May is one of my favorite months. Most years I am blessed, by my brilliant husband, with a trip to my homeland to visit my family. Samuel George Johnston never ceases to amaze me. We lost Nanny three years ago, yet at 95 he still pushes on with no issues. To my surprise, Grandad George purchased an IPad before I arrived in England and was already on his way to mastering it, but he had a bigger surprise for me...
We were going on a road trip! Grandad (the correct spelling according the 1918 British dictionary) drove us from the south where he lives to Leek,in the north, where he was born and the setting for my MG manuscript (yet to be published). It took five and a half hours to get there, but we arrived safely and after a short nap we took off on foot...
The buildings, paths and walls were magical. I hadn't been to Leek since I was a little girl. My memories and research about the location were everywhere I looked. But I learned more about my grandad than I ever expected...
On the first night in Leek, we walked two miles to The Pride of the Moorlands. It looks like a typical pub, but it's far from that. This is the spot my grandad was born. Before the pub was built, a WWI corrugated steel Operating Theater stood here. After WWI, housing became an issue. My great grandfather acquired the Operating Theater and it became my grandad's birthplace and first home.
The owner of the pub and the patrons treated Grandad like an old friend. We each had a drink and then walked the two miles back to the former Talbot hotel, now a Premier Inn.
Grandad's second home was a couple houses down from the pub. After a quick pic...
We strolled down memory lane.
The Waterfall Cottages in Endon were beautiful and they were the birthplace and home of my lovely Nanny Phyllis. They had been renovated, but...
The path behind the house leading to the privy had not been altered. My heart and mind raced with excitement as I saw pieces of my grandparents' love story unfold in front of me.
Nanny and Grandad were married at this Methodist church, not far from her home. Nanny taught Sunday School here.
We think this home was were Nanny's dad worked. It is one of the many places I mention in my MG Manuscript.
We walked up Sandy Lane. It connected Grandad's childhood home to his school. It ran alongside the cemetery.
Seeing my Great Grandfather Samuel George Johnston's grave touched my heart. From his grave you could see both the Pride of the Moorland and Grandad's second childhood home. He was a pretty amazing man. He managed Leek's first electrical company! One of his sons installed all the electrical lines in the then town.
You've heard of Rudyard Kipling, right? This is Rudyard Lake...The Kiplings honeymooned and spent holidays here and named their son after the lake. This was the location of my grandparents first real date. Talk about a special spot! Grandad took Nanny out in a rowboat.
Although I don't mention this war memorial in my manuscript, it is located in the town square. Grandad walked around it and read the WWII soldiers' names and shared with me the ones he knew.
During WWII iron fencing was cut off and used for the War Effort.
My trip was full of places I recognized and of ones I didn't...
The Green Dragon held a special place in Grandad's heart. He and Nanny held their wedding reception there...a great story goes along with this place, as having a wedding and a reception in two different towns created great hardships during the war. (I'll leave that to another day.)
The Snug, the bar, the hall and The Room were important places in the Green Dragon. The Room has an exceptionally interesting story...
For most of my trip my hair was a great big fuzz ball. I figured out if I put it in a French roll, it looked a lot better.
The Mermaid Inn played a big part in my first version of my MG manuscript. But with help a great agent (Abigail Samoun) and critique partners, I realized my manuscript had to change in the last third of the story. The Inn is still in the story, but plays a much smaller role.
It's no longer a pub and inn, but can be rented as a holiday/event house. A bunch of blokes were having a bachelor party there and were kind enough to show me the mermaid in the capped well in the bar area. (Very cool!)
Do you see the green spire? It's made of copper and Grandad built it right before he joined the RAF. Ecton Hall or Ecton Castle has an amazing story behind it. It's located on Ecton Hill.
Ecton Hill was mined for copper and lead dating back to the bronze age. The current owner's of Ecton Castle (Claire and Oliver) were wonderful. By the end of the day, I felt like I had made life long friends.
The green in this stone is an example of the copper. It was in one of England's beautiful walls that cover the countryside. We hiked to the top of the hill...
It was well worth the hike.The views were amazing. And Yes, 95 year old Samuel George Johnston did the hike...in fact, he led the way!
We walked carefully. We didn't want to fall in any shaft openings.... We went back to the hotel and had a long rest before a special friend came to visit us!
Penny came to see me! If you don't know Penny, she's a blog superstar and she Tweets! And...
We got along like fish and chips.... She brought along another special friend...Her beloved owner Gary Pennick!
Gary is a wonderful guy. He blogs about the world, mental health issues and being a decent human. It's important to realize how many people struggle and Gary stands up for them, if Penny lets him do a post. :)
We had a lovely breakfast and visit with Gary and Penny. Penny has amazing manners and a wonderful smile! If you don't know them, please hop over to their blog Klahanie and say hello.
(You've got to love my fuzzy hair do, right?)
You would think my adventure was over, but...I will continue it next week.
When you get the chance to meet one of your blog friends...
Go for it!