Since leaving home last December I have been missing a few things; but family is quite near the top of the list! I have been very fortunate to have my family make the trek across the globe for a visit and holiday! They arrived in Holland and visited all the family there before heading off to London, where they were to spend the week before meeting me in Cheltenham in time for my end of year celebrations!
It simply would not be right for them to be only a few hours down the A40 for a week without me visiting, so I swapped my day off and knocked on their door on the Thursday morning! After Lucy crushed my chest in and Daniel gave a modest dip of the chin from the kitchen we spent nearly an hour recounting each of our stories from the last 7 months. It was a great chance to see them all again! After the general catch-up we made our way to Hampton Court Palace, which was the illustrious private home of Henry VIII and William III. Next up I rocked up back to work and spent the next three days attempting to pack up and get the kids home! It was a full couple of days and we were very glad to see speech day arrive. It was a far faster and more enjoyable event than I expected, and afterwards I was able to channel my inner Mike Ross and cycle into town in my suit! I met the family just as they got off the bus and we enjoyed a classic British lunch along the Cheltenham Prom. After getting back to house and a little bit of time ordering my brother around with the reward of chocolate (I am yet to deliver…) with my housemaster, we got into the swing of things with the classic staff party. From Mr Jon Harris stepping up to Land Down Under on karaoke, to finding out one of our gappers slept in the tool shed we all agreed it was a brilliant evening.
The next morning I forced myself out of bed to take my family to Bath, a town best known for it’s illustrious Abbey and historic Roman Baths. For those few who read this blog regularly you may remember I attempted to make it to Bath once before, and this time got to experience a far more sunny and beautiful version of Bath. We walked the streets, had lunch at the Pump Room, and made our way through the museum and exhibits of the Roman Baths. The springs feeding the baths were first identified by the British King Bladud in the first century BC and he built the first baths there. From then onwards it was taken by the Romans in the first century AD where they named the town ‘Aquae Sulis’. From that point the Romans constructed a temple over the next 300 years which became a hive of social activity. There is evidence of markets surrounding the bath, and various artefacts such as curse tablets which detail the extensive public use of the facility. Eventually it fell into disrepair with the Roman withdrawal from Britain and was redeveloped and surrounded by a concert hall known as the ‘Pump room’ (now a restaurant) in the late 1700’s. It is listed as a world heritage site and has some incredible insight into the history of Ancient Britain, I would definitely recommend a visit if you are in the area.
One final evening awaited me in Cheltenham, and as much as I loved hanging with my family again it was one final chance to say goodbye to the crew that has made the last 6 months a killer fun time. I’m confident that only a few people other than Mum and Grandma read this but I’d just like to thank the ‘Gym Lads 2K15’ of George ‘Answer then!’ Barber, James ‘The Vicar’ Forward, Jonny ‘Two Can’ Cahill, Josh ‘Right Angle’ Revett, Ollie ‘The Washboard’ Cahill and Will ‘I own 2 goats’ Rocke, along with the gapper girls of Becca ‘The Baker’ Corradine, Bethan ‘Space Jam’ Williams, Emma ‘The Party’ Crean, Georgie ‘Subtone Bathroom’ Locke, Jessie ‘Star Player’ Dean, Lou ‘Sportshall’ Akenhead and Olivia ‘S Club 7′ Stebbings. You’ve all made this year a blast and a half so thank you.
As each of the gappers is heading somewhere different, it sucks to know that we won’t ever have the chance to all be in James’ flat again. However the memories we have made will be ones that stick. From isolation fives and various drinking games through to chilling in the kitchen after duty nights you have all made an impression on me and the school. From a bloke that has never been away from home for more than two weeks the last seven months have been defined by the friends I’ve made. You have, without realising it, ensured my gap year was brilliant, and kept me in check from acting upon a monster pile of stupid ideas! I wish you all the best in the future, and thank you for all being around this year. Sincerely, Gap Overlord.
Unfortunately, some goodbyes are longer than others, and the passing of a family member is never easy. Sadly, my Great Grandfather, Neville Goldsmith passed away last week. I’d like to take a moment to write about a man who proved to be deserving of the highest respect. Neville was a war veteran who served in the Air Force, which meant he grew up much faster and earlier than I will ever have too, and his experiences made him a man who knew the value of the life he was living. In everything he did, the centre of his choices was to make life better for everyone, all his decisions and opinions were fair and considerate; in everything from dinner location, to his political views (however strong they were). He was also a giving man, doing everything he could for his community. Neville not only served his country at war, but volunteered as a counsellor at lifeline, and was a huge part of the Epping RSL Club. This contributed to him being awarded the Order of Australia Medal. One of his major qualities was his ability to lead, and our family would definitely not be as close if it was not for his continual unifying ability to ensure that our entire extended family would all be able to meet so regularly (not without utilising the power of Grandma’s cooking however!). I think what defines him best he said in his own words in a letter discussing my work within the boarding house.
“Leadership, like respect has to be earned and is not automatic. Opinions and words are important but not as important as your actions; daily living, caring, being fair, not showing favourites. Your daily living is on show, you already show that aspect of your life, build on it and you will gain respect.”
#jongmasjourney is rapidly changing, and every day now presents a new challenge, experience and learning opportunity. My next post will detail my experiences of both Paris and Venice, which I am very much looking forward to writing. Due to the upcoming funeral of Neville, I have decided it is best for me to make a short visit back home before continuing my summer holiday. This means that I will be leaving Europe to fly home soon, and will be there for short while, so it would be incredible to catch up with as many of you as possible, but until then!
As Grandma’s friend Laurie always says…
“Love all around”