Monday, February 24, 2014

Hartshorne, UK

We took the train out of London to Leicester, pronounced Lester, in the East Midlands. We got brave and hired a car. Barb was brave enough to drive while I navigated. We left the car park hoping we could bring the car back in one piece.

21 round-a-bouts later we found the town that would be our base for the next couple of days, Ashby de la Zouch. Like much of Europe the origins of the town are a bit fuzzy, happening over 1000 years ago. Ashby, for short, is almost in the exact center of England. It is one of the areas that was controlled by The Lord Hastings in the 1400's. He built a castle and church in town. The church still stands, the castle, not so much.

The main purpose of the visit to the East Midlands was to check out my family's roots. My great grandfather immigrated from Hartshorne, Derbyshire, UK in April 1873 and homesteaded just south of where Barb & I live today.

We were supposed to stay at one of the pubs in Hartshorne, but the night before we left London I got an email that they had a mixup and they were double booked for our room. While not happy, they did find us a replacement room in Ashby, only about 5 miles (and 2 villages) away.

The first night we drove up to the church in Hartshorne, St. Peter's, where my family was baptized, married and buried. We walked around the churchyard, which is almost entirely covered in gravestones, and had almost given up hope when the last stone we looked at as the sun went down was my great great grandmother's, Sarah Pickering.

The next morning we also found the gravestone of her mother Elizabeth Evans.

We went to a historical society in the neighboring town of Swadlincote called The Magic Attic the first night. There were a number of very helpful volunteers working. They looked on one of their databases and discovered that my great grandfather's obituary had been published in the Derby Mercury on November 30, 1893.

We had a great time in Hartshorne and Ashby. It was great to get out into the country away from the big city atmophere of London. We were asked several times "Why did you come here?" They didn't understand why anyone would leave the city to come to a rural area. Little did they know that I live in a much more rural ara and felt happy out there.

Then we had to get back to our car rental agency in Leicester. Luckily the app I downloaded so I could have a map while offline recorded our trip out of Leicester, so"all" I had to do was keep Barb on the little blue line. 

Short story is we made it back and will happily let others drive from now on. We even managed to do this with a minimum of screaming at each other, other than "Watch out for the car from the right" and "Not this left, take the 4th (or 5th) left". Round-a-bout are nuts and even the Brits hate them. 

After a week of loving England we headed off to Germany, Barb's home country and where Cicely is studying for this year. Now she is the tour guide and I am merely along to enjoy.

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