Sunday, May 26, 2002
Once again, we have safely arrived in Weardale - fourth year now! All flights over were mercifully uneventful, aside from the usual long security lines, questionable airline food, and bruised knees from the spacious economy class seats. As usual, I arrived a day in advance of Byron and Jonina in order to have at least one day to recover from the time change before driving north from London. This gave me a chance to visit with some friends who live in Reading, a town just outside London, which is quickly becoming another commuter suburb in the greater metropolitan area. Sounds like the States, doesn't it?
A journalist friend of Joan and I, Suzanne had been in the US for a conference and was arriving at Heathrow airport about the same time I did on Friday. Fortunately we were able to meet up (no mean feat in Heathrow, which happens to be the world's busiest airport), pick up the rental car and drive to her place. Her husband Paul, an aspiring professional musician and record producer is a pharmaceutical/medical device salesman in real life, but had taken the day off and was thankfully there to greet us, coffee in hand. After some chemically-induced wakefulness, I got a tour of his recording studio, which is all computer-based. A far cry from my experiences with old-fashioned reel-to-reel tape recording. Paul was setting up for a weekend recording session with some string players, so I got out of his way after a while and took a nap. We all went out to a nice country pub for dinner and (along with a very nice sautéed halibut) had a couple pints of an excellent local ale, Brakespears.
The first night after an 8-hour time change is always anything but restful, but I did manage to get a good chunk of a book finished. Met the crew at Gatwick (the other London airport) yesterday morning and headed north. Made good time, but if anyone has ever experienced weekday traffic around London, you'll know why I insist that we do this on a Saturday. We made Weardale about 5pm, and as if to say "welcome back" we encountered a squall of torrential "horizontal" rain as we drove into the valley. Grabbed a quick meal at the Mill Race - our introductory "Whitby Cod" for the season and headed to our summer home, the Mine House, in Daddry Shield (a small village next to St. John's Chapel). Met up with our landlords, Bob and Mary, and got settled in. In an effort to make everyone stay up until a reasonable bedtime I drug them down to the Golden Lion to say hello to Isabelle, Jeffery and the bunch. Everyone seemed well and seemed glad to have us back yet again. Isabelle says that business is slow in coming back after the foot-in-mouth epidemic last year, but is hoping for some good weather to lure the hikers and bikers back this summer.
Byron is finally stirring this morning, but no sound yet from Jonina. Today we need to make a provisions run up to the Safeway in Consett, meet up with Dave, and maybe stop by the mine to say "hello". We'll see just how far we get.
Jesse and the Crew