Finally … I’m Going Home!

When I left England for America on April 22, I had no idea I would still be here in July. Much has happened that I did not feel free to share online at the time, but now that I have finally booked my return ticket, I will be back blogging regularly.

Henry David Thoreau said, ‘ We should come home from adventures, and perils, and discoveries every day with new experience and character.’

It fits perfectly with what I’ve come to think of as my ‘lost and found’ summer experience and I hope you’ll come back to hear all about it.

Even though I won’t see my  ‘Dancing Ladies’ until early August, my final countdown has begun.

The Dancing Ladies On The Hilltop - Almost Home

I’ve imagined my airport reunion with John more times this summer than I can count and while his face looks very dear each time I think of him waiting just beyond the arrival checkpoint, it’s the memory of our last embrace that I cling to in my mind and how it will feel to finally be back in his arms again.

John Winchurch

Extra, Extra, Doc Martin Is Back In Cornwall

Port Isaac is sometimes home to the cast and crew of the hit British television comedy, Doc Martin and as I discovered yesterday, will be again this summer.

Whenever John and I walk in on the coast path from Port Quinn, we can usually see people posing in front of the cottage below which is used for both Doc Martin’s home and office or doctor’s surgery, as they call it here.

Doc Martin’s Cottage

This is the flyer I spotted in my doctor’s waiting room when I went for an appointment yesterday.

A copy of my last headshot, a memento from my acting days.

When I was working as an actor, which really means when I was auditioning for work because that’s what most actors do the bulk of the time, I used to get sent out on auditions for a variety of roles such as Police Woman, Firefighters, Moms, and Waitresses. Once I went to an audition dressed fairly provocatively under a long overcoat for the role of a ” New York City Street-walker ” and ended up being cast as a ” Butch Lesbian ” instead.

Cast as a Butch Lesbian

I think it was the military training listed on my headshot that actually got me the callback for the ” Butch Lesbian ” part as they assumed the army had taught me hand to hand combat and the role called for my character to get into a physical fight in a jail cell. The director saw me during the callback and thought I might be ” too little ” to pull it off, but my tough girl swagger convinced him that size in this case, might not matter.

Getting an agent

Getting an agent was a necessary step to finding work as an actor and you can read more about how I did it in the post, ” Picking Up Steps “ on my first blog if you’re interested.

When you first get an agent you generally will have to work a few times as an extra before being sent out on a proper audition. It’s a good way to become more comfortable on a set where there’s no time to waste with the untrained. I did it a few times before Joan felt I was ready to represent her agency in front of a casting director.

Extra work and Kevin Kline

Because I had been working as a principal for a while, I was surprised one day to receive a call asking if I was interested in doing extra work on a movie being filmed in Atlanta. Just as I was saying, ” Joan, you know I don’t do extra work anymore … ” she cut me off with the words, ” Kevin Kline is in it.”

” Kevin Kline,” I said, with the next words being, ” Will he be on set while we’re shooting? ”  Now, I’m not usually one to go starstruck, but having loved Kevin Kline since his brilliant role in Sophie’s Choice, I said, ” Yes,” immediately after hearing her answer.

Never mind that it also had Kevin Spacey and Forest Whitaker in it, I was totally focused on the possibility that I might get to see Kevin Kline at work. And see him I did, as I stood next to him in a scene where he and Forest Whitaker were seated at a table in a bar. There’s more to that story, but that’s all I’ll say here. It’s nothing shocking, so put down the phone number for The National Enquirer or The Daily Mail. It does involve Kevin Kline and it adds to the story, but I’ll save it for another day.

You can see me clearly in two shots in Consenting Adults, ironically the extra work I initially didn’t want gave me the most visibility on the big screen.

I actually worked a good bit for a part-time actor who also had a busy day job in the pharmaceutical industry, but much of what I did as an actor was not very exciting and was often an industrial training film like a two-day shoot I did for UPS.

Doc Martin

Next week, I’m going to take a ride over to Port Isaac to see if I can do a little work on the next season of Doc Martin, a quirky comedy about a London surgeon who develops a blood phobia and ends up working in a small fishing village in Cornwall.

Martin Clunes character has no bedside manner and isn’t as charming as Hugh Laurie’s character in House, M.D., but I find him screamingly funny and I hope they’ll find my American face  ” Cornish ” enough to spend a bit of time on the set.

Do have a look at the video below if only to see more of Port Isaac. It’s about ten miles from where we live and interestingly where the main office or Doctor’s Surgery is located for the doctors I see when I need one.

