Sunday, January 27, 2013

Combining my favourite hobbies brings back memories

Travel, Genealogy and Photography are my three favourite past times.  In two weeks time I shall be combining them.

My cousin and I are counting down the days to the 3rd Unlock the Past History and Genealogy Cruise.

WOW! was my reaction to the photos of The Voyager of the Seas.  I have been on cruise boats previously but this is a floating city and looks too big and flashy for a country girl like me, who always travels on a budget.  I am sure I will adjust quickly. I am so looking forward to no work, no cooking, no cleaning, no running around after kids, having time for genealogy, relaxing (think I will try relaxation acupuncture) and most importantly, spending time with my cousin.

Genealogy has reunited my cousin and I.  I now think of Lou as one of my best friends.  She is an amazing lady of great inner strength, who has lived a restricted and demanding lifestyle based on circumstances that most of us cannot and will never experience or understand. She deserves this holiday and to be given the opportunity to "unleash the adventure monster, which has been dormant for the past 2 decades."

I intend on blogging about the lead up to the cruise and our daily exploits while onboard; a diary of events and memories.

This upcoming cruise has brought childhood memories to the surface. I remember as children, how excited we would be leading up to the annual trip to visit my grandmother, aunts, uncles and cousins.  Now 30-40 years later, I am excited to go on a holiday with the cousin I would look forward to visiting so many years ago.

My mother was the only of her siblings to move away from the region where they grew up, so once a year during school holidays, my mother, three siblings and I (dad would stay home at work) would make the all-day journey to visit my mother's family.  It was a great adventure for us three kids but Mum was always tense and on edge until we arrived at our destination.

We would get up early in the morning after a sleepless night of anticipation and board the train.  Do you remember the old "red rattlers" with individual compartments within the carriages?  The one below looks quite clean and neat compared to my memories.

We always had a compartment to ourselves and now I realise that this is probably because no one wanted to be in a compartment with 3 noisy and excited children.  I can still visualise the brown leather studded bench seats facing each other, with wire luggage racks above the seats and dirty brown lino.  The compartments smelt dusty and like stale cigarette smoke.  The windows of trains opened in those days and if we should put our head out the window, we received a short sharp smack on the behind together with a lecture that we risked getting our head ripped off by a sign or passing train.  I would have received at least 3 or 4 smacks per trip, with each getting harder!

Going to the toilet was an excuse to avoid Mum's watchful eye and to explore the train.  However I always moved from one carriage to another with trepidation as it was noisy and rocky.  The rickety moving floor between carriages scared me.  I would wait on one side with patience and anticipation.  When the train seemed to rattle less, I would take a flying leap to the other side to avoid walking on the "rickety bridge".

We changed trains at Spencer Street Station (now Southern Cross Station).  Mum would always be nervous and struggling with the old blue suitcase (no wheels in those days).  Coming from a small country town, I was always fascinated at the size of the buildings and the number of people and what they wore.  We had to hold hands and stay together and Mum was not happy when I would stop to have a look at the model train.

The long tunnel near Castlemaine meant that we were nearing our destination and it was soon time to begin packing up our pencils, paper and colouring books etc (no ipods or computers then).

Upon arrival, we would be greeted by hugs and kisses.  Gran would squeeze me so hard, I could hardly breathe and thought my ribs would break.

Us kids would play for hours in the park and along the creek but had to be back before dark.  Something my kids were never allowed to do.

My sister and I always did the dishes for Gran (we had received a lecture from mum before we arrived) and I don't know why but I was always so nervous about dropping or breaking something, that I often did.  And No, I wasn't trying to get out of doing the dishes!

As we got older, the visits seemed to become further and further apart and I lost contact with my cousin Lou and her family.

In 2009 I contacted Lou to obtain information for a Family History Book I was writing.  She was very interested in what I was doing and has quickly become an avid and thorough researcher too.

It is great to have someone to share discoveries with.  Lou is genuinely excited and interested, not like my husband and kids who roll their eyes and don't even pretend to be interested!

Although we had not been in contact for decades, we seem to have a lot in common and can talk comfortably for hours about anything, including but not limited to genealogy.

I started my research wanting to find out more about deceased relatives but have found so much more; new friends and family.