BEFORE I LEARNED TO drive, I began visiting a friend who lives in the heart of the Cornish countryside, a few miles away from Bodmin. I used to travel by train from London’s Paddington to Bodmin Parkway station, which is a short distance away from the town of Bodmin. My friend, Peter, used to collect me from this small station and drive me to his family’s smallholding deep in the countryside. After passing my driving test in 1982, I began driving to Cornwall. Today, the 10th of October 2022, we dropped off our daughter at Bodmin Parkway station to catch a train to London. This was my first visit to the small station since the early 1980s. It brought back memories of my early visits to see Peter and his family.
I met Peter through mutual friends. We clicked. In the years following our first meeting, we saw each other regularly, considering how the great the distance is between our homes. On one visit to Peter’s home, I spotted a photograph of his mother, and remarked that her appearance reminded me of my mother. We thought nothing of this at the time.
In the late 1990s, I began researching the history of my parents’ families. An enquiry to a relative, who lived in Zimbabwe led me to contacting another relative, who worked for New Zealand’s diplomatic service. He got in touch with me and was able to supply information that was missing on one of the family trees connected to my mother’s family. I looked at what he had sent me, and my eyes nearly popped out of my head. For, amongst the people listed in that branch of the family tree were Peter and his children. It turns out that Peter is both my fourth and fifth cousin. The reason for this double relationship is that my mother’s parents were second cousins once removed; they shared a common ancestor. So, it turns out that not only is Peter a good friend but also a cousin. It is interesting that although Peter and I were already good friends, knowing that we are related has enhanced our relationship. Standing on the platform at Bodmin Parkway, waiting for our daughter’s train to arrive, brought back memories of my first encounters with Cornwall, a good friend and his mother’s photograph, and my discovery that he is part of my family.