Solving A Mystery; Finding Another Story In The Stones

After I published this post this morning, I found more information from 1861 through the Cornwall Online Census Project which lists, Thomas as age 33, a Tailor and Grocer, and his wife Sophia age 29. What is especially interesting to me as a Harper, is that Mary Harper, age 49 and a Dressmaker, is a boarder in their home.

Church Village Grocer's Shop,1,Thomas Olver Rich,Head,M,33,,Tailor & Grocer,Cornwall,,
,,,Sophia Rich,Wife,M,,29,,Ladock Cornwall,,
,,,Thomas Olver Rich,Son,U,3,,,Cornwall,,
,,,Mary Sophia Rich,Dau,U,,1,,Cornwall,,
,,,Elizabeth Jane Rich,Dau,U,,1,, Cornwall,,
,,,George Green,Ap,U,18,,Appren.To Tailor,St Breward Cornwall,,
,,,Ellen Pengelly,Serv,U,,16,House Serv,Blisland Cornwall,,
,,,Mary Harper,Boardr,U,,49,Dressmaker,St Cleer Cornwall,,

Sophia died in 1865 and by the 1871 census, Thomas, age 42 was married to Ellen age 26, listed below along with some children from his first marriage and Headly, his 9 month old child with Ellen.

Grocers Shop,1,Thomas Olver Rich,Head,M,42,,Mercer/grocer/frmr 100acr 1man,Cornwall,,
,,,Ellen Rich,Wife,M,,26,Farmers Wife,Cornwall,,
,,,Thomas Olver Rich,Son,S,13,,Farmers Son,Cornwall,,
,,,Mary Sophia Rich,Dau,S,,11,Scholar, Cornwall,,
,,,Elizabeth Jane Rich,Dau,S,,11,Scholar, Cornwall,,
,,,Matthew John Rich,Son,S,9,,Scholar,Cornwall,,
,,,Nehemiah Rich,Son,S,7,,Scholar,Cornwall,,
,,,Headly Rich,Son,S,9m,,,Cornwall,,
,,,John Reynolds,Servnt,S,29,,Tailor,Redruth Cornwall,,
,,,Susanna Sleeman,Servnt,S,,18,Dom Srvnt,St Kew Cornwall,,

The most interesting part of this story is that Thomas did marry a Pengelly, but it was not his first wife as the ancestry sites imply. If you check the listing for 1861 and 1871, in 1861 there was a 16 year servant, Ellen Pengelly living in the house and by 1871 ten years later there was a Ellen (now Rich) age 26 living in the house. Unless I am mistaken, it appears Thomas married his house servant, Ellen sometime after his first wife died.

Doing a bit more research on different ancestry sites, it looks as if people researching their family history from this line will be led to believe that they are related to the Pengelly side which is only true for the children who came later and not the first six children that Thomas had with Sophia. Since the only information I have found for wife and mother is listed as, unknown: PENGELLY, there may be some confusion cleared up today.

UPDATE: I had to come back and share this once I discovered it. It looks from the census data below as if Thomas fathered two sets of twin girls, one with each wife. Also interesting to note is the Rich family lived in the house which stands next to the pub and dates from the seventeenth century. The Rich family used to own the pub and I wonder if Harold Rich is descended from Thomas Olver Rich.

What do you think?

Written In Stone; Stories From The Churchyard

I find a story almost every time I look around our village churchyard and recently, I noticed two gravestones that made me think about the lives of the three people buried there.

Look at the gravestone to the left.

Now look at the gravestone to the right.

The gravestone in front of the window is connected to the one you are looking past from behind. The two stones face each other directly divided only by the path that runs between them.

Sophia Rich, was the first wife of Thomas Olver Rich. You would not know this if searching online as a popular ancestry site has her listed as unknown, but notes her maiden name may have been Pengelly, a name you see a lot in Cornwall. As you can see from her gravestone, she was not a Pengelly, but the daughter of John and Elizabeth Crowle.

Sophia died at 34 in 1865. She left Thomas with the six children I mentioned earlier, with the youngest being born only six months before her death. There was a sweet inscription on her gravestone.

A virtuous Wife in prime of life,

By death is snatched away;

Her soul is blest, and gone to rest,

Her flesh is gone to clay.

She’s left behind a Husband kind,

Three daughter’s and three sons;

May they prepare to meet her where,

True joys are to be won.

