Thursday, May 24, 2012
Greetings from Weardale.
Yes, itís that time once again. As the swallows return to Capistrano each year, so the Americans to this obscure corner of North England. But first, as is customary here, the weather:
When we arrived late last week in London it was cold and overcast. I am told that it has been a very cold spring here, so far. Upon arriving in Weardale last Saturday we found it even colder, and very unspring-like as many of the trees here were still quite bare from their winter hibernation. When we left San Francisco the local summer, with its heavy costal fog has arrived in full force, and perhaps we brought a bit of summer with us. While in transit, this essence of summer transformed itself from costal Northern California to the North Pennine Mountains of England, and since Sunday the weather has been warm, sunny, and about as good as it gets up here. Iíll try not to get use to it as this is The North and anything can (and does) happen. Chat in the Blue Bell has it that there was snow on the fells around here just two weeks ago, and I have personally seen it as late as June.
Upon arriving in London we met up with our summer conscript Ian Jones and his wife Di. Di, sensibly, has little interest in all this mining and mineral stuff but quite enjoys traveling about and seeing obscure parts of the country. With her along, Joan isnít subjected to a total diet of minerals and pubs, so everyone has had a bit of a proper holiday this week. First order of business, (after stopping in at the Blue Bell, of course) was a shopping day up to Hexham to stock the cottage with supplies. That accomplished, we took a couple days to play tourist before getting completely absorbed with business.
When the mine is in operation it usually requires our full attention, and as a result, we have seen precious little else around the area. Joan decided that we need to remedy this, so we headed off to Witby and Robinhoodís Bay along the North Yorkshire coast for a couple days. The weather was perfect and as it is still early in the tourist season, the area was not completely over-run with people eating ice cream from Mr. Whippy trucks and buying knick-knacks from the hundreds of souvenir shops that seem to inhabit almost every coastal English town. Along with this, Whitby was also the setting for the Dracula stories, and as a result, caters to extracting money from the Goth crowd as well as the usual tourists. I am told that they even have Goth conventions replete with vampire film festivals. Unfortunately, our timing was off and we missed all of that. Thereís always next year. Our timing for the visit to Robinhoodís Bay couldnít have been better, however. We arrived on a cloudless day at low tide, and were able to spend a couple hours wandering about on the expanse of tidal flats in the bay. Joan even managed to find a small chunk of what may be jet, which comes from the cliffs surrounding the bay. Afterward, we retired to a small pub that had a veranda overlooking the bay and had a pint while watching the tide come in and cover the flats. All in all, a nice few days of vacation. I didnít even get lost driving through Middlesborough on the way.
This morning begins sunny and warm, as seems the habit this week. Dave tells me that just a week ago or so the quarry was so deep in water that he had difficulty driving in to the mine. After finishing our morning coffee weíre planning to go in and pick up some supplies for the cottage, stored over winter in one of our containers. With this weather, one hopes the quarry is in much better condition. I really hate getting the rental car completely covered in mud this early in the season.
Jesse & Crew
Our favorite stop at the end of the day.