What do you do in the springtime when it’s someone’s birthday? Obvious. You look out the window, make quite sure it’s not actually raining, then stuff your back-pack with bread, ham, sausage, olives, tomatoes, cheese, pasta, cakes, fruit… and set off for the hills. There you find that the temperature has dipped to 8 C (46 F), the clouds are being whipped across the sky by a Force 5 wind, and showers are coming in at regular intervals. But they only last ten or fifteen minutes and there are moments of ephemeral brightness here and there. ‘Thank goodness it’s stayed fine,’ you say, and start unpacking.
While some of our number spread the feast on the grass, I prepared to enjoy the occasion by donning the appropriate clothing. How does an Englishman dress for dinner al fresco? Well, if he’s any sense he does what I did, and puts on a T-shirt, a shirt, a sweater, a down jacket, a waterproof coat and a hat (with ear-flaps). And, if he’s any sense, a pair of gloves. Unfortunately, I’d forgotten mine.
Anyway, as you can see by the pictures, Nature has decided that spring is here, so who were we to cower at home and crank up the heating? I mean, five more weeks and the nights will be drawing in. Get out there and enjoy yourselves!
I was right, according to our archaeological expert. They were lumps of clinker, but they hadn’t been left there after some 19th-century mining boom, rather by Iron Age man, several thousand years ago when these valleys (we were on the upper reaches of the river
Tees) were first exploited for their ores.
As we walked along the riverside, squeezing through a series of kissing-gates, I remembered that I’ve been threatening for some time to make a photographic record of the many, varied gate fastenings we encounter on our rural walks.
Did we enjoy our picnic? Well, we certainly endured it - and I think we enjoyed the food. But as soon as we’d eaten that we made tracks for the car, hurried home and put the kettle on.
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They talk about burying bad news. It ain’t a bad idea, which is why I’ve left this item till the end. Friday I received an envelope from