Sunday, May 28, 2000

According to local rumor we should have been here ages ago. According to our schedule we are here. Head space is another thing completely. Hi!

Jonina is still asleep, though vertical, so I'll take over this first missive. We have all arrived at Little Allercleugh in good order, if a bit spaced from the time change. I, fortunately, had an extra day to get acclimatized while in London, before retrieving the crew at Heathrow, 0630 Sat. morning. My flight was uneventful, after some initial musical chairs. Having accumulated a lot of miles last year, I ask for an upgrade to biz class and was put on a waiting list. By boarding time there was no call from the podium, so I shuffled on and took my spacious economy seat. A few minutes later a fellow bearing the same seat assignment as mine showed up, and given that he was over 6 feet tall, we decided that the seat was too small to share. After conferring with the proper authorities, I found out that I had, in fact, been upgraded, but no one had informed me of this. The poor fellow who got the economy seat looked thoroughly disconsolate when he realized that he was in for ten hours of bruised knees. I was almost tempted to give him the business seat until I noticed an infant residing in the seat directly in front of my former seat. It was currently in a fairly good humor, but I know what happens to these creatures when the plane ascends and the cabin pressure is adjusted downward. I decided that self preservation was the better part of valor at this point, and took my upgrade.

Byron, Jim, and Jonina arrived on time the next morning, and baggage in hand (actually, on trolley) we went off in search of the rental car. When booking the car, I described the situation to the booking agent, and was assured that the car I was to get would accommodate everyone and everything. Well, it took some imaginative packing, and Jim had to hug his guitar for the 4.5 hour drive, but we made it. First order of business was Whitby Cod and a pint of Black Sheep at the Mill Race, since it was getting past lunch time locally. Mary and Denis were quite happy to see everyone again, and promised Byron that they would lay in an extra supply of tarter sauce for the summer. Stopped to see Mark Watson, and made arrangements to pick up the company car on Monday, as Jonina felt too far gone to drive at that point. Got to the cottage and unloaded. Jonina moved right in, and within minutes looked like she lived here. In order to keep everyone up until local bed time, I decided we should take Jim on a site-seeing tour. Went up the back road, dodging sheep all the way to Rookhope. Steve has decided to keep at the Rookhope Inn, and in addition is rumored to have a new girlfriend. He also had a partner in the pub, had a huge menu on the chalkboard, and was in the best humor I can remember. It's amazing what something like a new girl friend will do for someone's attitude. Perhaps we'll go for dinner tonight. Isabelle's pub empire continues to expand. She has reopened the Gray Bull in Stanhope, and is now running the Kings Head, next to the Draprey. The interior of the Golden Lion has been somewhat remodeled, and they now have a handpump and serve Black Sheep! The interesting taxidermy is now all in the hall to the ladies loo. We all had to pile back there for a look, and I'm sure everyone realized that the Americans were back at that point. Kirsty is very pregnant and due next week. When Jonina ask what she was going to name the kid, she replied in her fine Geordie accent "I'll call it Brat".

Came back up and had a drink with Jeremy and Phillippa, who were away during the day. The crew were about comatose by that point, and after one beer, stumbled back to the cottage and sleep. I stayed for dinner and conversation, which was nice as I never had much chance to get to know them last year. I get the impression that they now find us thoroughly entertaining. Nice folks!

Everyone is now up and have a couple cups of coffee down. Being Sunday on a bank holiday weekend, there's not a whole lot of business we can get done, but will visit the mine and start sorting cleaning supplies. Perhaps a Sunday roast is in order.

Greetings from the Great Wet North, we're now open for business.

Cheers,

Jesse, Byron, Jim, Jonina



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