England/Scotland, 10/15

(Click photo for trip video)themealthin

1. Oxfordshire, England: September 29 – October 9, 2015

As in 2012, the first part of our trip (England) focused on a tour of my ancestors’ mills south of Oxford.  Instead of cousins, this time we led members of my immediate  family: Connie (of course), Alexis and Eric and my brother Art and brother-in-law Jim.  We rented a cottage on the Thames near Bampton (for “Downton Abbey” freaks, this was their village shooting site), and with the smaller numbers and less hectic schedule, we were able to have some relaxing moments during the week we were there.  As before, a highlight of our visit was the “Ancestor’s Day” gathering of our England cousins at Elms Farm, Grove. We also reminisced about our 1993 residence in nearby Minster Lovell, where the three of us lived.  Eric’s presence was felt also since letters were flying between him and Alexis (as well as mutual friend Gabrielle Warr) at that point in time.

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2. Ayreshire, Scotland – October 9 – 16, 2015

Connie and I, with my brother Art, then drove up to a week-long house exchange in Ayr.  The coincidence of location was truly amazing, since Ayr is Robbie Burns country and also turns out to be the geographical area of our Scottish ancestors.  Earlier in 2015, I had finally discovered the “across the pond” link from our 2x great grandparents John and Mary More, who we had already known emigrated to Canada (Nottawassaga County, Ontario) in 1830.  It turns out that a few generations back the “More” name evolved from “Muir” and that we are descended from the (Muir) Lords of Polkelly and Rowallen.  While working on the details, I encountered a distant cousin (Andrew McNaughton) who was also doing genealogical research, and we arranged to visit him in Glasgow while we were there.  Along with his father Alan and brother Derek, we met at Glasgow’s Willow Tea Room.  (John More’s parents in Scotland were their ancestors also.)  The meeting was the highlight of our visit to Scotland, with all of the “electricity” that only a meeting of one’s “long lost” relatives can bring.  We didn’t stop talking for three hours!

We also took a long drive up to the “hielands”; spent a day in the fabulous city of Edinburgh; made a visit to our ancestors’ nearby castles: Polkelly (rubble) and Rowallen (now a golf course); and of course spent several hours at the Burns memorial sites.

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3. Norfolk, England: October 16 – 23, 2015 

This area north of Cambridge is very flat and criss-crossed with waterways – a reflection of the Dutch engineers who created the locks and canals in the 17th century.  Crimplesham is a small village which proved to be a great place for a relaxing final week.  The rented house was spacious, very cozy in a country antique sort of way, and a great base for exploration of nearby towns and villages such as Downham Market and Wisbech.  We went to the beach at Hunstanton, the forest at Thetford, and the Hanseatic city of King’s Lynn, the birthplace of explorer George Vancouver.  In addition to the attractions of an historical port city, we were fascinated by the number of Polish and Lithuanian food stores (Hanseatic countries), reflecting the large immigration of people from these countries especially over the past 20 years.

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