My husband was born in England, and in theory lived there until he was fifteen. In truth he spent some of his childhood in the middle and far east as his father was working in various oil installations. By the time he was eight years old he was sent to boarding school back in England. Much of his school breaks were spent with his grandparents in a suburb of London. Other times he flew half way around the world to visit his parents. Then in the early sixties his parents returned to England, and bought a house down on the south coast of England. He was still at boarding school until they migrated to Australia around 1963.
Back to our trip to England. We sometimes refer to this as a visit to historical sites – family historical sites that is. As well as some general touristy things, we visited a couple of he boarding schools he attended, found his paternal grandparents grave, visited the house on the south coast. Our final stop was London – doing many of the tourist things here as well. But there was one more former home to visit while we were in London.
By this time, we had returned our rental car, and so all our excursions were by foot or train. And this was before smart phones and GPS. So to find his grandparents former home, it was onto the train, and then foot. This was thirty-five years since Tim had left England, and even longer since he had visited the area as a youngish boy in his early teens (or maybe pre-teens).
So we walked in the general direction he remembered. Finally, we walked down one road he thought was close to the street we were seeking. Things of course had changed. There were a few people around, but they did not seem inclined to connect with us. Eventually as we proceeded down this street we saw a lady who we managed to make eye contact with. We asked her if she knew where Linton Ave was. She pointed to the next street a few metres away, and we saw the street name on a low brick wall overgrown with bushes. It was only having had it pointed out that you could see some of the letters of the street name.
But this was not the unexplained!
This lady (and I have forgotten her name unfortunately) then indicated that she lived in the street in her old family home. Tim explained that his grandparents had lived there, and he had spent a lot of his childhood there. Our “new” friend then exclaimed “You are not Tim are you?” She lived next door to his grandparents’ former home, and they had often played together as children. Of all the people we could have asked for directions, the one person we found was a former playmate!