Genealogy was all the rage a decade and a half ago, so I started to research my family tree.
I blame “Who do you think you are”, where some team of unknown researchers trace a celebrity’s family tree, look for interesting bits, then some creative sort shepherds them down a voyage of “discovery”.
Despite the name, I don’t have access to endless TV researchers, so I had to have a go myself.
It can be rewarding, intriguing, frustrating, and upsetting in equal measure at times, though the first two win out, otherwise no-one would continue.
Did you know Mr X and Miss Y never actually married, or married a good deal later than family assumptions suggest? Of course you didn’t, but you do now. How this affects the researcher depends on several criteria: how remote are the people concerned, both as family, and in time?
Did you realise why your grandfather died aged thirty-one?
And the other at thirty-nine? So both parents were orphaned before they were two years old. Might that have shaped their character? Of course it did, but they never said so, because people of that time just didn’t. They had it tough, because that’s what working class folk’s lives were like, plus they started adulthood at the outbreak of another war, and there wasn’t time to reflect on things like that.
I’ve only just restarted my Ancestry subscription, and I’ve already found the grave location of both my grandfathers, and discovered two aunties I never knew existed, (they both died long before I popped into existence.) I’ve also become aware of a half-sister, born in my father’s first marriage, just before the end of the war. I can see no benefit to either of us, in attempting to trace her. What good would it do to tell a 76 year old woman, that she has a 59 year old half sibling? Exactly.
I managed to combine this graveyard search with a visit to my sister (and BiL, niece, and hubby), for he first time since last June. Also, captured another ancient RBR landmark, the church bell, at St Nicholas’, Barfrestone. It is notable, mostly, because it’s suspended from a yew tree, and not a belfry.
Having searched a cemetery, visited a church, taken my pictures, enjoyed the company of my family, and filled the bike’s fuel tank, I set off for home.
A simple run up the A2, across the Thames, and onto the Isle of Dogs. Easy.
Climbing the rise past Ebbsfleet, I saw the first sign “20 min delay M25 J3 – J1”, then another, past the Bluewater turn off. I could see the queue on the flyover at the A2/M25 junction, so decided I’d use the Blackwall tunnel, rather than Dartford. It’s usually slower, but it’s “sort of” lockdown, so surely traffic must be light.
As I reached Falconwood, I saw the first sign “Tunnel closed”. Then I joined the back of the queue, as we descended into the cutting that goes under Eltham station. I was less around seven miles from home, around twenty minutes, on a good day. It was around 18:40.
An hour later, I’d reached the Sun in Sands roundabout. It was here I was told by a chap in a hi-viz jacket that the tunnel had suffered a vehicle fire, and would “probably” open tomorrow. I pulled over, to phone home. Said I’d be at least an hour. Turning left, along the A2, I traversed Blackheath. In an hour. Deptford was solid, with vehicles attempting to turn towards the Rotherhithe tunnel, so I pressed on towards New Cross. The bus lane was empty, so the motor could cool down a bit.
Turned right off the Old Kent Road, and approached Surrey Quays, then turned to the tunnel. Traffic was awful, but mobile.
Finally arrived home at 21:23. the route I had taken was 11.3 miles, according to Garmin. In two hours and forty minutes.
Just over four miles an hour. Brisk walking pace.