And nothing much else this week. Some days I was reduced to photographing the neighbours i.e. the sheep. It was so bad today, they deserted the higher ground and have probably found shelter near the trees. Other days, I was either in Hexham or walking near Fourstones. Golf and motorcycling seem a distant prospect. On a positive note, the first 100 books (Golf in the Wild – Going Home) have been sold or shipped to retailers.
There is a chill in the air with some days clear and bright, but rain remains illusive. Normally this would be of no consequence, however, the roads nearby remain covered in a layer of muck and salt such that any outings on a bike, once again result in hours spent cleaning.
It was just the second game of golf this year on Tuesday followed by a long ride out on the GS to Anthorn in Cumbria on Thursday – 117 miles, the longest this year. By contrast, in 2021, I didn’t get out until 17th February – maybe it was the weather or lockdowns or a combination of both – I forget.
It feels like the year is tilting towards spring with almost no days of winter. There is time yet, I guess.
… the weather. On Monday night we had the first serious snow of winter – unannounced, it took us sufficiently by surprise that the Good Wife had to abandon her car and walk home, about a mile up the hill to Beaufront Woodhead. The car was retrieved the following day, but the snow and and ice hung around for another couple of days. Later in the week, the BBC/Met Office website was finally issuing Yellow Weather Warnings for severe snow in the northeast. In the event, nothing arrived. The same website contains hourly forecasts for the following fourteen days – generally speaking, they turn out to be nonsense. Why the pretence – rant over – have a happy week, everyone, regardless of the weather.
I don’t know how long I will keep this up, but there is an improved chance now that I once again have access to the classic editor. For this I must thank https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com/ who pointed me in the direction of Katherine Wikoff’s post on this subject. Many thanks to both.
In the manner of Garrison Keillor, it has been a quiet week at Beaufront Woodhead. Snow fell heavily last Saturday night such that Sunday dawned bright and very white. Most had melted by Sunday night. Monday remained bright but cold and then the dismal weather set in for three days. Astonishingly on Friday, my first round of golf since November 11th was played up the coast, at Warkworth, under clear blue skies. Normal service was resumed on Saturday. Yes, the English are obsessed by weather.
This is the collection of images posted daily on Blipfoto:
In other news, I finished another proof read of Golf in the Wild – Going Home – the third in as many weeks. It’s a slow process but worth the effort – I am still hopeful for publication before the end of January.
An information plaque on one of the viaduct columns provides a brief overview of its history: In 1969, after being in use for 100 years, this railway viaduct was preserved for the public by the Northumberland and Newcastle Society through the generosity of many donors. The viaduct was constructed in 1862 to carry the North Tyne Railway and is a notable example of Victorian engineering. It is a rare and the finest surviving example of the skew arch form of construction. This required that each stone in the arches should be individually shaped in accordance with the method evolved by Peter Nicholson of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, a pioneer geometrician in this field.
The viaduct is decorated with crenelated ramparts and arrow slits to appease the Duke of Northumberland. The line passed in front of his hunting lodge at Kielder Castle and he insisted that its design should be consistent with the castle’s Gothic style.
Later known as the Border Counties Railway (BCR), it ran from Riccarton just over the Scottish Border all the way down the North Tyne Valley to Hexham. Opening in stages between 1858 and 1862, commercial traffic was limited from the outset and the thinly populated Borders meant that passenger numbers were always small. The line closed to passengers in 1956 and the tracks lifted in 1963.
Keep walking south for just under a mile, following the route of the abandoned line and you are confronted with open water. This is where the BCR is submerged beneath Kielder Water, not reappearing until Falstone, some six miles south and beyond Kielder Dam. Much else lies beneath – Plashetts Colliery, the station, parts of the old village, various farms and HMS Standard. Sadly, a prolonged drought will not reveal ghost villages as the buildings were destroyed before the valley was flooded. Nor will the superstructure of some long lost battleship emerge – HMS Standard was a shore based assessment and rehabilitation centre for naval personnel diagnosed with personality disorders. Whatever inspired the reservoir’s civil engineers, it wasn’t the lost city of Atlantis.
Beneath the viaduct there is a neat little device called a blackbox-av. Wind the handle to provide a charge and you can listen to the Viaduct Voices – short stories told by locals about the railway, the wildlife and a time before the coming of the reservoir. The voices are appropriately faint and distant – much like Hendersen’s Bridge on Raasay.
In our fifth week of lock-down, I realise that this week we should have been staying in a coast-side apartment at the western end of Swanage. I was looking forward to revisiting Studland, the Poole Harbour ferry, Sandbanks and Canford Cliffs, familiar places I have known from my earliest years. Instead, we remain in deepest Northumberland – we should be grateful – many would consider this a holiday destination and the weather has been glorious.
Had we been away, we would have missed this – drawn outside by a golden light falling on the trees to the east of our home, we were treated to this spectacular light show across the Tyne Valley. There are many compensations for staying at home, out of choice or otherwise
I have been waiting for this for a while. Driving up from Hexham, tell-tale dust was blowing across the road. Armed with the X-Pro2 and the Fujinon 18-55mm zoom I was back to the field in minutes hoping to catch a monster in action. It did not disappoint – a Claas harvester was lumbering around in ever-decreasing circles throwing up vast dust clouds to confuse the enemy.
It was a super-heated afternoon with a hot sun piercing high dark clouds – it was very ominous. Within an hour biblical rain was falling on Hexham, the harvester and all souls beneath. It seemed unlikely that the harvest has been completed in time and, sure enough, this morning there was still a large patch of uncut oilseed rape and an abandoned combine harvester. The dust in the air had been replaced by expletives:
… the bikes have taken me in the last few days in search of images. The old rolling stock being put to an agricultural use sits in a field above Allendale. Thorneyburn is way over yonder in the minor key – between Bellingham and Kielder. Linnels Bridge and the Mill are on the road between Hexham and Slaley. The transport for most of this can be seen in the last. What an unpredictable summer it has been.
… in Northumberland (and elsewhere) – a selection of images from the the month which first appeared on Blip. It started out relatively mild and I kept riding but, since the 19th the temperatures dropped, the wind got up and the Yamaha has been locked up in the garage (the other two are off road for the winter). The last game of golf was on the 23rd – I could be in for a long winter 😦
I posted a couple of pictures on Blip yesterday, taken at the Autumn Collective & Vintage Machinery Sale, Hexham and Northern Marts. The images generated a number of comments but three hit the nail on the head – this is primarily an all-male affair; they could have been taken at anytime in the last thirty years; when money is being exchanged, it is a serious business. In summary, the local farmers who make up the majority of attendees would probably never think to invite the wife, they don’t have any truck with changing fashions and hard earned money cannot be wasted on frivolities. Not a bad philosophy – a sensible bunch these Northumberland hill farmers.