Maundy Thursday I was in York at a meeting learning all about gold mining in Burkina Faso. The weather in the city was scorching hot, 27C on the surface of my car, but as I drove away and drew nearer to the coast the temperature plummeted to 20 then 15 and finally at Filey to 11C, where the little town was enveloped in a deep sea fret, to the intense disappointment of little children and their parents who wanted to play on the beach. From the Crescent one could not even see the sea!
As a result, on Good Friday I abandoned it and drove up above the mist into sunshine once more, to Glaisdale to visit my friends Neil and Denise, just back from St Helena,where Neil has been a quaint thing called “the People’s solicitor” for the last two years or so. They are renovating an old stone house which other friends, Giles and Mary Heron, used to have, and have installed an ambitious but very interesting form of heating which invoilves sinking pipework four feet down across their little field next to the garden, and then using the natural elevation in temperature from below ground to heat an underfloor system in the house. The also have solar electrical panels across the garage roof, which they tell me will bring them in £9000 a year in income from the electricity they will sell to the National Grid. The only problem is that the system is terribly costly to install. apparently the “natural source “heating is guaranteed for thirty years, but solar panels need replacing after about ten. But as we are all supposed to be living to 100 soon, I expect they will get their money back. Maybe oil based fuels will disappear completely.
The poor young gold miners of Africa have different problems. On a beautiful Spring day in one of the most lovely North Yorkshire dales, one has to think of them with a conscious conscience, to keep the world with one. Otherwise it could seem like someone else’s planet.