2017 Southwark, Rochester, Canterbury

The idea of pilgrimage has been on my mind for several years and I started by visiting cathedrals; Winchester, York and Lincoln then last year I visited Christchurch Oxford and Coventry.

At Coventry I found a cathedral that was alive and this persuaded me that my pilgrimage involved cathedrals.

This year Open Doors*  http://www.opendoorsuk.org/events/fundraise/pilgrimage.php had a plan to raise money by walking the Winchester- Canterbury Pilgrims Way following a new book published in February.   https://www.cicerone.co.uk/product/detail.cfm/book/777/title/the-pilgrims–way#.WT5IvZLyvIU

I thought I might first try Southwark to Canterbury but soon found I could not carry my backpack and do the walking. I had a brilliant day in London and loved Southwark Cathedral which was alive and welcoming. The refectory provided good food and a comfortable place to rest my feet. It was here I saw two real life pilgrims with their khaki outfits wide brim hats and the pilgrims shell hanging from their backs. The cathedral, next to Borough Markets, is in the heart of community. One lovely lady, with a sensitivity to the Holy Spirit, seeing my distress in the Harvard Chapel came and prayed with me. This was a lovely pilgrim moment for me because, as I read that Harvard had been christened in Southwark Cathedral and went on to found the American University that carries his name, I realised the needs of all men who, in this world seem to have everything, yet don’t know Jesus.




Harvard Chapel very moving place

So to a night in ladies only backpackers and then a rail trip from London Bridge to Rochester. I did not have a place to stay in Rochester. I had been trying online for weeks but I was fairly confident that once I got into the Tourist Information Office all would be well.  Times have changed; they could offer a list but after 2 expensive phone calls I gave up deciding to ask at the cathedral and if that failed to hop on the train to Canterbury. The cathedral was alive with a flower show but alas the tea room was closed because, they said, of little demand. People in the cathedral had no idea of any accommodation not even for pilgrims

I waved goodbye to Rochester from the train.



I arrived at Canterbury East Station walked up the Dane John and eventually arrived at the Cathedral.  Those I asked knew of no ‘pilgrim accommodation’ so, knowing my ticket would give me access to the cathedral every day, I rushed out  to The Beaney House of Art; once again the visitor information centre could not help except direct me to Premier and Travel Lodge on the outside of town. Long walk with back pack and a sad return to town centre realising there was no room at the Inn.

There followed a brilliant night on the streets with all the students marching in bands up and down the cobbled streets, an unusual meeting with some lovely people outside the cathedral gates and times with the street sleepers bedding down for the night. Eventually, about 3.30am, tired of walking round I came up behind the street pastors saying,

“Hey know someone who needs £20 for a few hours on their sofa?”

They told me that there was nowhere in Canterbury where I could lay my head but McDonald’s was open all night and the manager was very kind. He was very kind and I spent the rest of the night chatting with students and local young people who were more interested in God than those I meet in the daylight.

I was excited I had another 6 days and nights in Canterbury I just knew I was going to love every minute.

Kipps Canterbury

The lovely guy on reception took one look at me and said “I find you different bed”. Apparently I don’t look the type to fit on a top bunk! I did not argue; nights on the top bunk in St Christopher’s were not the best! So for 4 lovely nights I had the bed by the window in a six bed room.

The garden was a wonderful extra, the lounge comfortable, the kitchen fabulously equipped and a place in the fridge. Great place to stay and it cost less for 6 nights than my one night in the Cathedral Lodge.


Although I know I am on a pilgrimage not just a holiday but Holy days I still don’t know where and why. A sacred place a holy relic who knows. All I know is that it hangs around Cathedrals as being the place in England where God has been worshipped the longest.

Seems that although pilgrims were offered hospitality in times gone by they were often a nuisance. Canterbury was extended and an Ambulatory built round the place of worship so that dratted pilgrims could walk in and round without disturbing the service. There is a sense in which modern tourists with their lack of respect for holy ground are resented by the clergy and one clergy person nearly bit my head off but others had nothing but love and compassion. Takes all sorts.

I was in Canterbury for 8 days and  I had intended to travel out and walk on some of the Pilgrim’s Way but instead found myself immersed in the City and Cathedral. I was interested in finding out where modern day pilgrims would be welcome.




The Bridle Way Road Trip

Carina and Trinity came from Australia this summer

I needed to hire a minibus to collect them and their Aunty and Uncle needed to use their Motor-home.

