Guts, tenacity, and never giving up…

20130216-194254.jpgTime for a visit to the old bulldog himself – Churchill statute and the Churchill War Rooms.

Reminders were everywhere of The War. It was time to discover a bit of my Grampa’s reality of which he never spoke. (Okay – other than England is green, ate too much lamb there, and the hedgerows are thick – we didn’t hear what he experienced.) What my family does know is he took a train from Scotland to Southampton during the night.

My visit to the War Rooms were in his honour. Every time I saw red poppies in the UK I thought of he and all the mates he said goodbye. If you were part of my soppy moments when I happened on red poppies – this is why. It’s a tall Kentuckian with a sideways grin who saw unspeakable terror that gave me reason to honour his fellow soldiers whilst I visited the UK.

Fair play since he was the last of my clan who had boots on the ground in Blighty. In May, I carried his regimental coin to the UK in memory of him. His memory fell in the form of tears at the Cenotaph. This go I went to the Churchill War Rooms to look at history and walk their halls to honour him.

20130216-202342.jpgHis name was Donald Maxwell Plummer. He was a Staff Seargeant in the 29th Infantry Regiment. Tall bloke, quick dry wit, excellent pitcher in softball/baseball, gentle soul, and my Grampa.

It was for him I gravitated to the memorials and respect for the sacrifices to country whilst in the UK. The next colonist you see taking detailed shots of red poppy wreaths on the streets of London could very well have a story similar to mine.

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Wales, Dragons, and DNA…

A Shropshire RoadPilfering my family tree of 700+ ancestors for location and date details an interesting discovery happens. One finds many along the way and yet it is gobsmacking when one happens upon it after the fact. Whilst visiting mates, Trevor and Kay, in Shropshire and Wales the opportunity for shooting incredible scenery is irresistible.

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They graciously shared the local history of the surrounding countryside and one soaked in the lore and history. Wales was the wildcard. Hadn’t noticed Welsh ancestors until today. Not only Welsh but native to the area I’d visited.

Say again?

Digging deeper I learn its part of my Dad’s clans prior to moving north to Scotland. Might explain the sense of innate belonging and connection to the land. I’ve blood here – a thousand years worth of it.

Llywarch Ap Trahaiarn 1070-1128 was my 28th Great Grandfather. He was born in Arwystli, Wales and died in Montgomery, Wales. Oh my. I was there. I stood at the castle (freezing my bits off mind) and visited my first castle in the UK. Serendipitous that it was my returning to the homeland of my great-grandfather. My bloodline flows through this valley. Wow.

Montgomery Castle Ruins

Montgomery Castle Ruins

Montgomery (Welsh: Trefaldwyn; meaning “The Town of Baldwin”) is a town in the Welsh county of Powys. It was previously the county town of the county of Montgomeryshire. The town lies one mile (1.6 km) from the English border in the Welsh Marches. Its castle, Montgomery Castle, was started in 1223, and its parish church in 1227. Other locations in the town include The Old Bell Museum, the Offa’s Dyke Path, the Robber’s Grave and the town wall.

The town was established around a Norman stone castle on a crag. The castle had been built in the early 13th century to control an important ford over the nearby River Severn and replaced an earlier motte and bailey fortification at Hendomen, two miles away. An important supporter of King William I (the Conqueror), Roger de Montgomery, originally from Montgomery in the Pays d’Auge in Normandy, was given this part of the Welsh Marches by William and his name was given to the town surrounding the castle.

The Treaty of Montgomery was signed 29 September 1267 in Montgomeryshire, in which King Henry III of England acknowledges Llywelyn the Last as Prince of Wales. Montgomery was sacked at the beginning of the 15th century by the Welsh Prince Owain Glyndŵr (Owen Glendower). At this time, the castle and surrounding estates were held by the Mortimer family (the hereditary Earls of March) but they came into royal hands when the last Earl of March died in 1425. In 1485, King Richard III was defeated at the Battle of Bosworth and the Royal Estates, including Montgomery and its castle, passed into the hands of the new King, Henry VII, the first Tudor king, and a Welshman. The castle was then given to another powerful Welsh family, the Herberts.
During the Civil War, the castle was captured by Parliamentary forces and subsequently slighted (damaged) to remove its military threat. Montgomery, Wales

Who knew I was truly home…

It’s sublime, that sense of connection. The impressive memories from my journeys to the UK hold ancestral blood and DNA. This can’t be chalked up to an American Tourist willy-nilly flouncing about Blighty. This is about an American who knows she’s deeply rooted in the history and soil she stood in these images.

Stood freezing, yes. That’s all part of the fun, no?

