Day 09: Kent – Pembury – London. Max 17ºC – Min 5ºC.
The 9th and last day of our wonderful family tour has finally come. It started off in the morning with Touch-Rugby Football on the spacious lawn of Broome Park Mansion House! Evidently, this was a consequence of the inspiration from watching the Finals of the World Rugby Football the evening before, especially as it was won by the New Zealand All-Blacks.
On our way back to Putney, London, we made two stops at Pembury, Kent. These stops brought back unforgettably cherished memories to four members of our family that happened over 35 years ago, mainly in 1980.
Indeed over these intervening 35 years, our family has been extended and blessed with our younger son, Shen Leong; Mei Tsin’s family with Josh and their 3 adorable & talented children (Isabella, Daniella & Matthew); and Yoong Leong’s family with Rebecca and a lovely daughter (Elizabeth).
The first stop was at the Royal Tunbridge Wells Hospital at Pembury. In 1980, the hospital was simply called Pembury Hospital. I was then working as a Senior House Officer in the Geriatric Department while at the same time studying for my MRCP in Internal Medicine. Our modest 2-room apartment was within the grounds of the hospital. The advantages are that the heating in our apartment was as warm as in the hospital wards [almost tropical] and so very convenient for me to commute to work and back. Furthermore, I could be staying at home even when on active call days! Not surprisingly, after 35 years, the wards, doctors’ common room, etc. that I had been so used to, have now all been replaced by much bigger, modern and better concrete facilities.
Whilst wandering inside the hospital reception area, we came across this wall-poster depicting the ‘History of NHS in Tunbridge Wells”; a photo was taken with me on one end of the poster and Yoong Leong at the other end. Indeed, I was quite naturally reminded that in life, inevitably we encounter changes – some may be happy & good but some may also be stressful & even painful. “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Psalms 90:12). Thankfully, we can always rely on Jesus Christ, who is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8). Carol & I are also at the same time much thankful to God, that although I’m no more active in hospital practice, both our sons are.
The next stop in Pembury was the Primary School, where Mei Tsin, our eldest, then 5 years old, attended the Preparatory Class.
Carol used to faithfully walk her through the shorter public ‘Forest Footpath’ to the school, pushing along Yoong Leong (then 2 years old) in his beloved Mother-care pushchair. Unlike the Pembury Hospital, the school buildings seem to have stood the test of time and remain quite the same as they were in 1980, as far as we could recall.
Below are a few nostalgic shots from 1980…
After the 2 very nostalgic stops at Pembury, we tried to locate the famous Pantiles of Royal Tunbridge Wells but were not successful. Much has changed with the town and its roads. We then drove straight back to London.
JRE dropped us at JMIDM’s home at Roskell Road, Putney, before returning to their hotel. About an hour and a half later, Carol and I then walked to JRE’s accommodation, and walked together with them back to JMIDM’s place. There was an evening fog that clouded over the capital city, which grew thicker and denser by the minute as our steps quickened through worsening visibility. Even River Thames seemingly vanished before our very eyes in a matter of mere mintues, as we treaded alongside its banks to reach JMIDM’s place.
While waiting for dinner to be delivered by Rasa Penang Restaurant, we relaxed in the living room and the children gathered to play. We also became the keen audience to Isabella’s poem recital as she was practising for her school’s showcase later that week.
After over a week on the road trip, we all must be somewhat missing ‘Malaysian’ home cooking and cuisine. All of us enjoyed the hearty dinner within the kitchen, reminiscing over the experiences we were blessed to encounter over the past few days as one family.
We happily shared further our post-trip experiences and sentiments, recalling some of the memorable highlights with the whole ‘extended’ family driving in 2 cars the length of England’s Southern Coast from Land’s End in the west to Dover in the East. I thank God for His protection and watch-care over all of us throughout the whole trip. Most of all, I’m so thankful to God for the bond of love we have for one another; my prayer for each of us in the family is that our love for God will also grow more and more in the days and years ahead. “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To Him be glory both now and forever! Amen.” (2 Peter 3:18).