apart from worship, over time even as a storage place for the wool industry which our family was involved in

Many of our family were in the wool trade. Up until the 1850s it was a domestic industry with people doing the work in their homes. The clothiers were wealthy men who lived in flash houses and allocated the various stages of the process to the weavers or dyers etc

A clothier’s home.

Meanwhile the workers such as our lot were very poor, lived in crowded houses in crowded street and the whole family worked hard.

Most of the worst areas have been demolished and replaced with better housing.

In the 1850s woollen mills were introduced, all built beside the river which of course became very polluted. Big vats of urine were heated and used to clean the wool. It was a very unpleasant place to live and work. By the early 1900s the industry was finished but Bradford was saved by a rubber industry

An iron duke used in the rubber industry., started by the MOULTEN family.

The Holy Trinity church here featured heavily in the lives of our family with many baptisms, marriages & burials. We didn’t have time to chase down individual people.

The Holy Trinity Church, Bradford on Avon
Kay, George and I behind the font where our lot were baptised
The church was refurbished with money gained from the sale of a valuable old painting of Jesus which was found hanging on the wall in the church.

Some of the men in our family were masons. The church was built from stone dug from an area just behind it. I imagine there would have been plenty of work for masons with all these beautiful stone buildings.

Bradford is such a beautiful place now but life here for our family in the 1800s would not have been fun!

An old woollen mill, now apartments
The lovely old tea house built in the 1500s. We didn’t have time for scones with jam & clotted cream today. David and I were lucky enough to do that in 2016.
A view looking across the river and up the hill.

David and I caught the train back into Bath to visit the dentist who said to pop in on Monday if I was still having trouble. But he wasn’t working yesterday so that was a waste of time. David did find new shoe laces which had been on our shopping list for about 6 weeks so that was something.

Kay & Ben & George & Graeme headed off to Stonehenge which was about a 40 minute drive.

Ben’s pic of Stonehenge. Looks great

A wonderful gathering of the Alley Clan

Yesterday, at The Kings Arms, a lovely old pub in Swindon, there was a gathering of more than 30 descendants of Frederick ALLEY and Elizabeth ALLEY née GOULD, my great great grandparents and their spouses. Many thanks to my second cousin, Wendy BURROWS and third cousin, Christine PRICE and Fran BEVAN, a wonderful genealogist who linked me into the ALLEY family when I first started my journey to see where I came from after discovering that I was adopted. These three ladies organised the day for us.

Who are all these people & where do they fit in our tree?

The room was a buzz of noise. Everyone was very busy chatting, catching up with old friends or making new connections and establishing how we were related. I have to admit that I cannot remember the names of all those people or place them in the tree. Thank goodness we will meet with Wendy in Swindon later in the week and she will sort us out.

My grandparents were Frederick Ernest ALLEY and Rose YORK. They had 5 children and descendants of three out of the five were here. William Frederick was the eldest and Kay PROSSER is his granddaughter. George was the second son and Colin McMurdy is his grandson. Their third child was Louisa and as far as we know she never married or had children. Then came my father, Sidney Herbert who is Georgina’s grandfather as her Dad George was my big brother. Last was Grace but Kirsty JUDD, her great granddaughter was unable to be with us.

Christine PRICE, David EDELMAN and Colin MCMURDY

After lunch, we went to the Radnor Street Cemetery where Frederick ALLEY, Elizabeth GOULD and their son Edgar Gould ALLEY are buried in the one plot, Section C, number 3526. Fran had researched and prepared her tour well, of course, as she writes a wonderful blog about the cemetery, nearly every day. The cemetery was created for the non-conformists and as Frederick and his family were very involved in the Baptist Church, this was where they were buried. Andy BINKS joined us to show us the on-site chapel where the services took place.

Frederick and Elizabeth had 18 children. Sadly 7 of them died as babies and three are buried in this cemetery. There are no records of where they were buried so Fran suggests that they would have been in a massed grave. So sad! How would you cope with that?

The plot where Frederick, Elizabeth & Edgar are buried. Wendy had placed flowers on it on Friday.

