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Published: December 22nd 2010
Whilst we were checking into the Caravan Park at Bargara, the park from where we did our turtle watching trip, the young lady in reception asked Jan for her surname. She promptly typed Kettle into her computer system and said “Oh, I see you’ve stayed with us before”. “No" said Jan. “We’ve never been to Bargara before”. She turned to me and asked for my first name. “Graham” I replied. “So you have stayed with us before” she said somewhat belligerently before reading out an address in Benalla, Victoria from her computer system. I assured her that we’d never been to Bargara and we certainly didn’t live in Benalla and, though a little reluctantly, she eventually accepted that, incredible though it was, there must be two people with the same unusual name!!
Later that day I vaguely recalled the address she’d read out and, because Benalla was a likely stopping off point on our eventual journey back down towards Melbourne, I wondered at the likelihood and potential humour of being able to track down my namesake. A few weeks went by and, sure enough, Benalla became an ideal location at which to spend a few days. It was well placed
to enable us to catch up with, and pass on Christmas Greetings to the many people we had come to know at Mansfield (Sarah and Darryl’s acquaintances) and also our dear friend Wilma who lives at Wangaratta.
In the meantime, Jan had typed my name and Benalla into Google and came up with Graeme Kettle (note the slight spelling difference) who was associated with the Benalla Bowls Club. So after checking into the Benalla Caravan Park for a few days I found my way to the Bowls Club and asked if they could confirm that Graeme’s address was the one I could recall from Bargara. I had actually recalled the house number incorrectly and had mis-spelt the road but they were able to correct the details and I was then armed with all the information I needed for, potentially, a unique meeting.
I was still a little reluctant to pursue the information but Jan helped to convince me that if I didn’t take advantage of the opportunity now I would probably regret it for ever. So we promptly made our way to the address given. We found what we thought was the correct house – there was a
caravan parked outside and we knew that Graeme was a fellow caravanner – but the house was clearly empty. But something made me double check the location and I realized that the house we wanted could be the one set way back off the road and some way behind the house we were looking at. I boldly drove down the lengthy drive and felt a degree of nervousness when I spotted first, the correct house number, and then a lady doing some gardening. The drive opened up into a magnificent entrance to a fantastic property set in a huge garden.
I approached the lady, who we now know as Adrienne, and enquired if Graeme Kettle lived there. She said he did but explained that he had just left to go to the Bowls Club!!! The next few moments of conversation I will always remember mainly for the quizzical look on Adrienne’s face when I told her my name. After we both realized the full humour of the situation she kindly invited Jan and I in for a cup of tea. We were able to have a closer look at the wonderful setting the house was in and to get
to know their two retriever dogs. Adrienne explained that when Graeme went to the Bowls Club she was never sure how long he would be. But we had our cups of tea, together with some delicious fruit tarts that Adrienne had made for Christmas, and discussed Graeme’s family tree which a relative of his had been diligently compiling. Other fascinating coincidences came to light in that Adrienne’s maiden name was Ashley, the family name of course of dear Aunty Enid, and her grandfather, Reverend Withers, was a minister in England who was once responsible for the church at Bishop’s Cannings, Wiltshire where Jan had been a bridesmaid at her brother Rod’s marriage to Tania.
Time was going on and Graeme still hadn’t re-appeared but Adrienne kindly invited us back to the house for 7:00pm when she was positive he would be back. Sure enough, we arrived spot on 7 o’clock and Graeme was there to greet us – quite a special occasion for me – Graham Kettle meets Graeme Kettle! After the initial exchanges, mainly humorous, and some photographs to mark the occasion we began to discuss family trees and common Christian names – Henry being the most common to both families– to determine whether a family connection was likely. Graeme’s family roots were also in England and so places of family origin were considered but there were no obvious connections which may have linked the families together. Nevertheless, it was great, over cups of tea and some more of Adrienne’s delicious Christmas tarts, just to discuss the names and the different family histories.
We also discussed touring Australia and completing “The Big Lap” which, like us, Graeme and Adrienne had done a few years ago. They showed us some brilliant photos which had been reproduced for them in book format – they were magnificent and included an area which we have yet to visit – Karijini – which Sarah and Darryl had so thoroughly enjoyed. We also saw photos of them swimming with whale sharks – something which we have in mind if we are in the Exmouth area at the right time.
The evening passed by so quickly with various family references and anecdotes – it was such an enjoyable time. I was so pleased that, with Jan’s encouragement, I had followed my desire to make the unusual, possibly unique contact and that Graeme and Adrienne had been so supportive and accommodating. We exchanged contact details and thus brought to an end what had been a truly joyous event. How often can it be said that Graham Kettle and Graeme Kettle spent time together?
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