Aunt Olive in Penrith,
mother’s sister, could get rabbits from the butcher that employed her husband Alex before he was taken prisoner of war. Mother and Grandma Kell made an arrangement whereby I would travel to Penrith and bring some rabbits back to supplement the meat ration. In exchange Grandma Kell would send a large basket of her baking. The first trip started with me having to go to Hartlepool by bus on my own to pick up the baking. Tommy was supposed to meet me at the bus stop but was not there when I arrived. After waiting for some time I decided to walk to her house in South Road by myself, it was not too far from the bus stop in a zig zag route. Not being used to large towns, I missed her street and got onto the wrong road. Tommy who had forgotten he was supposed to meet me, got on his bike and started searching the streets around their house and eventually found me. The next day was the trip to Penrith. Billy, who was home on leave, and mother took me to Darlington by bus and to the railway station to buy my ticket. Because the buses were on a restricted wartime schedule there was a two-hour wait for the train.
Darlington is famous as being the birthplace of railways. George Stephenson built the first railway between Darlington and Stockton. There was a museum near the station that had a lot of railway equipment and many working engineering models of steam engines. I was taken there to help pass the time and was fascinated with what I saw. The actual train journey took a few hours and stopped at every major hamlet along the way. It was a non- corridor train, each compartment having its own doors. The train was well used, mostly by country people travelling between villages and the local markets. I remember being both scared and excited on this journey. The train was quite slow labouring up the Pennines to the Stainmore Summit but picked up speed on the downside of the mountains. Arriving in Penrith, I was met by my cousin Gordon and walked the two miles to their house. This was the first of many trips, which I made on my own sometimes returning the next day or if it were holidays usually stayed for a week. I returned on the first trip on my own finding my way through Darlington to get the bus back to Trimdon.
When Billy and mother were in Darlington on my first trip, it was market day and they bought a used portable wind-up record player. This machine by the standards of today would be considered bulky and heavy. It came with about a dozen 78 rpm records which were all popular classical music. This was given to me as a birthday present on my return from Penrith. We played the music at every opportunity, but with consideration that dad worked nights and slept during the day and that we all lived in one room.