Thursday, 12 April 2007

Mickleton County Durham

We had looked on the internet and found a site that provides info on the pubs in UK that have campsites or stops for campervans and found that the Strathmore Arms near Mickleton was one of those listed and decided to head for there for a couple of days first in order to give James a couple of days warning of our intending to visit as he had requested. However, coming out of Middleton-in-Teesdale we spotted James walking up the road towards Mickleton. He had been shopping and missed the bus home, what a coincidence!!

James looking quite distinguished and not unlike Gerald Durrell, I think!!

We gave him a lift home and after having something to eat we went to the Kirk Inn pub in Romaldkirk another lovely little village a couple of miles from Mickleton where the excitement for the night was a dominoes match…! Our friend Gus (James’s landlord!) from Mickleton was playing for the Kirk against the Blacksmith’s team from Mickleton so there was a frisson of friendly rivalry!!

Picture of Gus caught demonstrating his gift for exaggerating!!

And Paul, the landlord of the Kirk, who used to be a fashion designer and has a passion for hats and a Bentley!!

We had decided to get the brake discs and pads renewed in Mickleton as Gus had helped Peter before with the replacement clutch and there was a garage in Spennymoor near Darlington that was able to get hold of parts for the ’van. So we spent the next few days in and around Mickleton. There are nice walks along the disused railway line from Mickleton 2 miles to Middleton and 2 miles in the other direction to Romaldkirk and were great for walking the dogs. I picked up a few lovely little books - The Ultimate Language of Flowers by Rob Cassy;Herbs and Healing Plants by Dieter Podlech; Discovering the Folklore of Plants by Margaret Baker, I aldready had A Tree in Your Pocket by Jacqueline Memory Paterson, and these provide a wealth of interesting info on plants and trees.

Some pictures of the countryside here …

And some early spring flowers…

The Lesser Celandine Ranunculus ficaria whose meaning in the Language of Flowers is ‘Pleasure in store’. This little plant has also been known as ‘goldy knob’ ‘golden guineas’ and in France is known as ‘bouton d’or’ or golden button.

Coltsfoot Tussilago farfara meaning ‘Justice will be done’ in the language of flowers. Coltsfoot is a well-known and recognised plant for the treatment of coughs. The plant has also been known as ‘son of the father’ as the flowers precede the leaves and ‘poor man’s baccy’ as it can be dried and smoked. Dried coltsfoot can still be bought as a smoking mixture to treat asthma.

Dog’s Mercury Mercurialis perennis . I can’t find any info in the books that I have at present that give any further info on this little plant.

Several of the shrubs and trees along the railway line are coming into bud, like this hawthorn, and sloe bush with many species of lichen.

Hawthorn Crataegus monogyna meaning Hope. Marriage. Hawthorn has a long history, holy to Pagans and Christians, and is often portrayed as one of the leaves in representations of the ‘green man’, a fertility figure on churches and pub signs. Known in Irish/Gaelic as ‘Huathe’ and by the Ogham letter h. A spring-goddess associated with hawthorn is ‘Blodeuwedd’ consort to the sun-god Llew Llaw-Gywffes – Blodeuwedd is represented in the May-Queen in May day festivities. The most famous Christian legend concerning hawthorn is the Glastonbury Thorn, which sprouted overnight from Joseph of Arimathea’s staff when he rested on Wearyall Hill; and was ever after known to blossom on Christmas Day.

The blackthorn or Sloe Prunus spinosa meaning Adversity. Known in Irish/gaelic as ‘Straife’ and the letter z. Both Hawthorn and Blackthorn are believed to have formed Christ’s ‘Crown of Thorns’ and both have superstitions attached to them because of this.

The following evening we stayed at home, but had a pint or two in the Blacksmith’s Arms the following night.

River Tees from the Wath Bridge
Went for a walk down and across the Beckstones Wath Bridge near the village and saw this ‘tortured oak’ along with these interesting bracket funghi . We spotted these tracks in the mud and wondered if they were from a rat or a ferret maybe?

The Oak tree Quercus robur meaning longevity and a happy life ahead with bravery and hospitality the meaning for the leaves. Known in Irish/gaelic as ‘Duir’ and the ogham letter d. In pagan times couples married underneath an oak tree before the Christians substituted the church. The galls found on oak twigs are powerfully astringent and were also used to produce a very black ink.

Our last night in the area was spent in the Strathmore Arms along with Gus and his lady Fran; James; and Paul who lives in a caravan behind James’s house next to Gus’s garage!

View of stream from the parking place opposite the pub

Rock formations resembling those at Giant’s Causeway and made of the same rock –basalt.

Off to Wales!!

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