On Sunday June 9 we paid another visit to Hartlepool, where we met a cousin, and shared some of our genealogical knowledge. We were once again the beneficiary of lovely family photos, only this time we did not have our scanner. We learned that restaurants close up sharply at 2:00 p.m., so we missed having the famous Hartlepool fish and chips for lunch; and we found that it is absolutely true that Englishmen are born with both the enthusiasm and the talent for gardening, as we viewed flowers we'd never even imagined existed in the back of a small English home.
Monday was reserved for a final, brief trip to the Durham Record Office, where we found only one item of information - the burial of an ancestor, a miner's wife, in the parish of Stanhope. We kept our diary, labeled out pictures, and packed our bags for an early trip to Heathrow airport.
The best part of our trip south from Durham was the first train ride on Virgin trains. It cost us but 8 pounds fifty each to ride all the way from Durham to Reading, which was about 3 1/2 hours on the comfortable train. The computer system had gone whammy, and all the seat reservations were lost, so the conductor announced it would be open seating. It worked out pretty well early in the trip, when the train wasn't too crowded, but it was continuing all the way to Bournemouth, and after a couple of hours, there were quite a few people who did not have the seats they expected; by the time we left the train at Reading, it was crowded, and we were happy to start the next leg of our journey.
We had decided to avoid going through London, and we still think that's a good idea, BUT.
The BUT is that the short bus ride from Reading to Heathrow cost us 9 pounds each, and then we had to negotiate Heathrow. We had expected that there would be a courtesy bus to the airport hotel where we had booked a room the night before our flight to Paris to meet our grandson Dan. There was a bus to the hotel, but it was a for-profit affair, so we shelled out another 2 pounds apiece (each way) getting to and from the hotel. Oh well. Tomorrow to France!