Tag Archives: Swindon

Weymouth, 2011

When I arrived in Weymouth, the Canadian side of the family had already been there for a few days. We all ate at a local pub for dinner and it was good to see my aunt, uncle and cousins Kate and  Glen, even though the circumstances weren’t the best.

Our grandmother’s funeral was scheduled for later that week and in the meantime we were to sort through what remained of her belongings. She had given away most of her valuables while she was alive, but there was still a lot of household items to go through.

We all took something that held special memories for us, be it furniture to be relocated to Kate’s new house, the swallows over the top of the fireplace for my dad or grandma’s fountain pen for me. It was the one she used to write all our letters and birthday cards to send across the seas and I hoped to continue the tradition with it.

Going through her writing desk, we discovered that she had kept every photo, card or letter that we had given her- even a record of my travellers cheques, long since cashed- that I had handwritten for her before my trip to Europe. It was nice to keep a few photos of us as kids home and a I also claimed a tiny book of Shakespeare’s sonnets.

When we needed a break from our sorting and trips to Vinnies in Dorchester, we went on country rambles together to Hardy’s monument, the wishing well and Upwey manor. Past the thatched rooved cottages, the church where our grandfather was buried, through green fields filled with thistles; picking blackberries along the way. We found a random bakery in the middle of the countryside which had the best pasties.

It was nice to spend this time together and gather memories in the area for the last time. Grandma’s house was to be sold, so it was sad to think that someone else would be living in the stone bungalow in which we’d all had so many good times and that we wouldn’t have the same pull to return to Weymouth.

We went into town for a walk along the seafront to the harbour. The blue and white striped deck chairs were already set out for summer, though the weather was cold, and the sand sculpture competition was in full swing. The town was the same as I remembered it, but seemed smaller and not as busy.

In the evenings we reminisced and cooked all our favourite foods that grandma used to make, like treacle tarts, fish and chips and rice pudding.

The day of the funeral was a strange feeling. We were all picked up in two black cars and driven to the funeral parlour where we greeted many family members and old friends.

The wake was held back at grandma’s house where I had the job of cooking all the pastries in the oven. It was a good distraction. The Swindon and Cirencester branches of the family were a positive influence and it was lovely to see Alan and Viv again.

As the week drew to a close, it was time to take our last snap shots in our heads and on our iPhones, then bid each other farewell in the hopes of keeping grandma’s memory alive by seeing each other again soon to reminisce some more.

Related posts: London, 2011, Small town vs Big city, It’s an English Thing, England, 2006, England, 2002, England, 1997

England, 1997

Returning to London, I stayed with my Sri Lankan aunts and cousins in Harlesden. They took me to Marble Arch, the remains of Winchester Palace and on a tour of the kitschy London Dungeons. We saw the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace and had a lesser known great view of city from the top of the long spiral staircase at the Monument to the Fire.

An Australian friend was working as a nanny in London at the time, so we decided to meet up. We went to the usual sights together- The Parliament Houses, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, the River Thames, Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly Circus. We went shopping at Covent Garden and Camden markets.

I discovered the centre of GMT at Greenwich and one of my favourite London sights- the Tower of London. I made a pilgrimage to Shakespeare’s Globe to watch The Winter’s Tale and saw the Swan Lake ballet at the Royal Albert Hall, which remains the best ballet I have ever seen.

Family friends, Claire and Lisa, took me to Admiralty Arch, Regent’s Park and the London Zoo. We saw the Queen’s black swans at St James Park and the canals of Little Venice. They took me to Oxford St- which became my favourite place in the world to shop. By night, we went to a new restaurant chain called Wagamama and a trendy Soho bar.

The plan was to work the English summer at Perry’s – the restaurant owned by Claire and Lisa’s parents/my Dad’s friends- Alan and Viv. So, I travelled to Upwey, Weymouth to live with my grandparents.

