I hired a car from Bristol and headed down to two towns where my grandmother grew up from 1939-1949.
I hadn’t driven a car in virtually 6 months and England streets are ridiculously narrow so I was nervous before I began driving, but just like riding a bike, I was fine with it.
The first stop was Bridgwater and it was a little over an hour from Bristol.
I stopped by my grandmothers old house to start with. I had been given to numbers for which house it was (15 and 51) on separate occasions but since the street only went to 39 I assumed it was the first of the two. In saying that, a lot could have changed in the 60 or so years she’s been gone and there could have once been a longer street before further developments. Most of the housing around looked very similar though.
From here I drove over to nearby the centre of town and walked into the main centre. Again it started to rain and again I was prepared with my brolly! I wandered around town and took some photos. It was a town with a lower socioeconomic feel to it, but it was by no means downtrodden. I could hear the old familiar West-English accent that my great-grandmother still had thickly until she passed away, in the voices of the locals. I grabbed some lunch and took a few more pics of the town and the sun started to peer through the clouds.
At this time, I began chatting to my great aunt (my grandmothers sister) who had moved back to England for a while in the next area I was headed. So she gave me those addresses and a friend of hers to meet there and I carried on, with an extended list of where to go!
I headed to Weston Super Mare which had a much higher class feel to it than Bridgwater. Many houses were stone houses and fairly grand in size. I went by the house my great grandparents had owned first and it is now a nursing home!
I then went into town and walked through the Main Street to the pier. It reminded me of Brighton with the arcades and long pier and seaside. The sun was now shining and it turned out to be a beautiful walk. The sea was at low tide and was a good distance out to sea. The high tide mark in the sand was a good 1km or so closer than where low tide sat and I was amazed at the difference! The other seaside places I had visited weren’t like that, and Australian beaches certainly weren’t either. I spent some time here and subtly listened in to locals conversations to hear their accents which gave me a great sense of nostalgia.
I grabbed an ice cream as I walked back through town to the car. I man was sitting on a bench playing a guitar and asked me if I would join him in singing a song. I am terrible at singing (actually like reaaaally bad) and I was already over my parking time limit though so politely declined and headed back to the car (phew, no singing and no ticket)!
I then drove to the cemetery where my great grandfather is buried. I believe the ashes of my great grandmother were also sent there, and with vague instructions as to the location of the grave I started searching. Alas, with multiple entries and a massive cemetery before me, I ran out of time searching as I had arranged to meet those friends of my aunt.
I headed to their place and met Sue and Geoff. Geoff was busy building a bird house so Sue and I sat and chatted away for a little over an hour. She was lovely and sweet and it was a pleasure to meet her. I asked if she knew the location of my great grandfathers grave but unfortunately she didn’t know where it was.
I stopped by a couple of addresses my great aunt had lived in, and took some pics of the house. I headed back to the cemetery again and spent a good two hours more searching for his grave until the cemetery gates were due to close at 8pm and I had to leave, defeated in the search. I like to think they knew I was there regardless.
My final stop was my grandmothers old house and grabbed a snap of that before calling it a day and headed back to Bristol. It was nice to see where my family came from. The accent sounded so sweet and reminded me of my great grandmother so much, I didn’t want to leave.