The Bulldog, Big Smoke, and memories of a soldier…

20130216-194254.jpgTime for a visit to the old bulldog himself – Churchill statute and the Churchill War Rooms.

Reminders were everywhere of The War. It was time to discover a bit of my Grampa’s reality of which he never spoke. (Okay – other than England is green, ate too much lamb there, and the hedgerows are thick – we didn’t hear what he experienced.) What my family does know is he took a train from Scotland to Southampton during the night.

My visit to the War Rooms were in his honour. Every time I saw red poppies in the UK I thought of he and all the mates he said goodbye. If you were part of my soppy moments when I happened on red poppies – this is why. It’s a tall Kentuckian with a sideways grin who saw unspeakable terror that gave me reason to honour his fellow soldiers whilst I visited the UK.

Fair play since he was the last of my clan who had boots on the ground in Blighty. In May, I carried his regimental coin to the UK in memory of him. His memory fell in the form of tears at the Cenotaph. This go, on the advice of someone dear to my heart, I went to the Churchill War Rooms to look at history and walk their halls to honour him.

20130216-202342.jpgHis name was Donald Maxwell Plummer. He was a Staff Seargeant in the 29th Infantry Regiment. Tall bloke, quick dry wit, excellent pitcher in softball/baseball, gentle soul, and my Grampa.

It was for him I gravitated to the memorials and respect for the sacrifices to country whilst in the UK. The next colonist you see taking detailed shots of red poppy wreaths on the streets of London could very well have a story similar to mine.

20130216-202251.jpg

A Wallace returns to the Tower and leaves with her head intact…

The Tower of London and Tower Bridge.

One of Dad’s clans is Wallace. My Gran was a Wallace. So – I traced us to make sure of which Wallace (if any) we are related. It certainly explained the stubbornness and ferocity of spirit that rears its head in my family line.

I wore blue in honour of my Great-Grandfather’s King Robert the Bruce and John Wallace (less famous brother to Sir William Wallace). As far as I know, I’m the first of my family to see the haunts of the Tower of London. William was a guest here prior to his death (hanged, drawn, and quartered then his head  placed upon a stake out on London bridge as a warning). Hoping to avoid being stripped naked and dragged through the city at the heels of a horse to the Elms at Smithfield, I opted to lay low and just shoot images and smile politely.

Despite it being cold and drizzly (redundant statement in the UK), I set out to have a look and snap what I could of the exterior. The first shot is by far my favourite out of all that I shot of the Tower. The hardest challenge is capturing the essence of the history.

The Tower of London

Ignore the Gherkin and modern London photobombing the Tower.

Per Wikipedia, Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress, more commonly known as the Tower of London, is a historic castle on the north bank of the River Thames in central London, England, United Kingdom. It lies within the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, separated from the eastern edge of the square mile of the City of London by the open space known as Tower Hill. It was founded towards the end of 1066 as part of the Norman Conquest of England.

Tad bit of history, you say?

Overwhelmingly so. Shooting it is intimidating. Such history screams back at one, ghosts abound, the modernity of London races and swirls outside its walls, and one stands completely gobsmacked by it all.

Unless you live here and this is part of the daily commute, it’s gobsmacking to a history nut. I get it…the locals are used to it much in the same way I’m used to seeing the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and forbiddingly Fisherman’s Wharf (yawn) of San Francisco. Ever day it’s there, every day there are tourists taking images, and standing mouth agape. I was proudly one of them. At least I knew not to wear trainers – the badge of a colonist.

This Wallace just thought it was time to see some of the digs her Great-Grandfather haunted.

A journey across the pond…

 

Sails

Sails seemed an appropriate image for the beginnings of this journey even if I was flying halfway around the world.

San Francisco International gives nod to the rich history of the sea in its architecture. The sails/boats ceiling above the International terminal reminds one that the history of the City by the Bay is steeped in ocean-fairing lore. The ceiling also gave a nod to the rich history of my destination – England.

A month’s journey to Blighty was ahead of me.

Nuts and bolts of the visit is to experience the history of my ancestors.

After a summers worth of digging through Ancestry.com, I wanted to see the origins of my family roots. I do believe it is difficult to understand the American’s Colonist need for permanence unless one carries citizenship from a country that is less than a few hundred years old. Being a first-generation Californian, I don’t have the permanent sense of history that a Brit carries. It’s a case of California (Late 20th Century) – Midwest/South (18th-19th Century) – East Coast (17th Century) – UK (2nd-17th Century).

Yup. The Mayflower is involved. So is Jamestown. We fought on both sides of the Revolutionary War, too.

Time to see home.  Time to go back and step into my own history.

Virgin Atlantic