This is one of those trips during which we visit places associated with our past lives. Yesterday afternoon we drove from Cardiff to Worcester, via Newport, where I used to teach, along roads we last followed in 1998, on the day we left our house in Wales to take permanent residence in Canada. We were on our way to see Chris' mother for the last time, that day, because she did not outlive the year.
Last night we found a hotel room in Worcester, which was the city where my parents met. From the road into Worcester you can see the Malvern Hills where Edward Elgar, was born, whose music my father loved. Eighteen summers ago, my sister and I took Mum for a walk to the summit of one of the Malvern hills on her 80th birthday.
This morning we walked to Worcester Cathedral (containing Elgar's memorial window and his memorial stone) and spent a while contemplating that beautiful place. I attended a series of concerts there in 1969, just before I left home for university, because my family had festival passes for the annual Three Choirs' Festival. For the first time, I heard Schubert's Winterreise performed live, that summer, in Worcester. The singer was John Shirley Quirk. There was a full choral / orchestral performance of Elgar's Dream of Gerontius, too. When I became a university student later that year I made friends with a young man who came from Worcester. Chris looked up his name on LinkedIn yesterday evening (during our supper at a very nice French brasserie) and discovered that he still lives here, not that we followed it up.
This evening we are in a room at the motel where we came to stay a few nights when Chris' father's funeral took place. My daughter and I have been back here since, but Chris hadn't. This evening, at the King William IV pub in Fenstanton, we met Chris brother, sister-in-law. Rob and Sally from York were with us too. Rob was Chris' best friend in Godmanchester from the age of five onwards. This afternoon we went for a nostalgic walk around Godmanchester where Chris was born and grew up, to the actual house, down the lane where his infants school was, into St. Mary's church where he served at the altar, and across The Rec. where he and Rob played games by the often dangerous weir in the River Ouse. In great detail, we remembered the day when Chris first took me here to show me his home-surroundings: November 1st, 1970!