Anyone who knows England might be beginning to suspect that we took a rather odd route. It would have been more logical to start in Shrewsbury, or Sheffield, both being easy drives from Manchester. However my cousin in Sheffield was away in Portugal until the Thursday after we arrived. (All "cousins" mentioned in this account will be numbered cousins, i.e. third cousins, fourth cousins etc - contacts made through genealogy). And P wanted to visit the Shrewsbury archives, which were closed on Sundays and Mondays. So our route was adjusted to fit, crossing over itself.
As it turned out, the Shrewsbury archives were closed Thursday afternoon as well. And we arrived on Thursday afternoon. So we hadn't been to the archives on Day 6, although P had spotted a house where he thought one of his ancestors lived. It had a numbered plaque on it, so we had returned to the information centre where the very knowledgeable assistant had been able to give him quite a bit of information about it, confirming it was the house P was looking for.
The b&b we stayed at in Shrewsbury was different from any we had stayed at so far. It was stamped with the personality of the landlady, with lots of collections of books and folk art around the place including these antique gollies - very non-PC no doubt.
I'd have to say that I see no harm in golliwogs. I didn't read Noddy books as a child, in which the gollies are the baddies. That's because our local library didn't stock them, and I didn't own many books. I did read Little Black Sambo, and that and golliwogs were the main indication to me that there were people of different skin colour in the world. (Oh, and National Geographic, and a series of books set in different countries called "The Twins of..."). I think they introduced me to the world's diversity. Shrewsbury was also the first place that we were offered options other than cooked breakfast or continental. We were able to have scrambled eggs and tomatoes, rather than the standard bacon, sausages, fried eggs, tomatoes and mushrooms, which in many establishments tended to come swimming in fat.
After breakfast and with the car packed, we headed to the main square as I had seen that there was a food fair. We sampled local produce - breads, honey, cheeses, specialty sausages etc.
We had to pass on purchasing honey as we would never have been able to bring it back into New Zealand. However we bought a very tasty "no added sugar" fruit cake, and two "no added sugar" fruit pies, as a week of self-catering was coming up.
We then went to visit a cousin of P's, an elderly lady who lives in a ground floor flat at a large, expensive looking apartment complex set in very attractive gardens just outside the city centre. J mentioned that one of their relatives was commemorated in a stained glass window in St Mary's church so, instead of heading to the archives as planned, that's where we went next. Then we returned to the car with a diversion to look at St Chad's church where many of P's relations had been baptised or married.
By then it was time to leave Shrewsbury, so we never did get to the archives. Maybe next trip (if we win the lottery!) Shrewsbury to Sheffield is across country, and there is no obvious logical route. After much discussion we picked a route travelling on motorways most of the way - not the most direct, but it seemed the fastest. We headed as far as Telford where we stopped in the services area to have some lunch.
The motorway services areas are not something we have in New Zealand, where motorways are mostly routes through cities. We have nothing like the M1 which stretches the whole length of the country - our State Highway 1 is a normal single or dual carriageway road when it is away from the main cities, and it is easy to stop at shops along its length, or in the country for a photo shoot.
In the UK it seems it is possible to travel long distances and never leave the motorway, because if you need to stop for the night, you could pull into a service area, fill up with petrol, find a meal (probably a Burger King or similar) and book into a hotel for the night - all without really seeing the country at all!
After "lunch" - which always seemed to come mid to late afternoon - we continued on various motorways, around Birmingham, and east to the M1, then north towards Sheffield. Being Friday afternoon, the going was somewhat slow:
At Chesterfield we left the M1 so that we could approach Sheffield from the south west as that's the part of the city that my cousin M and his wife P live in. There was much less congestion off the motorway, but of course the speed limit is lower too. Eventually we arrived in Sheffield and located their house, thanks to maps downloaded from the internet to P's laptop computer. We had a meal and a pleasant evening talking about our respective families.
Next day .... a lightning tour of Sheffield and the Peak District, then we head south to Rutland Water for a week's stay.