During the last week of the visit we decided to go on a Bridle Way trip. Grandma, Mummy, Trinity, Zippy and a bike


At first it was fun going through the village of Warborough but soon the track was a bit rough and grandma went on a scout on the bike and came back to say the path was bumpy and did not seem to get better. Trinity was sure Zippy could make the trek so mummy and Trinity forged ahead


Grandma thought that was far enough and hoped they would turn around; she took a close up of the famous Wittenham Clumps and the intrepid explorers but soon they were a speck on the horizon….time to catch up.


At one point there was a little bridge over a brook no wider than Zippy and a beautiful Labrador enjoyed a splash..The manoeuvre across the bridge was a a bit too fraught for photos and we had to remind ourselves that this was a bridle way suitable for horses!! A quick glance back at the long road we had travelled and a long hard look at the massive tractor…we could hear horses but we could not see them …….finally arrival at Benson Village Park Ooooo get the boots off, lets have a rest after that boneshaking trip!!!!

We were actually only half way on our road trip and we could not go back the boneshaking route. There was a chance to get a bus a little way back but that involved a trip through Benson with not very accessible paths (the dreaded kerbs narrow paths) but finally the bus and a trip to the more accessible path through to the village of Warborough. Grandma rode the bike as this was not allowed on the bus and soon caught up with mummy and Trinity as poor Zippy had suffered severe bearing breakdown…in fact if were not for the miracle of getting Zippy home to Oz and getting it fixed this story might have been too sad to tell.


Romantic Granddad

My granddad died in 1973. He managed to see at least three grandchildren wed which was lovely. It was my first big family bereavement and my worst. My brother Jim and I stayed behind to mind the shops; Mum went off to support my grandmother and dad went down to Bournemouth whenever he could. My brothers and I did not even go to the funeral. Have to ‘mind’ the shop! Even though I am not supposed to make vows; I vowed I would never put a shop or anything before loved ones again.

One day I will write a full story to give credit to the wonderful legacy James Walter Creak left me….not a penny or a treasured gift willed to me but when my Grandmother, Ethel Amelia Creak, died in 1995 I helped empty her home. When my mum died in 2006 I inherited all the stuff no one wanted and it was among these things that I found my romantic grandfather.

This remembrance starts on the 1st December 2017 as I cut the last rose from banging against my neighbour’s window. It had been trying to flower for the last fortnight and I could not bin it. As I put it in a vase I recalled the cards that my grandmother had kept. I inherited a lifetime of cards sent to her by her beloved Jim.


Each Christmas I bore the pants off my children and grandchildren by bringing out Grandma’s cards

I promise that after writing this I will not repeat the story again….you see I know this card was  bought before they were married because all the other cards said Wife except this one which says sweetheart and the very first one below…

…how unusual to have daffodils on a Christmas card but this is pre 1918.

To return to the sweetheart card my Grandma actually wrote about it. Unbelievable as she thought she could not write and thought she was unlearned; yet her words opened up my granddad’s heart for me.


Married 55 years. I spent many childhood Saturdays with the pair of them. I knew them intimately but never knew granddad’s romantic side. I will save the verse mentioned in Ethel’s note for a time when I can write more about granddad’s life. Till then thank you granddad I will never cut the last rose without remembering you.



My Family at War





It was quite a tradition in my family to get depressed as we come to the eleventh of November.

As I got older I realised that my mum had suffered her first bereavement at the age of fourteen. In November 1936 Gwendoline’s dad, Joe Turvey, died. He was 46 and had been gassed in the First World War and his chest never recovered.  Gwen’s mum was 36, had never worked for an employer and Gwen was still at school. Both my Grandma and mum would get very morose in November.

My dad had a terrible illness in the early 50’s no one explained this but by the time I was a teenager mum said he had a ‘nervous breakdown’. It was not until he was 70+ and I saw his face during a storm with sheet lightening that he confided how 30+ ‘Ops in a Lancaster Bomber in 1943 had affected him. No one knew about PTSD then. Even the men who did not recover from World War One were called ‘shellshocked’.

No one in my family glorified war. My grandfathers and father did not talk about it. I have so few facts except that in the 90’s one of my father’s crew sent a diary that detailed the ‘Ops’ the other snippets were light hearted even humorous in a dark way.


Back in 2008 I made a book with photographs for Walter’s grandchildren and gave them each a copy. My idea was not to glorify war but to remind them of the sacrifice their grandparents and great grand parents had made.

