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Cheshire Oaks and Family Trees

Tuesday 17 January 2012
My Great Grandma, age 19
I just spent a long weekend in Liverpool, something I've been meaning to do for a long time. While I was born in Sussex (making me a Southern pansy), everyone else in my family is from the North. My dad is originally from Liverpool city, and my mum was the other side of the river in the Wirral. We used to head up there once or twice a year, piling into the car for a horrific five hour journey filled with fighting, nagging and headaches.

It's been a while since I've visited, at least four years, and the last time I was there was a time of sadness and grief. So I was long overdue a visit oop north.

When I was there, my aunt showed me her latest project - our family tree. I'd always thought you could just enter your name into a website, which would then create a fully illustrated and detailed map of your past, complete with interesting facts and sidebars. Turns out, it's a bit of a mission.

I have to admit I've never really looked into my past in much depth. I've been living in Ireland for almost five years now, with people asking me

"Brady... you must have some Irish in you"

To which I respond "Yeah... I must do". Or something dirty, depending on who I'm talking to.

Anyway, my aunt is doing all of that for me. We sat at the kitchen table as she showed me my grandma's photo album, and what she had discovered so far. I was excited. It felt like I was on that family tree programme, and was about to be told a huge, stonking, massive family secret. Go on, I thought, tell me who we're related to. Tell me about the scandal that rocked Liverpool. Tell me I'm part goat. Tell me!

Turns out, we were all domestic servants.

I know, I know.

Unless you're a Downton fan (I'm not), that's not very thrilling. There's a hint of scandal due to family members having at least three surnames, and multiple people living in the house, but we couldn't get to the bottom of it.

So I'm leaving it in Gill's capable hands, and will report back when I get all of the juice.

My first day was spent in Cheshire Oaks, an outlet village near my aunt's home which I visited a lot when I was younger. An awful lot. You know I'm a fan of a bargain, and this place never let me down. I used to go into Gap and leave with armfuls of discounted clothes. Jeans for £1. Jumpers for 25p. 25p! I loved it.

This was before I found out that 25p was probably the monthly wage of the child making the clothes. That tainted the experience somewhat.

But I couldn't resist revising a childhood haunt. So we set off for a lovely aunt and niece day, on a sunny afternoon.

It's gone a little more upmarket now. Now it seems to be the dumping ground for sale stock that can't be shifted on the high street - but it's not cheap any more. If you were looking for big purchases, there are savings to be found. Mulberry has a store there, with about 40% off some nice bags. Of course, the end price is still eye watering (to me, anyway) but it may not be for you.

Mostly it's just like shopping in the sales. Disappointing, boring sales.

Still, I had a lovely time with my aunt. Which is much better than a 25p jumper.


  1. I bet mine were all pig farmers. I have yet to confirm this however. And I might be saying it to deflect from the fact that I think there was actually a fairly strong army tradition...

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