I met Sarah at Perry’s and we became friends. When we weren’t working, we would meet our other friend Liz at Upstairs Downstairs for a coffee or go to the beach to watch Sarah’s brother’s play in the beach volleyball tournament sponsored by Jose Cuervo.

There are 150 pubs in the Weymouth area, so we also went to The Golden Lion, the Hog’s Head, The Black Dog, The Swan, the White Hart, The George Inn, The King’s Arms, The Red Lion and the Old Spa on a regular basis.

After working the dinner shift, we would go out to The Malibu nightclub where we had VIP membership and could get one pound shots on Monday nights. Sometimes we also went to Verdes, or The Rendezvous nightclub.

Around 3am, everyone ended up at Scoffers for chips, cheese and beans.

One morning, after a particularly hard night of dancing, my grandma burst into my bedroom to tell me that Diana, Princess of Wales had died. There was nothing else on television for weeks.

A family friend that visited my grandparents weekly had a cocker spaniel, so they included me on their dog walks to Worbarrow Bay, Poole Harbour, Portland Bill and to chase the swans at Poole Park.

I went on day trips to Durdle Door and the Man O’War at Lulworth Cove on the English Channel. I spent a day at the deserted Tyneham village and one at Corfe Castle.

Travelling to Swindon and Cirencester to visit my Dad’s side of the family, they showed me Chedworth Roman Villa and we strolled through the Cirencester Park. I revisited Bourton-on-the-Water and went to Bibury trout farm.

As the summer drew to a close, Sarah decided to come on my planned Europe trip with me. And so began our grand tour around 13 countries in three months.

First stop was Holland.

Related posts: England, Singapore and Malyasia, 1988, Travel rememberings, I first started travelling, By special request, Friendship: Great Expectations?, Home is where you make it, I first started writing

England, Singapore and Malaysia, 1988

Flying from Bombay, my parents and I landed in London, England. The main purpose of this part of the trip was to visit English friends and family and Sri Lankan relatives.

In London we went to Highgate cemetery with the impressive grave of Karl Marx; the Natural History Museum with its life-size dinosaurs and colourful butterfly exhibit; Kew Gardens to see the squirrels and make daisy chains and Madame Tussauds wax museum to see Ghandi and the Queen.

We drove three hours south to Weymouth, Dorset to visit my grandparents and my Canadian cousins who were also visiting at the same time. There were road trips to Sherbourne and Godmanstone with its white chalky hills and what was then the smallest pub in England- the Smith’s Arms. We went to Oxford, Bourton-on-the-water and Windsor Castle to see the queen’s dolls collection. We visited Gloucestershire, Swindon and Bibury where a relative had lived on Arlington Row. I remember seeing Stonehenge when you could still walk right up to it and touch the stones.

On the way back to Australia we went to Singapore. We stayed in the train station which was very humid and muggy as they had no air conditioning. I loved the Merlion statues and the variety of food that you could get in Chinatown.

We travelled to Penang in Malaysia which was full of temples and monkeys and went riding in rickshaws in Kota Bahru. We stayed in a hut on the beach in Merang, passed through Kuantanand caught the ferry from Mersing to Tekek village on Tioman island.

Tioman was largely undiscovered at the time. You could only get there by boat and we stayed in a Apex hut. There was a pet monkey tied to two trees outside our hut and I spent many hours playing with him on the hammock hung between the trees. The owner wanted me to take the monkey back with me to Australia, so we had to explain about our strict quarantine laws.

I went snorkelling and got spiked in the foot by a giant sea urchin. We walked to a waterfall in the middle of the island and over to Juaru on the other side where there was a long wharf. Dad and I jumped off the end and swam all the way back. I took a picture of the first beautiful sunset I remember with a sailing boat in the foreground.

A few years after we visited Tioman they built a huge resort in the middle of the island and an airport.

Related posts: I first started travelling, Home is where you make it, Travel rememberings, Friendship: Great Expectations?