Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Gift Of Visiting The Setting Of Your Novel (MS) With Your Grandfather (Samuel George Johnston) and Meeting Blog Friends

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 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!


  1. Hi Sharon - I got back on line yesterday ... so brilliant you posted today and I was able to catch it - I'd deleted all the other Feedly posts ...

    Fantastic trip you had - and yes Samuel George Johnston is one special grandad - I'm so pleased and honoured to have met him ... how wonderful you now have more knowledge about the Johnstons early life and real history ... amazing ... I'll be back to read again - I wanted to hear more about Ecton - as that rang my history bell when I met George here with you just over a year ago.

    So glad you met Gary and Penny ...

    I'll be back to read again ... lovely post and looking forward to the next one - please pass on via the ipad my remembrances to George ... cheers Hilary

  2. Your granddad sounds amazing. We all hope to be like him at his age. Loved seeing all your pictures. It is so beautiful countryside there. And awesome you met some blogger friends.

  3. I absolutely love these pictures, Sharon! Aw, what a cute dog. And your grandfather and you look so sweet together. Thanks for sharing!

  4. I think your Grandad is wonderful. It must be amazing to see a place where some of your family history played out. It is wonderful that you had such a good time. Definitely a once in a lifetime experience.

  5. What a fantastic and memorable trip! Your Granddad is a sweetie and I love how he sets an example to us all - enjoy life and have fun. Thank you for sharing this lovely time with us.

  6. What a fabulous trip, and your Grandad is amazing! Thanks for sharing the great pictures. I'm sure it was a very memorable and meaningful trip for you!

  7. OH WOW, SHARON!! First of all Grandaddy looks AMAZING!! He looks better than most 65/75 year olds. Can't believe he is 95. What a touching vacation to see all the places your desire Gandmommy taught and were married at. Very cool you met some online friends there!

    Simply BEAUTIFUL! xoxo

  8. What a special trip for you, Sharon!!! Loved the pics!

  9. Wow! I loved reading about your trip and the walk down memory lane. It's just wonderful! And, your Grandad looks like he's in amazing shape.

    Thank you for sharing this!

  10. What an awesome time, Sharon! The family history... So super cool and that guy is NOT 95. There's no way! Look at that spry man! Totally loved taking this journey with you.

  11. Awww...what an awesome time. And you met Penny! I enjoyed all these photos from your journey!

  12. Hi human, Sharon,

    As pawmised, I'm finally here. What a pawesome, interesting pawst, my kind human friend, Sharon. It's amazing how we have a common bond shared with you having stayed for awhile in Leek when you were a little human girl. It really is such a beautiful, fascinating area to live in. I loved meeting you and your granddad, or grandad, George, a remarkable man. He's doing so well for a human of his age. Of course, he's not as old as me! Arf!

    Thank you for inviting us for breakfast at the Pawmier, sorry, Premier Inn. The staff at the breakfast reception were starstruck by me. It was so nice to meet you, Sharon. You are a very kind person. My human dad, Gary and I, were honoured to meet you both.

    I'm going to put up a pawst on Gary's site in regards to your pawst. Thanks for this and reliving your touching, emotive visit.

    Pawsitive wishes and doggy kisses,

    Penny xx

  13. What a fun-looking trip!! So glad you got to enjoy that, and now we were able to enjoy it vicariously through your photos. :) Best wishes for your MG!!!

  14. That was an amazing and fun post!

  15. What an amazing trip and photo journal of it all! There's no way he's that old! He looks so young. What a great way to research a novel! <3 Christy

  16. What a magical story. The trip sounds a bit like an archaeologist or historian piecing together the past, but what a personal past to uncover!

  17. Penny and her human are very special aren't they? I am awed (and humbled) by your grandad. Such a beautiful post. Thank you.

  18. What a wonderful story, so much history and family connections to the area. It must make your ms a really special one for you.
    And meeting lovely Penny and Gary too.

  19. Hi Sharon, I loved all your photos and enjoyed reading all about your grandad. A certain Internet superstar suggested I came over to say hello, so I did.

  20. Hi Sharon -- I came over from Penny's blog (oh and Gary's too) to read your post. Fascinating! And wow, your Grandad rocks! So hale and hearty at 95!

  21. Hi Sharon - I've just found you from Gary's blog. What an amazing trip down memory lane, I'm really looking forward to reading more. I love the photos of you and Penny, she looks such an adorable little dog and it's great that you got to meet her and Gary. And your grandad is amazing, no way can I believe he's 95, he only looks about 70!

  22. 95 and active, how wonderful for your grandfather. I have come over from Gary's blog. The trip looks fantastic.

  23. I've popped over from Gary's blog. Your Grandad looks amazing and your visit was so special for you both, I've enjoyed reading about your visit. Lovely to meet up with your blogging friends Gary and Penny too.

  24. First of all, wonderful that you got to meet Gary and Penny!

    Good for your grandad! And what a cool experience to have, both with him and for your book.

  25. I love that you got to meet the famous Penny in person! How awesome that she and Gary were able to meet you. It sounds like a great outing for all of you. :)

    What a truly amazing and special trip. Your grandad is an inspiration. Hiking at 95! Learning the ipad too! Go Samuel! I love that you got to visit so many important places in your family history. So special. Thanks for sharing!

  26. Hi, Sharon! I just read Gary and Penny's post and had to come over to say hello. What a wonderful trip you had! I loved taking a little virtual tour with you through all the photos. Just fantastic and how awesome is your grandfather?? Obviously an amazing man.You made me laugh about his iPad. My mom is 88 and she has one that she uses constantly - loves it. :)

    So glad to meet you and I look forward to following your blog now. Take care!

  27. Such great pics!!! And your grandad is a very special man :)
    What a great thing to meet up with blog buddies!!!

  28. Hi Sharon,

    I so enjoyed your story and pictures. It looks like a lovely quaint place. It's so great that your grandad is still so active and healthy. I am a tad jealous you met Penny, how wonderful that she and Gary came for a visit.

  29. Wow! That sounds like an amazing trip, and I loved all the pictures with the captions to go with them. Glad it went well!

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