Sunday, 20 June 2010

To England

Flew to Manchester and arrived late afternoon in cloudy, drizzly weather, picked up our luggage, passed through customs and immigration in record time and collected our hire car. Expecting a Ford Focus, we were surprised to get a Mercedes! Don’t all faint – it is a small silver wedge-nosed diesel slightly smaller than my Peugeot. We had booked into a small 2-star hotel for 3 nights, however on arrival were told “Oh sorry – we’re full, but we have another hotel nearby where you can stay”. Proceeded to it to find not a 2-star but, we’d say, a minus 2-star. In other words, a dump. It was late, so we stayed the night and left next day. As we were heading to the Nelson area, we booked into one of the cottages at Pendle Inn in Barley. Beautiful peaceful countryside lushly green right near Pendle Hill (witches!) and villages nearby where Peter’s maternal family lived in past years.

Do you want to know about our first exciting day in England? Well we spent our first morning in a Monumental Mason’s showroom organising a headstone for Peter’s grandparents’ grave in Nelson, and then visiting the site in Nelson cemetery. Moved on to St.John’s churchyard to try to find Joseph Henry Leyland’s gravesite and became the centre of attention ourselves when a group of schoolchildren with their teachers on community work clearing weeds, discovered we were Australians. The teachers were more than ready to indulge in a long chat whilst the kids quickly took advantage and downed tools! Once they learnt who we were searching for, the kids spread out and within a few minutes had located the grave for us. It was a really nice interlude, though, and we promised to write to the school commending their work.

Anyhow – the two days following were just lovely. The weather had improved, and let me tell you that there is nothing more beautiful than small English villages set in idyllic countryside in early summer. Roadside verges were pretty with buttercups, Queen Anne's Lace, occasional bright red poppies and drifts of marguerite daisies. When we visited Skipton it was abuzz with market day activities and everyone (it seemed) was there.

As we had discovered Leyland relatives last year, we drove to Darlington to at last meet them. Anne is Peter’s second cousin and they kindly asked us to stay overnight. We had a lovely time talking about family and gaining new information to add to our research. In the morning Anne and her husband Graham drove us around other areas in Wensleydale where Leylands had lived. We shouted them lunch at the ancient Rose & Crown Inn in Bainbridge (built 1445!). After affectionate farewells later in the afternoon, we continued our journey north to Scotland.

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