The Final Piece of the Puzzle and Other Stories

Searching for the final piece of the puzzle
Well, we finally dragged ourselves away from the motorhome and took a few days off to fly to southern France and stay with Adonis’s mum and dad in an actual house, first time in 19 months! The time has certainly gone quickly and it doesn’t feel that long ago that we set off in the old Hymer for our European tour, quite our jobs, sold the house, etc. It goes without saying that it was lovely spending a few days in a house with several rooms and having to go upstairs to bed: what luxury! But seriously, as always, it is very comforting to spend time with the family, in a house or otherwise. So, last Sunday morning, we walked to the railway station, took a train to Gatwick, the shuttle to the North Terminal and flew to Montpellier, where we hired a sweet little Fiat 500, which was very practical and easy to handle and which enabled us to to drive to our destination in Portiragnes and around the area. Apart from a gloomy day on Tuesday, the rest of the time was very sunny and warm and we enjoyed long walks on the local beaches and along the Canal du Midi. But more on that later. The thing I was most keen to do on this trip, however, was to study the Saysell family book in order to try and find our lost relative, W. H. Saysell, who died in Ypres in WWI, and finally establish how he sits in the family tree and his relationship to us. For those of you who have been reading my blog entries on this subject, you can imagine my delight when on Monday morning, after spending a few minutes reading through the book ‘The Saysell Family: a Study’, by the late Alan Heselden, I found his name and details and, with Peter and Peggy’s help providing the names of Peter’s grandparents and uncles, I managed to establish that William Henry was in fact a cousin of Peter’s father (or Adonis’s grandfather). It really felt like an eureka moment, but nothing compared to a few minutes later, when still reading through the book and looking at the photographs on the back, I simply leapt up from my seat shouting “There is a picture of him here”. For some weird reason it made me extremely happy to finally put a face (and a beautiful one at that too) to the name and flesh on his bones and make him real again. I must admit it had become almost an obsession to find him after we first saw his name inscribed on the Menin Gate on 27th December last year. It was the least we could do and I feel we can now let him rest in peace.
The handsome face of William Henry Saysell (17th Oct 1886 – 5th May 1915)
The day after was grey and cool, but we still enjoyed our long walk along the Canal du Midi at Portiragnes and this time we took a path to the right, not knowing where it would take us, and after a while, whilst doing a spot of bird watching with our binoculars, a cyclist coming from the opposite direction told us “Il y a des flamants roses là bas” (there are some pink flamingoes down there), it spurred us on to go and find them, which we did a few minutes later.
Canal du Midi at Portiragnes
Camargue horses by the Canal du Midi at Portiragnes, Hérault
We took some time to watch and admire the beautiful landscape and wildlife, which included other birds and a few coypus, even though they were too far for my phone to take clear photos of them.
Pink Flamingoes in the distance
We also had a very pleasant encounter with some Camargue horses who came to say hello when we got back to the canal and I just couldn’t resist having a photo taken with them. Such beautiful and sweet creatures!
I couldn’t resist saying hello!
Wednesday was thankfully a much brighter and warmer day and, after our long walk on Portiragnes beach, we were very pleased to be able to sit outside on the patio and enjoy the first proper spring day, and I felt hot enough to wear only a vest and put some sunblock on and a hat.
Gorgeous morning on Portiragnes Plage, Hérault
All quiet on the southern front
Enjoying a beautiful spring day with Peter and Peggy
Thursday, our last day, was also delightful and this time we drove to Vias Plage, only a few kms away, and found it to be of a total different character to Portiragnes, but still beautiful and, what’s more, we also found an open motorhome aire, Camping Les Tamaris, belonging to a campsite which opened directly onto the beach, Camping Farret, and which we have the intention to try next time we are there in our motorhome, maybe at Easter time.
Spot the difference!
A motorhome aire for future reference right on Vias Plage
And a campiste!
Vias Plage commercial centre, but all closed for the winter
No idea what this gorgeous trees are, but if you know, I would appreciate the information
And all too soon, it was time to pack our bags and drive back to Montepellier airport for our return journey that afternoon, but we felt happy and relaxed and looking forward to our next visit, hopefully only a few weeks away. The return journey went without a hitch, but once back in the motorhome, we noticed that the heating system was a bit reluctant to switch on, with a red light appearing on the thermostat. We were lucky enough to get it started that evening and the next morning, but it soon gave up the ghost and only this morning Adonis had to drive to Chichester to try and get it fixed. It looks like it is the circuit board and, hopefully, it will be repaired or replaced in the next few of days. Luckily, we are having very warm temperatures during the day for this time of year (26ºC inside motorhome) and we have in fact broken new records. For once, I am not complaining about Global Warming! but the evenings are cold and we’ve had frosty mornings since we got back: crazy weather indeed! I thought using the oven in the evening would be a good way to heat the motorhome, so I decided to make a Quiche Lorraine last night, and very tasty it was too.
A special thank you and credit to the late Alan Heselden for his hard work compiling all this information about the Saysell family.

15 thoughts on “The Final Piece of the Puzzle and Other Stories

  1. I completely understand the obsession of finding that lost relative. I’ve done that myself and even ordered a death certificate from the California department of labor statistics. I think our relatives are happy we think of them!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Ah, but they are always too short, even when it’s months-long!

        Family resemblance can be an uncanny. In my family, we all look like my mom’s dad’s sister. It’s the weirdest thing, but male or female, that’s who most of us resemble.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I rejoice with you in finding a face to put to the name of William Henry. “Finding” other family members helps us make sense of our own lives, I think.

    And I’m glad you are finding sunshine and maybe a hint of spring too, Fatima!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. How nice to have had a short but quality visit with Adonis family…and that you found your answer on William Henry. Finally being able to put a face to his name had to be very rewarding.

    Liked by 1 person

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