Tuesday, 5 September 2017

5th September - Harby - cousins reunited - back to Feltwell

Tuesday 5th September 2017

Back in Norfolk, at the Old Coach House, Feltwell Village

Last time I saw my cousin Liesbeth, we looked like this.

Liesbeth (her older brother Aad) Marguerite
Now we look like this!

Fifty years have passed…

The reason we have undertaken this trip to the northern hemisphere is to celebrate my twin cousins’ 70th birthday.  Carel, the other half of the twinnage, is arriving in the UK on the 13th (from the USA – my Dutch cousins are very far-flung!)

But Liesbeth and I couldn’t wait till then to meet up.  We have been close over the past two months, but not close enough to have a cup of tea, a glass of wine, and a very good long chat!

So on Saturday we left Norfolk and drove through Lincolnshire and into Nottinghamshire.  Siri didn’t let us down; she led us lovingly through beautiful agricultural land – we had never seen sugar beet growing and were totally enthralled by the variety and extent of agriculture here in England.  There are 60 million mouths to feed!

We didn’t go on major highways and the last part of the trip completely avoided any sort of town or highway.  Just lots of beautiful little villages and fields of potatoes etc.

Our favourite village was Harmston, gently curving down a hillside.

Thank you Google
But Harby, when we arrived, was just as delightful.

Liesbeth and Philip’s house – Holly House – is right next door to beautiful All Saints Church.

There is a beautiful, delicate carving of Eleanor of Castile,

who died there (about 1100ish.  Actually I was wrong – Wikipedia put me right, see below!). 

Eleanor of Castile was an English queen, the first wife of Edward I, whom she married as part of a political deal to affirm English sovereignty over Gascony.
Died28 November 1290, Harby, United Kingdom

And a gorgeous carving or two in the churchyard.

We were greeted in the driveway by Liesbeth and Phillip.

Philip with his prized gingko tree
They had hoisted the Australian flag to greet us!

And in the foyer, cosily roosting in the laundry basket, was a splendid chook called Black Widow.  There are six beautiful chooks, all of whom want to nest in the basket.  It is hotly contested and a great place to find an egg or two to boil for breakfast.

Our visit was wonderful but a bit overwhelming for me emotionally.  I won’t go into it but…I have only met my cousins briefly, in 1966-67… I have always been very envious of my Tasmanian friends who have aunts, uncles, cousins galore.  As do my own offspring!  Being with Liesbeth was a bit like finding a long-lost sister, familiar, but not really!

And Philip was quiet, gentle, and exuding goodness.

He is the verger at the church, I was delighted to discover.  I have only ever erad about vergers in novels!

We attended the church service on Sunday and once again, it was so like a novel.  Very Barbara Pym, with kindly (but possibly competitive) ladies doing the flowers and newsletters…

Church has never been a part of my life.  I have attended services of many denominations over the years but usually find myself going lalala in my head or finding how many word I can make out of the letters HYMNAL.  But this service I enjoyed very much.  Philip did the reading, a beautiful and simple one.  And the vicar’s sermon spoke straight to my heart – all about love and forgiveness and Doing The Right Thing.  (My 7 year old Zoe would have loved it!)  Afterwards there was a thermos of tea and some shortbread to share – how very English was this??

Relaxing after church
Philip took us for a drive to look at some locks (Cromwell and Torksey.)  Very interesting but the photos I took were not very good…

Philip Liesbeth Pippa
In the afternoon we went to their daughter Pippa’s house, not far from Harby.  Pippa and Adam have a beautiful house in a beautiful green field.  But…it was raining and I didn’t get photos…  They were kind and hospitable and once again I was overwhelmed at meeting my cousin’s daughter…is this like a niece or what??  I have to readjust my family focus!

We left Harby yesterday and are back in the bosom of Pete’s family.

Tomorrow we have to take the hire car back to Stansted (about 80 miles away!!)  And then…plans are just a bit fluid at the moment…

Holly House

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