And then it rained ... all night, and all morning. There were news reports about floods on the local roads, and it came in through the windows which we'd opened to let some of the heat out of this lovely warm cottage (still not got the hang of this thermostat). So we didn't get to the bric-a-brac market in Chester-Le-Street, instead we just sat in the lounge of the cottage watching the rain drumming on the roof of the car parked just outside.
Then I had one of those "light bulb above the head" moments. An earlier version of the plan had me visiting the local and family history day at Durham County Hall, a plan I had rejected as it was very like to end in costing more money than I could actually afford to spend. However it was indoors and there were apparently over 60 stalls and a café so we would be out of the rain, and there might be something for everyone to look at for at least a couple of hours.
Yesterday Belongs to You is the name of the event - it is held every two years and I have visited it once before. I believe that in 2011 it was held at the railway museum at Shildon, but this year it was going to be just down the road from our cottage. It was meant to be, how could I argue with fate - plus it gave my mum, my mum in law and the OH something to do instead of looking at the rain on the first day of our holiday.
Things didn't go completely to plan, however, as the OH had never approached the County Hall from the north before and we got completely lost in Pity Me and Framwellgate Moor. Too many roundabouts, not enough signs. Finally we did manage to catch a glimpse of the County Hall, but only over a red and white striped barrier ... turn around and try again!
There was a vintage bus parked outside the venue - we wondered why?
Inside we found the promised multiplicity of stalls, people dressed up as Romans and lots and lots of lovely books, maps, DVDs, and family history accessories to buy. On telling the ladies on the Beamish Museum stand that we were planning a visit on Monday they gave us a couple of back issues of their Friends of Beamish Newsletter. My mum needed to sit down for a while so we left her on a comfy chair in the foyer with the magazines and a big cup of tea while we continued to look around. As a consequence mum has decided that she'd like to sign up to be a Friend to support them and get further copies of the magazine through the post.
The OH found out what the vintage bus was for, he took a free twenty minute joy ride in it back to Pity Me (honestly that is a place ... find it here on a map, my mum says it comes from the French petite mere, or small sea, so I suppose there must have been a significant water feature there at some point, although Wikipedia is not sure).
My mother in law was fascinated by the rag rugs. Several ladies were actually demonstrating prodding the scraps of fabric through the old sacking. I remember the pieces of a very similar frame to one a rug was stretched on being propped up in my grandparents' bedroom many years ago. I can even remember cutting the fabric scraps for my mum when I was very small.
My own mum found a stand from the Spennymoor Local History Society. They had a collection of digital photos on a laptop and were able to show her pictures of the primary schools from the 1950s, which would have been just after her time. I now know she went to Kings Street primary school, information I had not had before.
Myself, I succumbed to a book containing some collected memories of Crook, subject of some of my previous posts, a DVD with a scanned book about the history of shipbuilding in Sunderland, some maps and a street directory, a couple of maps of Durham and a bargain book from the Local Population Studies bookstall.
All in all, everyone was happy, and we wouldn't have gone there if it hadn't have been for the rain. The old saying about clouds and silver linings comes to mind. Thank you rain!
(Oh, and we managed to get lost in the roundabouts again on the way to the Wetherspoons in Chester-le-Street for our tea.)