We Close Our Eyes Go West
30th March: We took an incredible trip the other day. It was an eye-opening trip. A heartwarming trip. A trip that left me in tears. Literally.
Now, hands up, I'll admit I'm a pretty emotional person. I cry regularly at TV shows like Jeremy Kyle (you know those ones where they reunite parent and child after 10 years? Those ALWAYS get me) and can't help but blub at a soppy film. Don't even get me started on The Notebook.
But I wasn't expecting to cry on a work trip. When Producer Adrian took Jez and I out in the car to Devizes I thought, "Cool. ROAD TRIP!" and got excited. When we arrived at the destination I was a little puzzled. Apparently this was the place the world's media was camped out.
We'd been told there were film crews from as far afield as Russia and America. But it wasn't until we got inside the building that I realised what all the fuss was about.
Stocked up, neatly placed in glass cabinets along one wall, were rows and rows of incredible artefacts from The Titanic. Real artefacts. Artefacts that had been saved from the boat before it sunk. Artefacts which had been kept for years by survivors. Artefacts which each told a story of bravery, tragedy and inspiration.
On 14th April it will be 100 years since The Titanic went down. To mark that anniversary, Henry Aldridge and Sons in Devizes will be auctioning off a huge collection of Titanic memorabilia. It may sound impressive, but it's not until you actually stand there, confronted with each amazing piece of history that the extent of the tragedy is brought home.
There was one piece in particular that made me cry. It was a portrait of a family. There was a mum, a baby, two boys and a little girl. On the surface it looked just like any old family portrait. Each person in the picture looks a bit uncomfortable, trussed up in their Sunday best. The children look they can't wait to get away and play. The mum looks slightly frazzled (understandable really, considering she had four children to look after).
But dig a little deeper and there's a story there, behind that painting. The auctioneer, Andrew, told me how researchers and eye witnesses have managed to piece together a little more about this family.
They were on their way to America from Ireland, ready to start a new life after the death of the father. The family was travelling in Third Class, the poorest section of the passengers on Titanic, on the lower levels of the boat.
The only member of the family to be found after the ship sunk was the mother. But it was too late to save her. Eye witnesses recall seeing one of the little boys standing on deck as passengers scrambled to get on the lifeboats. He looked "lost and confused" and was holding nothing but his mum's pinafore.
Nothing else is known about them, but a tiny piece of their history lives on in the portrait which is now on auction among the many other pieces we saw.
You can't really blame me for crying at that can you?
If you'd like to find out about some of the other amazing pieces we saw - including the £60,000 pair of keys which we held - have a listen here...