i met nan at bluewater shopping centre today. i drove down with no problems, i left at 9am, stopped for petrol and was there by 9.45am! nan's coach didn't get in until 10.45am, so i stopped at Asda then drove onto Bluewater. i was inside bluewater by 10.15am.
nan was held up a bit by the major road works around the A2 junction but was only about 10 mins behind the scheduled time of arrival.
anyway we did a lap of the ground floor, went to John Lewis "The Place to Eat" for lunch (coped fine with a feta, olive and pepper salad with balsamic syrup and a fruit salad after) then did a lap of the upper mall finishing with a drink at a cafe before nan's coach arrived ready to go home at 4pm.
we got to john lewis restaurant early fo a drink and had a look at the family history bits i had found on her father's line of the family. nan had also spoken to her brother to compare what the remembered. Uncle arthur recalls his father being one of 9 children, 3 of whom died very young, and their parents' (so nan's paternal grandparents) died before nan was born. she had the name of the 6 who lived past childhood, and i was able to match them up to the census records i had found for 1901, 1891, 1881 and 1871. from those census records i could them tell nan the names of 2 of the siblings who didn't make it past childhood. i only have rough estimates of years of birth at the moment and i haven't found the name or birth of the 3 child who died young, although nan and uncle arthur have been led to believe that their father (who was the youngest of the nine) was named after the other child who died young.
so these are the rough birth dates i have so far:
Ellen (who called herself Nell, but was down as Susan E on one census) - 1877
William - 1880
Edith - 1881 - died young, before the 1891 census
ernest - 1883
henry (known as harry by nan) - 1890
thomas - 1891 - died young before the 1901 census
mabel - 1893
arthur - 1896
looking at the dates again there is a large gap in time between ernest and henry, so maybe i'll look at births in those years for the surname, plus i know that by the 1881 census they were living in southwark in london and had left plymouth in devon. as ellen was born in plymouth but william was born in southwark as were the rest of the children.
i was also able to tell nan that her grandfather and grandmother on the paternal side were named william H, born c.1854 and Susan E, born c.1855. i have also found william H as a child in the 1851 census in devon but his father was already dead as it shows his mother as a widow aged 44.
phew. so that was my lovel day at bluewater but as soon as i drove out of the carpark i hit solid traffic. it then took me 2 hours to drive the normally 10 minute route to get to the Dartford tunnel. according to 106.2 Heart FM they had closed it down to 1 lane at junction 30 the other side of the tunnel because they were doing "emergency repairs", but it caused 12 miles of queues. nan's coach drive told them that the road was erroding and subsiding which was what the emergency repairs were! once the radio said they had reoppened the road you could tell the difference and it was just a case of clearing the backlog through the tunnel which then moved within about 20 minutes.
the other side of the tunnel it was clear. so i decided to make a quick pit stop at Thurrock services, called mum and asked her to sort my dinner (yes i actually trusted someone else to prepare my food for a second time in one day!) and said i'd be 30 minutes. she reckoned more like an hour.
i was home in 35 minutes and very glad to be home too!
have said all that i wouldn't have missed my day with nan for the world. my 5 hours with her was certainly worth the hour travel there and the 3 hours journey home! and because of that i actaully don't feel stressed by the bad end to the day.
but now i really must get some sleep.