 

Across the path next to the window, Thomas shares a grave with wife number two. Thomas lived another fifty years without Sophia and later remarried a woman listed simply as Ellen on the gravestone they share. The ancestry site lists the names of his six children with Sophia along with the names of the children he had with his second wife, Ellen. It looks as if he fathered a total of ten or eleven children. (one of his later children with Ellen is missing a name) Ellen has little listed other than her age and the date of her death which tells me that there was at least a 17 year age difference between Thomas and Ellen. Her name is not on the ancestry site either even though you can see the names of her children.

A final interesting note, the house we live in sits on land that was purchased by a local builder in 1993 from a woman who had bought it with her first husband when her last name was Rich.

(Remember you can double-click on any of these photos to enlarge)

 

Snow Days And Nights In Cornwall

Morning light across the village green.

The last two days have seen our little village fairly cut off from the rest of the world by all the snow we’ve had over the last few days. All day yesterday and late into today only those with 4 wheel drive could make it in or out. Around 3:00 pm, John was finally able to get through the lanes to the main highway and drive the five miles or so to the closest supermarket. He picked up a few things for a neighbor and let another know we are now well stocked in case things freeze as the weather reports are predicting. He had to leave the car and hike up the hill to the house with the groceries, but he made it home safely just before things began to freeze.

Our village shop was pretty cleaned out today with certain items such as milk being made available first to those with small children and the elderly in our community. Even though I wanted some milk for baking, I liked seeing those who really needed it receive it first. I walked back up our street from the shop with Len and Mary who are friends and neighbors that live on our street. I watched as they knocked on the doors of the homes of several people in their 70s and 80s checking in to be sure they were doing all right.

I managed a good long walk through some of my favorite places around the village and of course snapped a few photographs to share. Much of the UK is experiencing a slow down or in some cases no movement at all. Schools are closed and hospitals are asking that only those in dire need come in and I feel fortunate that I have no where pressing to be over the next few days. Seems like a good time to do a bit of baking … I’m thinking maybe a nice big batch of cinnamon rolls to go with all of the hot chocolate we’ll be drinking over the next few days.

These are photographs from the last two days:

The buttercup field under cover of snow.

This is the old stone bridge we cross to get to the buttercup field.

Me, on the other side of the bridge.

John crossing a farmers field with the entrance to our village in the distance behind him. (see the church tower)

Our village on the hill.

Me making a snow angel.

Not bad for being no angel myself.

Night fall – I stepped out on the patio to snap the sunset just as bunch of sparrows flew over.

Still Walking The Same Path

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In 1975, the two men in the center of this photograph met through a mountaineering club in the Midlands of England. That’s thirty-four years they have been camping, climbing, hiking and walking together. In case you don’t recognize my husband John from this picture taken after a trip to Nepal in 1982, he’s the second man from the right. Standing next to him on his right (wearing a vest), is his long time friend Ray.

John and I were walking on Dartmoor today with Ray and his girlfriend Mij. While we covered about nine miles, I was snapping away taking so many pictures I was frequently lagging behind the three of them. Not surprising to me, I seemed to catch most of my photographs of them from behind. It was an amazing walk and I’ll be back tomorrow with more pictures to share, but I wanted to post a couple of John and Ray from today… still walking the same path after all these years.

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The Synchronicity Of It All

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Late last night while I was sleeping, Kerstin from Gypsylife was reading this post I wrote for TMAST this past Tuesday. She left me a lovely and intriguing comment that caused me to go back to her site to search for a picture to illustrate her comment about her cat which looks surprisingly like the cat, Mephisto in my story. I’ve pasted Kerstin’s comment below:

“Wow, what a story. I am glad you took the direction you did, it was very intriguing. I dream a lot, too, as you know, but don’t usually pay too much attention, either. Maybe I should. And I have to tell you, Elizabeth, my cat looks EXACTLY like the one in the photo! Even your description of the eyes is spot on! It’s a little creepy actually looking at that photo … and I would love to hear the continuation of Mephisto’s story! I look forward to more TMAST stories next year, they’ve been so enjoyable. Have a great trip! Kxo”

One has to wonder at times about the synchronicity of life and how after reading her post on Tuesday during a break from writing my own, the evolution of my story developed in a way that made it possible for me to share several of my real dreams through a character named Minnie. In crediting her as inspiration, she came to my blog and saw the cat that looks just like hers. I love that about life.  I hope you’ll take a look at both cats in the links I provided above…the two cats do look as if they could be the same and it’s pretty amazing to consider that my cat picture was taken here in England, while hers was on the West coast in America.

If you’ve had a similar experience, I love for you to share it. Perhaps more of us will find a link we were unaware of before now.