Hens, rains, pawns and dawns

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We hosted a hen party in the coffee shop this month. The bride-to-be had been a pupil at school here and will be getting married in St Matthew's, next door, in a couple of weeks. They were a very happy group of hens; quite peckish but not raucous at all

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The Murk Esk which runs below us - about 30 feet below us thankfully - was swollen with heavy rain earlier in the month. It is normally between six inches and eighteen inches deep but had risen to about five feet after 24 hours of heavy rain. This photo shows the ford at the bottom of the village. Fortunately for us there's a footbridge to the left of it so we don't have to wade across.
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Our chess set in the coffee shop has become increasingly popular with customers. Some fairly intense games have been lost and won over coffee and cake while waiting for trains. We have a draughts set outside for people who prefer a quicker contest.

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We have had some beautiful sunny mornings in between the rainy grey days. Definitely autumnal though, with the sun lower in the sky and the dew heavy on the grass. Inexorably the dawn is creeping later as the days shorten. It's good we've got our supply of logs in for the winter. Customers have appreciated our log burner being lit on chillier days.

Sunshine and rain

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Emily's sunflowers are in bloom at the moment and looking good despite the very variable weather in August so far. We have had some sunny days but quite a few showers and some cooler cloudy days. The bees love the sunflowers though and they seem to attract customers into the coffee shop too.

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We have seen this Southern region engine (Repton) back on the line after a major refurbishment. It looks amazing in its gleaming green livery. It has joined the more workaday regular locomotives in hauling trains up and down the line to Pickering.

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Bill's savoury tarts continue to be popular. He bakes three different sets of fillings each time: goats' cheese and red onion marmalade; asparagus, stilton and walnut; and beetroot, feta and hazelnut. Our staff have tears in their eyes if they're around when Bill is making the red onion marmalade.

Trainspotters

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We can always tells when there is something unusual coming down the line. It is a bit like the scene in Hitchcock's 'The Birds' - except with trainspotters instead of menacing birds: everything is quiet; each time you look towards the viewing deck you can see a few more figures peering down the track, watching and waiting. They have a common purpose but tend to ignore each other, lost in their own anticipation of the perfect shot. As you can see in this picture, the wait gets too much for some people. Finally, with a toot from the platform back at the station, the train sets off, passes the viewing deck amid the clicks of all the shutters before disappearing into the tunnel and all is quiet again.

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This month we saw an Inter-City 125 train heading down towards Pickering. Bizarre seeing this mainline train making its way through Grosmont (pop. 300).

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The grapevine on our pergola in the outdoor seating area is doing well this year. Bill has had to install some additional supports for it and it now provides lovely dappled shade for customers enjoying a coffee in the playground.

Drones, stones and scones

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We saw a film crew operating this drone to film a train leaving the station. The drone, with camera attached, took off from the viewing area just below us and tracked the train from the station until it entered the tunnel. The drone then zoomed up high over the hill to film the train as it emerged from the other side of the tunnel and headed off across the valley to Goathland. Interesting to see 21st century technology capturing 19th century technology. We wonder if drones will still be around in a hundred years.

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Emily planted these sweet peas at the end of last season using seeds she collected from the plants in our raised bed. Amazingly, they survived through the winter and grew this spring. Their perfume is lovely. Lots of customers have been impressed to see them flowering so early.

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The pergola in our outdoor area (the school's old playground) is lovely at the moment, with grapevines, roses, sweet peas and honeysuckle all growing well. It's a pleasant place to sit and relax with a coffee when the sun is shining. Sometimes customers seem to forget they are in a public place rather than their own home as the picture below will attest.

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We clear up outside at the end of each day and often find things people have collected on their walk before reaching us. Lots of sticks, bunches of wild flowers, feathers and, this week, a pile of stones. It's a bit like a human equivalent of the ice age glacial activity which deposited a large granite stone, originally from Shap Fell, in the village millions of years ago.

Wild garlic

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We regularly take a walk through the woods behind the coffee shop after finishing the day's work. The wild garlic is in bloom at the moment with its pungent smell filling the still air, a sure sign that spring is here. Some German visitors came in the coffee shop earlier in the week excited to have collected a bag of the young leaves for a salad. They call it Bärlauch.

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Another of our walks after work takes us up over Lease Rigg. At the top of the hill we have a lovely view of Esk Valley and often see the last steam train of the day chuffing its way towards Pickering.

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We had a busy Easter and spring bank holiday. In contrast, early May weekdays can be quiet. After hardly seeing anyone through the day, we were pleased to serve a party of elderly naturalists from Whitby just before we closed. Despite their advanced years they had rambled through the woods hearing woodpeckers and catching sight of the first of the season's bluebells before heading to us for well deserved tea and scones.