It’s rare but not unprecedented to see fresh snow in the Lake District in May - local memories recall snow falling in early June 1975.
How different the world now looks since that icy day in February that I ventured out to St. Thomas’ hospital opposite Westminster and the Houses of Parliament. Those first doses of the Covid-19 vaccination lightened our fear and started the release from lockdown.
One of the joys of being an engineer is fixing things. Espresso coffee machines are a socially acceptable form of steam engineering which you can operate without ever knowing of the mathematic horrors which the phrase “Steam Tables” evokes in an engineering undergraduate’s mind.
I have inherited a non-working bean-to-cup espresso machine, stated to be intermittent although I only ever had one coffee from it before taking the covers off. Beautiful miniature engineering from Italy, satisfyingly visual, even the steam pipes are transparent. But broken.
Simpler than rocket science, it seemed to me that the water pump was making the noise but not pushing the liquid through. No obvious obstructions. A replacement pump was an available spare. The water circuit was a bit fiddly to dismantle but I was encouraged to find the old water pump was jammed solid. I’m guessing that the previous owner had been ignoring the message to descale.
Substitution of a new motor worked a treat but hot pumped steam was almost immediately followed by messages requiring descaling. Once the descaling cycle was completed I was able to enjoy with satisfaction the best coffee yet here. Now for some experimenting to find which blends and beans taste best with Cumbrian water.
Haematite extraction - Florence Mine, Egremont, Cumbria
The chilling sight of a decaying pit head. Haematite was mined here, not coal. It’s one thing to visit a mining museum, quite another to walk around an abandoned working with the machinery still in place and rusting around you in the spring sunshine. You think of and can almost hear the men who worked here from 1914 over several generations, building and operating this untidy structure that now whistles in the wind.
Checking out by hire car the many riding possibilities accessible from my new front door and garage in Keswick, Cumbria. These roads are “Nice but deadly”. Some long and straight, routes laid by the Romans, some with plenty of curves. Huge landscapes and skyscapes: “Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Sussex anymore”. But the most enjoyable big roads, like the A686 to Alston, including the climbs to Hartside Cross (575 m.), are bedecked with speed camera signs and warnings of a high casualty rate. Bikers beware.
Château Beau-Site, St Estèphe, 2000. Cru bourgeois exceptionnel.
Syrupy is the first word which came to mind on tasting this wine. Nothing wrong, a fine aged claret from the village of Saint-Estèphe on the banks on the Gironde estuary, but it was a little unexciting and now maybe slightly past its peak, now nearly-too-old. Château Beau-Site is a distinct appelation in the Médoc area, so more specific than a Médoc. Château Beau-Site is one of several vineyards in the area owned by the Castéja family, long-time négotiants of Bordeaux.
The wine had a pleasing complexity but oxidised fairly rapidly in half an hour or so after drawing the cork (which had split), but by then this fine claret had been a worthy accompaniment to the leg of lamb which I had roasted for our Easter Sunday dinner and some Stilton cheese.