Tuesday, May 28, 2002

Good Morning:

The weather yesterday was about as nice as it gets around here. Sunny all day, slight breeze, warm but not hot, fluffy clouds floating by, the occasional rain squall in the distance, but none found us. About as good as it gets. On the other hand, I figure that if the weather were this nice all the time then more people would want to live in Weardale, and it wouldn't be quite the same place. Perhaps we should consider the often less-than-perfect conditions here something which helps preserve the peaceful rural nature of the place.

The rest of the day, however, seemed designed to make up for the good weather. Around 10am we met up with Dave and drove to the Costco in Gateshead, a suburb of Newcastle. The thing is parked behind some sort of a mega-mall/entertainment complex called the "MetroCenter". The bland name belies the huge scale of the place - a huge glass-fronted, multi-winged complex containing everything from cinemas to Woolworths to TGI Fridays. Shopping as entertainment. More like cultural kudzu. Anyway, after blundering about for a while we found the Costco, grabbed one of the flatbed carts lying around the parking lot, and marched in. Byron was after a small power washer and Jonina wanted some folding plastic tables for processing specimens (her "homemade" wooden ones are by now is sad disrepair). All items were found in short order, along with several other useful items like a three-piece set of wrecking bars, which looked perfect for pocket work. The problem came when we tried to pay for it all. No, they won't take Visa or Mastercard, and no, they won't take a local check because we have an American Costco membership, not a UK one. Dave tried to use his Switch card (a local debit system) but the total was over his limit. We finally got them to agree that cash would be acceptable, so Jonina and Dave went off in search of a Barclays branch. When they found one, Jonina had a hell of a time getting them to cash our check. First problem seemed to be that it wasn't the branch where our account was (something that shouldn't matter in this day of computer everything). Next, when the teller tries to call our branch, they can't locate our signature card to verify that Jonina has access to the account, nor can they get hold of our account representatives. After looking at our activity record and realizing that Jonina has, in fact, been writing checks on the account for quite a while they finally relent, and cash in hand, we finish the ordeal.

Byron and I had, in the mean time, headed back to Weardale to follow up on other chores. First stop was the Mill Race to confirm a reservation for a visiting Belgain friend. Denis and Mary were just back from two weeks in Greece and looked all too tanned for this northern climate. They did seem rested and ready to have at the upcoming summer's work. Mary says that business is slowly coming back after last year's foot and mouth disaster, and with some good weather is hoping for a good summer season. I promised that we would help out. Then to Watson's Garage to check on the cars. The Peugot was in the shop being serviced and the Subaru was waiting. Both are promised today. Last stop was Little Allercleugh to begin retrieving our stored junk from their garage. Had a good chat with Jeremy and Phillippa who were very apologetic about evicting us. I said that the logic of the situation was obvious - why rent office space for their business when they have room for it at home? Evidently what pushed them into moving was that the Durham Dales Center (where their office was) had been managed by a professional property management service with great efficiency. The Durham County Council has now taken direct control, no doubt to save costs or some such thing, and created chaos with the tennents.

After unloading our stuff at the Mine House Jonina headed for a nap and Byron and I went in search of some medicine (also known as a pint of good beer). The day finished off with a quick meal prepared by the resident chef and served on the veranda, where we could enjoy the fading sunset and watch the stars appear. On today's adjenda is picking up the last of our stuff from LA, and getting the cars. Byron and I hope to get started opening up at the mine, and Dave plans on starting construction of our new gate. No doubt things will change, but you'll have to wait until tomorrow to hear about that.

Today's postcard is of the shadows growing long on a nice evening in the Dale.

Cheers,

Jesse, Byron and Jonina



A pleasant evening in Weardale.

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