Sunday 26 July 2009

Further Travels With a Red-Dirt Mule.

"Giddap!", he yelled, as the alarum clock shrilled, "Giddap, Mule", "Oh-ohhhhhhhhhhh!" the mule moaned, piteously, "it's toooo early." "Breakfast is at eight thirty," he insisted, "Git yer hooves on the carpet, quick-fast!" "Oh-ohhhhhhh, I'se a-sleepin', "says the mule, screwing tight shut her eyes. Her morning procrastination is monumental, she's an olympic procrastinator, once out of bed, you might think that one was close to breakfast? Hmm. Shower, hair, clothes, make-up, hoof polish, mane knotting.... I learned, on a previous expedition, that time and breakfast in hotels wait for no mule, so I had to drag her, muttering darkly to the room where the cheery fellow- guests were tucking into fruit, cereals, porridge, omellettes, fried eggs, bacon,.......... Mmmm, all that over-caloried goodness that a holiday renders essential. "How about a day on the beach?" I murmured, as she wrapped herself around some toast. "MMMMMM!" Yep, she fell for it. As soon as the last smear of egg-yolk was polished off the plate she was away, up to the room. "bikini?, check, sunglasses? check, sunlotion, book, beach-towel, fruit-juice, sun-hat......"
(The picture in the Mule's head was something like this)

So out we went, past the hotel's mysterious set of gay-plastic-meercats....

(The pink Pig had found some friends)

Into the car-like thing, and off, toward the slightly sub-tropical shores of Port Mulgrave.

We were some distance from Tahiti, and far to the north-west of the spice-islands. The weather forecast promised some sunshine, honest. The road to Port-Mulgrave passes through a small, and somewhat surreal village infested with scarecrows, the mule shivered, slightly...
"Toto, we're not in Kansas now...." It's probably wise not to ask what's going on in Hinderwell, probably the result of hallucinogens in the water supply.

Aliens seem to have invaded the village, but there's a strong police presence,
(Picture removed, by order of Mule)
The President of the United States of America is making a statement in front of the Fish'n'chip shop,

and Doctor Who has arrived to save the day.

The Pied Piper is ridding the pub of rats...
Michael Jackson is visiting...

Little Red Riding Hood has STOMPED the wolf

And so, we passed on, toward Port Mulgrave. What I had not told the Mule was that Port Mulgrave ceased to be a port in the nineteen twenties, that the "village" is more of an illusion than a reality, (blink and you've missed it) and.... There's no road down to the sea from the cliff-top. Oh. And there's no beach. Um. That's about it then. Otherwise a tropical paradise, minus the tropics, and short of the paradise...

Once upon a time, of course, it was tropical. Warm seas, steamy swamps, plesiosaurs... in jurassic times. The way down to the sea is a steep little path through bushy vegetation, with a few stone steps here and there, no handrails, some mud, brambles, nettles... it takes a while to get there. "Are we there yet?" she sings out... -not even close, -it's steep.

Precipitous in places. And you need to check the tide-tables before descending, because the tide comes in all the way to the cliffs, get caught in the wrong place and ummmm. well, not a good idea, anyway.

The bottom?

On a sunny day this could be the caribbean... or New Guinea..
-or maybe not.

The cliffs are tall and crumbly, rockfalls are happening all the time, wise not to go too close,

So why are we here?

Because at an earlier time, we bought a fossil, an ammonite, as a kind of unusual reminder of Yorkshire, and I'd promised that one day we'd go find our own, so here we were, on a foreshore where the strata laid bare are the remains of the Jurassic era, and where millions of years worth of fossilised sea-bed and swamps are falling from the cliffs and being ground up by the sea.

Just innocent looking rocks...

I always loved geology, geomorphology, but eventually loved art and ceramics more. If I'd persevered with it, I might by now be bored and unmoved by sights such as this.

Choose a likely-looking stone, smack it carefully with a hammer, to split it.

Peel it apart. Be the first mammal ever to see its contents.

An Ammonite (dactylioceras) that swam in warmer seas, right here, a hundred and sixty-five million years ago.

These bivalves were glowing like gold. We left them there, maybe for the next hunter, maybe never to be seen again, depending on the whims of the sea.

In the background, frequent rumbles and rattles as more rockfalls replenish the beach.
Eventually, satisfied with our haul, and with the waves a LOT closer, it's time to return to the old harbour, and face the long, steep climb up, back to the world. In all this time we've seen maybe five other people.

She moaned on the way up too, "Are we near the top yet?" "No".

But there's a respite, a seat about a third of the way up, dedicated to a man who fished from this bay for forty years, there are a lot of easier places to fish from, I think, but up and down that cliff every day must have either kept him very fit, or killed him.

More trudging. She knew I had the rations, so she had a motive not to just curl up in an exhausted sobbing heap...
And eventually, the top of the path, car in sight!

And so, back to our own little haven, a couple of miles down the coast, and a day well spent, treasure found, aching muscles, but a sense of worthwhile achievement.