I have been back in Papua from England for over a month. England seems almost surreal as the days here are blurring into a hot humid nonstop motion. I have hit a wall on how to capture a trip so meaningful with words and pictures. And yet to not write about it would almost confirm that it didn’t happen. Which is so not true. So here is my feeble attempt to put England into words. Of course if you are part of my Face Book following, then you saw many pictures and postings while I was there. My parents were amazed at how quickly I would post events, sights, happenings, and people on Face Book. It all started with the great sign of the elderly, which my dear “non elderly” parents posed for.
After jetting through the air and waiting in airports for going on 36 hours, meeting up with my parents at the Birmingham airport was lovely. We drove to a nice Inn on the outskirts of Blackpool. There I was able to get a great nights rest, Skype talk with the family back home, gather all the warm clothes my mother had prepared for my tropical body, enjoy a lovely supper and breakfast with my parents and push through jet lag. The area of the Inn was where many afternoons my parents had brought us young Ashworth children for walks. My father reminisced about the bridge that used to be wooden and you had to pay a shilling toll to get across, 36+ years later it is a big metal and cement expanse.
The following day we made our way to The Lakes…stopping at some shops on the way. We went to my Grandfathers favorite store and enjoyed a hot cross bun in his honor….and a cup of tea. I know that my mouth hung open at all the lovely stocked shelves of food. Did I really just come jetting from a third world? A world where food items are simply not on the shelves for months because the boat hasn’t arrived with that item yet. The contrast is almost too much. But I push it from spoiling the moment. I enjoy chatting with my parents about whatever is on our hearts. Who would have thought that we would have been so blessed with time together in England, while we are serving in Papua!?! Delightful.
By that evening we are at my Uncle Robert and Aunt Zoe’s home. In many ways their home is like stepping back into another time. Though completely remodeled with new windows and electricity, plumbing, etc….their home dates back to the 1600’s and belongs to the English trust. It also still holds much of its original charm with low ceilings, creaky floors and original floor plans. It is quite coveted to be able to rent homes like this and one has to apply, interview and basically “sell” themselves to the trust and why they would be good renters. Once “in” a rental, it is “yours” to rent for as many years as you are a good care taker. The beams and much of the woodwork in the home are from broken up ships. Loved, Loved, Loved chatting with Uncle Robert and Aunt Zoe. They asked great questions and also could relate to our Papuan 3rd culture, as they had spent some time “vacationing” in a 3rd world setting.
Friday morning, my brother Nick arrives. We all head out to do a bit of shopping. The weather was typical for the Lakes, raining (cold rain). At one point it was sleeting. Despite the rain, we ate chips (like an oven French Fry) topped with vinegar and salt which “warmed us”. Truly a British experience. Again….despite the rain, the drive was gorgeous with sheep and stone walled pastures, rolling hills, green grass, narrow lanes, with hedge rows and stone walls. Immersed. That evening, our cousin, Jenny and her family arrived and we all piled in at the cottage. So lovely to reconnect with relatives and 2nd cousins.
Saturday morning, Nick and I set off on our own to Fleetwood to meet up with more family. We arrived at Anya’s house and became acquainted with her family, then Becky and her family arrived followed by Uncle Ian and Aunt Gillian. The house was full of children, chatter, lots of yummy “puddings” (desert). Mom and Dad caught up with us there. Then off we all went again, to be with Mom’s family.
Nick and I zipped around so many round abouts, I was completely disoriented. We were “late” to Auntie Sonia and Uncle Allan’s house. When we walked in, it did not take an FBI agent to detect that something was not right. Soon Dad stated that he had misplaced his and mother’s passports. Despite the passport loss and Auntie Sonia having a wicked cold, we enjoyed a lovely traditional English dinner. Complete with mint sauce to go on the potatoes. The style of cooking is faintly familiar and yet so different from the American style. After about 3 hours of searching, Dad found the passports. It all became part of the memories made in England.
I was always looking for the radiators to stand by, to try and get warm.
On Sunday, Nick and I took off to catch up with more cousins and 2nds!!!! I must say that as I reflect on this trip, getting to spend 3 days with my brother was one of the biggest highlights. We have spent almost no time alone since getting married and having children. Usually our conversations are sandwiched in between 8 boys and a whirlwind of activity. So it was just really, really nice to have all this time whirling through countryside, cities, round abouts, sweet shops, our motherland….chatting and getting reacquainted. He is so much nicer now, then he was 30 years ago. ; ) HaHa…..sorry Nick, but you know it is true!!!!
We met cousin Anya, Beth, and David. Along with their families. Amazing to see so many family members.
Then, because everyone insisted, we went into downtown Coventry and saw the church that had been bombed during World War II. Right when we arrived, they were pulling the bells in the remaining steeple. The air filled not only with the sound, but also an emotion of remembrance and awe.
Monday, was a difficult day. Yet, to feel the pain and loss of Nanny was good. I wanted to mourn and not be removed in another distant land. I wanted to feel the rawness of the service and all the people who had been touched by my Nanny’s life. My mother, did a splendid job honoring her Mom with a eulogy, representing the siblings. I marveled at her strength and her words full of love and beauty. My most special memory from the day of the memorial was meeting many elderly people who talked with much enthusiasm and sparkle about the days when they were involved with my grandparents in “the church”. “Oh, those were wonderful days.”
Dad “dressed” to stay warm.
Mom with her sister’s and brother.
And here we have it….English cakes and tea. Hello!!!!
On Monday evening, all of Mom’s siblings and family’s met for dinner. More talking and sharing and catching up from over a dozen years gone by. I interviewed the children and some of the boy 2nd cousins had this smashing conversation about “fighting”. Their accents. Their intonations. Their “fight”. It was so great, they were so relaxed at that point. Super great.
They still have that “groovy kind of love, many years later!!!!”
Then that was it. Monday night we said good bye to Nick. Tuesday morning, my parents took me to the airport. We had a lovely hot drink and I rattled off a great long debriefing conversation. They are probably still recovering from all my reflections. There was so much to process….. And then I was off. Whirling my way through air toward my home, Papua. It seemed all so surreal. England. Papua.
And yet it happened. A price could not be put on the trip. It was more meaningful then I can capture in words. I will always be indebted to my husband for giving me the freedom to go. For Leta, who watched our children for almost a full week. For my parents, who treated me like their little girl again….taking care of my needs and blessing me with their love. For my brother, who is one talented and Godly man and I was honored to whirl around England with him. To all the scores of family members that we touched base with, for just a moment in time. England.