The last couple of weeks have seen us on our travels again. Sandwiched between seventeenth century presentations to Sheffield and District Family History Society and at the Society of Genealogists were days in the weird and wonderful world of the toddler. I now know my gup-x from my gup-d (great TV series called Octonauts – try it) and my Lightening McQueen from Chick Hicks (Cars). If this makes it sound as if my descendants spend their time in front of a screen, far from it. I have built railway layouts, completed jigsaws and failed spectacularly to create a workable marble run. I have sung and signed. Make that watching admiringly whilst others sung and signed. I didn’t know the signs and really no one wants to hear me singing, even very quietly. I was placed in sole charge twice. This was greeted with varying degrees of equanimity, in direct proportion to the age of the child who was entrusted to my care.
The journey home was a challenge, with four hours at a standstill on the motorway. There are obvious disadvantages to being up the M11 without a ‘rest room’ or even a usable hedge. We missed the opportunity to make our fortunes by renting out our caravan toilet and its presence meant that we were in less of a dilemma than most but it made for a long day. The following day, we were off again to the foreign territory that is south Devon. We approached Axminster with confidence, having programmed the street name in to the sat-nav. It can be difficult to time journeys through the Devon countryside with much accuracy so we often arrive early. Ok, so we often arrive very early. This time, with half a mile to go, we could see that we had got it just right. We were aiming for Silver Street. We turned off the main road rather sooner than expected and in increasing darkness, signs of habitation receded and the road got narrower; that would be much narrower. Even given that we were in the Nissan Micra and not towing a caravan, it was becoming a bit of a squeeze. The likelihood of there being a nearby handy heritage centre up this track seemed remote. We turned around, no mean feat and enquired at a local garage. The girl serving appeared to be of an age to have just left primary school and had imperfect English but told us reassuringly that she knew where Axminster was. Next was the local pub where the helpful landlady sought out the road we required using her phone. The fisherman of my acquaintance has a smart phone, could we not have tried this? Let’s just say that the phone might be smart ……….
For some reason best known to our sat-nav it had no knowledge of Silver Street, Axminster and was under the impression that we really needed to be in Silver Street in Kilmington, a village a couple of miles away. In the end I managed to phone my hosts for advice and we arrived just in time. This makes the presentations that I do from the comfort of my own home seem positively stress free. Apart from the latest run through of my Pharos ‘Writing and Telling Your Family History’ course that has just begun, I have an online session coming up next week for The Surname Society. Hurrah, no traffic hold-ups or sat-nav malfunctions, just the vagaries of the internet connection to be worried about.