It should be easy to look up military records even without date of birth. Joe Turvey’s 1914/15 medal has his number on it. I looked up Jim Creak and found a record for ‘Buffs East Kent regiment? 1916 G2576 I think his date of birth was 9/6/1897. Bill Barnes’ medals have probably never been requested. My dad W.J.Creak is well documented and a visit to East Kirkby http://www.lincsaviation.co.uk/  would bring everything to life they have a his log book and a copy of the diary. I have written lots elsewhere about the family but here on November Eleventh 2017 I just wanted to say we will remember you and hope and pray your descendants do not have to go to war.







Tristan reaches 50

Happy Birthday darling son. Your granddad was ready to get involved in children at 46 he had got over all the worries and was living in a flat big enough for the whole family and the shops were managing. Your Uncle Jim bought you every cuddly toy imaginable. Your grandma adored you. You were the first, a boy and surrounded by adults who had time for you. What a start. There is not a photo of you watching the first man on the moon but I woke you up ,sat you up and you saw it.

Before you were five you were a page boy twice went to four weddings one in France and perhaps wondered why you did not have a top half to your swimmers.

Still before five; yes you went to the Isle of Wight 1970; messed around on boats and lived in Harwell. Grandma always made a cake to suit the cartoon of the moment Thunderbird 1 I remember.

The Northbourne school years were hard work. Out of the house by 8.08 even after your long awaited sister arrived and always getting in the wrong company Andy Thomas and Julian Cox.  The headmaster telling me that you did not need remedial reading because you had me!!! needing to win at sports day. Peter was your first coach remember Edmunds park? No sooner had Andy and Julian left you behind but you had a love hate mate in Richard Deeley.  You did have fun in Harwell and seemed to enjoy cubs and dressing up in black tights, Lurex and a blond wig for the gang show. Oh my hard work but Grandma and Granddad loved you and if you fell out with me you could always go to them. What a blessed boy! On your 12th birthday we had a fabulous barbecue the weather was brilliant and we had bales of straw in the garden.

Harwell was fun and Auntie Glenys and Uncle Pete used to come over. You got to see a house being built in your garden and so to big school.

We were all very proud of your sports and academic prowess of course there were a few teenage tantrums but you worked hard in a part time job for your beloved grandfather and studied hard at the last minute. Got some fabulous results. Your Grandmother was over the moon that you achieved some of her dreams running and playing rugby for County. You wore your heart on your sleeve and this sometimes brought you heart ache. You found out on your 18th how hard it was to clear up after a party! You vowed never to have another.

So to University you handled it very maturely and I enjoyed picking you up at the end of term and I loved getting your calls on a Saturday morning, usually while you were doing your laundry.  I was honoured to see you run for Loughborough and was patient as you discussed yet another physio appointment. You managed incredibly well and even wrote to your sister. Seems no sooner were you home than you were….married.

1992 is only half way through the story but of course you move away; go on fabulous holidays; make a home and then so soon after the arrival of George you get a new home.

You had special birthdays with George but in between celebrated the arrival of a precious daughter…and then there were four of you.

I say four but mum was always the elusive one. You have been married 25 years now but it is still hard to get a photo of the pair of you. I could of included the photos of Tristan the coach (usually the back of bald head) at Rugby with George or Tristan the windswept watching Rebecca play hockey. This is all such a little taster especially of the last 25 years. Hope you understand how precious the yearly photos are to me as time marches on.

Happy Birthday son…always thought you deserved a bit more fun…you have chosen a serious dutiful route through life and at 50 can look back with pride and grateful thanks that you and Julia have made a good team and done a good job. Naturally most of the last 25 years have not included me so I hope you will build your own memory store. Now in no particular order I give you a few more memories of the 100’s of photos I have. Remembering that in 1992 half way through, with you and Carina left home, I provided you with an album of photos of your story so far.

I am finishing writing this 12,000 miles away from you….just want you to know you are cherished. I love you Love Joy and Peace on your birthday  Mumx














What will we do without Trevor?

Who put the bunting up for the Queens jubilee 2012? Who built our garden furniture when it came flat pack?

The residents of St Lawrence House are really going to miss you Trevor.  At our coffee morning today we remembered all the times you helped us and always with a cheerful smile and a strong capable hand. We collected the comments and hope that Soha will pass them on to you and maybe even publish the things we said so that everyone will know how much we will miss you.

The first comment is used as our title

“What will we do without Trevor” “Who is going to get us paint for the fence?”

