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Day 24 – Half time

Still married

sunny 23 °C
View Following in the Family Footsteps on Neileeann's travel map.

Well it is the half way mark in the trip and after some bumpy days and experiences the team is still holding up. Another 24 days to go, but the travelling should get a bit easier in the second half, with the breeze at our backs and a go-forward in terms of car. Time will tell if injuries and bad moves will end in tears.

My only family history task in London is to visit Woolwich. Woolwich is the place where the convict hulks were moored in the Thames prior to joining their main ship for sailing to Australia. So it was for John Newman Holdman who was held here for five months on his way to Australia for a working holiday. It was no picnic while they waited and they were sent out from 6am to 5pm most days to dredge the river by crude hand winching, all on a measly meal allowance of basically gruel. As it was, many convicts didn’t get pass Woolwich with an estimated 50% dying while on board these hulks. By all reports, eventually getting onboard the convict boats was like winning the lottery.

So my intention was to get out here and take a few happy shots and then head elsewhere. However the London Underground doesn’t have the speed of the Paris Metro and the trip took about 1.25 hours to get there with a couple of changes tossed in for good measure.

There is no dedicated memorial to the role that Woolwich played in Australian history, but it was also the place where there was historical ship building and armoury on this site. So there was an existing museum that dealt with that side of the history. Nearby was the Greenwich Heritage Centre (http://www.greenwichheritage.org/site/index.php) that had some research material and the staff there keep piling books in front of me to read on its history and the prison hulk ships. So that consumed another 3 hours. For the Newman family researchers, not a lot more to be found here and I photographed some pages with a bit more colour and movement stuff that I will share upon my return.

Afterwards, I needed a haircut, as it was getting unruly. Looked for the cheapest place I could find. That was a side alley Nigeria barber where I was the only honky in the place and not a word of English was spoken, apart from £5 please. Woolwich is a heavily migrant population with mainly African colonial nationalities, but there is a lot of urban renew occurring down by the Thames with the proverbial can’t swing a cat in apartments selling for £350K.

Because the metro took so long I decided to catch the bus back as far as possible and then train it from there. It was long after getting moving, I realised that we went past the past where the British soldier Lee Rigby was killed a few years ago (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murder_of_Lee_Rigby). So that brought that particular episode home to me very quickly. Earlier I saw an old fashion English butcher operating in a sea of African shops and I wondered what he thought as his neighbourhood has been totally transformed over the past 30 years.

Anyway, I was originally intending to head off to Portobello Markets and then the British Museum. But time was getting away from me and I chose the British Museum. I never visited it the last time and always thought it should be something I should see. However I don’t have the appreciation for this as ancient history is not my thing. While there were stacks of, what I am sure very important artefacts, it was just not that interesting for me, especially after the 500th stone carving or statue of a roman emperor.

Later in the evening we went to Holland Park for a meal. Very nice area and lots of money. Had a meal in the pub and after just saying to Lee-ann that I haven’t seen the heavily drinking culture that I saw 30 years ago, a fight broke out and glasses were smashed. Luckily someone with a cool head stepped in and pushed the main offended down the road to cool off for a while.

Anyway, enough for today and tomorrow it is a day of royalty and democracy.

Posted by Neileeann 00:04 Archived in England

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