I’ve been to England before; I’ve even lived here before. My father was a Professor of Statistics at New York’s Downstate Medical Center, and took a one-year sabbatical at the University of Bristol in 1968. So, I went to 8th grade there, and my family traveled around Europe in a VW camper van for the summers before and after the school year. That experience was one of the highlights of my life, and explains why I love traveling and camping, and being in England.
The second time I was in England was in the summer of 1972, between my junior and senior years of high school. I went back to Bristol and stayed for two months with the family of my BFF from 8th grade, Joanna.
Thirty-one years later, in 2003, I saw a last-minute fare special to London, and for $200 round trip, impulsively flew there for four days with a friend. Which hardly counts – it was all a blur of jet lag!
Then in 2010, when I was deep into my genealogy research and knew that I had to see the places where my ancestors lived, I took my 20-year-old daughter for a ten-day whirlwind tour of England and Wales.
It was in the process of planning that 2010 trip that I met my fourth cousin John on Ancestry.com, and he introduced me to Kay and Peter (aka “KnP”), who are both avid genealogists. Kay and I are connected by marriage but don’t ask me to explain further! Ancestry tells me that she is the grand-niece of wife of 1st cousin 3x removed – which is way too complicated to understand. Kay has drawn a tree so we have a visual of the relationship, which helps!
Exhibiting extraordinary generosity to people she had never met, Kay offered to house my daughter and I for our three-night stay in Northumberland in 2010. We’ve been in close touch ever since. It was Kay and John (Peter was feeling poorly) who met me at the airport in Newcastle when I arrived on December 30th.
I spent the first couple of days at KnP’s house, recovering from jet lag, getting my phone set up with a local provider, and doing some grocery shopping. Their son and daughter-in-law had a New Year’s Eve party, so we walked over to their place and celebrated with a houseful of their friends of all ages. It was the perfect way to bring in 2018!
KnP were the ones who found me a flat for two months in Bedlington, beginning January 1st. The town of Bedlington has special significance in my family history, which I’ll explain in the next post, so the location of the flat couldn’t be better. It’s also within easy walking distance of pubs and shops. The one-bedroom flat has everything I need, including unlimited wifi, television, linens, a fully stocked kitchen, a private parking spot, and the rent includes utilities and a weekly cleaning service.
So here I am, all settled in, and ready to experience Northumberland as my ancestors did before they emigrated to America in 1881. So exciting!!