“He is going to be sorely missed” “We were never in the dark with Trevor he could fix our lights”

“No job was ever too much trouble” ” A true gentleman”

“He could put his hand to anything.” “Who is going to look after our washing machine and dryer?”

“Handyman does not begin to describe this wonderful caretaker”

“He’s a lovely man nothing was too much trouble”

012 (2)

Thanks for building and fixing our replacement bench we promise it will get plenty of use.

We all wish you well Trevor from Brian, Etta, John, Michael, Molly and Angela





Happy Anniversary

My mum and dad married on September 14th 1941. It was a romantic love affair. She was the girl next door. The war was about to separate them for 18 months so they married, wrote letters every day and while my father trained in South Africa (same time zone as UK) they would look at the moon at the same time so that they were in touch.

As a small child I would see them cuddle in the kitchen and sing to each other. “If you were the only girl in the world and I was the boy next door…..

If you were the only girl in the world
And I were the only boy
Nothing else would matter in the world today
We would go on lovin’ in the same old way
A Garden of Eden just made for two
With nothing to mar our joy

Another day my dad would grab my mothers hand and sing ‘Your tiny hand is frozen’ I thought they were so romantic. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0HVjTPqe5I0 Then they would both sing ‘a room with a view’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xty-ej9HeHY this was early fifties but Noel Coward was still popular to their age group.

Even when we moved to Rickmansworth and they gave us children the lounge and they sat together in the tiny kitchen. They worked together did everything together never apart.

We had moved to Didcot by the time they reached 25 years married in 1966. Bless my mum she cooked us all a roast to celebrate. Within 5 years we had all flown the nest and mum and dad took up dancing..ballroom, old time and Latin American. I was so proud of my dad as he was a shy man and my mum was tough on him. All the staff in our shop would wait for September the 14th. My dad would put Anniversary Waltz on the shop sound system and mum and dad would waltz round the shop.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6V8K-CGA8KY

Finally retirement came and then one year later 1991 the 50th Wedding Anniversary

They were fit ‘healthy and enjoying life as best they could as they were also caring for their mothers. Sadly no sooner had the mothers gone to heaven but my dad took sick. Mum was planning a big trip to Squadron reunion but I knew my dad was too ill.

In February 2001 9 months before their 60th Wedding Anniversary I took them back to Hayes to the church, the pub where they all had a drink and to Chalfont Road it was incredibly poignant dad hardly had breath but put on a brave smile.

Dad did not make it to the 60th Anniversary and mum died 5 years later of a broken heart. IMG_1601

Most years between Mum’s birthday in August and their anniversary I would take them out to lunch and take a photo at the front door so glad I did…miss you mum and dad you did a good job..can still them singing this one https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WW6Jd7zVpxM

This version was lost ha wonder which folks will prefer?




Anniversary Waltz

September 14th 1941 my mum and dad got married. Faced with  separation of 18 months while my dad was training in South Africa with the RAF they married. They lived next door to each other and their mother’s matchmaked them!

They wrote to each other every day and were separated for 5 years, even in South Africa my dad could look at the moon at the same time my mum would and know their hearts were joined. My mum always told me it was Lord Nuffield that paid for her beloved Wally to come home on weekend leave. Dad said it was great when they got a medal the pilot had to go to the palace to get his DFC but the crew got a weekend pass.

As a small child I remember my mum and dad singing in the kitchen If you were the only girl in the world …and changing the words I was the boy next door

then they would switch to La Boheme and dad would catch mum’s hand and sing

they might also do a Noel Coward

Our move to Rickmansworth and a tiny flat saw mum and dad sat together at a tiny kitchen table while the kids had the lounge. Then the move to Didcot and a 25th Wedding Anniversary which my brothers barely noticed and mum cooked a family roast to celebrate. Within 5 years we had all flown the nest and mum and dad took up dancing Ballroom Old time and Latin American it was a thrill to see them dance together. My dad was quite a shy man and my mum was quite bossy I was so proud of my dad.

The highlight was every September 14th Dad would put Anniversary Waltz on the shop sound system and mum and dad would waltz round the shop

So in 1990 to the retirement to care for their mothers; the two women that, on my mum’s 17th Birthday, arranged a little dinner for two in the bay window of the front room in 7 Chalfont Road. I still have the table at which they sat. At first they had bags of energy and mum almost single handedly  organised her Golden Wedding.

