Ireland and England Day 19

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September 25th 2011
Published: October 12th 2011
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Day 19
The Big Cousin Reunion

John and I are heading off on a Thames Boat Cruise to the Tower of London. Roger has opted out as he has seen The Tower so many times before.

First we have to figure out how to get there: The Circle Line (I think it was) is our direct route and it is closed in the section we need. We ask the not-very-hospitable person in charge (owner?) of The Vicarage Hotel for help and she thinks we can get straight there. We can’t. (She also didn’t know of a good pub in the area….strange…could be why she is such a sourpuss.) So we ask the nice man at the tube entrance and he gives us complete directions and we make it to Westminster Pier lickety split. We are hampered by large groups of tourists, especially a group of French who keep insisting that, although they are spread along three rows, that they must stay together. My rusty French comes in handy and I try to teach John an appropriate French phrase but he isn’t buying it.

The tour starts out sunny and lovely and then turns cool and overcast. The tour guide is informative and funny and we arrive at The Tower of London too soon. Not, however, ahead of the crowd. The place is mobbed and we knew it would be, but we are lucky to just make it into a Yeoman Warden Tour. The start is great—the guide is informative and witty. So engaging that more and more people are joining and soon we are pushed so far out to the edges that we can’t hear a bloody thing. We give up and wander out on our own. We have only a bit over an hour and we wander around with a map and the clear realization that half a day is not nearly enough time to see all that there is see at The Tower of London. But because we missed so much, I googled Tower of London and Yeoman and discovered this treasure: Yeoman Warder At Tower of London, Part II of Four and You Tube. I’m not sure if I can put a live link on Travel Blog, but trust me it is great and yet another wonderful take on, yet again, historian Mel Gibson. (Warning, not for the faint of heart.)

Then we actually make it all on our own to the next tube station and onto the correct train! Emerging, I approach the nice man who is directing people…”You are needing directions? See those? Those are called stairs….” Everyone is a comedian today. But he sends us out the correct exit and we meet Cousin Roger almost on time in front of the British Museum. I leave John and Roger to tour on their own while I go off to do a little artsy shopping in a store nearby. When I return they are museumed out so we take a stroll to find lunch and then head back to the hotel. Roger confesses that after our 5 or 6 mile walk yesterday that he is a bit tired and we confess that we are near exhausted, but that doesn’t stop Roger and I from strolling along the displays of art at Bayswater Road. A few interesting bits, but nothing really grabs either one of us.

Now it’s time for a rest, because in just a few hours, I will be having dinner with my DNA Cousins!
Cousin John arrives first and he takes me off to the Churchill Arms so we can get a table. Cousin Roger meets up with husband John and joins us, and then Cousin Tom, having flown in from Finland, arrives by bicycle and I am still not sure how that works. And here we are: four strangers with different surnames who have met through DNA testing, and it all works. People sometimes ask if there is something special about meeting these cousins. Well, absolutely. It all seems so easy and convivial. Of course it helps that we have built a community with a steady stream of emails, theories, sharing of genealogies, and some of us are now Face Book friends, but there is some different kind of bond. Husband John is just beginning to understand this in the group that he is creating around his DNA testing group. There is a bond that is there despite separation by hundreds and hundreds of years and emigration to separate continents. We’re cousins.

Dinner at an Indian restaurant is a planning session: Cousins Tom and John will leave early in the morning for the Derbyshire while John and I will depart our hotel to pick up a car. We will connect up somewhere along the route as we head to Roystone Grange.

The sad ending to the evening is saying goodbye to Roger. What a great help he has been to us in London: cheerful companion and knowledgeable tour guide. Our visit has come to an end too soon and we must say good-bye for now. Roger, I already have a list for our next visit!

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12th October 2011

you just go to one of the hundred barclays rentabike machines, pay 2 quid on your credit card, and you are off! Then you leave it at any machine. Easy as making hay.
31st October 2011

Now if I could just remember how to ride a bike.

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