Frederick’s brother, George Richman ALLEY, had seven daughters and one son. Those ALLEY women were all amazing women, living to great ages and achieving much. Fran is particularly excited by the story of Emma Louise HULL née ALLEY who was a suffragette campaigning for the right for women to vote. She had three short spells in jail, even though she was not a militant campaigner.

Emma Louisa HULL née ALLEY
The chapel and its bell tower. The bell would have been rung for funerals
The grave of George Richman ALLEY

We all had a wonderful day, a simple dinner at home and I was early to bed. I’d like my body clock to adjust a bit better so I could stay up later and sleep past 4:30. Maybe tonight?

Beautiful Bath

Our second day here in Freshford began with bacon & eggs for breakfast. These had been left for us by our landlords. That depleted our food stores so it was off to the beautiful farm shop run by volunteers, Galleries Shop & Cafe, about 3 miles away. Poor Ben had to cope with a few back seat drivers whilst driving down really narrow lanes in an unfamiliar 7 seater Suzuki with clunky gears. He managed very well! I was very happy that I was not the driver.

We stocked up on necessities and lovely fresh fruit & veg. I can’t wait to get into the strawberries at breakfast.

We decided we’d like to go into Bath so we caught the train. The station is only a couple of hundred metres down hill so it was an easy walk & a 10 min ride into town. I have been having trouble with the roaming on my phone so David and I hurried off to the Apple store where 2 genii checked it over. I had it set up properly but they couldn’t find out why I’m not receiving texts or emails when I’m out and about. Very annoying! So we’re having to rely on Messenger to keep in touch and arrange meeting points. I’ve also been having trouble with sore gums where my dentures were rubbing ( my dentist at home interfered with them during my recent check-up). Luckily I found a lovely dentist who fixed them for me.

Guess who was happy to meet up with everyone after the dentist! I really enjoyed my first pint of the trip.

Bath is a beautiful city. David and I spent a few days exploring it in 2007 on our first trip to the UK so I wasn’t too upset that I spent my time at Apple and the dentist. Here’s a few pics

Beautiful butterfly decorations just near the station.

At home, we had a relaxing time chatting and then George cooked us up a lovely dinner with our fresh vegetables which was a fitting end to a good day.

Each day we have ridden on a Great Western Railway (GWR) train which has been quite special. My great grandfather, Frederick ALLEY and his wife, Elizabeth GOULD, moved to Swindon about 1870 and Frederick worked at GWR. Many of their sons did apprenticeships at GWR.

I guess that’s where this trip began!

Travelling again

It’s been ages since I’ve blogged and even longer since we’ve been out of Australia but over the last couple of days we have safely, but wearily, travelled to the UK and we are now very comfortably settled into our home for the week in Freshford, a beautiful little village in Somerset. It’s just over the border from Wiltshire; which is why we are here.

Also with us are my Canadian cousin Kay & her husband Ben and my niece, Georgina (George as she likes to be called) and her husband Graeme from Geelong in Australia. They are all from a ‘Victoria’, just not the same one.

So why are we here? We three women are all descendants of Frederick Ernest ALLEY and Rose YORK and we have traced the ALLEY and YORK families back to somewhere around 1750 in Wiltshire. We are on a pilgrimage to go back in time and to visit the places where they lived and died. More of that in the following days.

George, Graeme, David & I travelled by train from Paddington to Bath Spa on the Bristol line on the Great Western Line through Swindon which was very relevant to our current search. There we met up with Kay & Ben and since our hire car wasn’t ready we caught taxis to our home for the week.

We have a delightful 6 bed home in Freshford and the whole area is so pretty. Here are the Victorians chatting (the men about football and the women sharing family pics) meanwhile David was catching up on the news from home

This is “The Freshford Inn” where we had a refreshing ale and a delcious dinner last night. David and I were very weary so we came home to bed (only 200m or so but very steep) and left the others to party.

It promises to be a wonderful week and we are all looking forward to tomorrow when we meet some of our relatives who still live in England. What fun!