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Tale Telling

Beck At The Level Crossing

Beck At The Level Crossing

We went round to the level crossing the other day and stopped to look over the fence at the beck. Just here he’s running down a staircase as he climbs down from one side of the road to the other, so he’s quite vocal. We stopped to chat. It turns out that he didn’t always come this way. He used to cross the road higher up the hill and sit around in a mill pool. He says it was quite hard work turning the mill wheel so he doesn’t miss it all that much. He’s been retired for a good few years now and he’s grown used to having more time to himself.

It wasn’t a bad job, he tells me, and there was something very satisfying about regular work. He ground corn mostly, he says, but the saw mill wasn’t idle and had reasonably regular business. They used more timber in those days. There was talk of building a canal from Carlisle to Newcastle but nothing ever came of it. It wasn’t going to come past here anyway, but for a time he did think it might be nice to flow east down the Tyne into the North Sea instead of the Eden into the Irish. Then the railways came and that was the end of his international travel aspirations.

Still, as he says, he’s retired now and his times his own.

Keeping on Track

Train At Level Crossing

Train At Level Crossing

As the countryside eases into autumn, the pace of life and growth slow down and almost all the plant life is beginning to show signs of, at least relaxing a little and in a good few cases, dying back in preparation for the over-winter doze. We do seem to have been waiting for summer for such a long time, it is quite hard to accept that there’s a chance that we’ve had all we’re going to get. Admittedly it hasn’t turned cold on us yet, but it looks as if it is – when you peer out at it from behind the safety of a window.

One of the things that happen, here on the blog, in autumn and winter, is we fill up the space with pictures of trains. There are days when autumn leaves of assorted colours take their place, but trains are our staple diet though the bare times. Over the last year, through thick and thin, sleet and snow, rain and hail, the trains have kept going. Allowing for the slings and arrows that beset any company trying to provide a public service, at around twenty to the hour, the train from Newcastle to Carlisle trundles past our house. Shortly after, usually within five or six minutes, the train from Carlisle to Newcastle grunts, groans, huffs and puffs past, climbing up the long slope that goes to make up our embankment. Over the year we’ve been here, on two occasions, the two trains have actually passed each other as they passed in front of our house.

It’s third time lucky, isn’t it?

2 a.m.

Track Work - 2 am

Track Work – 2 am

You know how you are supposed to go into a deep sleep when you first go to bed, then you gradually sleep lighter and lighter until the middle of the night, after that you go back into a not quite so deep sleep, until you float back up to waking in the morning? And, you know we have the Carlisle to Newcastle railway running past our house?

Well, they’ve been doing considerable maintenance work on the line. We had one evening/night, a few months ago, when the huge track laying system clanked and crunched its way, ever so slowly, past us. It really was quite a sight to see the enormous machine taking up the tracks it was riding on and replacing not only the rails but also the sleepers underneath them. It only travels about a mile in eight hours, so it took nearly that long to cross our embankment.

What we didn’t realise, until last night, was that this massive machine didn’t know what to do with the old rails. Wouldn’t you have thought that if they were going to automate it to this degree, they would have had the facility to put the used rails straight onto eBay or something, you know, “buyer must collect therefore post and packing is free”. I wouldn’t have minded them borrowing my wifi as they trundled past.

We were shaken from our beds at two o’clock this morning by an absolutely unholy racket. It sounded as if a special train of soccer supporters had demanded their human right to carry sledge hammers and where knocking seven bell (at least) out of every corrugated iron barn and garden shed for three miles around.

When the source of the din emerged from behind the hill, all became clear. A couple of cranes were shunting up and down the near track picking up the used rails and carelessly tossing them into a row of wagons on the other track that inched along keeping pace with the cranes. I staggered out of bed wondering if I should phone the police. Then, realising that it was something happening on the railway line, I took the picture and stood there and watched for a bit.

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