Not long after their mothers went to heaven dad took sick…a cancer of the blood; I blame it on the luminous dials and the radar in the RAF. Mum was in  denial and fixing a Squadron Reunion and I was spending time at the local hospital while dad had yet another transfusion. Dad did not get to see the 60 years but in the February of 2001 I took them back to Hayes to revisit their wedding site the front door, Church door and the pub where they all went for a celebratory drink before going home for a meal which all the neighbours had contributed to because of rationing.

Each year I would take them out for lunch some time between mum’s birthday in August and their anniversary and always I would get a photo


Miss you both very much let’s go out on another one of your favourites that mum often sang to dad then follow on with ‘you made me love you………

George 18th Birthday

I have waited all year for this special day to let my beloved grandson know just how much he has enriched my life.

George I don’t live close enough to embarrass you in front of all your friends and I hope these photos do not have any cringe factor. As I spent hours looking through all the photos I have of your eighteen years it has been so hard to choose just a few to mark this auspicious occasion.

I waited quite a few years for you my first grandchild. Thank you George I was so chuffed.


You moved house in 2000 and you had a trip to Switzerland in 2001. Of course you were adored by great granddad, great grandma and me. We all got very excited when you came to visit us in Didcot.

Before long you had a baby sister

And a fancy hairstyle.

It was great to hear the news of your sports day exploits and to hear about cubs. I used to wonder if you ever had an evening at home. Mum made sure you got to watch all the latest movies.2008 Christmas

I always wanted a photo when ever we met  so I could brag about you to all my friends! We have had some trips together to Bournemouth York and Lincoln they were fun.

I grabbed every opportunity I could to watch you play rugby and have photos from under 7’s! Time flies and I was so proud to get the first secondary school photo.

2012 November

You all seemed very happy when you visited in 2012 and I was able to get a yearly photo of you all. George you have been a star throughout I imagine you would have often preferred to be out climbing trees. You have always been amazingly gracious and kind and I am well blessed to have such an amenable grandson.


In 2013 you even shared in my passion for science at the synchrotron at Diamond Harwell2014

Your mum has organised some good trips too and usually you have been in the woods if not up the trees.

2015 stolen

I think 2015 must have been a tough year I stole this photo from the internet somewhere Your dad told me about rugby but I don’t think I got to see you play. I think you were all busy.

I was so pleased to hear your GCSE results and that you were going into sixth form and fascinated to hear about your interest in robotics.

2017 June

Once again in 2017 you blessed me with a photo. Happy Birthday George and as I said in your Birthday Card… Climb a tree for me, conquer a mountain,  build me a robot but most of all have fun …love Grandma

Legacy Gwendoline Creak 1922-2006

Mum would have been 95 today. Born on August 2nd 1922 she wrote her own story back in 1999  after her mother died in April of that year and after the arrival of her first great grandchild in September. I attempted to write the rest in my eulogy for the celebration of her life in 2006. Now, nearly 11 years after her death and on her 95th birthday it is time to just remember her legacy. In 2008 I illustrated her story with all the photos I had of Gwen and copied it 6 times one for each grandchild but silly me forgot to get a digital version.

As I look over her life again it is incredibly hard to be brief.  My mum was one big bundle of energy and dynamite wrapped in quite a small frame. As I read through her words again I see she frequently had to say ‘but that’s their story’. This is because she gave herself ‘hook line and sinker’ to her family; so her story morphs into what they did where they went and so on…….add to that more than 150 photos over 84 years. My eulogy is in the photographs below. This still does not capture the legacy.




The photos do start to tell the story except for the desire to be a runner 1936 county championships and the dream of playing hockey for England.

Six years of war and staying with in laws and saving every penny meant that at 25 she was seriously into family. At times she said it was all she ever wanted.

About the age of 33 she woke up and realised she would never play hockey for England and by 1957 was back working in the shop alongside her husband.

My brothers took the micky of mum ‘make do and mend’ her ability to use a lard box to make a baby box for me and cheese boxes up ended with curtains for bedside tables. They never realised what rationing did to their mum’s generation. How she made trousers for them out of the mens old trousers and dresses for me out of old dresses. I remember visiting her one afternoon at her retirement bungalow to find the threadbare curtains that she had replaced were now chopped up as place mats. Loved you mum.

Nothing was ever wasted we lived on dlo (old) food from the shop….if it was going out of date we ate it.


With us all married Mum and dad took up dancing and had 10 long years alone in their 6 bedroom flat. Soon enough the kids were home with there kids and Gwen loved the entertaining

Finally at age 68 Gwen was able to retire ha  to care for Mother in Law Mother and husband she cared the nursed them all.


We love you and miss you