June 19, 2001

Hi Gang:

Sorry about the lack of message yesterday, but it was overtaken by events. Nothing bad, just extremely busy. I had to make a powder run first thing in the morning. But first I will back up to our weekend.

We left early on Saturday morning. Its about a three hour drive to Edinburgh from Weardale. Old Roman road that is now the A68. So long straight areas with veers into little towns. Really nice drive. The thing that struck me about Edinburgh was that we were in it before we knew it. We missed our initial road and ended up on a bypass road. Got off on the next exit, assumption that all roads lead to town. Turned out that we were on a long straight road to the center of town. With Byron looking for a Parking garage and me driving and chewing my mental nails, we found a parking space. Never found the parking garages. Ended up on Regents Road, by the city observatory and the monument for Robert Burns. There are a number of volcanic outcroppings that have been built on over the ages. The castle is on one hill and the observatory is on another. The train tracks run right through the center of the city. So a nice pedestrian area has been built on the land in the center of town. From where we were parked we wandered down towards the center of town. We came to a graveyard. By mutual consent we decided that we just had to look, as it looked reasonably old. It turned out to be the graveyard that Robert Burns was buried in. No markings on any map, but great find. It wasn't terribly old, but nice. There is also a monument to the Scots who fought in the Civil War in the US. Great sculpture of Lincoln and names of the dead engraved.

We then wandered on to the downtown. We saw a number of monuments in the downtown. There is a this great big overblown fancy wedding cake of a monument for Scott (Neo-gothic). Architecture gone truly mad. Its great, but way over the top. There are a number of Poets and writers (Melville, Scott, Burns, etc.) who have lived and died in Edinburgh. We found the National Gallery of Scotland on the way to the Castle. There was a "Woman of Rembrandt" exhibit going on there. We decided to forgo the exhibit, but wandered through the general museum. They have a truly impressive collection. A wide variety of artists and styles. A very good way to spend time. We then went up the next hill to the Castle. The view alone was worth the trip. You can see for miles in any direction. The castle is built on top of a volcanic neck. Rather than try to flatten out the rock, the builders have incorporated and built up on the rock. There are areas that have been built up two or three stories to get a flat spot to put a building. But none of the spaces have been wasted. We saw the Scottish crown jewels and the Stone of Scotland. There is a truly impressive WWI monument there that lists every unit that fought and all of the members of each unit. Where they came from and if they lived or died. But the feeling that the builders imbued this building with, one gets a really clear idea of the losses associated with this one war. I have never seen such a moving monument. There were panels that gave muster dates and the number of men and women sent. And the number of men and women that died. Also on the grounds of the Castle is the Chapel of St. Margaret that was built in the 12th century. It is simple and moving. It is on the highest point and smaller than most closets. But is white and simple. The oldest building in Edinburgh.

After this we wandered about town. We then wandered up to the area where the car was stashed. We checked out the observatory and the National Monument. It is a bunch of columns and that's it. We couldn't figure out why just a bunch of columns. The book says that the people began a church, but the funds dried up in 1826. So all that stands is 12 columns. Right there is also a house with a tower, that is the monument to Lord Nelson. You can pay a fee and visit, but the funniest thing was the clothes line with pants hanging. There is some one living there. They probably have the best view in the entire city.

From here we headed out of town. I almost got us hit by a very fast bus, but escaped unscathed. We headed down the coast. We made it to the town of Dunbar. The coast is really exciting. Great areas of flat sand and rock, that disappears with the tide. The tides are fast moving here. There are protected harbors all up and down this coast. The hotel in Dunbar was fine, but the owner obviously has access to a skill saw and an obsession with Toulouse Lautrec (Sp?) It was the theme through out the hotel.

The next morning we headed for Lindisfarne - Holy Island. You can only get to the island at low tide. We got up at 0700, had breakfast and ran for the island. The neighboring news stand had the tide tables. This time of year the tides are all over the place. Until the solstice. We only had a few hours to get there and look about, if we didn't want to spend the whole day. Our goal was the Church of St. Mary and the Priory. Everything else would be a bonus. The history there goes as such. King Oswald having won the battle of Heavenfield asked St. Aiden to begin a monastery. St. Aiden dies and St. Cuthbert becomes a monk. He comes to Lindisfarne. He dies at Innerfarne and is buried at Lindisfarne. The Viking invade and his body is dug up for moving. He is perfectly preserved. The Monks travel a bit and end up at Durham Cathedral. St. Cuthbert is buried there. The Priory is rebuilt and exists until Henry VIII declares it void.

During the 6th Century the only complete copy of the bible was delivered from Rome to the Monastery. There, copies of it were made by the Monks. The Lindisfarne Bible took 6 years. A copy and the original were returned to Rome. The original Lindisfarne Bible resides in the British Museum. Impressive history. Unfortunately the priory is a ruin now. St. Mary's was built in the 13th-14th century, and all the holdings were transferred to it. It is intact and is a beautiful little church. Only 50 feet away.

Bamburgh Castle was our next stop. Defiantly worth the trip for everyone. It is right on the coast. You can see Lindisfarne and Innerfarne from the heights. The interior is superb. There is a really fun industrial museum there as well. The Armstrong family still lives there. The first Armstrong was an engineer and ran a number of companies and had great number of patents, including the one for pop rivets. From there we tried to go to Dunstanburg Castle (ruins), but the footpaths were closed, because of the Foot and Mouth outbreak. It was the only place we couldn't go to.

We drove along the coast and eventually wandered inland to Alnwick. Alnwick Castle was our next stop. Getting late in the day on Sunday. Another very well kept castle. The interior was not as extensive as Bamburg, but just as nice. The Harry Potter movie was filmed here. There is already a school on the grounds, so many of the shots were an easy jump.

I really have to thank all of the people who open their homes for these tours. I know that it is usually a financial decision, but I really appreciate the chance to see so much history.

From there we headed home. Byron and I realized after 5pm that we needed gas. Now getting gas on a Sunday is hard enough, but on a Sunday after 5pm, its impossible. Unless you are on an M road. We weren't. So hungry and on low we headed home. we stopped at Allenheads at the Antique Bar for dinner and asked about fuel. We got a blank look. Dinner was good. On to the car on fumes. We stayed in gear until we hit the downhill to our valley. We then coasted all the way to Wearhead. Made it home. Byron made a comment about walking to the nearest phone booth if we ran out. Phone booths are harder to find here than gas stations.

So on Monday morning I coasted down the hill and drove to the Texaco. Made it. The car ate 30 liters of fuel. It was very hungry. We have learned our lesson. I made the powder run for Byron and headed to the quarry. I was there until 2pm. By then I was too late for shopping and I had a great weather day, so gave in and went into the garage. Didn't come out until 7-7:30pm. Had a simple dinner and went to bed. It was a long day for both of us, but we got a lot done.

Byron and the guys let off 21 charges this morning. All went well. I stuck around to watch and get a look at Byron's diggings. He has all kinds of areas going. The guys scaled and began putting in a set of timber at the face. They will then begin mucking that area. The area in front of the Black Sheep pocket in the West tunnel has a couple of clay seams. Byron determined, after some digging that the crystals are eroded and not worth digging. He will take a look again this morning, before letting Dave and Lofty loose to muck the area.

Sorry this is so long, but there was a lot to say. Hope the commentary inspires people to visit the north.

Cheers and Goodday,

Jonina and Byron

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