Last  week-end saw us on a pilgrimage to hubby’s childhood home – Gillingham in Kent. He is not one for these sorts of visits really but his brother is. They left over 30 years ago and, apart from a period of about 5 years, have lived at opposite ends of the country ever since. They have kept in touch on the telephone and meet up once a year when hubby organises a football tour but this was a trip that older brother has wanted to do for years.

I was a bystander throughout the week-end. I took my netbook and very wonky dongle and hoped to squirrel myself away most of the time. As with the best laid plans that did not happen often. It was fascinating to see them together though. Two years separates them in age but at times that seemed like twenty! The elder wanted to go to his favourite old haunts. As an avid train spotter these included the railway crossing and junction box. The younger went along to be polite but gradually came into his own talking about his passion of football.

I heard many conversations beginning ‘Do you remember when…?’ Among them the one about the Christmas they both bought each other the same record album. Or the time they got lost. Usually it came back to trains.Gillingham Football Club, Priestfield Stadium

Their early school experiences were often talked about with wonderings about where this boy or that boy was. (They went to a boy’s grammar school) Some of them are no longer with us so a few minutes of silent reflection followed and a ‘life’s short isn’t it?’

The middle day saw us a Priestfield which is the home of Gillingham Football club. The elder was last there 38 years ago so saw huge changes. He was very lucky seeing lots of action – a 3-1 win AND two sendings off! At the end of the game we met up with another school friend and once again the memories flowed!

As teenagers hubby and brother were not close and that is still the case now. They are clearly brothers but are also VERY different. I didn’t have the privilege of meeting their mum who I understand from everyone who knew her that she was a wonderful woman. I did wonder throughout the week-end what she would think of her two boys. Did they ‘turn out’ as she had expected? I’m sure it was that mixture that all us mums feel – pride, sadness for lost opportunities but gladness that they are still mates!

 Have you had a family pilgrimage like this? Where, when who please! 

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